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Beiträge von John Tompkins
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John Tompkins

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XSLT Programmer's Reference
XSLT Programmer's Reference
von Michael Kay

5.0 von 5 Sternen IMPORTANT: Things to keep in mind before buying this book, 31. Mai 2000
Rezension bezieht sich auf: XSLT Programmer's Reference (Taschenbuch)
1. This is really a reference, not a tutorial. It does include a "no nonsense tutorial" which will guide you through the basic XSLT topics, but if you have no XML experience, start with one of the more basic Wrox offerings. (David Hunter's Beginning XML -- which I hear will be excellent -- is going to be released by Wrox early in June.)
2. If you are unclear on the purposes of XSLT, understand that it is a programming language for converting data, performing scripting tasks, etc. on the way to a pure HTML or XML layout. I only mention this because some developers seem to be operating under the mistaken belief that XSLT is an appropriate subject for graphic designers, perhaps because XSLT contains the word "style." Do NOT get this book for your design staff.
3. Not a major hurdle for most of us, but some implementations, such as Xalan, are not covered.
That aside, this is a fantastic book. Everything I can think of in the XSL arena is covered, including extending XSL. The author, Michael Kay, who was such a force on the Professional XML team, once again proves to be an excellent writer. The browser specific details are just what I needed to solve many of my real-world production problems. And I continue to be amazed at the speed with which Wrox gets these comprehensive volumes to press.

Me Talk Pretty One Day
Me Talk Pretty One Day
von David Sedaris
  Gebundene Ausgabe
Preis: EUR 24,49

5.0 von 5 Sternen The Intimate David Sedaris: more Naked than Barrel Fever, 25. Mai 2000
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Me Talk Pretty One Day (Gebundene Ausgabe)
Casual readers of the title of this review will no doubt wonder if Mr. Sedaris was naked in Barrel Fever, perhaps appearing nude in its pages or in the buff while writing it. But those of us who know and love Sedaris (and recognize "Naked" and "Barrel Fever" as the titles of his two wonderful books) should rejoice in the release of Me Talk Pretty One Day.
Do not expect an essay on the perils of homosexual love with Mike Tyson, like the one that graced Barrel Fever. Me Talk Pretty continues the trajectory begun with Naked. The work is still funny, but it's not side splitting like Santaland Diaries was; instead, it has the humor of honesty: these things are funny because they happened, and because they happened to someone with such a noticable gift for conveying personal tragedy as Mr. Sedaris.
Indeed, Me So Pretty is, if anything, more naked than Naked. Perhaps you thought that Mr. Sedaris had no more secrets to reveal, no nooks and crannies of his early personal life left unilluminated after his 1998 autobiography. Me So Pretty proves that, at least for someone as talented as Mr. Sedaris, there is no end to facets that can be evoked from one's life.
Or the giggles.

Organizing from the Inside Out: The Foolproof System of Organizing Your Home, Your Office and Your Life
Organizing from the Inside Out: The Foolproof System of Organizing Your Home, Your Office and Your Life
von Julie Morgenstern
Preis: EUR 14,23

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5.0 von 5 Sternen The Best Thing About This Book: It Helps You Develop A Plan, 24. Mai 2000
Like many of us, I have lived for years by the motto "A Neat Desk Is The Sign Of An Empty Mind." I was proud of my mess, darn it! It showed that I had something going on in my life. And as for my home? Well, it was _lived in_.
The truth is that I was scared. Bringing order to my life and environment seemed like a daunting task. I had no _plan_ for getting organized. If you're disorganized to begin with, how the heck are you supposed to get organized enough to organize yourself?
Julie Morgenstern may not help you structure a fortune 500 company, but she sure will help you find the blueprints you need to get your act together. Organizing From The Inside Out helped me understand:
1. What my problems were
2. What could be done to address each one of them
3. How to take everything I'd learned and turn it into a strategy.
Am I 100% neat and orderly today? No. I think that takes a particular personality type. But if, like me, you've always been "the messy one", I think this book will really help you find the cleanliness (hey, it's next to godliness!) that you've been after.

The Crusades Through Arab Eyes (Saqi Essentials)
The Crusades Through Arab Eyes (Saqi Essentials)
von Amin Maalouf
Preis: EUR 16,99

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5.0 von 5 Sternen Staggeringly Well Researched, But Not Complete In Itself, 23. Mai 2000
What can one say about a book that has the chief fault of leaving one wanting more? The Crusades Through Arab Eyes (hereafter, "Arab Eyes") is a beautifully composed book that draws almost exclusively from Arabic primary sources to tell the tale of the Western conquest, 1100-1300 AD. Unfortunately, whenever Maalouf isn't talking about military or political intrigue, he seems to loose interest. The book raises many fascinating topics -- the influence of Arab society on the Holy Roman Empire, the rise of a slave class to become the masters of all Islam -- without going into detail on any of them.
The first encounter between Muslim and Crusader is told from the perspective of Kilij Arslan, a seventeen-year-old sultan who would go on to become a legendary name in the struggle of the Islamic people. The "Franj", as the invaders were called, were pouring into his country by the tens of thousands. A skilled military leader, Arslan carefully withdrew his forces into a defensive position, only to be startled by his first glimpse of this "army": ragged, untrained peasants with strips of cloth pinned to their tunics in the shape of the cross. Reluctantly forced into battle, Arslan easily smashed the Crusader legion into bits, considering the matter settled. He had no way of knowing that what he had seen was only the rumor of war, not the war itself.
What may be most surprising to Western readers, such as myself, was that the majority of the Islamic struggle during the Crusader period, 1100-1300 AD, was not against Europeans, but against other Muslim leaders. The "empire" of Islam was sharply divided, and the question of rule was always at issue. In fact, many great Islamic kingdoms actually _joined with the Crusaders_ to gain rivals' territories.
This is one of the many intriguing topics that Maalouf does not deem worth going into. In fact, he saves direct analysis of this for his epilogue, writing:
"Every monarchy was threatened by the death of its monarch, and every transmission of power provoked civil war. Does full responsibility for this lie with the successive invasions, which constantly imperilled the very existence of these states?... Such a complex question cannot be dealt with in this brief epiloue. But let us at least note that in the Arab world the question is still on the agenda."
As noted above, this is just one of many fascinating questions the book raises without answering. Students of Western history may be surprised to learn that the Florentine renaissance may have been the outgrowth of the Syrian renaissance that began with a bloody revolution led by a former slave. That a major Holy Roman Emperor favored Islam in every respect was certainly news to me.
Maalouf's book isn't necessarily a place to find the answers to questions you may have about the evolution of world history during the period of the Crusades. Instead, it's a wonderful jumping off point, a brilliantly-organized work that suggests questions so that you may find their resolution elsewhere. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

JavaScript: The Definitive Guide (Classique Us)
JavaScript: The Definitive Guide (Classique Us)
von David Flanagan

5.0 von 5 Sternen The Only Book We Can't Keep Around The Office, 20. Mai 2000
We have now burned through eight copies of David Flanagan's book. Everyone wants to take it to their house -- where it generally stays.
It's an incredibly useful book: comprehensive, accurate and concise. It does lack a "cookbook/how-to" section, but I don't see that as a major failing.
In any case, I believe that the best javascript "how to" repositories are on-line -- the right place for a "how-to" center, since the state of the art progresses much more quickly than a book can be updated. (Anyone remember the days when you just relied on the Navigator object to do browser checks?)
If you want my advice, don't just get one copy of this book -- get one for the office and one for home. That's what I did.

ASP 3 PROG REF, (Wrox Us)
ASP 3 PROG REF, (Wrox Us)

5.0 von 5 Sternen All The ASP You Need, 20. Mai 2000
Rezension bezieht sich auf: ASP 3 PROG REF, (Wrox Us) (Taschenbuch)
Generally, I buy Wrox books to get an overview of the terrain, then buy an O'Reilly nutshell book for reference purposes. ASP 3.0 Programmer's Reference is the exception that proves the rule. It's excellently put together, easy to navigate, and unusually broad in scope. You get a lot for your money.
One more thing: since ASP programmers tend to be less steeped in technology than, say, C++ programmers, it's especially important to have a reference that's easy to use and clear on every point. That's the best part about ASP 3.0 Programmer's Reference -- you never feel like you're lost (unless you're totally unfamiliar with the language, like the gentleman below.)

The C++ Programming Language: Special Edition
The C++ Programming Language: Special Edition
von Bjarne Stroustrup
  Gebundene Ausgabe
Preis: EUR 79,13

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5.0 von 5 Sternen The Return Of A Classic, 19. Mai 2000
For years, Stroustrup's original, The C++ Programming Language, was THE single book to own if you were serious about C++. The ideas were solid and well-presented, and Stroustrup's writing was nothing short of brilliant, funny one minute, authoritative the next.
Times have changed and the programming field has changed with them. I can no longer recommend the first edition as strongly as I once did, primarily because it fails to mention topics that are now absolutely necessary for a grounding in current applications of the language.
However, with the Special Edition, Stroustrup fills in most of the holes that have emerged. Readers of the early editions of The C++ Programming Language will find this an incredibly welcome volume in their library, as well as a heck of a fun read.

How to Know God: The Soul's Journey into the Mystery of Mysteries
How to Know God: The Soul's Journey into the Mystery of Mysteries
von Deepak Chopra
  Gebundene Ausgabe
Preis: EUR 22,73

3.0 von 5 Sternen Why This Book Isn't "Deepak Chopra", 19. Mai 2000
If you are one of the millions of people worldwide who have followed the advice of Dr. Chopra, the odds are likely that you were interested in physical -- not spiritual -- teachings. Ayurvedic medicine is a worthwhile and important alternative to Western sciences. Most of those who have been introduced to Ayurveda through Dr. Chopra's writings have been truly helped.
Not so with Dr. Chopra's spiritual side. His promotion of Rumi nonwithstanding, I've always wondered just how much the average Chopra follower truly takes from his mystical writings. Even those who have attended Chopra seminars, as I have, go in equal parts for the lecture on synchrodestiny and the massage.
Well, I am sorry to report that How To Know God is all lecture, no massage. It's not the "Deepak Chopra" most of us look for. I worry that Deepak is spinning further and further from usefulness and into some obscure corner of his own spritual doctrine. I know that Deepak truly believes that what he's doing is helpful, but I fear that books like How To Know God will turn away many who would otherwise have been helped by his teachings.

Turn of the Century: A Novel
Turn of the Century: A Novel
von Kurt Andersen
  Gebundene Ausgabe

3.0 von 5 Sternen Hello Diminishing Returns, 16. Mai 2000
What starts off as a compelling blend of characters and situation rapidly becomes confusing, unrealistic, and worse, boring.
Heck, I can work up sympathy for our female lead when we think she's going to have to sell out her company for $13 million instead of the expected $35 million, as Anderson asks us to. I can even work up a little sympathy for the travails of our male lead, even though "failing" in his case means he'll have to fall back on the profits of the "Homicide"-esque show he co-created.
But what's with boring me, Kurt? I don't want to give away anything in this review -- the above has been discussed in numerous reviews -- but the plot utterly fails to achieve anything like a dramatic apogee. Instead, the otherwise-fascinating Mr. Anderson relies on a narrative that twists and turns without ever attempting anything as straightforward as liftoff.
Is the author afraid of allowing himself to simply tell us a story? From such promising beginnings, I expected better.

The Cluetrain Manifesto
The Cluetrain Manifesto
von Rick Levine
  Gebundene Ausgabe

3.0 von 5 Sternen Ugh, 16. Mai 2000
Rezension bezieht sich auf: The Cluetrain Manifesto (Gebundene Ausgabe)
Ignore what you've heard.
I suspect that at the dawn of the next century, when they discuss the follies and hubris that surrounded the Net Set just before the stock crash of early April, The Cluetrain Manifesto may merit its own footnote as the most concise example of what went wrong.
One should naturally be suspicious of the marketing efforts for a book on marketing. Obviously, right? But nine out of ten people that I asked about Cluetrain recommended it without ever having read a page.
When I actually brought it home, what I found was, in equal measure, recycled thinking, poorly supported thinking, and thinking that simply hadn't come with the appropriate scrutiny. If the authors had not been so (justly, I might add) famous, it's doubtful that this mess would have seen print, let alone mention in the NYT Review of Books. The one or two genuinely interesting ideas -- cited in every single review, so I won't bother mentioning them here -- are strictly inapplicable to real life.
I'm hard pressed to think of a reason to buy Cluetrain, particularly when there are so many other, more compelling works on the market. Unless, of course, you want a keepsake from the turn-of-the-century follies.

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