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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Dive into Python
Publisher: Apress
Authors: Mark Pilgrim
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Great choice for a Python-newbie

This was my first foray into Python. That is, beyond what I had picked up from random articles on the Web over the years. As more or less a complete newbie to the language, I most certainly valued the approach employed and I constantly had those little thoughts like "this is the way a programming language should be taught".

Now what is this approach I'm praising here? In short, it's the good ol' get-your-hands-dirty-quick method of diving head first into actual, meaningful code to figure out what it does, why it works, and thereby figuring out new language features a couple at a time. For example, on page 11 you don't get a list of reserved words in Python or a brief history of how one programming language lead to another, but instead you get a code listing for a little program that takes a dictionary and constructs an ODBC connection string out of it. Simple? Yes, but much more interesting than seeing the syntax for a for-loop. Throughout the book, Pilgrim shows you how to use Python in parsing strings, processing XML, evaluating regular expressions, calling web services, and what not.

"Dive Into Python" is not a reference you can turn to with any Python question imaginable. Instead, it's a very effective tutorial and overview of what (and how) you can do with Python.

Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: Information Security Policies and Procedures: A Practitioner's Reference, Second Edition
Publisher: Auerbach Publications
Authors: Thomas R. Peltier
Rating: 3/5
Customer opinion - 3 stars out of 5
Spend Your Money Elsewhere

While this is a good reference, it's value does not match its price. The entire book in not included on the CD and the book does not include a "complete" set of policies. It is certainly enough to get you started, but not enough to complete the task.
If you are considering buying a used copy from an amazon marketplace seller as I did, be careful. The pages did not fit the binder and the CD was missing its setup file. I had to return it.
If you need assistance with security policies and procedures, take a look at Thomas Peltier's other book, Information Security Policies, Procedures and Standards: Guidelines for Effective Information Security Management. It contains almost all of the same material, at a much more reasonable price.

Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: Mastering Windows 2000 Server
Publisher: Sybex Inc
Authors: Brian M. Smith, Doug Toombs, Mark Minasi
Rating: 3/5
Customer opinion - 3 stars out of 5
Average Score for an average product

I feel confident that this book has saved a lot of ... from the proverbial fire. Five stars, however, would represent a euphoria that just didn't overcome me when I sat down to read it. It is a working person's book written in a working person's vernacular ...That's a Good Thing. There has to be a higher quality product available on the market; I just didn't want to spend the time and money to find it. If you have the time and/or money to do so, I recommend that you do. The book is comprehensive in scope but is pedestrian and wordy. The same material can be covered in half the number pages.
I can understand the legitimate assumption that some readers may have no previous knowledge of the subject matter, however you can target a more specific book for them. In my humble opinion this book has become overgrown and overreaching. The authors would do well to reorganize the material into beginner, intermediate, and advanced volumes. The material you need to design, implement, and maintain Microsoft 2000 Servers is there, the folksy presentation won't suit folks - no pun intended - who like a more academic style.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Oracle Application Server 10g Administration Handbook (Osborne ORACLE Press Series)
Publisher: McGraw-Hill Osborne Media
Authors: John Garmany, Donald K. Burleson
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Informative! An easy read...

I have enjoyed reading books by both of these authors. The technical layout of information allows the reader to focus in on what is being presented. The readability factor is important to me, and I appreciated being able to sit down and casually read rather than do a thorough study of what's in this book - without sacrificing technical depth. Highly recommend!