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Profile for Jack D. Herrington > Reviews

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

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GPU Gems: Programming Techniques, Tips and Tricks for Real-Time Graphics
GPU Gems: Programming Techniques, Tips and Tricks for Real-Time Graphics
by Randima Fernando (Series Editor)
Edition: Hardcover
16 used & new from CDN$ 38.34

5.0 out of 5 stars Wow!, April 27 2004
Addison-Wesley and nVIDIA went all out on this book. Every page is color. This means all of the code samples, graphics, everything, is in color. This is not only an impressive trick, it also makes a book on computer graphics a lot easier to read. To understand what a particular algorithm is trying to do with color you needn't go to the center of the book, the graphic is right there.
The content of the book is somewhat mixed. It's done as a collection of papers so the writing tends to vary from verbose to terse. For example the chapter on depth-of-field covers five different techniques in 15 pages with 13 medium to large graphics. That's impressive compression, but it means that it is very terse and the chapter amounts to little more than an overview. The very next chapter, on high-quality filtering, weighing in at 25 pages has a better balance of overview and detail.
Despite it's inconsistencies the book is still a wonderful resource and, frankly, a nice coffee table book to boot. It's even got some unintentionally funny parts, like the section header before page 3 that shows the most un-natural looking monster you have ever seen with the title 'Natural Effects'. Hardly. Still, a great book and a fun read. Bravo AW and nVIDIA.

XSLT 2.0 Web Development
XSLT 2.0 Web Development
by Dmitry Kirsanov
Edition: Paperback
18 used & new from CDN$ 2.69

5.0 out of 5 stars Great book, ignore the 2.0, April 27 2004
To get the most out of this book you need to ignore the 2.0 in the title. The book is only incidentally about XSLT 2.0, and it does a great job covering modern XSLT web development. I'm actually serious in my advice, if you just concentrate on the 2.0 portion of the book you will be disappointed. You need to assess the value of the book as a whole. And that value is great. Primarily because of chapters like the first chapter which dig into how XSLT can be used to revolutionize the generation of static and dynamic websites through XML data abstraction and the use of XSLT stylesheets.
A couple of years back XSLT was the great hope for replacing JSP with an abstract interface that would generate code for both HTML and WAP. That never materialized, mainly because server side technologies were too slow and client side XSLT wasn't universally supported. In hindsight it's obvious that this JSP replacement mindset was in error. This book is a complete re-assesment of XSLT in the web development context and provides a number of options and architectures to address different performance and abstraction concerns.
If you would consider yourself a 'web designer' I don't think this book is for you. It has too much about XML schema design and not enough about the mechanics of XSLT conversion. This book is better suited to senior developers and architects who want a novel and intelligent approach to construction of static and dynamic web sites, using XML and XSLT.
For XSLT advocates who feel that their favorite technology was miscast and sent out to pasture years early, this book is for you. Let's hope Addison-Wesley marketing can find that sweet spot to get this book out there. The author has some great ideas and it would be wonderful to see them popularized.

by Vikram Vaswani
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 41.99
17 used & new from CDN$ 3.85

4.0 out of 5 stars Good XML code and application examples in PHP, April 27 2004
This review is from: XML and PHP (Paperback)
Chapters two and three start the book with good examples of SAX and DOM use in PHP respectively. This provides a solid foundation for the rest of the book which shows examples of popular XML based technologies as applied to PHP. These include XSLT (Sablotron), XML-RPC, SOAP, XML in databases and other topics. Each of these discussions contains some real world examples to provide context.
It's a short and concise book that is well written. The use of graphics could be more effective. For example the screenshot in figure 6.8 is a single line in a vast sea of whtie browser space. The code sample could use some annotation or at the very least some bolding to hi-light the important segments.
The value of this book will depend on the degree to which you use XML in the PHP context. If you want a quick booster rocket to get you into SAX or DOM work within PHP this book will do the trick since it's far better than the documentation on the PHP site.

PHP Programming for Windows
PHP Programming for Windows
by Andrew Stopford
Edition: Paperback
14 used & new from CDN$ 15.97

3.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly light on the Windows, April 27 2004
For a book about Windows, this book has surprisingly little Windows specific information in it. The first chapter, on installation, is Windows specific. But then it doesn't go Windows specific until about 3/4s of the way through the book in section three, where it talks about COM, ADO, Active Directory and a couple of other Windows-specfic technologies.
It's a short book, so the mid-section which is not Windows specific is a general reference for PHP. It's a brief reference though, weighing in at less than 100 pages, where other books (PHP and MySQL Web Development) spend over 150 pages on just the basics.
I can't recommend this book unless you have a specific need for introductory information on PHP installation for Windows, or use of Windows specific back-end technologies like COM, ADO or the Active Directory.

Python Essential Reference (2nd Edition)
Python Essential Reference (2nd Edition)
by David Beazley
Edition: Paperback
21 used & new from CDN$ 0.77

4.0 out of 5 stars Valuable reference work, April 27 2004
David has done a great job condensing the need-to-known Python language material down into the first hundred pages of the book. The code examples are great, there are no graphics, and there are plenty of well-formatted tables for operators, methods, and the rest.
The second half of the book is Appendix A, which covers the Python's standard library. I think it's odd that an entire section of 200+ pages is considered an appendix, but that is only a minor flaw.
The reason that I give the book only four stars and not five is that Appendix A could use some more of the clever formatting applied to the first part of the book to make it more accessible. The information is all there, but it could be formatted a little better. O'Reilly does a great job with that sort of thing.
Overall, this is a great handy reference for Python. Far better than the online documentation. If you are an occasional Python programmer, like me, you will find this book a great resource because you can get a quick refresher whenever you need it.

C# Complete
C# Complete
by Dave Evans
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 52.69
23 used & new from CDN$ 0.77

4.0 out of 5 stars Pleasantly surprised, April 27 2004
This review is from: C# Complete (Paperback)
I have to say I wasn't expecting much from this book, and I was pleasantly surprised. The book is a repackaging of a bunch of chapters from other C# books that have been 'adapted' to work as one complete work. The topics range from syntax basics, to UI, database and web work. The tone of the book is uneven, but each of the chapters is written well and presents it's topic clearly. The paper and binding is pretty cheap, but given the price that is to be expected.
For the money this is a good buy. If what you want are some code fragments and explanation on all of the basic .NET and C# topics, you should consider this book. I just went to the index to find examples for XML, and found some quality ones right away. When you consider how much you would have to spend in other publisher's catalogues to get the same material, you can see with this is a bargain.

Mastering C# Database Programming
Mastering C# Database Programming
by Jason Price
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 51.78
17 used & new from CDN$ 3.79

3.0 out of 5 stars Tutorial with lots of screenshots, April 27 2004
The book has a tutorial style with tons of screenshots. It works through examples step by step with lots of code and not much exposition. If you want an on-rails guided tour to the .NET database APIs with C#, this book is for you. For me I would rather go with an introductory style which gives an overview of an entire API. An example is the chapter three section on SQL, which is thirty pages long. It only veers off the rails twice, once to talk about less than, greater than, equals to, etc. and another time to talk about and, not and or. The chapter spends only half a page on insert, delete and update. If you wanted to learn SQL from scratch you couldn't do it from this chapter, and if you already knew SQL, you would skip this chapter. So I'm not sure what the purpose is.
Conclusion, if you like "on-the-rails" tutorials and you want to learn .NET database programming that way, this book is for you.

C++ Gotchas: Avoiding Common Problems in Coding and Design
C++ Gotchas: Avoiding Common Problems in Coding and Design
by Stephen C. Dewhurst
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 62.99
17 used & new from CDN$ 46.22

5.0 out of 5 stars Save yourself some C++ pain, April 27 2004
If you can learn from other peoples mistakes then this book will save you a lot of pain. C++ is one of those languages that can dish out the pain if you don't understand what it's doing (and not doing) for you. The book presents 99 gotchas, starting with procedural issues (e.g. useless comments, etc.), but quickly gets into C++ technical issues.
An example is gotcha #70, where you didn't define a virtual destructor in the base class. It's something that the old dogs know to do, but if you didn't know it then you can get stung badly and it will take you a lot of frustration to figure out.
If you liked Effective C++ and More Effective C++ you will probably like this book. Either way, if you are a professional C++ programmer this book can save you a lot of pain.

by Korry Douglas
Edition: Paperback
24 used & new from CDN$ 19.94

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly advanced, April 27 2004
This review is from: PostgreSQL (Paperback)
I was surprised at how advanced this book was. It starts with the usual introduction to basic SQL access to PostgeSQL, then has a two chapters on data types and syntax, and then jumps straight into performance and extensions stuff. It then covers PL/pgSQL. The majority of the second section of the book is examples of writing for Postgres with various programming languages (e.g. C, C++, Java, Perl, PHP, Python, etc.)
I liked the advanced content, but I was looking for a book on Postgres basics. So I don't think I got the right thing. My advice to you is, check out the table of contents, and make sure you are getting the content you need. If you are looking for a basic Postgres reference, this is not going to have much content for you.

Software Craftsmanship: The New Imperative
Software Craftsmanship: The New Imperative
by Pete McBreen
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 36.60
30 used & new from CDN$ 7.31

5.0 out of 5 stars Software Craftsmanship : The New Imperative, April 27 2004
This book presents a totally new angle on software engineering career. The model is of a craftsman, like a woodworker (as pictured on the cover), starting as an apprentice, then on to journeyman and finally master. It recasts projects in this new light and shows advantages over the current software engineering "programming by horde" model. It also presents the traits of a craftsman, perpetual learning, teaching, belief in quality, embracing, but also being critical of new technologies.
If you really don't believe in the current "anyone could do your job" management view of software engineering you will find this book, and it's mindset, a refreshing change. Software is an art. Professional engineers have a lifelong passion and respect for that art.
There are several books that present this point of view, foremost is The Pragmatic Programmer, which is also an excellent book. If you have to decide between the two (and you really shouldn't) I would pick The Pragmatic Programmer. Spend the money, buy both, they complement each other and you won't regret either purchase.

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