Bill Ryan writes "Sarah Morgan Rea's "Building Intelligent .NET Applications" is a book for those that get easily bored with mainstream development topics. Essentially, it's an in depth discussion of 3 niche technologies that came directly out of Microsoft Research (Microsoft Speech Server, Microsoft Analysis Services and Agents). The majority of the book is comprised of discussions of the first two technologies with roughly 12 pages being dedicated to Agents. It's finished off future Microsoft technologies "Avalon" (now known as the Microsoft Presentation Framework), Indigo, WinFS and Longhorn. Fortunately, since no one really knows when Microsoft will deliver each of these and what they will ultimately look like, she spends under 10 pages on them." Read the rest of Bill's review.
One of the things that makes this book great is that each of the areas discussed receive very little discussion elsewhere. If you want to use Microsoft Speech Server, you are essentially confined to using the SDK documentation, the MSDN newsgroups or an occasional blog post out there. Analysis services has a little more documentation but if you were looking to do any serious A.S. development, you're still pretty hard pressed to find comprehensive resources on how to use it.
These two areas comprise roughly 80% of Sarah's book. The discussion on Speech Server comprises a little over 100 pages and does an excellent job showing you how to get Speech Server up and running and how to use it. She starts out slowly and walks you through the Speech SDK, then moves on to creating Grammars, creating Prompts, creating Transcriptions and Extractions, using the Telephony modules and debugging/performance tuning your applications. Another nice touch is that she spends a good bit of time discussing more agnostic elements of speech and telephony development, S.A.L.T. in particular. Within the discussion throughout, there's a good bit of attention paid to configuring Speech Server and the problems people are typically confronted with when they create speech enabled apps. However she does a pretty good job of balancing the introductory material with more advanced topics for although she does spend a lot of time on setup and configuration, she also goes as far as showing you how to use Speech Server from a PDA.
As far as speech (the topic goes), it would be helpful if the reader had some familiarity with the core concepts involved (such as SALT, Grammars etc.) but even if you didn't, this book would still help teach you a lot of what you'd want to know. The intended audience is clearly intermediate to advanced developers but newbies will definitely find quite a bit of valuable information in it.
The next section discusses Artificial intelligence in the context of Analysis services. If you aren't familiar with relational database concepts, then it's probably a little above your head, but most people buying this book aren't running into relational database theory for the first time.
Chapter 5 starts with using Data Mining to create predictions. It starts with getting things set up, moves onto building the data mart, and then finally 'training' the model. This discussion is pure gold in my humble opinion.
The next chapter moves on to applying those predictions. Not really much to say here without getting overly technical but essentially this chapter is a walk through of what you'd do after you had your data mart built and trained, essentially, how you'd maintain it and continue to refresh the information.
This is followed by a chapter titled "An Evolving Database". Again, this is pretty technical in nature so it's hard to describe without bogging you down in jargon. Suffice to say that everything about this section is cool++; .
The book then discusses Agents, which are cool but probably don't have that much applicability in most people's day to day lives. If you want to learn how to use them (as well as the Background Intelligent Transfer Service), then she provides everything you need.
Finally things wind down with a discussion of Microsoft's upcoming technologies, Microsoft Research, Artificial Intelligence in general (as well as many resources on where to learn more), a glossary, bibliography and finally the index. Discussing any one of the areas that she touches upon here (neural networks, Fuzzy logic, natural language processing, machine learning etc.) could comprise an entire book. That's where the beauty of this book comes in - instead of discussing the subjects one at a time, she creates a series of walk through examples where she creates specific scenarios and shows you how to address them using each respective technology.
If you're bored and want to dive into some really cool subject matter, this book is a must have. If you want to learn more about Speech technology in general and Microsoft's implementations of it in particular, this book is a must have. If you're interested in artificial intelligence again, you'll find this book to be superb. If you just want to learn about subject matter that's been discussed over and over again, like creating Winforms or drawing with GDI+, then this book probably isn't up your alley."
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