Orin made very good progress over the years. I remember a couple of years ago, when I saw his name on a book I had to study, my first reaction was "On no, not again!". However this has changed and I am pleased with the accuracy and usefulness of the information in this book. Obviously there are typoes and mistakes, but far less and not so blatant. The quality of this book is far better than other past books.
I find Ian's sections, however, quite annoying in some respect. No doubt he has a wealth of experience and this is his biggest weakness - let me explain. The content is OK, however my biggest issue is his use of acronyms: he seems to believe that no-one knows what DNS is but everyone knows IRM. He religiously explains almost at every occurance that DNS is Domain Name System and EMS is Exchange Management Shell. OK, OK, we've known this for years now, but what about the new concepts introduced with this version of Exchange? He defines an acronym once only, sometimes in odd places, which is then used relentlessly without any reminder as to what it actually stands for and where to find it in the text if you need to refresh your memory. For an example see page 288, "Configuring Right Protection", the first paragraph. Here Ian introduces IRM. But hang on, what the heck does IRM stand for? You start looking for it, and just before you pull your last hair, you happen to turn to page 273 to "Lesson 1: Managing Transport Rules". Voila! You find the definition of the acronym 15 pages earlier than its proper place. Does Ian re-visit the meaning of the acronym on page 288? No, why bother? But you'll find that DNS means Domain Name System all over the place in the book.
Another annoyance is "Real World". In my view it is a most useless, unnecessary self-glorifying section which can be safely omitted not from this book only but from all MS books. If you want to share useful real life advise, put it in a way which doesn't shift attention from Exchange 2010 to your past glory. If MS wants its readers to learn about authors, it can be done in a more appropriate way.
I was also stunned to learn that there are "digits" that are not "numers"! Well, digits by definition are numbers (decimals, hex, octals or whatever, but still some sort of symbol in a numeric context). I know what "non-numeric charcters" are, but the term "non-numeric digit", or "number that is not a number" is new to me and it doesn't make any sense - see the explanation of regexp metacharacters on page 278. Further, then it goes on and asks what is the correct regexp for a given scenario, and expects a novice to know - see question 3 on page 309. I am sure Ian is capable of better than that, afterall he was studying for MCSE in 1996 - see page 218, "Real World", although I struggle to see the relevance of this detail to the 70-662 exam. Well, I was a Novell CNI at the time but no-one seems to be interested, and I don't see why anyone who wants to pass 70-662 would be :-)
What I also would like to see improved is the way the content is structured. I studied many Novell official training material and I have to say the writers were real professionals down to business: they knew how to make new concepts sink in and how to make students find them easily. Their books were lean and free from any clutter unlike MS books. When they introduced a new concept, they started with the definition and then went on with the application, right to the point. One who had to refresh his/her memory, only had to read the first sentence of the first paragraph of the section and was back in business. This cannot be said about this book or any other MS books that I studied.
What I'd like to see in future MS books:
- Place acronym definitions in easy to find locations such as a bulleted list at the beginning of the lesson.
- Do not define acronyms which are well-known: no need to teach Uni students that 1+1=2. If DNS has to be explained then a student learning about Exchange 2010 has bigger problems.
- Define new terms at the beginning of the very first paragraph of the chapter that deals with it. That includes re-iterating acronym definitions.
- Describe well structured procedures or requirements in bulleted points in 3-4 rows rather than fill up half a page with content that makes it difficult to find the essence. This is supposed to be a technical document and not a transcript of a casual chit-chat.
- K.I.S.S (Keep It Simple, Stupid)
- Do not boast. This is a technical book. I am interested in passing the exam and not in your CV. If that wasn't the intention, then sorry, but this is how it comes across.
I believe we still have to wait some time before the writers realise that maybe 1/3 (if not more) of the content is just useless clutter and it can be safely omitted. MS has done this already with the tests - very much appreciated indeed.
It is good work regardless, but there is still plenty of room for improvement.
I haven't read other 70-662 books; therefore I cannot comment on comparisons.