Meetings

The Fort Smith .NET User Group meets the second Monday of every month.

Meeting location:

ABF General Office
Room 1W.52
3801 Old Greenwood Rd
Fort Smith, AR 72903

(Parking in front of building)

Meeting time is 6:00 PM with presentations starting at 6:30 PM.

For more information or to be added to our email list, please contact info@fsdnug.org.

Book Reviews

Pro SQL Server 2005 Database Design and Optimization

Author: Louis Davidson
Publisher: Apress
Pages: 672
Reviewed By: Randy Friend
Review Date: 02/09/2009
Review: Pro SQL Server 2005 Database Design and Optimization covers the reason behind optimizations and the side effects of the options given. Rather than statements such as 'add an index', the author explains when indexes can help with database optimization and when they can have an adverse effect.

SQL optimization is not a simple do this and get results task and the authors cover thought and testing needed to optimize a database as well as stating why/when the suggestions may or may not show improvements.

Pro Windows PowerShell

Author: Hristo Deshev
Publisher: Apress
Pages: 493
Reviewed By: Randy Friend
Review Date: 10/30/2008
Review: Pro Windows PowerShell give a 'hands-on approach' to showing what PowerShell can do and how. The author also steps the reader through the scripts to show what the script is doing, why it is doing it and how the output can be used in the real world. Pro Windows PowerShell is more than a reference manual and valuable for all levels of PowerShell users.

Accelerated VB 2008

Author: Guy Fouché and Trey Nash
Publisher: Apress
Pages: 464
Reviewed By: Anthony Potts
Review Date: 8/11/2008
Review: I have been trying to make the transition to the 3.5 framework on my own with mixed success for a little while. After having read this book, I am much further along in my pursuit. This was a book which helped illuminate exactly how much I do not know, which is always a good thing. In most of the topics covered, they point out the differences in value and reference types, and are quick to direct the reader to using the IL to check out the underpinnings for themselves. Being mostly skeptical, I did, and have now started using this newfound ability to peel back the hood and see what makes the whole thing tick. As a result, I came to understand the stack, heap and boxing conversions more.

As far as the meat of the book, there are some great chapters. My favorite chapters were those on Exception Handling, Delegates and Events, Generics, and Threading. These are topics which are not new to VB 2008, but prior to this book I had not spent a great deal of time studying them. Any book which explains threading or generics in a way that I can understand is great to me, which this one does a great job at doing. The examples were not as trivial as I sometimes see in books, but were succinct enough to be used at a later time to try to understand the concepts. In addition, the Best Practices chapter contained some good nuggets to keep in mind and I found the LINQ chapter to be a good primer on the topic.

Overall this was an excellent book which I think could be used as a textbook if someone took the time to write problem sets. I would especially recommend this book if you are like me, and have not had a great deal of formal training but want to fill in some gaps and want to head into the latest iteration of the .NET framework.

Teach Yourself Visual Basic 2008 in 24 Hours

Author: James Foxall
Publisher: Sams
Pages: 576
Reviewed By: Tim Franklin
Review Date: 7/1/2008
Review: I recently read a book written by James Foxall and published by Sams entitled Teach Yourself Visual Basic 2008 in 24 Hours. I highly recommend this for those who want an introduction to the language, the IDE, and .NET in general.

Likes: The author did a very good job of covering subjects like the very basics of the IDE, creating forms, manipulating controls, what object-oriented means, etc. The 10,000 Foot Overview, as Foxall calls it, is an easy to understand approach to how the .NET framework fits together and what the main benefits and drawbacks of it is, regardless of the programming language you choose. The section on automation with Excel and Word was very useful, and so was writing to the registry. The ClickOnce deployment chapter was the most interesting to me since at my job we "rolled our own" deployment methodology and I've always been curious what Microsoft is pushing as the "easy way" to do it.

Dislikes: Personally I was hoping it would have discussed more about the new enhancements and features in 2008 and go more in-depth into the IDE, but you can only expect so much for a book that could be read in a day. The author covers functions and subprocedures pretty well but still uses a lot of the older-style functions like CStr(variableName) rather than the more object-oriented approach of variableName.ToString() or even CType(variableName, String) that leverage IntelliSense. Users new to the language might be familiar with functions like CStr() and CBool() from ASP and VB6 but in my opinion, it de-emphasizes the power of .NET, especially for those new to the language. I also don't remember any mention of DirectCast(), which is a very handy function that I personally use much more often than CType for several reasons. The author often returns data in a function using the FunctionName = variableName method rather than just typing Return variableName, which is also what I consider to be an older way of doing it and personally I don't like it. The return statement stands out in the code a lot more and is easier to remember and more consistent than using the actual function name. The database chapter was a good intro but I would have liked to see some mention if not a little discussion on remoting to a server not located on the client, which is more common for larger applications.

Overall: This is a great book for beginners. As someone who is already familiar with VB.NET, I gleaned a bit of new information along with a good review of the basics.

The Rational Guide to Building Technical User Communities

Author: Greg Low
Publisher: Rational Press
Pages: 136
Reviewed By: Michael Paladino
Review Date: 3/13/2008
Review: This book does a good job of covering a variety of topics related to starting and maintaining technical user communities. The author's opinions come from years of working with user groups in various capacities, and all his opinions are backed up with stories from his own experiences. His ideas seem to be mostly common sense, but it is helpful to have all the information aggregated in one location.

The book is easy to read and is a good length. I found the discussion of recruiting volunteers to be very helpful. The one point on which I disagree with the author is his opinion that meetings should always have two topics. I certainly don't have the experience that the author has, but I have found that there is just not enough time to allow for disussion, handle group business and giveaways, and cover two topics in a reasonable amount of time.

Overall, I was very pleased with the book and will be passing it around to the rest of the leadership of our user group.