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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Where Wizards Stay Up Late: The Origins Of The Internet
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Authors: Katie Hafner
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Great story

This book provides excellent documentation about the origins of the Internet. The authors conducted hundreds of interviews, which they combined with facts gleamed from thousands of pages of archived materials dating back to the very beginnings of the Net. I've been teaching courses about the Internet for several years, and so I was already familiar with the general timeline of who did what and when. What was fascinating to me about this book was that the authors made it possible to get to know the personalities behind the names and faces. They discussed the motivations of these leaders, the challenges they faced, and the tremendous amount of cooperation that they engaged in. The early part of the book was especially engaging, when the authors discuss the early motivations for setting up ARPANET through the construction of the first 2 nodes. As the Net begins to grow, adding more nodes monthly, Hafner and Lyon must cut back on the level of detail they provide about the main players because so much happens so fast. At that point, my eyes glazed over a little, but overall, I found the book incredibly exciting, and a very important contribution to the history of the Net.

Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: MCSA/MCSE Self-Paced Training Kit (Exam 70-290): Managing and Maintaining a Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Environment
Publisher: Microsoft Press
Authors: Dan Holme, Orin Thomas
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Great way to learn 2003

Having worked in the training industry for several years, I've found that learning through questions (i.e. the Socratic method) is one of the most effective methods of knowledge transfer. That's one of the reasons why I enjoyed the Self-Paced Training Kit. In addition, I thought the questions were very appropriate. By that I mean that they were very similar to the actual exam in format and difficulty. However, unlike some of the illicit practice exams floating around the Internet, they aren't word-for-word rip-offs of the actual exam (a practice I abhor).
The treatment of the material is certainly adequate and given the relative lack of Server 2003 information currently in existence, actually quite a pleasant surprise. The references provided are also sufficient and other readers will enjoy the fact that many of them are available free of charge. In addition, I thought there was a good amount of value-added provided through the CD (e-book is great because it is searchable making for easy location of key concepts) and the discounted exam voucher.
It'll be a while before we can judge how this book will stack up against its competition but given the fact that there is relatively little competition out there right now I'm pretty certain this book is the best of what's currently available.

Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: Understanding Business with Student CD and PowerWeb
Publisher: Mcgraw-Hill College
Authors: William G. Nickels
Rating: 2/5
Customer opinion - 2 stars out of 5
Priority should be teaching, not exploiting students.

Good organization and readability does not excuse publishers from using their business knowlege to stick it to students. The "description" here doesn't do anything to change that impression. Perhaps this book should have been called "How to Make a Killing in Academic Book Sales" Obviously book buying is a new hazing rite for American students. "Yes, sir, may I have another!"

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: The Guru's Guide to Transact-SQL
Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional
Authors: Ken Henderson
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Tells all the secrets

I bought this at the PASS conference recently and have really been pleased with it. This book has changed the way I work. I just had to tell someone about it.
The first thing that jumps out at you is that Transact-SQL is POWERFUL! I had no idea you could do half the things you can with it. I've been under the impression for many years that Oracle's PL/SQL was actually more powerful than T-SQL. Boy, was I wrong! This book proves that's not true!
My favorite things about this book are:
1. No fluff - it stays on point2. The informal, friendly tone - pretty rare in computer books3. The attention to detail - there's no knook or crannie left unexplored in the language4. Undocumented features - why doesn't MS document these?5. The OLE automation chapter - the code in this chapter could be sold retail, I'm quite sure
Thanks to this book I have become a much better developer and a much bigger fan of SQL Server. Thank you Ken Henderson for writing it.