Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Non Fiction Books (Mostly Software Programming) Before 2003

A page with useful reference for me as I don't own each one of these books. It can provides you a very short review non-commercial biased.


  • Programming Jakarta Struts (O'Reilly - Chuck Cavaness) much better than Manning book. Explains struts very clearly with a more interesting example. Not enough on how to design your application for use with the evil ActionForm. Almost nothing on Struts 1.1 features. Nothing on common problems encountered while building web applications, or even about on how to design them using struts.
  • Struts In Action (Manning) not much more about struts than what's available on struts website. Their example throughout the book is the same login example. Struts 1.1 features, esp DynaForm are mentioned but not really presented. On the positive side, there is a very useful Validator reference at the end and a too short mention of different strategies for the ActionForm.
  • Contributing to Eclipse (Kent Beck - Erich Gamma) funny little drawings inside to make some good points.
  • The Design Patterns Java Companion(Adison Wesley - James W. Cooper) A must read for clean swing development. Essencial design patterns inside. Nice tip about doing deep cloning in java.
  • Java Threads (O'Reilly - Scott Oaks and Henry Wong) very clear presentation of multithreading programming in Java. Explain how to write your own thread scheduler.
  • J2EE expert one on one (Wrox) pragmatic view of J2EE. Many interesting comments like why avoiding stateful session bean if you are a little bit concerned with performance. Some strange benchmarks at the end of the book showing velocity templates being 10x faster than JSPs.
  • Java Distributed Computing(O'Reilly - Jim Farley) very good to learn more about RMI because it starts with a custom distributed object system.
  • Java Enterprise in a Nutshell (O' Reilly - David Flanagan, Jim Farley, William Crawford, and Kris Magnusson) good complementary book, provides a good basis. I liked how RMI use in EJBs was detailed, Servlet chapter is also excellent (but don't look for design tips/help in it - it is a book on the BASICS).
  • Enterprise Javabeans, second edition (O'Reilly - Richard Monson-Haefel) second lecture made me better appreciate that book, contains a lot of fundamental concepts to know. Very detailed on transaction management. However there is nothing I remember in it about EJB restrictions. In short incomplete but not bad.
  • Structure And Interpretation Of Computer Programs (MIT Press)


  • A New Kind Of Science (S. Wolfram)
  • Programming C# (O'Reilly) contains good and detailed information, is a nice lookup book when we want some information on a particular C# subject, and contains a nice example about programming Windows Forms without Visual Studio.
  • C# Language Reference (Microsoft, june 2000) ok to lookup information but O'Reilly is usually better.
  • C# .NET Web Developer's Guide (Syngress) useful, good data on the CLI and on the C# compiled format. It is a nice book to learn C#.
  • C#, Your visual blueprint for building .NET application ( ) not good, very Visual Studio centric.Filling up pages with obvious data.
  • Thinking in Pattern (Bruce Eickel) essencial oo design patterns
  • The Zope Book ( ) good book to familiarize yourself with Zope
  • Fractal Geometry of Nature (B. Mandelbrot) the spirit of Fractals, maybe good for people that already know a lot about fractals, otherwise kind of difficult to read sometimes because it does not detail ideas that much focusing more on the spirit.
  • Complete Java 2 Certification (SYBEX) do you know that a byte is signed and a char is 16 bits?
  • Chaos and Fractals (German authors) makes fractals accessible to everyone including non graduates, while still being ambitious (Fractal dimension details, Julia set details...). It is based on relatively classic mathematical approachs.


  • Java Security (O'Reilly) repetitive but very good overview of overall Java Security. In September 2001, it was the only book with a chapter on JAAS.
  • Learning Python (O'Reilly) ok to learn python.
  • Bluetooth demystified (N.J. Muller) first chapters are interesting to get an overview of bluetooth and its market potential. Then it describes the telecom technology behind bluetooth from scratch. A must read for people who have to program embedded bluetooth devices. It reminded me a little bit the GSM book. I would have liked a detailed technology comparison with its competitors (not only the spec comparison).
  • J2EE ( ) just another rewriting of Sun specs...
  • Programming Ruby, the pragmatic programmer's guide ( ) Excellent overview of Ruby but a little bit too much pro-Ruby. The first book on Ruby. In 2002, Ruby is now a bad choice of programming language because Python does everything as simply as Ruby does and has a much larger community.
  • Python Essencial Reference (New Riders) good because the python hypertext documentation has a really bad index and is not well organized.
  • Programming Python (O'Reilly) that book sucks.
  • Genetic Programming III, Darwinian Invention and problem solving (Koza) very good approach, nice comparison with evolutionnary theory + good introduction to LISP. First chapters must be read, then repetitive.
  • How to solve it: Modern Heuristics (Springer) AI techniques overview. Not very useful because it describes the obvious with a lot of details and the difficult in a few words. Furthermore some very stupid comments like p358 "some have suggested (e.g. Walter Freeman) that digital implementation of neural network may fail to emulate the biological reality because real brain are chaotic analog devices. Digital computers can only approximate the behaviour of analog devices to a given degree of precision. This precision may not be sufficient to capture the chaotic dynamics that exist in the real brain". 3 sentences to express a not-so-interesting remark, none of them add any details. Koza is much more interesting.
  • Professional JMS (Wrox) good overview of JMS, everything I needed to know about it.
  • Professional J2EE (Wrox) really good on custom JSP tags. Some interesting design issues. Explicitely mention the restrictions of J2EE (even if he does not explicitely tell you how to avoid them). Unfortunaly their examples are not always very good and sometimes just too long (especially the XML/JSP part is crap).
  • Applied Cryptography (B. Schneier) The basis of cryptography, very detailed. Could be used as a reference manual.
  • Fast Food Nation (E. Schlosser) 1000 reasons not to eat cheap food. A social part and a chemical part, but mainly social. I found interesting to read "Americans with German ancestors far outnumber those with English ancestors", (of course Schlosser is from German origin). A shame he did not specify any reference probing this fact.
  • The Codebook ( ) history of cryptography describing the diverse techniques to encrypt or crack.


  • Web security ( ) some interesting parts but a lot of nothing.
  • Database Nation ( ) why worry about your private data? Authentification problems on social life.
  • CCTV( ) first chapters interesting on the history of prisons and criminals. Then a lot of repetitive data on CCTV in England. CCTV means Closed Circuit TV i.e. surveillance systems for public areas.
  • In Code(S. Flannery) nice introduction to cryptography and mathematics. At 16, she proposed a new authentification scheme quicker than RSA. My first slightly technical purchased book for my pleasure.
  • Java Server Pages, chapter 8 a must read for clean servlet/jsp programming: a nice presentation of MVC adapted to a web client through the command pattern. The rest of the book is much less interesting and much more entry-level. Professional JSP from Wrox is probably a much better book now.


  • GSM (don't remember the title but it's red and from the ENST) everything about GSM technology, very well described and explained.
  • Lamps ( ) a lot of books on light/optics/lamp technology.


  • Thinking in Java (Bruce Eickel) free and good to learn Java. Good chapters on Swing programmation. Swing was new at this time.


  • Java in a Nutshell (O'Reilly) my first Java book. Was ok to learn java but not that great. JDK API documentation should be removed from the book and replaced by a chapter on the Javadoc system.

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