Review: ASP.NET 2.0 Unleashed

ASP.NET 2.0 UnleashedASP.NET 2.0 Unleashed, by Stephen Walther

Summary: Invaluable book.  Buy it!

I am a very pleased owner of the original ASP.NET Unleashed, for ASP.NET 1.1, so I was looking forward to getting my hands on the version for ASP.NET 2.0.  Stephen Walther is a Microsoft “Software Legend”, largely due to how influential the original ASP.NET Unleashed was in the developer community.  I’m apparently not the only dev praising Stephen and his Unleashed titles.  In addition to authoring books, Stephen was also the lead developer for the Community Starter Kit and the Issue Tracker Starter Kit.  He knows his stuff, and it shows.

Like all of SAMS’ Unleashed series, this book is well organized, well written, and very readable.  Don’t let the easy readability fool you, though—this book is packed with advanced information, just packaged in a way the newest n00b can grow into.  Chapters start off with the basics, and build to more advanced subjects.  By the end of the chapter, you’ve covered the entire concept, with examples.  If necessary, the detailed index leads you right back to the section you need to review.

ASP.NET 2.0 added a lot to the web.config file, so we revisit configuration a number of times.  Where possible, all configuration attributes are detailed, making these sections excellent for reference, as well as learning.  In many cases, important methds and properties for important classes are detailed (such as page output caching).

Perhaps the greatest asset to this book is the examples.  The code in the examples is complete (rather than just a few lines amounting to little more than a method call), so you see methods or configurations in context.  Unlike many of the examples in the MSDN library, Stephen’s examples are simple and to the point, not heavy in code which detracts from the actual example.  All examples in print are written in VB.NET, but complete C# examples are on the CD.  Examples are written with inline code, so they will function in the Express SKUs.  More advanced developers can easily translate into code behind or code beside if they want to, or use the code as-is for learning.  In some places, the examples are more than just an explanation—Stephen actually extends the native framework.  In the sections about Profiles, Stephen includes a “BetterProfileProvider” (with complete source code on the CD), which stores profile properties in separate table columns, rather than in a BLOB in a single field.  This is a similar concept to to the SqlTableProfileProvider from the team.  Few books I’ve read go above an beyond like this one does.

The chapters cover literally almost everything.  With over 1800 content pages and 34 chapters, it would be crazy to try and list them all here.  Chapers are devoted to master pages, GridView control, web parts, caching—pretty much everything you need.  There is even a chapter on integrating JavaScript an dAJAX (Stephen currently has an AJAX book in the works).  The final chapter is a wrap-up, where you build a simple e-commerce application in about 16 pages.  As an additional benefit, you don’t have to read this book front to back to get the benefit of the numerous examples.  In fact, the book isn’t really set up as a “learn in x hours” type of book.  Rather, it’s a reference tome you can actually read.

Not covered in this book are Crystal Reports .NET and SQL Server Reporting Services.  Those are components of Visual Studio, and not available in the Express versions.  Also not included are discussions of Team System (there is another book for that).  The focus on this book is solely ASP.NET and the relevant parts of the .NET framework.

If you’re doing ASP.NET development, using any of the Visual Studio 2005 SKUs, you should definately invest in this book.  This is truly one of the few things you can buy and use which will make you a better developer.

ASP.NET 2.0 Unleashed, by Stephen Walther

Staples Launches Nationwide Computer and Office Technology Recycling Program

Here is the intersection ot two very important topics in my life.  Way to go Staples!

Staples Launches Nationwide Computer and Office Technology Recycling Program
Staples Becomes First National Retailer to Offer Everyday In-Store

Recycling For Computers & Other Office Technology

FRAMINGHAM, Mass.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–May 21, 2007–Staples, Inc. (Nasdaq: SPLS), the world’s largest office products company, today announced that it now makes it easy to recycle used computers and other office technology at any Staples store nationwide, becoming the first national retailer to offer computer recycling in stores every day.

Staples makes it easy for customers to recycle e-waste by simply bringing their used computers, monitors, laptops, printers, faxes and all-in-ones to any U.S. Staples store, where the equipment will be recycled in accordance with environmental laws. All brands will be accepted, regardless of whether or not the equipment was purchased at Staples, for a fee of $10 per large item. Staples is working with Amandi Services, one of the country’s most experienced and innovative electronics recyclers, to handle recycling of the equipment, following standards set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

“It’s not always easy being green. However, through the leadership of Staples, Americans will see that preventing pollution by recycling unwanted electronics is as easy as it gets,” said Stephen L. Johnson, Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. “EPA and our Plug-In To eCycling partners are helping make sure yesterday’s high-tech gadgets do not go to waste.”

“An estimated 133,000 computers are discarded every day in the U.S.,” said Mark Buckley, vice president of environmental affairs at Staples, Inc. “We know that small businesses and consumers want to recycle their used office technology but are often frustrated by the lack of convenient options available. By making it easy to recycle, Staples helps customers take action in handling e-waste in an environmentally responsible way.”

    How the Recycling Program Works

    –  Customers drop off their old equipment at the customer service
desk at any Staples store, 7 days a week during regular store
hours; (TV’s and large, floor-model copiers are not accepted).

    –  Staples will recycle any manufacturers’ products, regardless
of whether or not it was purchased from Staples, and there’s
no limit on the quantity of equipment that can be recycled.

    –  A recycling fee of $10 per piece of large equipment is charged
to cover handling, transport, product disassembly and
recycling. Smaller computer peripherals, such as keyboards and
mice, will be recycled for free.

    –  Staples Easy Tech(sm) service is on site in all stores to
transfer data from an old computer to a new one for a fee.
Equipment is bagged and sealed when customers drop them off at the Staples customer service desk. The equipment is then picked up and delivered to Amandi Services, who disassembles the equipment into its component parts and uses industry-leading standards for data destruction. Amandi then recycles the raw materials, such as the plastics, metals, printed circuit boards and Cathode Ray Tubes (CRT). The CRTs, which are the most hazardous part of electronics waste, are recycled utilizing Amandi’s proprietary technology into a raw material that is used to manufacture new televisions.

Staples is a U.S. EPA Plug-In to eCycling partner and has offered computer recycling in its Seattle area stores for the past two years. In addition to computer and office technology recycling, Staples provides customers with easy, everyday, in-store recycling for ink and toner cartridges, cell phones, PDAs and rechargeable batteries. In 2006, the company recycled more than 17 million ink and toner cartridges and 3,500 tons of electronic waste.