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B. Eaton "twiglet27"
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Silverlight 4 Unleashed
Silverlight 4 Unleashed
by Laurent Bugnion
Edition: Paperback
Price: £30.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent follow-up to the previous edition, 22 July 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Silverlight seems to become a different beast with each version, so I bought this just as I was thrown onto a Silverlight-based project using Prism and MEF (about which I knew nothing). Mr Bugnion has once again produced a thoroughly readable and informative book, whose size belies the depth of its content.

Topics given space include the aforementioned Prism and MEF, but also Unity with a nice explanation of IoC and how it fits in with Silverlight. He also covers MVVM, Windows Phone development (briefly, but still very good), WCF integration (in its many flavours including RIA services), and a host of other stuff that is being used right now in real-world projects. As with most of the recent 'Unleashed' books (and appropriate for a UI platform) the whole thing is in colour.

It's worth noting that this is (almost) an addendum to the previous edition (Silverlight 2 Unleashed). In fact (and I don't know whether this is still the case) purchasing this book entitles you to an electronic download of the previous book.

An excellent book which covers pretty much everything a competent Silverlight developer would be expected to know.


SharePoint 2010 For Dummies (For Dummies (Computers))
SharePoint 2010 For Dummies (For Dummies (Computers))
by Vanessa L. Williams
Edition: Paperback

3.0 out of 5 stars Basic but useful, 22 July 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
As a former MOSS 2007 developer, I purchased this book so that I could get properly up to speed with the new features of SharePoint 2010 and also to understand how branding had changed. It was very useful on the first, less so on the second.

The bad bits: it is a 'Dummies' book, so don't be too surprised if it dangles the prospect of tantalisingly useful information in front of you then doesn't provide any more detail. This is particularly evident in its coverage (or lack thereof) of SharePoint Designer 2010 - it does get mentioned but not enough to be of much use.

The good bits: it does a very good job of explaining, in clear terms, what SharePoint is and the benefits it can yield. It puts the functionality in context and would enable a non-technical user to quickly make productive use of a SharePoint installation.

The author clearly has a lot of experience delivering SharePoint in real-world situations and her opinions on usability vs branding (and the comparable ROI) is one of many useful insights into how to get the best out of SharePoint. What would have made it nicer is examples of good usability customisation.

It's a shame it has so many omissions as I do really like this book, but it could have done with being twice the size.


Introducing HTML 5 (Voices That Matter)
Introducing HTML 5 (Voices That Matter)
by Bruce Lawson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £25.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Concise, comprehensive, opinionated, and very readable, 23 May 2011
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Back in the day (circa 1995) HTML books were voluminous tomes full of such gems as how to make text blink, written for that strange breed of folk who didn't know whether they were developer or designer. Thankfully this book is evidence of how the web design(er) landscape has changed. It's definitely a book about the web (cool but fit hippy yuppies sipping latte) rather than a programming book (fat beardies with Talosian-style brains). While it does assume some knowledge of the preceding versions of HTML, anyone with a modicum of common sense and access to a search engine should quite easily be able to make good use of this.

I was surprised at how comprehensive it is for such a slim book. It starts at the beginning (a very good place to start), providing a context for the genesis of HTML 5; then explains all the new features and how best to apply them (and importantly how not to apply them), in examples that actually bear some relation to how things are done in the real world. It's all in here: forms, videos, offline storage, semantic markup, etc.

There's a lot of new stuff in HTML 5 and this book tells you as much as you need to know to get started with it. I really rather like it.


The Age Of Miracles
The Age Of Miracles
Price: £4.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect, 15 April 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Age Of Miracles (Audio CD)
It took much prevarication and a wonderful evening at Birmingham Town Hall in November, but I finally purchased "The Age of Miracles", gave it a few spins in the car, shrugged indifferently, and retired the disc to a shelf. One long winter later and a fortuitous song shuffle in the last two weeks from my antique iPod, and the twelve tracks that at first seemed barely indistinguishable from one another have now gotten in to my head - opening my eyes to a world of wonder and colour I'd forgotten existed.

The songs are a compelling mix of introspection, story telling, and life affirmation. "Mrs Hemingway" and "4 June 1989" tell two very different stories from the imagined perspective of the protagonists - a hint of regret and tragedy in both. The title track and "The Way I Feel" find equanimity between resignation and inspiration. The breadth of subject matter joined together by common threads is quite remarkable.

This is a work of genius by an artist with an amazing capacity of expression, sung beautifully and played superbly by very talented musicians. It may take a while to get into but you'll not regret the effort.


Star Wars Trilogy: Episodes I, II And III [DVD]
Star Wars Trilogy: Episodes I, II And III [DVD]
Dvd ~ Hayden Christensen
Offered by lightningdvd
Price: £39.99

14 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Misunderstood classics, 19 Sept. 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Having not seen any of these films since the theatrical release of 'Revenge of the Sith' I purchased them as my daughter had already got through episodes 4-6. 5 years or so later and one realises what great films they are. Certainly, there are questionable continuity gaffes and Anakin's transition to dark lord is a tad unconvincing, but in places they exceed the 'earlier' films.

Visually, they're stunning and (without most of us realising) defined the cinema scape for most of the noughties. The underlying plot is actually quite complicated and merits several viewings to unravel the threads of Palpatine's plan. It's also nice to see actors who are in very different places now (Keira Knightley, Hugh Quarshie, Jay Laga'aia, Genevieve Riley, but to name a few) taking part in what would, by virtue of its pedigree, always be a piece of cinematic history. The combat scenes are on a completely different level - the acrobatic hard man Ray Park warrants special mention.

What makes this films so good though, is that they tell a much more difficult story than the 'goodies vs baddies' of the original trilogy. Back when I was 7 or thereabouts, the good/evil narrative approximated my level of understanding, but if this is still your level at 30 then you've wasted over 20 years of your life. George Lucas does a not-half-bad job of explaining how a democratic society gives itself over to dictatorship without even realising it - liberty is sacrificed because of short term fear. The fact that Jar Jar Binks is the one to sell the republic down the river (because he's basically a clumsy idiot) is nothing short of a master stroke.

These are fabulously watchable and a welcome complement to the original trilogy.


The Thick Of It - Series 3 [DVD]
The Thick Of It - Series 3 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Chris Addison
Price: £7.39

5.0 out of 5 stars Laugh so much you'll soil yourself, 18 July 2010
I accidentally watched 'The Thick of It' while having time to idle away on iPlayer and I've never looked back. The signs should all have been there - it stars the protean Peter Capaldi (previously only familiar to me from the Doctor Who stable) and the delectable Rebecca Front (middle-class housewife crumpet a specialty). To cap it all, it comes from the creative genius of Armando Iannucci (Alan Partridge, Time Trumpet, etc). You'd have to be Mary Whitehouse not to think this is the funniest thing on television - it really is a work of genius.

Within 20 seconds of watching the first episode I howled so much with laughter I woke one of my children. Whether it's the political intrigue that one suspects is dangerously close to reality or Malcolm Tucker's invective interludes, this is difficult to stop watching. If nothing else it's a deeply insightful illustration of the nature of power and how democracy is easily undermined by the very human failings of those meant to ensure its continuance. But most of all this is damn funny.


The Art of Unit Testing: with Examples in .NET
The Art of Unit Testing: with Examples in .NET
by Roy Osherove
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Another one on the 'essential' list, 8 Jun. 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
As this is already the de facto book on unit testing for .NET developers, then it's pretty much advised that any .NET developer owns a copy. Its chief merit is that it concisely covers the evolution and practical use of unit testing in software development, including the use of mocking and testing frameworks (with specific emphasis on Rhino Mocks and NUnit). While not strictly about TDD it does give enough information to make reasonable inroads. For those new to unit testing (including myself) it will tell you how we got to here and where 'here' is.

I knew very little about formal unit testing before reading this and only purchased it because it's a common job requirement at the moment. However after reading it, I have realised that this isn't the sort of thing that professional developers can afford not to be aware of. The emphasis on .NET allows the book to be less abstract (the contextual explanations are short and to the point) and easier to put into practice.

My only gripe is that it's not quite prescriptive enough - although I suspect that's more to do with the stage of maturity that unit testing is at, rather than the author. It's not that I like to be spoon fed, but when it comes to methodologies I prefer not to have an array of options - I want to be told 'do it this way!'. That said, it does encourage you down the best practice route with adequate explanation of the pros and cons of particular techniques.

The only other thing I would say is that while it does assume a rudimentary working knowledge of OOP principles - reading a design patterns book will probably help - the examples are clear enough to work through without an external text.


Microsoft SharePoint 2007 Development Unleashed
Microsoft SharePoint 2007 Development Unleashed
by Kevin Hoffman
Edition: Paperback
Price: £35.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Breadth of content but more hand-holding needed, 28 May 2010
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This book is on an uphill struggle from the start. SharePoint is a very big product and it's difficult to write an accessible book on it that doesn't put the features in context. What this book really needs is the same number of pages again on general use of SharePoint and an explanation of the tasks best left to Sharepoint Designer.

I bought this book at a time when I'd been thrown head first into a large-scale MOSS deployment with no prior experience. It didn't really help at all - parts of it seem aimed at ASP.NET developers, but it was either released before ASP.NET Ajax or it didn't feel the need to include any Ajax related content in it. The section on user controls is not bad, but overall I came away with the feeling that I didn't really know much more about SharePoint/MOSS after having read it.

Just useful enough but a bit disappointing.


Professional ASP.NET MVC 1.0 (Wrox Programmer to Programmer)
Professional ASP.NET MVC 1.0 (Wrox Programmer to Programmer)
by Phil Haack
Edition: Paperback
Price: £33.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Expert opinion on nearly everything you need to know, 27 May 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Although this is about to superseded by the ASP.NET MVC version 2 book (currently scheduled for July), it's still worth getting your hands on now. Aside from the fact that it's written by a dream team of authors (and an editor who has been able to blend together their efforts seamlessly) it's remarkable comprehensive for such a small book.

The first 164 pages is taken up with an example project which puts into context many of the concepts expanded upon in the succeeding chapters. There is also a fair amount of content, including analysis of the relative merits, given over to developers who are coming from an existing ASP.NET (i.e. WebForms) background, which should ease any transition or evaluation of business case for MVC. Time is also given to complementary methodologies and technologies (e.g. TDD) as well as some of the nuts and bolts of the MVC framework.

What I particularly liked is that it's the sort of book that truly speaks to the professional developer, discussing many of the challenges faced along with practical tips on best practices. The chapter on security is excellent - it spends as much time on the ideological basis for security as it does on implementation guidelines. This is a book that can be handed to any reasonable intelligent developer and put into practice quickly. Highly recommended.


Tinker Bell [DVD]
Tinker Bell [DVD]
Dvd ~ Mae Whitman
Price: £4.30

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A surprisingly beautiful film, 10 Nov. 2009
This review is from: Tinker Bell [DVD] (DVD)
As happens so often these days, I was pretty much obliged to sit through this with my daughters (aged 3 and 4). I found it to be a remarkably enjoyable and thoughtful film.

On the face of it this really shouldn't work as anything more to put the children in front of while making dinner. It's full of the things that most little girls love - fairies, flowers, and prettiness - as well as having a female-dominated cast. The males are either lovable rogues, stern patriarchs, or (in the case of Terence) look like they got lost on the way to joining Westlife. The work of the fairies consists of doing the unseen work of changing the seasons (rounding up thistles, painting the spots on ladybirds, etc.) in which every fairy has their part to play, as determined at birth.

What emerges is a film covering a broad range on themes including self-awareness and social identity, as well as the inevitability of industrialisation on any society with precarious inflexibility in productivity. It raises issues about how striving to grow beyond our natural talent can be an end in itself and often brings about the realisation that, as the ancient Greeks discovered, happiness consists of 'the exercise of vital powers along lines of excellence in a life affording scope'. The moment where Tinker Bell's quest for identity converges with her sense of duty brings tears to my eyes every time - an honour shared with only three other films.

This really is a superb piece of work, further enhanced by the amazing quality of the animation, as well as the vocal talents of Anjelica Huston, Jane Horrocks, Lucy Liu, and America Ferrera - but to name a few. It's also full of fairies and pretty things so little girls will love it regardless.


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