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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Learning PHP 5
Publisher: O'Reilly
Authors: David Sklar
Rating: 3/5
Customer opinion - 3 stars out of 5
Good place to start, but beware: no OOP coverage

I picked up this book shortly after PHP 5 became available, expecting that because it's specifically about PHP 5 it would give some attention to PHP 5's new features over PHP 4. Most specifically I wanted to read about PHP 5's completely new Object Model, which is not a minor change. This book only mentions objects and classes in passing though, so it wasn't helpful to me at all in that regard. The chapter on working with databases has been helpful to me. It focuses mainly on PEAR DB but includes some good information about PHP 5's improved MySQL functions.

It's still a helpful book for programming PHP in general, and I do check it from time to time to brush up on syntax or look at example code. It reads pretty well and the examples are solid. If you're coming to PHP with prior experience in Java, Perl, or anything similar, you'll probably find the pace pretty slow. If you want a well-rounded introduction to PHP you'll do well with this book. If you're looking for information on more advanced topics like object-oriented programming, look elsewhere.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Bioinformatics for Dummies
Publisher: For Dummies
Authors: Jean-Michel Claverie, Cedric Notredame, Jean-Michel Claverie, Cedric Notredame
Rating: 3/5
Customer opinion - 3 stars out of 5
disappointing from the viewpoint of a computer scientist...

I hold a masters degree in computer sciences (so in fact I am a biology dummy), but always had a strong interest for sciences. So I want to delve deeply into this fascinating area, but first wanted to read a book to quickly introduce me the basic concepts. With this background, I must say the book is a little bit disappointing. You can clearly see that this book is written with the biologist in mind, definitely not the computer scientist.
The biological concepts are not explained very well for a biology dummy, let me explain you why :
1. Some basic biological concepts are not explained. I wanted to have some more explanation on the basic concepts of how molecular and cell biology works. A lot of times, the autors tell you how to use some tool, but is not always clearly explained to me why, for what purpose they use the tool. For instance they explain how to find a list of related protein sequences, but for me it is not clear why biologists need to have such a list. And this is only one example, I could give much more simular examples...
2. Remember guys, I am a dummy, so please explain me the difference between a gene and a genome before using these terms. And also, I heard about chromosomes, but why do you not explain what is it exactly ?. Also, there are a lot of explanations on how to work with RNA, but please explain me more about the functional difference between RNA and DNA.
3. The explanations on how to use serveral internet tools are too wordy, they spent several pages explaining things that are so intuitively clear like "click this or that button", "use menu file, edit, copy to past your stuff to the computer clipboard"....
4. A lot of complex terms are or not explained the first time they use it ("phylogenic"). Sometimes these terms are explained further in the book, but from a didactical standpoint, you should at least give an informal definition when you first use some concepts...

Conclusion: I currently read the first hundred pages of the book and maybe I will change this review later on. But I can already tell : the first chapters might be well suited for a computer dummy, but definitely not for a biology dummy. However with some help of the internet(for instance there is an excellent explanation on how cells work at the howstuffworks website http://science.howstuffworks.com/cell.htm), I will continue to read the book further. Maybe after that I will need to change my preview...

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: The Inmates Are Running the Asylum : Why High Tech Products Drive Us Crazy and How to Restore the Sanity (2nd Edition)
Publisher: Sams
Authors: Alan Cooper
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
Can interaction design really save the software industry?

Alan Cooper wants nothing short of cultural change in the software industry. He wants to get programmers out of the business of deciding how humans will interact with computers. He asserts that interaction design specialists should do that. Interaction designers will create self-evident software to which customers will flock.
Hear, hear -- but good luck. As long as software companies continue to be profitable with programmers doing interaction design, it's not likely to stop.
Unfortunately, Cooper limits his book to the business case for interaction design. This omits the action step: how to effect that cultural change within a software company.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Enterprise JavaBeans, Fourth Edition
Publisher: O'Reilly
Authors: Richard Monson-Haefel, Bill Burke, Sacha Labourey
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Exhaustive and well organized; Suggestions for next edition

I purchased this book to learn the fundamentals of EJBs, and then apply the knowledge to existing EJB application maintenance. I am pleased to say that I understand the theory basics and have moved from application maintenance to new EJB application development. The book can be exhausting, though, so plan to read it before reaching your bed (I read it while pedaling an exercise bike).
The book took longer to read than I anticipated, however it was worth the effort. You can skip most of the code details and return to them later when you need examples to guide your own work.
The organization is thoughtful and progressive, but I wish it had some more diagrams. Nevertheless, I will give it the highest rating because it has the needed content, organization, and results.
My recommendations for the next edition would be to incorporate the JBoss EJB server into the examples (WebLogic examples dominate this edition), and demonstrate how EJB application deployment can be managed using Ant (a Java/XML descendant of Make). In this manner, the book's students can practice the examples using open-source, free software - which means everyone will be able to participate (rather than those whose companies use WebLogic).