Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Head First Java, 2nd Edition
Authors: Kathy Sierra, Bert Bates
<strong>History of me:</strong>
I have been in IT all my life, and have had to keep up on all the latest technologies. I have trained Microsoft Support Engineers at the various Microsoft sites, written technical curriculum for certification topics and for custom software, travelled and installed/configured enterprise applications, administered networks, and much more throughout my carreer. Because of all of the technology that I have had to become proficient on, I have purchased and read hundreds of books on a wide variety of technical topics.
<strong>About this book:</strong>
This being said, I have experienced some pretty good books, and some horribly awful books, and about everything in between. Now that I have a need to learn Java, I bought two books attempt to teach myself the basics - this was one of them. I pretty much put the other book down, have been using this exclusively to get my feet wet in Java, AND I WISH THIS SERIES OF BOOKS WAS AVAILABLE A LONG TIME AGO!!
My biggest hope is that the publisher will use this methodology to write more technical books on topics other than Java, for I will be the very first customer!
With all topics I've had to learn before purchasing this book, my "magic bullet" to learning new, abstract, and even smoetimes boring topics was to purchase about a half-dozen different books on teh same exact topic, and read the same geenral topics written by completely different authors. With enough "angles", I absorbed the content through "brute force". Although it consistently worked, this method was extremely time-consuming and down-right boring. <strong>I have been able to pull more this single book than I have from a half-dozen different books on other topics!</strong>
My thanks to the authors - I have studied learning theory (both to become a more effective trainer when I used to train, and to aid in allowing me to absorb as much material in as little time as possible), and these authors have nailed exactly what's needed.
If you're needing to learn Java, don't want to be bored out of your mind, need to pick it up quickly and with as little effort as possible, I would highly recommend this book! Get it - you will definitely not regret it!
Product: Book - Paperback
Title: A Programmer's Guide to Java (tm) Certification
Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional
Authors: Khalid A. Mughal, Rolf W. Rasmussen
This guide does have an amazingly sparse errata sheet for a certification guide. I'm impressed by the clean and rigorous treatment of code samples throughout. But the content also goes overboard on additional topic the Exam doesn't require. If you consider that stuff bonus material, you're in luck. If you want to focus, this book gives you the impression you need to know far more than what's necessary.
The sample questions are much more difficult than the Exam itself; they're often highly contrived as well. They remind me very much of my college exams on programming; the test questions were based on code so tortured and twisted, I'd leave the exam room with a headache. This technique makes the Exam relatively easy, but a lot of effort goes into just unravelling really twisted code, where every variable is a single character. I'm not sure that's really how I wanted to prepare.
Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: Security+ Certification All-in-One Exam Guide
Publisher: McGraw-Hill Osborne Media
Authors: Gregory White
Among the many laughable errors in the Security+ All-in-One Exam Guide, my favorite comes in chapter 18, on risk managment. It comes on page 488, in figure 18-7, where we are trying to calculate which security problems are most important to fix. "Cost to fix" and "difficulty to fix" should _subtract_ from the total score for a problem, not add to it, since the more expensive or difficult a problem is to fix, the _less_ likely it makes economic sense to fix it. That an error as fundamental as this could slip by shows how poorly this book was edited.
All in all, this is a disastrously bad book. To some degree, too many cooks have spoiled the soup (the book has several co-authors, and they seem not to have read each others' contributions). There's an immense amount of duplication of material, while at the same time there are many terms and concepts that are invoked without ever being defined. At the least, this book should state that a reader needs a casual familiarity with networking (equivalent to that required by the Network+ exam, which I passed) to have any hope of understanding a good 40% of the book's material.
The only valuable chapters are the ones on security baselines (specifically the info on operating system and application hardening), cryptography (though much of the math used there is not explained), and public key infrastructures--conveniently, these are chapters 9 through 11.
Though this is the only Security+ book I have read, I feel confident in recommending any other book over it.
Product: Book - Turtleback
Title: Color Index: Over 1100 Color Combinations, CMYK and RGB Formulas, for Print and Web Media
Publisher: How Design Books
Authors: Jim Krause
While I reserve the 5 stars for only the most amazing of books, 4 is a top notch rating! I would give a 4.5, but there are no half points. This book has a great binding with a vinyl cover and will last years on your desktop next to your dictionary and thesaurus. It's a mini-format which I like for reference manuals.
The author presents the color schemes well and they will help any designer. This would be a 5 star book if not for the fact that you can't lookup combinations by color code. I wanted to "add" to a website based on the primary color(s) and the only way to find this color in use was to sort through the pages to see if I could find it. And it would have been nice to have a mini-CD with this book, but that might be asking a bit much considering the price.