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Mr. Rd O'donnell (Horley, Surrey)

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Silverlight 4 in Action
Silverlight 4 in Action
by Pete Brown
Edition: Paperback
Price: £31.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 11 Mar 2012
I've read many WPF books, this Silverlight book (the 2nd I've read) was better than all of them. I really can't recommend this book enough. Unlike many other XAML books, this one has good coverage of MVVM.

Silverline 456956 Jump Leads Heavy Duty 600A max 3.6m
Silverline 456956 Jump Leads Heavy Duty 600A max 3.6m
Price: £12.84

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 11 Mar 2012
Managed to start a Ford Focus from a Diesel Jag no problem- Focus fired up straight away. With my previous set of leads, it used to take 40 minutes with the jump leads attached to be able to start the car. I've now thrown my old leads away, as they were clearly useless.

Microsoft Silverlight 4 Data and Services Cookbook
Microsoft Silverlight 4 Data and Services Cookbook
Price: £23.68

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Useful to know your server side options, 7 Feb 2012
Firstly this book is not about how to write well designed Silverlight business applications as suggested by some of the other reviewers. Typically in a well design Silverlight application you don't name every control- you do as much as sensibly possible with MVVM (without going overboard) and your favourite ICommand implementation, not in the code behind as shown in this book.

The examples shown in the book are how someone who a background writing RAD style Windows Forms applications might write code (write some code straight in event handlers in the code behind), and hopefully not how a professional developer would structure their app. There is nothing in this book about decent DEV practises- using MVVM, IoC, Unit Testing etc (but good material that covers those topics can be found in most other decent Silverlight books).

What this book is very good at showing the basics of using SOAP services, REST Services, WCF Data services, WCF RIA Services as well as basic use of the Entity Framework. As an experienced WPF developer that is all that I required, so it served as a good introduction into these technologies, some of which were new to me (WCF RIA Services and WCF Data Services).

If you are an experienced developer you will have no problem reading this book. If you have a background in WPF, the book will be very easy to read. If you're looking to learn Silverlight and have no experience of other XAML based UI frameworks, I'd recommend you read other Silverlight books first.

Some of the code was a bit daft- like in Chapter 3 you'd typically not write a custom collection that implements INotifyCollectionChanged- instead of writing the CustomOwnerList class you could simply use the ObservableCollection class and write no code- you can easily change "list = new CustomOwnerList(someOldClass.Owners);" to "new ObservableCollection<Owner>(someOldClass.Owners);" instead and everything will work just fine.

There was also some bizarre code where the authors use LINQ when it is not needed- the same result could be achieved by using the selected item.

Finally on pg 238, the authors suggest running an odd mechanism for starting multiple projects- in Visual Studio it is better to select "multiple startup projects" on the solutions property settings, than the approach they suggest.

Despite these oddities the book was generally good quality, with the authors using modern C# features (like automatic properties) and not making their code look like they've only ever used C# 1, which quite a lot of other authors seem to do!

Buy it if you want a decent introduction into the various Silverlight server communication options you have available. If you're looking for guidance on how to write a well-designed Silverlight app then look elsewhere. If you're looking for a hardcore Silverlight book then this isn't it.

Vivanco DC2 Blu-Ray Lens Cleaner
Vivanco DC2 Blu-Ray Lens Cleaner
Price: £9.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worked on my PS3, 17 Dec 2011
My PS3 increasingly crashed more and more. At first I put it down to its age. When I got a disc read error when playing MW3, I found out about cleaning the Blu-ray drive, so decided to chance buying this disc- after all if it worked, it would be much cheaper than a replacement PS3.

I put the disc in my PS3, played the cleaning video, then went back to my game and haven't had any issues since.

Obviously others might not have the same issue, so it won't work in all cases, but did in mine.

Microsoft Expression Blend 4 Unleashed
Microsoft Expression Blend 4 Unleashed
by Brennon Williams
Edition: Paperback
Price: £23.52

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Almost perfect, 12 Nov 2011
This my review as a developer, so it will most likely be helpful to developers considering reading this book. That said, I'm sure the book is perfectly good for someone reading it as a UI designer (there is very little coding in the book- it is mostly Visual, point and click).

Having just finished reading this book, I can say I now feel that I've been on a really good training course on Expression Blend (reading this book felt like I had a personal Blend expert tutor).

The book is in full colour, and reads as a tutorial. You need to be at a PC with Expression Blend open to get the most out of this book. As a developer, I'm used to writing XAML by hand and feel like I know it pretty well, so in many cases I knew what the author was going to say next.

I had heard and read about the benefits of using Expression Blend as a developer and decided to give this book a read. I am very glad that I did. There are many tasks that Blend makes significantly easier than using Visual Studio's Cider XAML editor for- working with Styles, Resources, Animations, Gradients, and Design Time Data to name a few.

Expression Blend Behaviours are also particularly useful (they are beneficial to developers for many MVVM scenarios). Whilst the behaviours can be used in Visual Studio (by downloading the Blend SDK), it is much easier to use them by dragging and dropping in Blend. This book details how to do this visually very clearly.

As I approached this book from a developer's perspective, I was constantly looking at the generated XAML that Blend was creating. If you are a developer using this book as a learning tool for Blend, I recommend that you frequently do the same.

Now the bad points, which weren't a problem for me as I've already read many books on WPF (if Amazon had 1/2 stars I'd give the book a rating of 9/10). I think for a newbie reading the chapter on layout, they might get confused if they don't have any prior experience of the Panel controls. If this is you and you can stomach reading about them from a XAML perspective, I highly recommend Reading Adam Nathan's WPF book chapter on Layout with Panels (Chapter 5 of his WPF 4 book). This book goes into a much greater level of depth explaining how the panels work. It shouldn't be too hard to map the XAML in that book, to the properties editor in Blend.

Sometimes the book doesn't go into that much detail about things. The positive side of this is it keeps the book short- I got through this book very quickly. The book will get you up to a sufficient level knowledge where you can explore and gaps yourself.

In summary, if you're a developer who is thinking about learning Blend- go ahead and buy this book, you won't regret it.

Polywatch Acrylic Watch Glass Polish
Polywatch Acrylic Watch Glass Polish
Offered by Talk Time
Price: £6.87

5.0 out of 5 stars Works well, 26 Oct 2011
I had a few light scratches in my 1970s tuning fork watch. After doing some research I read about this and decided to try it. It worked perfectly. If it doesn't work well for you, then you must have sapphire crystal glass!

Developer's Guide to Microsoft Prism 4: Building Modular MVVM Applications with Windows Presentation Foundation and Microsoft Silverlight (Patterns & Practices)
Developer's Guide to Microsoft Prism 4: Building Modular MVVM Applications with Windows Presentation Foundation and Microsoft Silverlight (Patterns & Practices)
by Bob Brumfield
Edition: Paperback
Price: £24.29

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very useful, 16 July 2011
For a start, you can get the information contained in this book on the Web anyway, so only buy the book if you want a hardcopy (that's why I purchased it). If you don't want a hardcopy there is a PDF that is available to download that does the same job (it actually has more in it).

The book covers the basic ideas behind PRISM- that is writing composite apps in WPF/Silverlight using the MVVM pattern.

It would be useful to those that are new to PRISM, MEF, Unity or MVVM.

This is actually one of the best books I've read for MVVM content- it even beats all of the currently available MVVM books out there (as of July 2011). Even if you don't intend to use PRISM it is still useful in providing some guidance on how to architect an enterprise WPF application- guidance that is seldom available.

If in doubt about this book read some of the reviews on in my opinion they give a much better view than some of the other reviews on the UK site.

In summary the book is well written and provides useful architectural guidance- buy it if you want a hardcopy.

Applied Wpf 4 in Context (Expert's Voice in .NET)
Applied Wpf 4 in Context (Expert's Voice in .NET)
by Raffaele Garofalo
Edition: Paperback
Price: £39.49

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Different from most other WPF books, 3 July 2011
I first heard about this book from reading the author's other book on MVVM. I try and read most WPF books, so decided to get this one. The book was generally quite useful up to chapter 8- for me the sections on using data annotations and the entity framework were the most useful. The rest of it felt like filler material to me- but I understand that these chapters may be useful for beginners.

The book is generally quite well written, though I would hesitate to recommend it as a tutorial book- at least until the full source code for the sample app is released. I think it may confuse a novice without the source code.

Having read various WPF books now, I would say this book covers areas that many others do not. If you want to learn about WPF and XAML nothing beats Adam Nathans book. If you want to read a book that has lots of examples, read Matthew McDonald's book. If you want a basic tutorial on WPF read WPF in Action with Visual 2008 (don't let the title put you off- it is still useful even today with Visual Studio 2010). If you want a book covering some best practises get this one.

It would probably be useful to those who want to read more about using an IoC container in an application and how to use MVVM. There are very few books on this at the moment, so I would recommend this book to anyone who has those requirements.

It does not cover everything you need to know about these areas and I'd strongly advise doing some supplementary reading online- MVVM in a box is a useful starting point for MVVM.

My thoughts on the individual chapters are below.

1) Introducing WPF and XAML.
This introduction was quite good considering the number of things it covers in 20 odd pages. For anyone looking for the same thing in more depth after reading this book I'd strongly recommend reading the first few chapters of Adam Nathan's book- I've not read a book that covers this as thoroughly as Adams. No complaints with this chapter though.

2) Sample application, overview and getting started.
This chapter was OK. It can be confusing though. Pg 36 shows a list of projects in the format APRESS.TimeTracker.ProjectName where as pg 37 shows projects in the format APRESS.TimeTracking.ProjectName. My advice is to not start creating the solution in this chapter and wait for the full sample app source code that is coming from the author. I'd also consider using NUGet to add the references referred to in the chapter- most of them are available through that.

3) Microsoft Expression Blend
This chapter was useful as an overview (and only an overview) of Expression Blend. It is not going to teach you to use expression blend, but highlights the SketchFlow, design time sample data, styling controls and how you could create animations. This chapter was useful in reminding me that I should really get a book on Expression Blend!

4) Creating the Views
A bit more stuff on Expression Blend that was useful, and some pages on creating ViewModels that was quite good too. The author shows the humble dialog pattern and using dependency injection with Unity towards the end of the chapter. I not a big fan of the approach the author takes with unity- I hold the strong view that dependencies should all be through the constructor and not defined as an attribute on a property. Doing that makes it easy to see what the dependencies are. Mandatory dependencies on properties suggests that they are something they are in fact not- optional. I'd also generally avoid holding references to the unity container which is done in various code examples in the book.
That said I'm pleased the author is using an IoC container- there are way too many people who aren't using one who should be.

5) Adding Controls to the Views
This is another chapter where the author crams a lot of useful content into a relative few number of pages.
On pg. 98 the author suggests it would be OK to use the canvas panel to position controls for a login screen using an absolute position. I'd strongly recommend against doing this- think about what would happen if you were to localise the app- thankfully the author does not seem to mention this approach again.
There is some odd advice on pg. 100 about avoiding using Stack panels and dock panels in views, which I think the author did not intend to express, as he uses a DockPanel in the code on the very next page. Just remember Adam Nathan's advice on this- "Dock panels are useful for arranging a top-level user interface in a Window or Page"- which is exactly what the author is doing on the adjacent page!
Overall this chapter was quite good and shows some useful practises- merged resource dictionaries, creating basic user controls.
The bit on Charts and appointment controls seem to be a bit out of place.

6) The Entity Framework
This chapter serves as a pretty good introduction to the Entity Framework. I currently don't use this as I work with Oracle DBs atm, but this chapter has prompted me to look into it again when Oracle bring out support for EF later in the year, or if I work on a project that uses SQL Server.
The author says to use CTP 5, though I used EntityFramework 4.1 which supports code first workflow with the examples in the book without any issues. I suspect the author wrote the chapter before 4.1 came out. It would be useful if he could clarify this.
I was quite impressed with this chapter.

7) Data Binding
Pretty reasonable overview of data binding, probably the most important topic in WPF. The best part of this chapter for me was how to use DataAnnotations with IDataErrorInfo to do ViewModel validation.
The chapter also demonstrates the best practise of putting parts of a Window into user controls. I wish more developers did this- too many create 1 rather long hard to maintain XAML window!

8) Command Handling and Event Routing
This basically describes using RelayCommand in MVVM. Quite a good overview. There is also some stuff on the weak event pattern.

9) Unit Testing with TDD
This chapter should really be called testing with MSTest. The author should explain that some of the tests are actually integration tests and should not be in the same assembly as the unit tests. Unit tests should run fast. Anything that hits a database is not a unit test and should be in a separate test project.
This chapter in my opinion was the worst chapter in the book. I would not recommend it to anyone who wants to learn about unit testing. Read the art of unit testing with examples in .NET if you need a book on unit testing.

10) Reports with Microsoft Reporting Services
As I don't envisage using this I didn't bother reading it. Therefore I am unable to give an opinion on this chapter.

11) Deploy the application using ClickOnce.
Skipped as I don't use this technology or have plans to use it.

12) Design Patterns in WPF
This might be useful for those who have never heard of MVC, MVP, MVVM. I personally didn't find it useful.

13) WPF and Multithreading
This chapter covers the basics of multithreading in WPF. It didn't provide anything useful to me, but might be useful to others that don't know about Task. It would have been good if there was some advice on MVVM multithreading.

14) Interacting with WCF
I felt this chapter was just a filler. Might be useful to someone who has never heard of WCF. If you want to do WCF properly you'll need a book on it. I personally would not have included this chapter in the book.

Pro WPF and Silverlight MVVM: Effective Application Development with Model-View-Viewmodel (Expert's Voice in WPF)
Pro WPF and Silverlight MVVM: Effective Application Development with Model-View-Viewmodel (Expert's Voice in WPF)
by Gary McLean Hall
Edition: Paperback
Price: £39.49

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 30 Jan 2011
I purchased this book as it was one of the first available books on MVVM. Sadly there is nothing Pro about this book whatsoever. A better title would be an "introduction to MVVM, with some random bits of WPF/Silverlight/.NET framework programming thrown in".

The odd thing about this book is the intended target audience. If I was writing a book on MVVM I doubt readers would need chapters giving overviews of WPF/Silverlight, unit testing or data access layers. I guess it is aimed at beginners but for some reason use a Pro title.

On a positive note, chapters 2, 3 and 4 are worth reading as an introduction to Data Binding/Model View separation and the basics of ViewModels. The unit testing chapter is a bit of a joke. If you don't know about unit testing I recommend you skip this chapter and read the Art of Unit Testing with Examples in .NET. Also skip the example using Rhino Mocks- most people favour the newer style Arrange/Act/Assert Syntax over the older record/replay syntax used in the book. This chapter is also odd in that the author recommends using underscores in test names but then does not follow this convention in later chapters.

There are some other annoyances in the author's code. Firstly he decides to put regions in all of his sample code. Personally I hate regions, but I have learned to tolerate them from others (I have Visual Studio expand them automatically!) However having regions in code examples is silly and just makes the code less readable. The author puts all of his fields at the bottom of his classes, another practise that leads to confusing code. Had he used StyleCop on his code, he probably wouldn't have done this!

It is ironic that the author talks about SQL injection attacks and the proceeds to use concatenated strings in his data access layer examples! Regardless of whether this is a security risk, it still badly affects application performance (hard parse anyone?)

The chapter on application support is another odd one. The author rambles on randomly about Serialization, plugins and MEF. This chapter feels like irrelevant filler to me. The sample application chapter has no download code available and again I see some annoying code:

_childAccounts.Count(child => child.Name == account.Name) > 0.

OK, I'm being picky now, but the following LINQ statement is much better:

_childAccounts.Any(child => child.Name == account.Name).

The author talks about using IoC at various points throughout the book but does not provide any recommendations for a framework, or how you can hook IoC into a MVVM WPF app. I would have thought that most people, who want to do MVVM, will also want to use an IoC container. If you were looking for a book that discusses this, I would thoroughly recommend Pro ASP.NET MVC Framework by Steve Sanderson. I was really hoping this book would be as good as that one, sadly it isn't.

I can only hope that the SAMS MVVM and the MSPress ones are better. So in summary if no other books are available on MVVM and you don't mind about ½ of the book being useless then buy this book.
Otherwise wait for others to come out on look on Stackoverflow for some online resources.

Giottos GTAA1900 Rocket Air Blower - Black
Giottos GTAA1900 Rocket Air Blower - Black
Price: £10.00

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good for camera cleaning, 17 Jan 2009
I use this for cleaning my cameras sensor. It gets rid of most of the dust the manjority of the time. It is also handy for cleaning computer keyboards or anything small that you wish to remove dust from.

If this product doesn't work on my camera sensor, I switch to SensorSwabs and E2. There are videos on how to use this blower to clean the sensor on YouTube- these are very useful.

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