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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: MySQL (3rd Edition) (Developer's Library)
Publisher: Sams
Authors: Paul DuBois
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Slightly blemished masterpiece

When I got this book, I already had a pretty good knowledge of SQL and databases in general, so I cannot comment on whether or not it is appropriate for complete novices. However, this mammoth improved my knowledge of SQL and MySQL by several orders of magnitude. And to top it off, it is a treat to read. Clear and consice, it's only time consuming because it has over 1200 pages.
I would highly recommend this book to anyone looking to learn more about MySQL. It is however, lacking a few very minor areas - the section on SET column types, for example, could contain a note that spaces are not allowed between its values (though they are used regularly throughout the book) as well as an example SELECT statement showing options for finding rows whose SET columns contain (but aren't equal to) a specific value (hint: use FIND_IN_SET() or LIKE '%....%'). The index could be slightly more filled out, and the function/operator reference entries could be enhanced by a single usage/syntax example (though clearly, this is not always necessary.) But overall, these are only very small blemishes on a gargantuan masterpiece.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Smart Mobs: The Next Social Revolution
Publisher: Basic Books
Authors: Howard Rheingold
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
Keen on Smart Mobs

Smart Mobs are dynamic groups of people who can act together cooperatively even if they are complete strangers. Their communication is facilitated by a new wave of wireless, mobile, portable computing devices. Howard Rheingold provokes us to foresee a future where people spontaneously interact and exchange ideas in a manner that will transform how we work, play, trade, govern, and create.
Rheingold cogently explores examples of what he refers to as a "social tsunami". Special attention is given to mobile telephones which are transforming how youth exercise their social power. Teenage "thumb tribes" have developed new ways of communicating using SMS text messaging in Tokyo and Helsinki. Spontaneous groups coordinated by SMS messages had a more serious impact in the Philippines in January of 2001 when groups of protestors responding to SMS messages managed to play a primary role in overthrowing then President Joseph Estrada.
Much attention is also given to networked PC's and how supercomputers, open source software and the mobile internet are facilitating social networking. Rheingold adroitly explains how these tools can be both weapons of social control and resistance.
Perhaps the most provocative ideas revolve around the fact that we now have access to information about each other as never before. He explores privacy and trust issues and appears particularly concerned with surveillance web-sites, software and the electronic "bread crumb" trails that we are unaware we are leaving.
Overall, Rheingold expertly weaves his experiences, interviews with experts and solid research to elucidate his interest in how human behavior will change as a result of the latest technological advances. He convincingly argues that our changing notion of community needs to be used in a beneficial manner to create a more humane and sustainable world.
This book is a must read for academics, corporate types and anyone interested in how technology can promote grassroots social change.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Microsoft Visual Basic .NET Step by Step--Version 2003 (Step By Step (Microsoft))
Publisher: Microsoft Press
Authors: Michael Halvorson
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
Great Book for MS programming beginners

I am an experienced HTML, PHP and Javascript developper and I wanted to break into MS technologies and perhaps get certified for 70-305.
I found this book and excellent introduction to MS technologies and using the Visual Studio IDE.
Also it is a great example of how to write a solid primer for a programming language. You wont come away from this book being an expert. But you will no longer be in the dark about VB.net.
My only critisism would be that the ADO and DB sections were a little on the light side.

Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: Discrete-Time Signal Processing (2nd Edition)
Publisher: Prentice Hall
Authors: Alan V. Oppenheim, Ronald W. Schafer, John R. Buck
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
Very good reference

This book has its share of shortcomings, but overall, it is probably the best and most complete reference on DSP. Unfortunately, it does skip a few important topics. For example, the second edition threw out the section on designing IIR bandpass and highpass filters from lowpass prototypes. This section used to be in the first edition and is VERY important, so I don't see how Oppenheim & Schafer could have justified throwing it out. They also conspicuously left out filter design based on the frequency sampling method. But in spite of these omissions, it's hard to recommend another book over this one. The one that comes closest is Mitra's.
In the end, if you want to learn DSP and work in the field, you have to have this book, as well as the ones by Mitra, Proakis & Manolakis, Jackson, and, of course, Rabiner & Gold. If you get all those, you'll have the complete reference of CORE DSP texts.