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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Python Essential Reference (2nd Edition)
Publisher: Sams
Authors: David Beazley
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Invaluable Reference

If I could have just one Python book while writing Python on desert island, this would be the book.
My copy just arrived from Amazon. First thing I noticed was the quality production (paper, type setting, layout, ...) and the font - a point or two smaller than I expected (bucking the trend to inflate books with a font I can read across the room).
The Index is 45 some pages (distinguised by a grey edge), using a mix of bold and regular font to make headings and subheadings easily distinguished. The page numbers are clear in the upper left corner of each page, making it easy to fan back to the indexed page. The paper was cut to leave a perfectly smooth and even right edge, so thumbing to a desired page is quick and accurate. And for each thing I've looked up so far, the result was right on, terse, but clearly written by someone aware and experienced and just what I might need.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: RHCE Red Hat Certified Engineer Linux (Exam RH302)
Publisher: McGraw-Hill Osborne Media
Authors: Michael Jang
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
THE Book to have for RHCE exam preparation

The Red Hat Certified Engineer is one of the most respected of the Linux certifications. Part of the reason is because of the difficulty of the exam. "Red Hat Certified Engineer Linux Study Guide, 4th Edition" covers all the points of the exam very well and includes the information you need to work with Red Hat in the real world. In addition to all the information you need to pass the exam, the book contains over 50 lab exercises and two complete RHCE exams and the entire book on CD. If you plan on taking the exam do the labs, don't just read over them.
Michael Jang has consistently produced high quality books and this is one of his best. The book is strongly slanted toward passing the exam, which is okay since that is exactly what it purports to be. Throughout the book there are short comments marked off from the rest of the test which points to tips for real world items (called "on the job") and tips for the exam (called "exam watch"). Each chapter ends with a short summary, a "two-minute drill", self-test questions, and lab questions. The "two-minute drill" is great for exam preparation the day of the exam since it is pretty much the type of thing that you would put on note cards for a quick review anyway.
This is real-life advice and is full or tips and troubleshooting problems. In the installation section it covers disk partitioning, swap space, bios limits, multiple controllers, and RAID. Some good solid advice and information about things like problems with a computer with both a SCSI drive controller and IDE drive controller in the same system. The installation troubleshooting section includes boot loaders, RAID, logical volumes, kickstart automated installation and pretty much everything you might run across. It even includes how to boot up into single user mode, a very important ability for some administrative tasks and gaining root level access (full access to everything) to the system. For some reason, although this is used in real-life for a lot of reasons, it seems to be left out of most books. They will tell you to switch to single user mode to fix a problem or gain root access, but don't tell you how to do it. This book tells you everything you need to know. It includes not only the graphical and utility methods to do things but also includes the information for how it changes the configuration. The information is so detailed that you can hand add the lines and/or configuration files and do it all by hand if you would prefer. This way you understand exactly what each item does and it is much easier to troubleshoot problems.
The authors have included everything you need to know to install, troubleshoot, and administer a real-world server - shell configuration, kernel information, automation, X Windows installation and configuration, GNOME and KDE desktops, Apache server including security and virtual hosts, Squid proxy server configuration, secure FTP server, mail services including SMTP, sendmail, postfix, POP, and IMAP, Samba installation and configuration, printing services, DNS, BIND, DHCP, LDAP client configuration, firewall policies, network address translation, and the Linux rescue environment are examples of the breadth of coverage.
It even includes how to work with the automounter, another item that is left out of most other books. The only error I found was on page 11, Table 1-2, where it has "First IDE drive = /dev/had" when it should be "/dev/hda". For that to be the only problem I found in a book of this size shows the care with which it was edited.
This is simply the best book I have seen if you want to become a general Linux "guru". Not only does it have everything you need to pass the exam, it has everything you need to install and administer a Linux network. There are better books available on specific areas of Linux, for example a single chapter on Apache obviously cannot compete with a 600 page book on Apache server. Then again, this the best book around if you want an understanding of Linux that is general enough to provide a complete overview of how Linux works in the real world and is also detailed enough to provide everything you need to get everything you want up and running. "Red Hat Certified Engineer Linux Study Guide, 4th Edition" gets the highest recommendation I can give.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Shadows of the Mind: A Search for the Missing Science of Consciousness
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Authors: Roger Penrose
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Consciousness:Could it be explained by the Quantum Model?

This book is one of the most exciting of its kind.To me,the best science book I ever read. When talking about human brains it is not longer a matter of Computation or the Quantum Model. It's also a quest of one of our primary needs:the knowledge of our selves.Explained from a scientific point of view.It highlights however in a certain way the spiritual dimension of human beings.Without telling us directly,Penrose introduce on the reader's mind phylosophique and religious issues,as possible links on the explanation of the whole. It's true,we can't conclude(after reading the book)we have a definitive explanation,which has been proved right.However on this book,to my knowledge,it's the first time a scientist establish the link:Our Brains:Consciousness and the Quantum Model! If I compare to others books of its kind,such as Stephen Hawkins and Sir Roger Penrose in Space and Time,1995;Leon Lederman in God Particle,1995,Fred A.Wolf in Taking the Quantum Leap,1982 and Star Wave,1984;and finally the previous book of Penrose:The Emperor's New Mind,1990 I have to conclude on the fact that Penrose,on Shadows of the Mind goes beyond frontiers others could not reach before. And I have to analyze briefly the new aspects Penrose approach in a such visionary way:1)The strong possibility that physics(of particles)could be the basis of the appearance of high intellectual functions in our brains(which is quite opposite to the traditional scientific knowledge of the chemical basis being the cause)2)The strong possibility of the emerge of the highest intellectual function:consciousness into the most complex part of our brains:the neuronal synapses(microtubules)and 3)the possibility certain human brains could react differently from the average,because of a different physical arrangement. Of course,conclusions have not ben proved yet.However R.Penrose already advance on his book as examples, some clinical experiments which uses different anaesthetic on patients who loss consciousness;in order to prove his proposal of the new physical basis being the cause of that effect. To me these proposals,if some day proved right are revolutionary on the field of science and on the knowledge of our selves. The link he suggest between the Quantum Model applied to consciousness is not only unique up to now(to my knowledge),but could be the pathway which could lead us to the comprehension of one of the most intriguing,fascinating and really unknowed mystery:Our Brains:How come our consciousness could emerge on it and make us different from animals!And moreover it allows the reader to think on others possible dimensions of his proposals. I do agree:the book isn't for everybody.We have to like the subject and have already a certain knowledge on the matter. If you belong to that category,don't miss it!It's great! (...)

Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, 11th Edition with CD-ROM and Online Subscription
Publisher: Merriam-Webster
Authors: Merriam-Webster
Rating: 1/5
Customer opinion - 1 stars out of 5
funky thumb-index tabs

I found the books placement of tabs made them almost useless. I know why Merriam-Webster doesn't advertise the fact that there is a thumb-index. I was told that they started using an automated system in 1978 because it was cheaper. I guess you get what you pay for, a cheap dictionary. I say if you are going to insert thumb-index tabs put them in the right place... at the start of the letter being indicated, not somewhere in the middle. What's that all about?