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am 12. Juni 2000
This is a strange book. I had a continual feeling of disjointed writing presenting a rag-bag collection of unconnected ideas.
If you need an introductory book on data and databases then DON'T buy this book, as it's nothing of the sort. If you need a book giving a complete, thorough grounding in all aspects of relation theory, data and databases, again DON'T buy this book. However, if you work with databases for a living, already have a reasonable understanding about them, and want an assorted collection of discussions about the nature of data and databases then certainly DO consider buying it - you may find it gives deeper insights in this case.
The title is interesting - "Data and Databases", which reflects the book itself. The first half of the book mostly discusses the nature of DATA, with the second half mostly about DATABASES. "Concepts" - certainly, the book is mostly about concepts. "In Practice" - definitely NOT the case, as the book is mostly conceptual with very little of a direct practical nature.
I found the chapter on Keys most useful - an in depth discussion about surrogate keys, which most books barely mention at all. However, even this chapter reflects the general nature of the book. For any given topic, Celko picks a specific aspect which interests him, discusses it at length, but gives very superficial coverage of other equally important aspects of that topic.
The main problem with this book is that the description on the back cover is a blatant misrepresentation of its contents. It leads you to believe it is a comprehensive grounding in all aspects of data and databases, but it simply isn't. Celko admits as much in the Preface, stating it is "a collection of ideas...not a complete, formal text".
Previous reviews range from 1 star to 5 stars, but both types of reviews are actually equally valid depending on where the reader is coming from. If you are new to databases and looking for an introductory text then this book is NOT for you, despite the publishers claiming so on the back cover. If you are experienced with databases then certainly DO consider it, as it does give insights you don't normally come across.
I would have given four stars, but can only give 3 due to (a) the disjointed presentation of topics, and (b) the blatant misrepresentation by the publishers about the book's contents. However, I do recommend it to experienced database professionals.
(p.s. - before someone else goes on about reviewers who don't what they are talking about, I've spent over a decade earning my living developing databases, and spent literally thousands of hours doing formal study to Masters level, so I do have a reasonable idea what I'm on about).
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am 14. Februar 2000
There are many, many SQL books in the market. Very few good ones. And even fewer excellent ones. This is one of those few outstanding books which not only teach you some of the basic concepts but also to think. Readers of common trade books may get disappointed by its style, because it is simple but deeper and these readers expect the ABC of the other books. But please do persist and it will eventually change the way you think about databases and consequently the way you work and think about what you do and how you do what you do.
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am 1. Juni 2000
This book is a perfect reminder of the publishing truth that the people who write jacket copy have almost never read the book they are writing about. While this book is advertised as an "introductory book", it is nothing of the kind. A more revealing title would be "Assorted Thoughts on Data and Databases", and in fact the author admits as much in his preface: "This book is not a complete, formal text....I simply did not have the time or temperament to do a formal text." In each chapter the author dwells on some ideas and gives others a glancing mention, seemingly at random. There's nothing to tie the sections and chapters together other than their broad relation to the subject of databases.
There are some books that people find useful long after they have been acquainted with a subject--books that articulate ideas and principles that they have internalized from long experience and that elicit a "Yeah, that sure is true" response from the intermediate or advanced reader. This might be one of those books. But speaking as one programmer with some database experience, looking for books to supplement the knowledge I'm having to acquire on the job by necessity, this wasn't a helpful book for me. If you're looking for a true introductory text, spend your time and money elsewhere.
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am 11. Juli 2000
The author starts with saying: "This book is a collection of ideas about the nature of data and databases". Perhaps this is the reason that it is a bit chaotic, there is no red line throughout the book. But I found some of the sections very interesting, like the data structures and relational tables. I would recommend the book to everyone who would like to explore the ideas behind relational databases and who wants to become a bit more advanced. But do not take it for granted all he says. Some of it points are discussible and everybody can have his own opinion, like the use of intelligent and surrogate keys. I like surrogate keys very much. Users always want to change their typing errors, no matter if it is the primary key and has some child records attached to it.
There is one thing I do not like that much in his books. His likes to show that he knows a lot or knows where to find it, without any use for the book. This irritates me a bit. For example, why on earth list the axioms of intuitionist mathematics. I suppose I am one of the few readers who heard about intuitionism before and it is of certainly no help in this book. It is not there for the purposes of the book! Or another example, section 1.2.2 tells a bit about bad math. He tries to show that reporters cannot do simple math. But why does he assume there is a linear relation between weight and burned calories? May be there is a fixed amount of calories that you always burn, no matter what you are doing. I am not an expert on calories, but his logic of showing somebody's errors is not always correct. The correct answer for this calorie problem should be: we do not know and the 'proof' of the reporter is wrong. This does not mean the proposition is wrong! Another mathematical error, he writes that: "The idea of a limit is that there is a value that the sum never exceeds". Well, this is the definition of a upperbound. In case the function is non-decreasing the smalles upperbound will be the limit, it is easy to proof this. Of course, this is not a math book, but if you use the techniques you should be correct.
However, still a nice book to have and Joe mailed me always back when I had a remark or question. This care deservers one extra star!
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am 3. Februar 2000
This is to the Beginners Whom Complain about something they know very little about:
I often wonder why people assume that an introductury book should start with the first lesson. Consider: should a book on Introductory Theorical Physics begin with addition and subtraction. I have worked with databases for 20 years and have invested thousands of hours in learning my craft (pay attention: LEARNING my craft). With today's promises of how to become this or that in 21 days, it's no wonders why many beginners are dissatified. Beginners should begin not start in the middle or the end and expect to accomplish something. Joe Celko's books are for people who have begun to accomplish and takes them to better accomplishments with the investment of thosuands of hours of learn time - not simply for the quick buck! . Like my example about Theoritical Physics, it teaches THEORY concerning advanced physics and beyond and makes an assuption that you can add and subtract (even with the word introductory). If you're not sure about normalization, relational theory (or relational algebra as it is sometimes called) or database theory, or how SQL works under the hood and you want to learn ... then learn how to add and subtract before you try to solve the riddles of the universe. (A word of advise: as you are learning ... keeps those riddles close in your mind). And by all means quit showing your IGNORANCE by critisizing those whom have deidicate their lives to a lifetime of hard work and study for the benefit of the rest of us poor mortals. Humble yourself because I am here to tell you that your knowledge is NOT THAT GREAT! Quit moaning about 'it doesn't makes sense' or it 'rambles from one theory to another'. Instead LEARN. If something in one of Celko's books don't make sense then continue your research until it does. As with all things you LEARN to MASTER. It takes TIME, PATIENCE and HARD, HARD WORK. Nothing is EASY until YOU MAKE IT THAT WAY! Remember fractions in the six grade ... seemed confusing and difficult. A few weeks of hard study and attention to detail brought out the SIMPLICITY of them. Everything is easy after you KNOW IT. Getting to KNOW IT is HARD ... but also FUN ... if you have the RIGHT ATTITUDE. Failure in the computer industry is strictly about nothing but the WRONG ATTITUDE. JUST SO YOU KNOW ... Celko's books are CALCULAS to the professionals and not just FIRST GRADE MATH. Next time you want complain ... tell yourself you know nothing ... because the truth of the matter is ... YOU DON'T! And for those in the COMPUTING FAMILY whom wish to learn and not complain (myself included), whether you are a beginner or a master keep ON COMPUTING by sharing YOUR WISDOM for the BENEFIT of all MANKIND.
Now For Joe:
When I buy SQL Manuals I search for one name ... Joe Celko. My SQL techniques have improved to the point that I am doing things with SQL that people around me say can't be done. It's not because I am a master, it's simply because Celko's books teaches you think about SQL in a different way ... ACTUALLY ... in way that SQL REALLY WORKS. Not like some of those spoon-feeding books that show you how to DO something without telling why you are doing, and, without explaining the consequences or the effects. Celko's books teach you think about what you're doing and WHY you are doing something a certain way. Celko's knowledge is invaluable to a Database Professional. The techniques I now have is a direct result of mastering, through hundreds and hundreds of hours of practice and evaluating the lessons thought by Joe Celko. By mastering these techniques, one at a time, I have been able to pick up ANY DATABASE (Microsoft SQL Server, Sybase, Oracle, SQLBase and Interbase) and master there SQL Language in a couple of days ... if not hours. I have found that understanding the SIMPLE lessons given in his books have taken me up many levels. Celko's SQL for Smarties is a BIBLE and A MUST. GOD, what a great book... Now Joe's mastery over the database continues to impress. Joe, my hat is off to you and by the way ... thank you for caring about ME (someone you don't even know).
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am 24. September 1999
Joe's book is great. It has everything for the most part that I was looking for. My only wish is that he would go further into some of the topics, but then he wouldn't have any information for another book. A good suppliment to this book is "Database Modeling & Design" by Toby Teorey. I think the two are a perfect marriage. I've been reading around "Introduction to Database Systems" for some time but now that I've finished Joe's book, I think I'm ready to tackle it.
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am 10. November 1999
The book is such esoteric theory as to make it useless. It is not, as the publisher writes, "an introductory book on data and databases". The book just rambles from detailed database theory to disconnected everyday description, and back again. If you want to learn about how databases work, this isn't the book for you.
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