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If You Only Have Time to Learn One Thing...

  • Article is provided courtesy of IBM Press.
  • Date: Apr 30, 2008.


  1. If You Only Have Time to Learn One Thing...

Time is short, so keeping your skills current is critical. How can you filter through the mounds of books, articles, tutorials, classes, podcasts, and seminars that are available to find the best resources for you? Last year at the IDUG conference in Athens, Pat Selinger, IBM Fellow, was the keynote speaker. She commented that if people had time to learn only two things, they should focus on XML and Content Management. After her talk, there was a rush at the bookstore for any titles that contained these important topics.

The lesson here is that most of us filter through the resources available to us by taking recommendations from people who we respect and trust. To help you in this regard, we asked the authors of our current IBM Press Books to answer this question "What is the most important thing that potential readers of your book need to learn first?" Below are the responses. I hope that they help you in your neverending goal of keeping your skills current.

Susan Visser
Program Manager, IBM Software Group

From W. Scott Spangler
Author of Mining the Talk

The most important thing potential readers of Mining the Talk need to learn is that text mining is not just about picking the right algorithm to apply to unstructured data. It's much more about precise identification of the business objectives of the analysis. In order to create a meaningful, relevant analysis result at the end, the analyst must first capture business knowledge and domain expertise and incorporate both throughout the analysis process. If this step is skipped, the analysis results will often be unhelpful. The primary tool for knowledge capture in text mining is the taxonomy – a construct for partitioning data into meaningful chunks that are relevant to the purposes of the analysis and meaningful from a domain perspective. Our book describes a method for creating such taxonomies and using them to derive business insight. It also includes software and documentation that the reader can use to create such taxonomies with their own unstructured information.

From Rebecca Bond
Author of Understanding DB2 9 Security

Granted, there is no "one" in security. Security is only achieved by a layered approach, both technological and managerial. Security is more about using the "many" to prevent damage from the "few."

However, there is one newer feature in DB2 that is so robust, from a security standpoint, that if you only have time to learn one new thing, you should learn Label Based Access Control (LBAC). LBAC can be thought of as a way to implement security at the most granular level of the database. With this ability to fine-tune data reads and modification access down to the column or even row level, a DB2 DBA can provide a solution that implements a robust layer of security to any data deemed sensitive.

Given today's numerous headlines regarding data theft, a DB2 DBA with LBAC knowledge can prove valuable to the organization's bottom line since data breaches are extremely costly. When you share LBAC knowledge with your management you might even get a pay increase!

From Raul F. Chong
Author of Understanding DB2: Learning Visually with Examples, 2nd Edition

The title of this article and the reason why the Understanding DB2 book was written fit perfectly. In the world of information technology today, it is more and more difficult to keep up with the skills required to be successful on the job. This book was developed to minimize the time, money, and effort required to learn DB2 for Linux, UNIX, and Windows. It provides visual explanations using graphs and printscreens. The language used is very clear, and there are many real life examples. Moreover, with the importance of Web 2.0 and Web services, DB2 (starting with version 9), has been architected to work as a hybrid data server; that is, it can handle relational and XML data natively. Chapter 10 of the Understanding DB2 book explains how you can take advantage of using a DB2 data server to store and retrieve quickly your XML information, and to integrate it with relational data. The chapter assumes you have no experience about XML, so it gives you the fundamentals you need to understand it, and use it with DB2. So, if you have time to learn only one thing, learn XML, and use this book to see how DB2 can make things easier and more efficient!

From Dean H. Meltz
Author of An Introduction to IMS

The most important thing to learn about IMS is that after 40 years of being in the marketplace, IMS still protects its customers' investment in application programs and supports open standards for future applications. This support, coupled with IMS' legendary reliability and speed, explains why so many companies, governments, and institutions of all kinds around the world continue to bet their business on IMS. In our complex technical world, IMS continues to be the rock-solid foundation upon which the most innovative solutions are built.

From David Challener, PhD
Author of A Practical Guide to Trusted Computing

Trusted Computing is a big subject, and the specifications are well over a thousand pages. Not only are they long - they are difficult to read and understand. A Practical Guide to Trusted Computing is written specifically to address this complexity, and guide the reader in answering the following questions: "What is it good for?" and "How do I use it?" Along the way, you will also find the answer to the question "Why did they do it that way?"

The authors were particularly interested in writing a book that would be easy for a novice, yet have enough depth that it could also be used as a reference.

From Mark Nelson
Author of Mainframe Basics for Security Professionals: Getting Started with RACF

Security doesn't exist in a vacuum; it's a part of the business process, and it permeates all aspects of information technology. The bad news is that as applications run on a combination of multiple platforms, each of the platforms needs to be examined, understood, and protected. The good news is that good security techniques transcend platforms; the key is understanding how to take the knowledge that you already know and apply it across these platforms.

That's the reason for this book. Experienced UNIX or Windows security professionals can extend their existing security knowledge to the world of z/OS!

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