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Reviews Written by
Jack D. Herrington "engineer and author" (Silicon Valley, CA)

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Programming Mac OS X: A Guide for Unix Developers
Programming Mac OS X: A Guide for Unix Developers
by Kevin O'Malley
Edition: Paperback
8 used & new from CDN$ 37.27

3.0 out of 5 stars Broad, not deep, April 26 2004
This book is a case in point for accurate titles. The book is exactly what it says it is, a wide overview of all of the different ways for 'Programming Mac OS X'. It starts with a brief history of the operating system, then talks about the operating system basics. It then covers at a high level building applications with Java, Objective-C, Carbon, Applescript and Perl. This includes sections on the tools to use to develop in these languages, and in some basic introductions to get you started on that platform.
In Manning style the graphics are effective, and the code samples are not overused and are well commented. Chapters three and four, which cover Project Builder and the standard compilers, stand out as the heart of the book. Chapter seven, on Applescript, is particularly appreciated because of the lack of documentation or books on this subject.
The book fills a unique roll. It covers all of the different programming possibilities at a level that gives you perspective of the entire playing field. If you want to drill down into say, Java programming, you will need to buy another book. But if you are unfamiliar with OS X and you are looking to program for it, you should take a look at this book to get a feel for the possibilities.

Jmx in Action
Jmx in Action
by Benjamin G Sullins
Edition: Paperback
16 used & new from CDN$ 2.67

4.0 out of 5 stars Good on tech, not much expository information, April 26 2004
This review is from: Jmx in Action (Paperback)
In classic Manning fashion this book is concise and focused, uses graphics sparingly and effectively, and does a great job with code annotation. The problem comes with exposition. What I wanted was a book that not only explained what JMX was, but why I would want to use it. I found that this book had a ton of technical detail, on what is undoubtedly a complex topic, but lacked much in terms of context. More how, less why.
That being said, I understand that most readers are looking for the technical side of the argument and the book has that in spades. Particularly nice chapters are chapter one, which does provide a little context for the use of JMX, and provides a very nice, though brief, overview of the JMX architecture. Chapter six, on agent notification is also excellent.
Frankly, I would love to see a second version of this book with more emphasis on use cases. For example, chapter 7, on dynamic MBean creation, would do well to cover why you would want to use Model MBeans, and not just assume the reader understands the solution out of context with the need.
If you are on a project using JMX or an architect who is already looking at JMX, this book is worth the look. If you are looking for a gentle introduction to the topic, keep looking.

LDAP Progamming, Management, and Integration
LDAP Progamming, Management, and Integration
by Clayton Donley
Edition: Paperback
13 used & new from CDN$ 22.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Just what I wanted, April 26 2004
I was looking for a book that covered the basics of LDAP, went through server configuration, schema basics and best practices, and access for a scripting language (e.g. Perl.) I got what I wanted with this book, save the server configuration portion. There was some information on servers, but nothing on how to set one up or get it going. Which makes sense because each server is different, but it would have been nice to see at least one, perhaps OpenLDAP.
Chapters one and two stand out as an ideal introduction to the history of LDAP, it's current structure, and the basics of LDAP schema. Chapter nine, on accessing LDAP operational data, is excellent. The explanations are great, graphics are used effectively, and the code samples are concise.
The only two drawbacks that I can think of are the lack of a server setup and configuration chapter, and the books slight emphasis on Perl as opposed to Java. I personally like the Perl side, but I can see how some folks might prefer Java. There are a lot of Java examples, but there are more examples in Perl.

Linux Programming by Example: The Fundamentals
Linux Programming by Example: The Fundamentals
by Arnold Robbins
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 43.49
22 used & new from CDN$ 7.11

4.0 out of 5 stars Linux Fundamentals, April 26 2004
Don't judge a book by it's cover, especially this cover, with the cheesy lightsaber which screams, "secrets of the Unix Jedi". Read the the lines, "Linux" and "Fundamentals" on the cover, and that is what you need to know.
If you are familiar with the classic "Advanced Unix Programming" you will be familiar with what this book covers and appreciative of the update. In short, this book covers the fundamentals of shell programming with C; files, directories, signals, memory allocation, process control, permissions, that sort of thing. It does not cover network programming or X11 GUI programming.
What I liked about it was primarily that it imparted experience. For example the section on creating temporary files pointed out both good and bad ways to write the same functionality. The text was expository and informative. Where Advanced Unix Programming was a little dry and stiff in tone, this book is a little heftier, goes into more detail, and is written in a more experiential and friendly manner.
There is a lot to like about this book. If the subject, within it's constraints, interests you, then you should get it. If only to broaden your depth of understanding as to how Unix works and how to write programs for it. If you are looking for books on network programming, xml, multi-threading, web serving, or X11, you should look elsewhere, but you should probably still look at this book to bone up on 'Linux' 'Fundamentals'.

Coder to Developer: Tools and Strategies for Delivering Your Software
Coder to Developer: Tools and Strategies for Delivering Your Software
by Mike Gunderloy
Edition: Paperback
14 used & new from CDN$ 33.38

5.0 out of 5 stars Great source of ideas, techniques and technologies, April 23 2004
Coder to Developer is one of the best technical books I have read in years. Like The Pragmatic Programmer and Software Craftsmanship before it, this book teaches how to be better engineer in the areas outside of strict coding. Yes it teaches a little about specific coding practices, but the intent of the book is to cover the breadth of skills required of a true developer. Skills like project management, architecture, engineering process, source code control, and relating to the customer. These are the types of career skills than will move you from a coder cog to an invaluable developer.
Mike finds the right depth in the book, not too deep into the technical details, nor so abstract as to be an architectural tome for the ages. When it comes to coding the book is primarily focused on C# on the .NET platform, but you should let that dissuade you. He covers a wide variety of techniques and technologies and the book is valuable for anyone involved in the engineering side of the software industry.
The book follows the rough timeline of application development, from nailing down the feature set in the first chapter to delivering the product in the last chapter. The book is fairly brief (roughly 300 pages). Chapter by chapter:
Chapter one covers planning out your project. It covers gathering requirements and how to decide on a development methodology for the project. It gives a decent overview of all of the popular development methodologies and pointers as to where to learn more. It also covers some software that you probably didn't know was out there but that can help you as you nailing down the feature set.
Chapter two covers architecture and gives a nice overview of both the UML and Patterns side of the business, and the more fast and loose XP development process.
Chapter three covers source code control and it's one of the best chapters in the book. When I got through chapter three I knew already that the book was worth the purchase price. This chapter covers in a very concise manner the best practices of source code control and the products that are available on the market.
Chapter four is a brief introduction to sane coding practices; using tools like assertions and exceptions, and how to comment code effectively.
Chapter five gives a high level, but insightful, summary of the unit testing, system testing, and the technique and benefits of test driven development. This is one of the best chapters.
Chapter six covers the IDE and how to make the best use of it. This is a fairly Microsoft specific chapter, but you can learn some tricks that are applicable to other development environments.
Chapter seven covers a topic which is often ignored, the skill of digging into code at the system level and finding your way around. This one is definitely .NET specific, and it was a little too low level for me. Your mileage may vary.
Chapter eight covers code generation, a topic near and dear to me. It's a very practical chapter introduction and should save .NET developers a lot of time.
Chapter nine is about bug tracking and fixing. As with the rest of the chapter this is a concise introduction to the topic that gives you a feeling for the benefits of bug tracking, which should be obvious, and advice about tools and process. Once again I have never seen a book that provides a good argument with the brevity of Mike's writing style. Code Complete, for example, covers this stuff, but it's thick and impenetrable. This book gets right to the core of the topic and presents it in a very accessible way.
Chapter ten covers logging, which can be overdone. Again pragmatic and practical advice. But this chapter is fairly .NET specific.
Chapter eleven is about the dynamics of small teams. He introduces Instant Messaging, Wikis, and group ware. A nice introduction, but a bit brief.
Chapter twelve is about both end-user and code documentation and the tools to develop it quickly.
Chapter thirteen covers the build process. The tools are fairly .NET specific (nant), but the process and the methodology are appropriate to any production software development shop. Another nice chapter with content you will be hard pressed to find in such a concise form anywhere else.
Chapter fourteen is about licensing. This is important for open source developers. It has a nice comparison of the popular open source licenses and makes sense of all of the legal gobbledygook.
Chapter fifteen is about installers and application delivery. It's primarily for .NET desktop application developers.
There is an old story about a developer that is walking out of a tech show empty-handed, he says to the security guard that he 'Stole a fortune'. The security guard, puzzled, asks, 'But you have nothing.' The developer responds that he now has new ideas! This is that kind of book. It's full of ideas for the software process, ideas about how to code, and ideas about tools you can use.
If you are an engineer who is passionate about his craft, this is an important book for you to read. But you probably know that already.

Thinking in C++, Volume 2: Practical Programming
Thinking in C++, Volume 2: Practical Programming
by Bruce Eckel
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 80.64
25 used & new from CDN$ 40.96

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent followup to volume one, March 22 2004
Volume Two picks up where the first left off, without skipping a beat. It starts by covering exceptions and unit tests, both of which should see more use in the real world. It then goes onto cover the standard C++ library in more depth that the first book. He then covers templates in a chapter that he calls 'Templates in Depth'. Yes, the coverage is long, about one hundred pages, but I would rename the chapter 'Templates at a practical level', which is exactly the where the coverage should be left. Templates, like macros, can be overused and have had whole books that cover the topic. Eckel chooses, and I think wisely so, to cover the topical to the extent that it would help you write practical templates yourself and to be able to use template libraries such as the Standard Template Library (STL).
The STL is covered, well, in the two chapters that follow the template chapter. Once again the coverage is not absolutely complete because of the grand scope of the field. There are long books on the STL, but these chapters provide a pragmatic and thorough introduction which should serve for most practical purposes.
The final chapters cover advanced topics. Notable are the chapters on Design Patterns which are designs for templates and classes what are considered industry 'best practice'. So instead of redesigning the wheel you use a design pattern, where appropriate. If you get into design patterns you should also read the extremely popular Design Patterns book, now in it's 25th printing.
In the final chapters is also a discussion on multiple inheritance and threading. Both of which are covered at a pragmatic level and have whole books dedicated to the subject.
This is an excellent, and needed addition to the original Thinking in C++ book. Both of the books are written in an accessible style and cover the topics at a practical level without rat-holing. For aspiring C++ programmers there is probably no better set of books to read as an introduction to C++.

Thinking in C++: Introduction to Standard C++, Volume One (2nd Edition)
Thinking in C++: Introduction to Standard C++, Volume One (2nd Edition)
by Bruce Eckel
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 87.42
20 used & new from CDN$ 35.52

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent C++ and general programming introduction, March 22 2004
Easily one of the best introductory C++ books I have read. Read slowly the book provides not only a good introduction to the syntax of the language, and in some ways the applications written with it, but also the thought process which should go into the use of the language, the actual skills of programming applications. That being said the book puts understanding the syntax first and is written and edited in such a way as to be educational.
I recommend the book to those looking to understand the fundamental of C++ and the core set of system libraries. For those unfamiliar with C++ you should understand that unlike VB, C# and Java the platform specifically libraries are held at arms distance in C++. So you won't find any information in here about the Microsoft Foundation Classes or any other platform specific libraries. You will need to get another book to get into those. This is not a fault with the book or the language, you just need to make sure you get both a book on C++ (probably this one) and a book on your specific platform.

Patterns of Enterprise Application Architecture
Patterns of Enterprise Application Architecture
by Martin Fowler
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 54.67
29 used & new from CDN$ 45.25

5.0 out of 5 stars Design Patterns at the implementation level for J2EE, .NET, March 22 2004
This book is a little more implementation specific than the incredibly popular Gang of Four Design Patterns book. Many of the patterns, the Data Transfer Object pattern, for example, are fairly specific to the J2EE structural problem at hand. Other patterns, like the Lazy Load, are good architectural patterns on any platform. There is enough generic content to justify the purchase of the book for architects implementing on any platform (J2EE, .NET, PHP, etc.) but it does favor the two current platforms de jour; J2EE and .NET.
One of the nice things about the book is how the code tends to de-emphasize the application container by doing most of the work in the raw database access systems (e.g. JDBC), which makes it easy to understand what is going on but will offend the true J2EE believer. This makes the patterns in the book accessible to anyone coding in any environment, which I greatly appreciate.
One pet peeve is that some of the patterns are obvious shells for a single technique, such as the Transform View, which is really just XSLT. The text says as much, but shouldn't there be more than one example of a particular pattern in nature? It's just a pet peeve though, it's no reason to avoid the book.
Overall, the book is well written and edited and the graphics add to the exposition but are not gratuitous. It's a useful guide for anyone looking to raise the level of the enterprise application (read web application) thought up to the next level.

Modern C++ Design: Generic Programming and Design Patterns Applied
Modern C++ Design: Generic Programming and Design Patterns Applied
by Andrei Alexandrescu
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 57.25
36 used & new from CDN$ 29.12

4.0 out of 5 stars Templatized Design Patterns in C++, March 22 2004
Like the original Design Patterns book that this book is designed to supplement this book is split into two sections. The first section covers C++ fundamentals that apply to the patterns in the second section of the book. It's the second section, which implements many of the Gang of Four's design patterns in C++ using templates that is the heart of this small book.
The C++ templates are designed well and the code is out of the box usable. The graphics are good, but somewhat sparse. If there is anything I could fault the book for it is it's length. More expository time could be spent on the templates and the relationships between each of the templates, classes and code fragments. Templates, at least to me, are confusing at the best of times. So I would have appreciated some more time spent in explaining their function.
For the hard-core C++ coder this is an excellent book, particular in conjunction with the Gang of Four's Design Patterns book.

SVG Essentials
SVG Essentials
by J. David Eisenberg
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 43.60
21 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Good introduction, needs more recipes, March 22 2004
This review is from: SVG Essentials (Paperback)
The book provides a solid introduction to SVG through an increasingly complex set of examples of SVG use. It is well written and edited, it also provides a thorough description of the entirety of the standard. What it lacks is more depth in the area of recipes for commonly used image effects. It also needs more advice about how complex SVGs are organized and built for efficiency. I understand that SVG is still on the adoption curve, so perhaps we could see these improvements in a second version of the book when the standard has picked up a little more.
For the time being the book earns it's four stars by providing a nice learning curve and having high quality examples that demonstrates the concepts effectively.

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