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The ACCU passes on review copies of computer books to its members for them to review. The result is a large, high quality collection of book reviews by programmers, for programmers. Currently there are 1918 reviews in the database and more every month.
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Title:
Oracle Essentials
Author:
Rick Greenwald et al.
ISBN:
0 596 00179 7
Publisher:
O'Reilly
Pages:
364pp
Price:
£24-95
Reviewer:
Jon Lacey
Subject:
database
Appeared in:
14-3
This book covers 'What you need to know' about the database architecture and features of an 8, 8i or 9i Oracle database.

The authors have all worked for the Oracle Corporation and have written this text to enable the reader to achieve an overview understanding of the Oracle database without having to delve into the thousands of pages of documentation from Oracle. There is no attempt made to teach the syntax of commands, rather what they do and the repercussions of their use.

Do not expect to learn anything in-depth from this book, but keep it at hand to remind you of what can and cannot be achieved and in which version it is available.

Another very handy O'Reilly text.

The Development Process

Secrets of Software Success be Detlev Hoch (no details supplied)Allan Kelly

Given the title you may be forgiven for expecting one of those '100 tips for successful software' books but with the subtitle 'Management insights from 100 software firms around the world' (and four McKinsey consultants as authors) you may think again. I was attracted by the chapter on software development and here,the consultants speak a lot of sense which surprised me a little! As with the rest of the book, the authors have researched what works and what doesn't. They provide firm evidence for things, which experience software developers know instinctivelylike the importance of an overnight build. This is reassuring and useful to have in black and white.

If you are only interested in coding then your interest in the book stops here. On the other hand, if you are interested in how successful software firms come to be, maybe even being entrepreneurial yourself then read on. Much of the information is delivered by way of tales about software companies, whether they write mass-market, bespoke or enterprise software. This makes the book quite an easy read. It can also be infuriating when the authors ignore the fact that Microsoft's monopoly position makes their company unique.

What comes over from these tales is that sales, marketing, PR and management are every bit as important to a firm as raw software development. While there is much to learn here you must also be aware that the book, published in 2000, was based on research done in 1997 so in places it shows its age.

Some of the examples cited no longer exist and some 'innovative' business models are now seen as failures. The discussion on exotic hiring practices may seem decidedly odd in an environment where many developers are having difficulty finding a job let alone a cool job. The consultants drank too much Cool-Aid before writing this book and some of their conclusions are, with the benefit of hindsight, flawed. However, there is still much here that a budding Larry Ellison could learn. It may also help you understand your own company's weaknesses and strengths. I wouldn't recommend this book for a hard core developer, but as an easy read, I think anyone who is interested in the software business will find it enjoyable.