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Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: A+ Certification All-in-One Exam Guide, 4th Edition
Publisher: McGraw-Hill Osborne Media
Authors: Michael Meyers
Rating: 1/5
Customer opinion - 1 stars out of 5
Couldn't Pass Exam with this book

This is a great book for learning the technical trade. Unfortunately, I failed both of the exams studing this book. It has very little updated informtaion regarding the new Comptia A+ Adapive Certification Exams.

Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: Digital Photographer's Handbook
Publisher: DK Publishing Inc
Authors: Tom Ang
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
New to (digital) photography? This is a great book!

A large portion of my work entails dealing with image manipulation on computers. I am very comfortable with Adobe Photoshop and other similar software programs, but I have never used an SLR camera, let alone a digital one. Although the first chapter was information I already knew about the technology aspect of digital photography, it would be great reading for someone who is new to the subject. I'll agree, the software emphasis is on Macs, but that's because if you know anyone who does any publishing work, they use a Mac.
The most useful and easily the best reason to own this book are the example photos. They are all in exquistite color! Heck, even if you could care less about digital photography or how to get the most out of your camera, this would make an excellent coffee table book because of the beautiful pictures alone. Each concept is beautifully illustrated with great example photos and explained in detail.

Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: Design Patterns
Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional
Authors: Erich Gamma, Richard Helm, Ralph Johnson, John Vlissides
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
Must read, but requires some sophistication

As you probably already realize from the large number of reviews, this book is one of the seminal books on patterns in software development. If you are a professional software developer, you must read this. If you are learning to write good software, this is a book that you will need to take on at some point, but I urge some caution.
In particular, many of the patterns in this book represent highly distilled wisdom about effective solutions -- distilled so far that, unless you have implemented code that realizes the pattern in question already, you may have trouble absorbing the material. I find that programmers-to-be who dive into this book, often end up talking annoyingly about "applying patterns" without having a real grasp of how these things translate (with some distortion and compromise) into real projects.
That being said, an excellent way to bridge the gap is to read this book along with "Pattern Hatching : Design Patterns Applied" by John Vlissides. That book is a chatty companion piece for this one -- I found myself understanding how to incorporate patterns into my day-to-day design work much more after reading both books.
See: Pattern Hatching : Design Patterns Applied [also at Amazon.com]
Overall, while this book is an extremely important contribution to software developers, it is structured in a way that makes the material difficult to absorb if you aren't approaching it with substantial previous knowledge about developing software. You can start with some of the simpler patterns (Singleton, for example) and work through the harder ones, but only by implementing projects and stumbling upon these yourself will you really feel a flash of recognition as you read them in the book.

Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: Data Mining with Microsoft SQL Server 2000 Technical Reference
Publisher: Microsoft Press
Authors: Claude Seidman
Rating: 3/5
Customer opinion - 3 stars out of 5
Very Basic

If you don't know ANYTHING about SQL/Analysis Server and need to learn about its implementation of data mining, you'll enjoy this book. In addition to data mining there's a fair amount of discussion on DSO, DTS, data warehousing, etc. (Of course, if don't anything about these technologies jumping into Analysis Server's implementation of data mining might be a bit premature.)
But, if you are familiar with Analysis Server and data warehousing and want to learn a little data mining, then there's about a hundred pages of good reading. Seidman covers the basics of the two data mining technologies Microsoft implemented - decision trees & clustering.
Finally, be prepared for some serious grunt work if you like to "read and code". The author does not include any helpful downloads to get going quickly.