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Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: MCAD/MCSD Self-Paced Training Kit: Developing XML Web Services and Server Components with Microsoft Visual Basic .NET and Microsoft Visual C# .NET
Publisher: Microsoft Press
Authors: Microsoft Corporation, Microsoft Corporation
Rating: 3/5
Customer opinion - 3 stars out of 5
Bought it, studied it, passed it.

Just like I did with the first two .NET exams, I am reviewing this book after taking the exam. I am pursuing the MCSD.NET to get proficient and comfortable with .NET as I can hardly discipline myself to study it on my own. For that purpose, this book was sufficient. I don't see why it shouldn't work for you as well. The book starts with a list of requirements for 70-320 and lists which chapters address them. Which is a good idea because it attempts to eliminate some of the discrepancies that I have encountered between what Microsoft lists as requirements, what curriculums and tutorials teach and what is actually tested on the exams. Ideally this list would serve as a checklist for my readiness for the exam but instead I used it to mark what this book covers thoroughly, just enough or poorly.
And there is plenty of poor coverage. The main fallback is that although the book covers most requirements it does not always go in depth. I had to pick up another book for a better idea on COM+. I think ADO.NET was best covered in the guides for Windows and Web Applications. The same applies for Tracing and Debugging. For these topics I found the above-mentioned literature and the MSDN library more effective. Some chapters provide only a summary of the topic but that seemed to be enough for my exam. For example, XML schema is a huge topic but this book only gives a definition of it, an example and how to validate an XML document against its schema. And on my exam nothing more was expected. The same goes for the chapter on Deployment and Installation.
I liked the chapters on Remoting, XSLT and the Advanced Web Services Programming. The topics themselves are interesting and I felt this book covered them quite well. I liked that the book was full of notes, summaries and chapter reviews. I went through them one hour before the exam.
The lab for chapter 5 on ADO.NET was cool. You're dealing with a database, you have to deploy two COM+ components, write a remotable object and configure all this via a windows service. Of course, my lab did not work by following the steps in the book. But once I understood the project, I studied all the concepts by themselves and then worked hard to get them to work together. You should practice such combinations! For e.g. calling one web service from another, writing SOAP extensions and using an XSD to validate the messages or trace them to the event log, etc.
Most other labs were satisfactory. I got more disappointed the more code the labs asked me to copy and paste and the less they explained what the code does and how it is written. I had to break down such code by myself.
Unlike the Web Applications guide, the sample tests in this book can be paused. I was also glad to see not only radio button questions but also checkbox ones too, just like in the real exam. Most questions do reinforce the lessons and labs; some however were just too simple and should have been combined with others or omitted altogether. The question that asks the URL to generate the WSDL for a web service is an example.
I took the sample exam without pausing and I failed miserably. Then I reviewed and practiced on the topics and tried again. I also took the exam with the book in my hand and paused after every question and researched the topic to find the answer. Finally, by the fifth time I passed the exam every time.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Selling Used Books Online: The Complete Guide to Bookselling at Amazon's Marketplace and Other Online Sites
Publisher: Harvard Perspective Pr
Authors: Stephen Windwalker
Rating: 1/5
Customer opinion - 1 stars out of 5
hurting real booksellers

Books like this are a real travesty because they undercut real booksellers who own stores and are trying to make a living out of it. Those who sell online as a "hobby" are the worst because they do not have to worry about any profit margins, as long as they can re-sell a book for more than they paid for it it is a win for them. Anyone who had been selling books for a living would have spent enough time around them to have done the research and know all the things that are contained within this book. So, all I see this book doing is creating an avenue for people who won't take the time to understand books and book dealing to be able to sell books and steal business from hard working book dealing individuals. Don't read this book...and remember book selling is a PROFESSION not a hobby and shouldn't be taken lightly or trifled with. This is someone's life and deserves to be treated with respect.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Eric Meyer on CSS: Mastering the Language of Web Design
Publisher: New Riders Press
Authors: Eric A. Meyer
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
I've recommended this book to 5 people a day since I got it!

I was personally disappointed in this book, being the tech geek that I am. And yet I still end up recommending it to about 5 people a day since I got it. This book is project-based, and walks the reader through several designs using CSS. I remember thinking at first glance at this book "Not what I was looking for, but WOW! this would be very useful for . . .". And with that, I began evangelizing. I kept the book for a couple of days, reading through it, and showing it to several web site designers who after a quick glance would write down the title so they could get their own copy. Then I left the book with our two web developers, who were last seen wrestling over who got to use the book first (my company paid for the book, so I felt no loss).
Now, as I mentioned, I'm a tech geek. I read the specs on the W3C website to find most of the info I want to know. I really liked Eric Meyer's "CSS: The Definitive Guide" and frequently visit the author's website ... for pointers and tips on using CSS (not to mention his fun little articles about life in general). But I realize for most people, they need a little more guidance - this book offers just that. This book is just one step down from having Eric Meyer come in and walk you through CSS.
If you've been interested in using CSS, but have felt like it's a little out of reach, this book will put CSS firmly in your grasp. I have never seen a book that has generated this kind of excitement among our designers & developers. Buy it now before it's out-of-stock again!

Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: Design Patterns
Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional
Authors: Erich Gamma, Richard Helm, Ralph Johnson, John Vlissides
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Definitely a must for any budding OO developers.

Generally computer langauages are taught with too much emphasis on syntax, rather than the semantics.
This book helps to illustrate how an object oriented language's behaviour can be used to solve problems at a higher level of abstraction.