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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Head First Java, 2nd Edition
Publisher: O'Reilly
Authors: Kathy Sierra, Bert Bates
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
A different kind of Java book for beginners and experts

When I first saw "Head First Java", it reminds me of the colorful "conversational English" books I had when I started to learn English years ago. The casual, humorous books have turned out effective for English language learning. Is that style good for the Java language learners as well? Is this type of books for beginners only?
With those questions in mind, I started to read "Head First Java". Since I consider myself a Java expert (I wrote a Java book myself, after all), I decided that I would NOT read the book from cover to cover. Instead, I would randomly flip through the book for the humorous stories and photos. I figured that if I cannot learn much new about Java from a "beginner" book, I can at least have some fun.
Geez, I was wrong. I was ADDICTED to the book's short stories, annotated code snippets, mock interviews, puzzle games and brain exercises. They are not only entertaining but also informative. It may be a beginner's book but the stuff they cover are definitely deep enough for expert readers as well (e.g. multiple inheritance, polymorphism, inner classes, threads, RMI, ... just to name a few). The best of all is that I can actually remember the things I learned from the book because I associate them with the stories and pictures. I guess it has something to do with the fact that both sides of my brain are active when reading this book: The right side is for the stories and the left side is for the technical and logic stuff.
There are other great Java books (e.g. "Thinking in Java" by Bruce Eckel) in the market. But they are all very serious and require the readers to spend hours to read entire chapters. The great thing about "Head First Java" is that the bite-size code snippets and stories allow me to learn something about Java in my 5-10 minutes spare time, one piece a time.
The overall writing style is casual and enlightened. The presentation style (fonts and placements of graphical elements) fits the content very well. The book covers a wide variety of Java topics including: basic code structure and language syntax, OOP concepts, math and numbers, exception handling, the Swing GUI library, serialization, network, and distributed computing.
Of course, the casual style is not for everyone. I know people who love the re-assuring feeling from "serious" books. But I can re-assure you that Kathy and Bert are authoritative figures in the Java training community. The content is absolutely first class. I highly recommend "Head First Java" for both Java beginners and expert readers.

Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: Structured Computer Organization (4th Edition)
Publisher: Prentice Hall
Authors: Andrew S. Tanenbaum
Rating: 3/5
Customer opinion - 3 stars out of 5
Good Information Textbook

I enjoyed the author's humor and subject matter knowledge. I found problems, however, at the end of every chapter. Although this book provided me with good information it left me scratching my head as I reviewed the author's end of chapter questions. The text also did not explain anything about an AMD processor, which I had hoped to learn about. Bottom line...good textbook, but a good instructor is also required to fill in the author's "blanks."

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Java Swing, Second Edition
Publisher: O'Reilly
Authors: James Elliott, Marc Loy, David Wood, Brian Cole
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
Best Swing reference out there with room for improvement

Any book that claims it can tell the readers everything they need for any huge APIs such as Swing is likely to be misleading. But there are utility books that try very hard to make the users as informed as possible. O'Reilly's Java Swing is one of these books. In 1200+ pages, this book tries to explain every little details of the Swing API from the fundamental JComponent to the very advanced manipulation of the Swing Look And Feel, and every major components in between.

There are still some very common issues that Swing developers wished this book had addressed, however. Such issues include the AWT event queue, AWT layout managers, and Swing threading issues. While this book does talk a bit about Swing threading, it does not explain a whole lot of the underlying mechanism of the AWT GUI and event queue that caused most developers trouble.

Overall, this book is a good elaboration on the Swing Javadoc, but not enough as a cure-all for Swing developers.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Build Your Own ASP.NET Website Using C# & VB.NET
Publisher: SitePoint
Authors: Zak Ruvalcaba
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
A great starting point for ASP developers moving UP!

As an experienced developer with dozens of web sites developed in traditional ASP, I was delighted finally find a decent 'getting started' book for ASP.NET, VB.NET and C# that I could use myself, and share with my Microsoft-oriented students.
Anyone making the leap from ASP to .NET knows how difficult it is to find a resource that covers enough introductory information to get started, while still presenting more advanced and useful topics -- but this is the one!
Although this book won't make you an ASP.NET guru overnight (NO book can!) -- it will certainly get you far enough up the learning curve to start producing some useful and functional code which may be reused and enhanced later as you skills and competence grow.
This new release -- as for all other SitePoint books I've read -- has proven a pleasure to read, and a joy to use in the real world. Great work!