Lucky Me: My Sixty-Five Years in Baseball – #bookreview

Lucky Me: My Sixty-Five Years in Baseball
By Eddie Robinson, with C. Paul Rogers III
(SMU Press, $23.95)

Eddie Robinson has never been one of Major League Baseball’s headline-hungry bad boys.

A four-time American League All-Star and former general manager of the Texas Rangers, Robinson is still considered one of professional baseball’s true good guys, after a lengthy career that began during the Great Depression and lasted until his retirement in 2004.

Born in 1920 in Paris, Texas, Eddie Robinson started attracting team scouts well before he graduated from Paris High School.

In his entertaining and well-written memoir, Lucky Me, Robinson poignantly recounts how the Boston Red Sox offered to pay his tuition at the University of Texas at Austin, if he would join their minor-league system later on. “But,” Robinson writes, “times were still tough because of the Depression, and I was the principal breadwinner in our family because my parents were divorced.”

Rather than accept the Red Sox’s generous offer, he signed with a minor-league team, the Knoxville Smokies, and quickly used his signing bonus, $300, to pay some bills and buy his mother a washing machine.

From there, his fledgling pro baseball career quickly sank, and he soon was traded to a small-town Georgia team that played Class D baseball, “the lowest of the low,” he recalls. His manager told him he would never make it to the majors. But the next year, Robinson got better at hitting and fielding. With grit and determination, as well as some good coaching, he started scrapping his way out of baseball’s basement.

As he continued to improve, Robinson went on to play for several more minor-league teams. Then he made it to the majors and appeared on the rosters of seven American League teams, including the Chicago White Sox and New York Yankees.

Robinson appeared in two World Series before his playing days ended in 1957. In his final at-bat, playing for the Baltimore Orioles, he was fanned by famed knuckleball pitcher Hoyt Wilhelm. The next morning, Robinson reported for work as a front-office management rookie.

Many of baseball’s greatest names pop up in Lucky Me, including Babe Ruth, Yogi Berra, Ted Williams, Billy Martin, Satchel Paige, Bob Lemon, Earl Weaver, Dizzy Dean and Paul Richards.

In the book’s foreword, Tom Grieve, a game broadcaster and former Texas Rangers general manager, recalls how Robinson gave him hitting tips when he was a young player attracting major-league scouts in 1966. Grieve later played for the Washington Senators, who became the Texas Rangers.

Ironically, when Robinson became the Rangers’ general manager, he eventually traded Grieve to another team, but he soon signed him back and later gave him his first front-office job as the Rangers’ director of group sales.

Not surprisingly, Grieve terms his friendship and work history with Robinson “a grand slam.”

Big-league baseball enthusiasts likely will view Eddie Robinson’s Lucky Me memoir in the same postive light, both for its fine details and its smooth flow. Robinson’s co-writer, C. Paul Rogers III, has co-written three other baseball books and is a professor of law and former dean of the Southern Methodist University School of Law in Dallas.

Si Dunn

Introducing Microsoft WebMatrix – #bookreview

Introducing Microsoft WebMatrix
By Laurence Moroney
(Microsoft Press, $39.99, paperback)

Introducing Microsoft WebMatrix is aimed (1) at readers who may be first-time web developers and (2) at readers who want to learn how to build active web pages or learn how to customize open source web applications to their own needs.

WebMatrix is a free, downloadable web development “solution” from Microsoft that promises to prove “all the tools you need for server-side programming.”

Lawrence Moroney’s book illustrates the use of templates, cascading style sheets (CSS), helper libraries and other tools in WebMatrix. His goal is to help show you how to build and customize data-driven websites using Microsoft’s new web development product.

He provides steps and illustrations that show how to add email, video, web forms and other features to a site, using WebMatrix.  He includes tips and steps for using the product’s helper libraries to expand a site’s reach via social media such as Twitter, StumbleUpon and LinkedIn, as well as Xbox Gamercards.  

The book, written during WebMatrix’s beta,  is a good, compact and convenient introductory tutorial.

However, to keep up with the newest WebMatrix changes and to fill in some knowledge gaps, you will also need to refer to online sources such as Microsoft’s ASP.NET site, the WebMatrix site and the “Web Development 101” pages for WebMatrix, while following the processes in this book.

Certain requirements must be met to use Microsoft WebMatrix.

1.  The supported operating systems are: Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows Vista SP1, Sindows XP SP2+, Windows Server 2003 SP1+, Windows Server 2008, and Windows Server 2008 R2.

2. An Internet connection is needed to install WebMatrix  via the Web Platform Installer.

3. To run the Web Platform Installer on your computer, you must have administrator privileges.

Code samples can be downloaded for all of the projects in the book.

The book’s chapter lineup gives a good view of its coverage range.

  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1: Introducing WebMatrix
  • Chapter 2: A Tour of WebMatrix
  • Chapter 3: Programming with WebMatrix
  • Chapter 4: Using Images in WebMatrix
  • Chapter 5: Using Video in WebMatrix
  • Chapter 6: Forms and Controls
  • Chapter 7: Databases in WebMatrix
  • Chapter 8: Exposing Your Site Through Social Networking
  • Chapter 9: Adding Email to Your Site
  • Chapter 10: Building a Simple Web Application: Styles, Layout, and Templates
  • Chapter 11: Building a Simple Web Application: Using Data
  • Chapter 12: WebMatrix and Facebook
  • Chapter 13: WebMatrix and PayPal
  • Chapter 14: Building Your Own Web Helpers
  • Chapter 15: Deploying Your Site
  • Chapter 16: WordPress, WebMatrix, and PHP
  • Appendix A:  WebMatrix Programming Basics
  • Index (11 pages)

The author, Laurence Moroney, is a “Senior Technology Evangelist” at Microsoft. He has more than 10 years of experience in software development and implementation, and has written numerous articles and books.

Moroney’s new book is written in clear, straightforward style and contains ample steps, code samples and screenshots to help simplify the process of learning how to get comfortable with Microsoft WebMatrix.

But keep in mind that it is truly an “Introduction,” a good how-guidebook to get you started, not a comprehensive handbook containing everything you will need to know.

Si Dunn

Developing Microsoft SharePoint Applications Using Windows Azure – #bookreview

Developing Microsoft SharePoint Applications Using Windows Azure
By Steve Fox
(Microsoft Press, $34.99)

“Windows Azure is Microsoft’s cloud-computing platform,” notes Dr. Steve Fox, a director on Microsoft’s Developer and Platform Evangelism team. And: “SharePoint is a web-based collaborative platform for enterprise computing and the web.”

Dr. Fox’s new book is not intended for beginners. You can’t dive into it comfortably unless you already have some familiarity with web development concepts and .NET Framework development in C#.

However, if you are in the process of learning to use Azure and SharePoint and hope to develop SharePoint applications, this book can be a key guidebook  that helps you gather knowledge and experience more quickly.

It is “specifically written for SharePoint developers who are looking to expand their knowledge into the terrain of the cloud—specifically that of Windows Azure,” the author writes.

A secondary goal of the book is “to help Microsoft .NET Framework and ASP.NET developers understand how they can take advantage of Windows Azure and SharePoint together,” he adds.

The 313-page book is divided into 10 chapters:

  • Chapter 1: Welcome to SharePoint and Windows Azure
  • Chapter 2: Getting Started with SharePoint and Windows Azure
  • Chapter 3: Consuming SQL Azure Data
  • Chapter 4: SQL Azure and Advanced Web Part Development
  • Chapter 5: Using Windows Azure BLOB Storage in SharePoint Solutions
  • Chapter 6: Integrating WCF Services and SharePoint
  • Chapter 7: Using SQL Azure for Business Intelligence
  • Chapter 8: Using the Windows Azure AppFabric Service Bus with SharePoint
  • Chapter 9: Using Windows Azure WCF Services in SharePoint and Office
  • Chapter 10: Securing Your SharePoint and Windows Azure Solutions

Chapter summaries, additional references and a nine-page index are included. And there are links on Microsoft’s site to download the book’s code examples, as well as additional code walkthroughs.

At least two ways are spelled out to set up your SharePoint developer environment. The “safer approach,” according to Dr. Fox, is to “use a virtual machine hosted in Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V for all of your application development.”

If you prefer to install everything natively, the system requirements are a bit extensive. For SharePoint 2010, you will need:

  1. A Windows 64-bit compliant operating system (Windows Server 2008 R2, or Windows 7)
  2. Microsoft SharePoint Foundation 2010 (the free version of SharePoint, usable for the exercises in this book) or SharePoint Server 2010
  3. Microsoft SharePoint Designer 2010
  4. Microsoft Office (Professional Plus) 2010
  5. Microsoft Visual Studio 2010
  6. The Microsoft .NET Framework 4
  7. SQL Server 2008 R2 (Express version will work)

For Windows Azure, you will need: 

  1. Windows Azure Tools and SDK, downloadable from Microsoft
  2. Windows Azure AppFabric SDK, downloadable from Microsoft

The latter part of the book also has some focus on developing Windows Phone 7 applications, and those require the Windows 7 Developer tools.

The author suspects many people will choose the virtual machine route at first, and his book includes a straightforward guide for installing and setting up a Hyper-V image.

Some of the key development topics Steve Fox covers are:

  • Delivering data from Windows Azure Marketplace DataMarket into SharePoint and Microsoft Office Applications.
  • Using Microsoft Business Connectivity Services to connect to SQL Azure data.
  • Creating advanced web parts to surface SQL Azure data in Bing Maps, using the SharePoint client object model.
  • Managing files in Windows Azure using BLOB (binary large object) storage.
  • Deploying WCF (Windows Communication Foundation) services to Windows Azure.
  • Building business intelligence solutions using SQL Azure and Microsoft SQL Server Reporting Services.

Developing Microsoft SharePoint Applications Using Windows Azure has a specific and narrow focus within the realm of cloud computing. But it is written well and has an adequate number of screenshots and code examples to help you learn and understand the concepts.

You will need, however,  to also follow some links and make judicious use of the book’s “Additional References” sections. “[t]o help ramp up your learning,” the author urges.

Si Dunn

Practical Packet Analysis: Using Wireshark to Solve Real-World Network Problems, 2nd Ed. – #bookreview

Practical Packet Analysis: Using Wireshark to Solve Real-World Network Problems – 2nd Edition
By Chris Sanders
(No Starch  Press, $49.95, paperback)

“A million different things can go wrong with a computer network on any given day – from a simple spyware infection to a complex router configuration error – and it’s impossible to solve every problem immediately,” notes the author of this well-written and nicely structured guidebook, Practical Packet Analysis.

“To better understand and solve network problems, we go to the packet level. Here, nothing is hidden from us — nothing is obscured by misleading menu structures, eye-catching graphics, or untrustworthy employees,” Chris Sanders writes.

His how-to manual for Wireshark is aimed not only at expert packet analysts but also newcomers to the process of using “packet sniffing” to solve common network problems such as malware infections, loss of connectivity, slow performance, printers running amok, and other issues.

This new second edition “contains almost all new content, with completely new capture files and scenarios,” the author states.  Mastering the scenarios is particularly important, he adds, because the concepts they cover can apply to many real-world packet analysis situations.

The popular packet sniffing software known as Wireshark has its roots in Ethereal, which gives it a “rich history,” he points out. “Gerald Combs, a computer science graduate of the University of Missouri at Kansas City, originally developed it out of necessity. The very first version of Combs’ application, called Ethereal, was released in 1998 under the GNU Public License (GPL).”

Several years later, however, Combs was unable to obtain Ethereal’s trademark, so  he spun off another product, Wireshark, which has “grown dramatically in popularity, and its development team now boasts over 500 contributors.”

The introduction and first two chapters of Practical Packet Analysis help the reader get up to speed on the basics of packet analysis. Routers, switches and hubs, the three main devices on a modern network, “each handle traffic differently, [so] you must be very aware of the physical setup of the network you are analyzing,” Chris Sanders cautions.

Indeed, he adds, “it is sometimes more difficult to place a packet sniffer on a network’s cabling system than it is to actually analyze the packets.” Fortunately, he presents some clear illustrations of where and how to position packet sniffers and how to use capabilities such as Address Resolution Protocol (ARP) cache poisoning (or “ARP spoofing”) to intercept traffic and get help from the popular security software package Cain & Abel.

An important goal in packet analysis, he contends, is the ability “to see every packet sent across the wire so that we don’t risk missing some crucial piece of information.”

Practical Packet Analysis is 255 pages long and has the following structure:

    • Introduction
    • Chapter 1: Packet Analysis and Network Basics
    • Chapter 2: Tapping into the Wire
    • Chapter 3: Introduction to Wireshark
    • Chapter 4: Working with Captured Packets
    • Chapter 5: Advanced Wireshark Features
    • Chapter 6: Common Lower-Layer Protocols
    • Chapter 7: Common Upper-Layer Protocols
    • Chapter 8: Basic Real-World Scenarios
    • Chapter 9: Fighting a Slow Network
    • Chapter 10: Packet Analysis for Security
    • Chapter 11: Wireless Packet Analysis
    • Appendix: Further Reading
    • Index (15 pages)

The appendix provides a brief introduction to a number of other packet analysis tools and resources.

The book’s index is expanded by 50% over the 1st edition and is nicely detailed by topic.

Along with packet analysis basics, some of the other major topics covered in the text are: (1) building customized capture and display filters; (2) monitoring and tapping into live network communications; (3) generating and using traffic pattern graphs to visualize network data flow; (4) creating reports and statistics that help non-technical users better understand a network’s technical information; and (5) using Wireshark’s advanced features to analyze confusing packet captures.

According to the author’s statements in the Introduction and on the back cover: “All of the author’s royalties from this book will be donated to the Rural Technology Fund (” The fund provides scholarships to “students living in rural communities who have a passion for computer technology and intend to pursue further education in that field.”

The author notes that Wireshark can be downloaded for free and used “for any purpose, whether personal or commercial.” The software “supports all major modern operating systems, including Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux-based platforms.”

Wireshark’s system requirements are: (1) a 400 MHz (or faster) processor; (2) at least 128 MB RAM; (3) at least 75 MB of available disk storage space; (4) a network interface card (NIC) that supports “promiscuous mode”; and (4) WinPcap capture driver. Promiscuous mode allows a network card to “listen for all network traffic on its particular network segment.”

The book’s author is a computer security consultant, author, and researcher. He writes regularly for and his blog,

If you need or want to know what happens at the packet level in a computer network and how to identify and fix network problems, definitely consider getting this compact, thorough and well-illustrated how-to guide.

Si Dunn

Dreamweaver CS5.5: The Missing Manual – #bookreview

Dreamweaver CS5.5: The Missing Manual
By David Sawyer McFarland
(O’Reilly, $49.99, paperback)

Huge. That’s the first impression of this 1,179-page guidebook focusing on how to use Dreamweaver CS5.5 to develop websites.

Indeed, the paperback weighs almost four pounds and is two and a quarter inches thick.

But after all, Dreamweaver has been around a long time, almost 14 years, evolving, improving and adding features and capabilities with each new release.

The book’s author, David Sawyer McFarland, has been using Dreamweaver since 1998 to develop websites. He also has written every Dreamweaver book in O’Reilly’s “The Missing Manual” series. And he is president of a web development and training company, Sawyer McFarland Media, Inc.

Thus, he knows a lot about Dreamweaver, and there is a lot to be said about using this powerful and popular program. Hence, the big, heavy book.

“Get used to the acronym CSS, which you’ll encounter frequently in this book,” McFarland states in the Introduction. “It stands for Cascading Style Sheets, a set of rules you write that dictate the look of your pages. Dreamweaver includes advanced CSS creation, testing, and editing tools.”

Dreamweaver has long been well-regarded for its visual approach to web page design. And in CS5.5, its JavaScript-based technology known as Spry Framework allows you “easily create interactive, drop-down menus, add advanced layout elements liked tabbed panels, and add sophisticated form validation to prevent site visitors from submitting forms without the proper information,” he points out.

He also praises Adobe for realizing that many web developers do a lot of work in which they must directly type in HTML, CSS, and JavaScript code. “In Dreamweaver,” he notes, “you can edit its raw HTML to your heart’s content. Switching back and forth between the visual view — called Design view – and Code view is seamless, and best of all, nondestructive.”

Dreamweaver likewise has well-regarded site management tools and tools for building and managing database-driven websites.

The new features in Dreamweaver CS5.5 include:

  • Basic support for HTML5, which is still evolving.
  • Support for CSS3, which is still evolving but will bring “many new formatting controls to make HTML look beautiful….”
  • Tools that support web design for mobile browsers.
  • Built-in support for jQuery Mobile and Phonegap—“two programming technologies that let you build mobile phone applications using just HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.”
  • W3C Validator for validating HTML code.
  •  jQuery code hinting, which simplifies writing JavaScript programs.

McFarland’s new book in “The Missing Manual” series follows a gradual learning-curve approach as it illustrates how to use Dreamweaver CS5.5’s many features and tools. The reader first is shown the very basics of creating a web page. Then features are introduced, explained and demonstrated in a logical order that helps the reader gain experience and confidence.

Dreamweaver CS5.5: The Missing Manual is organized as follows:

  • Introduction
  • Part One: Building a Web Page
  • Chapter 1: Dreamweaver CS5.5 Guided Tour
  • Chapter 2: Adding Text to Your Web Pages
  • Chapter 3: Text Formatting
  • Chapter 4: Introducing Cascading Style Sheets
  • Chapter 5: Links
  • Chapter 6: Images
  • Chapter 7: Tables
  • Part Two: Building a Better Web Page
  • Chapter 8: Advanced CSS
  • Chapter 9: Page Layout
  • Chapter 10: Troubleshooting CSS
  • Chapter 11: Under the Hood: HTML
  • Chapter 12: Designing Websites for Mobile Devices
  • Part Three: Bringing Your Pages to Life
  • Chapter 13: Forms
  • Chapter 14: Spry: Creating Interactive Web Pages
  • Chapter 15: Dreamweaver Behaviors
  • Chapter 16: Add Flash and Other Multimedia
  • Part Four: Building a Website
  • Chapter 17: Introducing Site Management
  • Chapter 18: Testing Your Site
  • Chapter 19: Moving Your Site to the Internet
  • Part Five: Dreamweaver CS5.5 Power
  • Chapter 20: Snippets and Libraries
  • Chapter 21: Templates
  • Chapter 22: Find and Replace
  • Chapter 23: Customizing Dreamweaver
  • Part Six: Dynamic Dreamweaver
  • Chapter 24: Getting Started with Dynamic Websites
  • Chapter 25: Adding Dynamic Data to Your Pages
  • Chapter 26: Web Pages that Manipulate Database Records
  • Chapter 27: Advanced Dynamic Site Features
  • Chapter 28: Server-Side XML and XSLT
  • Appendix A: Getting Help
  • Appendix B: Dreamweaver CS5.5, Menu by Menu
  • Index (26 pages

The author assures readers that “Dreamweaver CS5.5 works almost precisely the same way on the Macintosh as it does in Windows,” yet the book does not make clear the minimum system requirements for running Dreamweaver CS5.5 on a PC or a Mac. However, they can be found here on Adobe’s support site for Dreamweaver CS5.5. This is, of course, only a minor ding against an otherwise very good, very thorough and nicely illustrated how-to manual.

A CD is not included with this book. But “every single Web address, practice file, and piece of downloadable software mention in this book is available at (click the Missing CD icon.)”

Dreamweaver is a bit old by software standards, yet it is well-supported and stable, and it keeps improving and growing to stay up with changes and new needs. For these reasons and many more, it remains one of the most popular and widely used packages for designing and managing high-quality websites.

Whether you are an absolute newcomer or an old hand at using Dreamweaver, you definitely can benefit from having and using this huge and hefty book.

Si Dunn

Flash CS5.5: The Missing Manual – #bookreview

Flash CS5.5: The Missing Manual
By Chris Grover
(O’Reilly, $44.99, paperback)

Learning to use Flash CS5.5 is not easy and doesn’t happen overnight. But this book — well-structured, well-written and nicely illustrated — can help you move from complete novice to adept, well-informed user at a reasonable pace.

“Flash has been evolving and adding features at a breakneck pace since Adobe acquired Macromedia at the end of 2005,” the author, Chris Grover, points out.

His new addition to O’Reilly’s popular “Missing Manual” series should prove helpful and instructive not only for Flash beginners, but also for those who have been using the animation-and-more software for a while.

As Chris Grover notes: “Flash performs several feats of audiovisual magic. You use it to create animations, to display video on a website, to create handheld apps [iOS and Android], or to build a complete web-based application.”

His book is hefty (841 pages) and follows a clear, step-by-step approach when showing how to use Flash CS5.5 features and tools.

Flash CS5.5: The Missing Manual is organized as follows:

  • Introduction
  • Part One: Creating a Flash Animation
  • Chapter 1: Getting Around Flash
  • Chapter 2: Creating Simple Drawings
  • Chapter 3: Animate Your Art
  • Part Two: Advanced Drawing and Animation
  • Chapter 4: Organizing Frames and Layers
  • Chapter 5: Advanced Drawing and Coloring
  • Chapter 6: Choosing and Formatting Text
  • Chapter 7: Reusable Flash: Symbols and Templates
  • Chapter 8: Advanced Tweens with the Motion Editor
  • Chapter 9: Realistic Animation with IKBones
  • Chapter 10: Incorporating Non-Flash Media Files
  • Chapter 11: Incorporating Sound and Video
  • Part Three: Adding Interactivity
  • Chapter 12: Introduction to ActionScript 3
  • Chapter 13: Controlling Actions with Events
  • Chapter 14: Organizing Objects with the Display List
  • Chapter 15: Controlling the Timeline and Animation
  • Chapter 16: Components for Interactivity
  • Chapter 17: Choosing, Using, and Animating Text
  • Chapter 18: Drawing with ActionScript
  • Part Four: Debugging and Delivering Your Animation
  • Chapter 19: Testing and Debugging Your Animation
  • Chapter 20: Publishing and Exporting
  • Chapter 21: Introducing Adobe AIR
  • Chapter 22: Making iPhone Apps
  • Chapter 23: Building Android Apps
  • Part Five: Appendixes
  • Appendix A: Installation and Help
  • Appendix B: Flash Professional CS5.5, Menu by Menu
  • Index (21 pages)

In the Installation and Help appendix, Chris Grover spells out the Flash CS5.5 minimum computer memory requirements: “1 GB for both Macs and PCs, but as usual, you won’t be sorry if you have two to four times that amount.” Indeed, he recommends that you have at least 20 GB of free space on your hard drive: “—not just for the program installation but to give you room to create and store your Flash masterpieces and import additional files (like previously created images, sound files, and movies) from elsewhere.”

He also urges going beyond the processor minimums–“[F]aster multicore processors work best”—and beyond the minimums for screen size and video card. “Flash has so many windows and panels, it’s great to have a system with more than one monitor or one very large display.”

Flash, he notes, works with Windows XP with Service Pack 2, Vista or Windows 7. “For Macs, the requirement is an Intel multicore processor accompanied by Mac OS X version 10.5.8 or 10.6.” He states that Flash CS5.5 is not compatible with PowerPC Macs.

Whether you are just starting out to learn Flash computer animation or seeking to hone and expand Flash skills you have learned on the fly, Flash CS5.5: The Missing Manual is well worth having open on your physical desktop, right beside your computer.

Of course, if you’d rather have it on your Kindle, it’s available here.

 —Si Dunn

Business Intelligence in Microsoft SharePoint 2010 – #bookreview

Business Intelligence in Microsoft SharePoint 2010
By Norm Warren, Mariano Teixeira Neto,
John Campbell and Stacia Misner

(Microsoft Press, $44.99, paperback)

This useful and well-written book was created, at least in part, as a response to customer complaints about SharePoint documentation. The customers told Microsoft they needed a better sense of  “the big picture” of how business intelligence (BI) and SharePoint 2010 mesh together with BI software tools.

Business intelligence is the process of extracting important and useful information from the massive quantities and flows of information available to companies at any moment.

A stated Microsoft strategy is to “democratize” BI, to make business information and insights available to all employees of a company, so they can make “faster, more relevant decisions.”

What SharePoint 2010 does, the writers note, is to work “with SQL Server reporting and BI tools to surface BI data in meaningful ways.”

Two important focuses for “the BI stack” are “report authoring,” using Microsoft Office, PerformancePoint, Dashboard Designer, and more,  and “report viewing,” in “just about any browser,  in Microsoft Office, on Windows 7 phones, and in SharePoint Search.”

The authors state that in planning this book, “we chose not to include information about setting up all the various tools and databases—although we did include a synopsis of best practices for planning, deployment and configuration.”

A number of step-by-step processes and screen shots are included, however, to illustrate some key configurations, setups, menus, tests and examples. But frequent references to other documents also are made. And some processes are described as “beyond the scope” of the book.

The writers add that “[b]ecause this book is aimed primarily at three audiences—SharePoint administrators, business users and BI developers—we were forced to sharpen our focus and choose only the most relevant BI products from Microsoft for these audiences.”

The four highlighted products are: (1) SharePoint Excel Services; (2) SQL Server 2008 R2 PowerPivot; (3) SharePoint Visio Services; and (4) SharePoint PerformancePoint Services.

Within the BI world, there generally are two types of users: power users and casual users. Power users delve into BI almost daily and frequently “develop advanced technical skills” that help them use BI tools “to explore the data without restraint,” the authors say. Casual users, meanwhile, tend to be “department managers, executives, or even external stakeholders such as customers or suppliers” who are less skilled at using BI tools and need simple interfaces that can help them “find the information they need on their own.”

The 384-page book is structured as follows:

  • Chapter 1: Business Intelligence in SharePoint
  • Chapter 2: Choosing the Right BI Tool
  • Chapter 3: Getting to Trusted Data
  • Chapter 4: Excel Services
  • Chapter 5: PowerPivot for Excel and SharePoint
  • Chapter 6: Visio and Visio Services
  • Chapter 7: PerformancePoint Services
  • Chapter 8: Bringing It All Together
  • Appendix A: Virtual Machine Setup and SharePoint Configuration
  • Appendix B: DAX Function Reference
  • Appending C: SharePoint as a Service—“Office 365”
  • Index (19 pages)

The book does not come with a CD, but a companion website offers interactive exercises and code samples to download.

The minimum hardware and software requirements cannot be described briefly here, because they vary, depending on whether you want to (1) use pre-configured virtual machines present in the 2010 Information Worker Demonstration and Evaluation Virtual Machine (RTM) or (2) install SharePoint 2010 software, perform the configuration procedures and create virtual machines from scratch. These options and their various choices are described in Appendix A and Appendix B.

Business Intelligence in Microsoft SharePoint 2010 can be an informative and useful guide for executives, managers, employees, suppliers and customers who must use BI on an occasional basis. If your goal is to become a BI power user, but you are just getting started, you also should look into this book.

Power users of BI may want to consider having this book, as well. You may be well-versed in one particular area or aspect of business intelligence. But business itself changes very rapidly these days, and a narrow expertise suddenly can  become less useful. You may need “the big picture,” too, to help you figure out where else to specialize, just in case.

Si Dunn