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- Geo Mealer - Very good, but definitely luxuryThe DC44 is simply an excellent portable vacuum. It lends itself beautifully to spot cleanup jobs, with a very clear and straight path between the bin and the inlet to limit fouling by foreign objects. Weight is balanced very well, not unlike a paint-sprayer, and it can be used in any position comfortably. The DC44 took the fur of my very, very hairy Maine Coon mix right off fabric upholstery with the turbo tool, and does decently well on carpet with the main brush. Motorized brushes are a brilliant and ingenious feature for this kind of device, and differentiate it from its competition more than any other feature. That said, the very convenient wall-mount charging rack is a standout as well, even if it does manage to forget both space for the other attachments and its own screws in the package. If you do not want to mount the DC44, though, the vacuum can still be charged outside the rack.
The cons for the DC44 largely aren't cons for the model; they're cons for portables in general: the bin is small, though easy to empty if you do it frequently; the suction is less than a full-sized; the paths are clear, but the diameter of the attachments are smaller so stuff can get caught; the battery life is short for extended cleaning. It's easy to assume Dyson magically stuffed a full-sized vacuum into your hand, but physics interferes and the DC44 is still limited by its size and available battery tech. The cons unique to this portable vacuum in particular are few: aside from the aforementioned rack issues, there's no way to swap in a different battery for more cleaning time and the motorized brush rolls wrap hair around themselves like you wouldn't believe. Luckily, the rolls are easy to remove and clean, but there's a reason Dyson made it so convenient to do so.
In final total, the DC44 is absolutely a five-star portable vacuum. Compared to a standard Dirt Devil handheld or Black and Decker stick vacuum, either of which I'd give four stars at least, this is simply a more advanced device and more capable at spot cleanup and small jobs than the competition. The technologies and design it brings over from full-sized models serve to elevate it above the rest of the field into its own category, and that category does the job better.
But this gets to the price: it's high--very high. This doesn't make it less than a five-star portable vacuum; it's simply a five-star portable vacuum at $300+. You can get a four-star portable vacuum for $100 or less, and probably be pretty happy with it. This is plainly into the diminishing returns of a luxury item.
It's also the only way you're going to get this kind of technology in your hand. The DC44's not perfect, but it's the best portable vacuum available. Whether that's worth the price is very subjective.
- Noelle - MSAR = Medical schools at a glance.Like the title says, you really must have this book if you are applying for the current cycle. The first few chapters explain the statistics for accepted students, and was quite the informative read.
The bulk of the book gives you a two page description of each AMCAS affiliated medical school. On the first, the school's mission statement, curriculum, and geographical details. On the second, are numbers (MCAT, GPA, etc.) and deadlines specific to the school.
Owning an MSAR before (I also applied in the entering class of 2005 cycle -- that makes me a blip on the graphs in this book!), it was quite interesting to see that medians instead of averages were used for MCAT and GPA considerations. While different by definition, I sort of treated this new fangled thing the same way. When the numbers are on the way high end of the slider, stay away, and if lower, consider. Do realize that the MSAR will only help you give a rough estimate on where you should apply based on numbers or school concentration.
What I really found it useful for was the school organization by state, making it easier for me to organize my notes before submitting my application. This helps if you are especially interested in the regional considerations of going to a specific school.
Though the MSAR does contain a summary of information for each specific school, I don't particularly recommend it as a sole source for the completion of secondary applications (once they come of course). Many of the med schools "look" the same on the surface, so use information given (a website or contact for example) as a springboard to more detailed and specific information on any given school. The same advice could go for interviews.
The MSAR is not exactly perfect (if it was, everyone would get into med school based on their presented numbers). However, it is THE best resource available to med school applicants right now. The people at AAMC did a great job with the amount of detail crammed into this book, along with a great presentation that is pleasing to the eye.
- T. Anderson - The Report Builder' BibleOver the years I have been on quite a few projects and there have been very few if any that did not require some type of reporting. For a while that meant Crystal Reports, but when SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) hit the scene, Crystal Reports began to fade on Microsoft projects. That was especially true if I had my way. I was the first person to champion SSRS in state projects in Pennsylvania. That was quite a battle but well worth it!
SSRS is one of the best solutions to come out of Microsoft. I don't say that lightly. I have plenty of complaints about different Microsoft products, but none about SSRS. The extensibility model built into the architecture makes the product completely customizable through extension.
This book introduces the SSRS architecture, the report manager, the basics of databases and database queries, but every topic introduced supports the report builder role. This book is all about the report builder. The chapters are listed below.
Part I: Getting Started
Chapter 1. Let's Start at the Very Beginning
Chapter 2. Putting the Pieces in Place: Installing Reporting Services
Part II: Report Authoring
Chapter 3. DB 101: Database Basics
Chapter 4. A Visit to Emerald City: The Report Wizard
Chapter 5. Removing the Training Wheels: Building Basic Reports
Chapter 6. Graphic Expression: Using Charts, Images, and Gauges
Chapter 7. Geography Lesson: Using Maps and Spatial Data Types
Chapter 8. Kicking It Up a Notch: Intermediate Reporting
Chapter 9. Beyond Wow: Advanced Reporting
Part III: Reporting Serving
Chapter 10. How Did We Ever Manage Without You--The Report Manager
Chapter 11. Delivering the Goods: Report Delivery
Chapter 12. Teamwork: Integrating Reporting Services
Chapter 13. Well Begun: Best Practices
One thing that struck me as a little weird was there was no "What's new in SSRS 2012" section. That is no big deal as I usually skip those sections anyway, but some readers may be looking for it. One big change that was worth mentioning was no more Report Models. I didn't see that mentioned anywhere in the book.
Reports can be built using Visual Studio 2010, Visual Studio 2010 with the SQL Server Data Tools add-in, and Report Builder. The author does a great job showing how to use the different tools with each example when usage is different. This really helps you get familiar with the tools and in the end will help you choose which tool you would like to use.
There is no coverage of custom extensions. My review started by touting that that is my favorite part of the product, so I was disappointed to see nothing about it. Although I do believe the content of this book will take you to the maximum possible potential of creating and delivering reports with the out of the box functionality, I have had to write custom extensions on many projects in order to meet the client's requirements. It is a topic that I would like to see covered and have seen covered in other reporting services books. However, I am not going to ding the book for this because I know that 99.9% of the reporting services authors will never have to write a custom extension or even have to know they exist.
My favorite part of the book was the hands on approach the author takes to teach us the ins and outs of SSRS. The best way to read this book is with Visual Studio or Report Builder open. The author goes through tons of step by step tasks.
Another thing I really liked was the coverage of data visualization. One of the biggest business user requests I hear is for data visualization in the form of charts, images, and gauges. This book will teach you how to use all three. It also includes great coverage of maps and spatial data types.
One last thing I really like about this book is that the author does a great job of teaching the reader how to retrieve data. In the beginning of the book he does an excellent job explaining joins. Then throughout the book he advances the reader to some fairly complex queries using joins. After running through all the examples you'll know how to get to the data you want.
Like I said above this is a Report Builder's book. If you want to learn everything there is about building reports, this is the book to teach you. The best part though is that you do not have to have any experience. This book takes the beginner from databases 101 to beginning reports, through intermediate reports, to building advanced reports.
The downloadable code is well organized and very usable. The author includes a database and an OLAP database. Both come with instructions for installing and configuring. All the code works well and adds a lot of value to the book.
All in all if you are building SQL Server 2102 Reporting Services Reports, or if you are interested in learning how to, you owe it to yourself to get this book.