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Extreme Photoshop CS
Extreme Photoshop CS
by Matt Kloskowski
Edition: Paperback
Price: $33.75
43 used & new from $1.44

10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful and inspirational!, May 5, 2005
This review is from: Extreme Photoshop CS (Paperback)
Photoshop has been known for years as one of the most capable and powerful software packages available. Each iteration to the present Photoshop CS version has gotten more and more powerful and feature-rich. For many people, Photoshop is frighteningly hard to learn and use beyond mere photo editing - tonal and color adjustment, cropping, retouching, and the like. However, for those who know how to take advantage of its power, it is an amazing tool for creating original images.

Matt Kloskowski, the author of "Extreme Photoshop CS", is one such knowledgeable person. In the small handful of creative exercises contained in the book, he demonstrates how creative and efficient one can be with Photoshop in producing original realistic and photo-realistic images. There are nearly a dozen extended-length exercises in this handsomely-produced, well-illustrated, full-color book of 401 pages (including index). Each exercise is a step-by-step demonstration of the use of some of Photoshop's many tools and features by a master creative artist to make realistic and cartoon and comic book-style images. The book's text and illustrations about Photoshop CS will make sense for both PC and Mac users.

Make no mistake about it, even thorough and expert knowledge of Photoshop itself is insufficient to create such images. Software tools, even great ones, cannot substitute for the "artist's eye" and artistic talent. In one exercise early in the book, the author shows step-by-step how to create a photo-realistic image of a fishbowl illuminated by natural light from a blank canvas using Photoshop tools requiring a bare minimum of what we conventionally think of as artist's skills - drawing, brushing, and texturing. There are 49 steps in creating the finished fish bowl, and even for novice Photoshop users like myself, each and every one seems fairly simple to duplicate. No special manual or advanced graphic software talent seems required. However, taking a step back and comparing the blank canvas starting point to the finished product produces a sense of wonderment. There is no way a novice user like myself could create such a finished product without the actual step-by-step guidance of an accomplished artist. The untrained or unskilled artist-wannabe could hardly perceive, artistically, the structural perspectives, lighting patterns, reflections, refractions, and more - much less produce realistic results even with Photoshop's wonderful tools.

Kloskowski is an established illustrator and graphic designer and an Adobe-certified expert. He has written several design-related books, as well as written columns for the National Association of Photoshop Professionals, Mac Design, and other publications. In this book, he shows how Photoshop can aid those already blessed with an innate or trained "artist's eye" to produce high quality images quickly and efficiently. This book is not meant to be a traditional user's manual on Photoshop. Although a fair number of tools and features are described and explained, there is no thorough exploration of all that Photoshop has to offer. This is also not a book on how to draw or paint or even "see" like an artist. It is more of a blending of these themes to demonstrate how Photoshop is useful for people who have not experienced the power of digital tools.

This book is not intended to make anyone an expert on Photoshop itself. The author merely states what tools, settings, and work flow sequences he uses to make his images. There is more of a demonstrative or inspirational intent here than teaching detailed knowledge of the software.

Instead, the author describes how to use the software to quickly and relatively easily create (for experienced Photoshop users) a variety of image types. For each type, but especially for the realistic and photo-realistic styles, Kloskowski elucidates the traditional artistic elements necessary to make 2D productions which imply 3D scenes. For nature images, for example, he describes the need for perspective (linear and atmospheric), shadows, reflection, depth of field, and color rendition. These are the artistic building blocks of an effective image. From that basis, he demonstrates which tools and features of Photoshop are most relevant for implementing those effects.

A secondary theme is an emphasis on being efficient in building an image. Perhaps it is the author's business and client-related experience which has focused him on the quick and efficient production of images. This is accomplished by planning the construction of images with future editing in mind and the reusability of components of an image, including constructed shapes, patterns, adjustment layers, and more.

"Extreme Photoshop CS" has four parts which detail how to create original art from scratch emphasizing a number of different styles - realistic, photo-realistic, realistic 3D, cartoon and comic book looks, icons and emoticons, silhouette, wireframe illustrations and stylized photo images. The most used tools include the pen to create vector shapes, the brush to add textures, and the blending modes for tonal and color adjustments. When used by an expert, surprisingly few of Photoshop's many tools are needed to create realistic original images.

Part One focuses on tools and techniques to create realism. Complementing the information on the relevant tools and settings is discussion of how to create lifelike scenes on a two-dimensional surface. The key is in the artist's understanding of how to create the illusions of depth, motion, and texture utilizing traditional artistic concepts of perspective, light and shadow, relative spacing, color relationships and the like.

Part Two moves into a different type of realism - cartoon and comic book styles. Here, the intent is not to create "trompe l'oeil" realistic or photo-realistic but to make stylized natural imagery for different looks and effects. Here the most relevant tools are the pencil and various selection tools. The blending of aesthetics and computer is again shown in the extended presentation of what Kloskowski calls the "mathematics of pixel art". Here he shows how to use defined shapes, grids, angles, and layers to precisely structure parts of images and to create custom text.

Chapter Six contains two shorter exercises on how to create anthropomorphic icons and emoticons. In less than two dozen steps each, he creates remarkable images using a small handful of PhotoShop tools. It is the combination of software and artistic skill which is inspiring. Chapter Seven contains descriptions and examples of a variety of cartoon and comic book styles and an extended exercise in creating a manga-style cartoon character.

Part 3 demonstrates advanced illustration techniques using Photoshop. The aesthetic subjects are silhouettes, wire frame, and stylized photographs. Part Four shows how to create retro and vintage art images including art deco, Bauhaus/Constructivist, and pop art -Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol style. The final chapter describes how to build a reusable library of retro design components, such as shapes as building blocks, fonts, patterns, and color palettes.

Web Designer's Reference
Web Designer's Reference
by Craig Grannell
Edition: Paperback
Price: $27.16
93 used & new from $0.01

39 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nice guide to modern web designing, May 5, 2005
It seems as if nearly everyone and his brother is writing books supporting standards-compliant web design with XHTML and CSS. I have read and reviewed a half dozen this year alone. People are obviously trying to tell us something - plain HTML has to go!! "Web Designers' Reference: An Integrated Approach to Web Design with XHTML and CSS" by Craig Grannell is the latest of these pronouncements.

The reasons are clear and compelling. The World Wide Web Consortium which promulgates web design standards has decreed HTML as obsolete. Newer, more compliant browsers, will in time not support the older tags and code; the new standards facilitate much better use by the disabled of screen readers and non-graphic browsers. Not least, the newer code makes writing and revising code easier and more efficient, as well as more capable.

These are certainly good reasons for web designers to move to the new code. Nevertheless, surveys show that most web pages are not compliant and that thousands of designers continue to use deprecated code. I confess that I am one of them. After a number of years learning and getting used to HTML, the need to learn new and more code is onerous. The inertia of habit is a factor I'm sure.

For those web designers like me, Mr. Grannell's book is a welcome addition to the literature because it systematically deals with the topics under discussion. In its coverage of XHTML, CSS, Javascript, and complementary coding like php, it provides a nice framework guiding "old dogs" like me into standards-compliant code. Not only does it provide some historical perspectives on these codes, it compares the old with the new in regard to all of the important elements of web design.

The author is an experienced web designer and operates a design and writing agency. He also writes articles for a number of computer magazines.

Grannell's goals are to teach cutting-edge, efficient coding, and how to master standards-compliant XHTML 1.0 and CSS 2.1. There are a dozen chapters. He breaks down the elements of web design into modular components so that one can focus on each element separately, like page structure, content structure, layout, navigation, text control, user feedback, and multimedia. Relevant technologies are explained in context of producing a typical website.

If one finally decides to move forward, as many suggest, this is a very good volume by which to get your start. It will facilitate a fresh start for the "old dogs". For new designers, this is a nice primer to learn what is expected, in an overall sense, of good, advanced web design.

This is a well-produced book with clear writing, comprehensive approach, dozens of practical examples, and downloadable files with the code examples used in the book. The author writes in a logical sequence much like an engineer would. It is a heavy text-book-like read, only lightly sprinkled with style and personality. It should appeal primarily to novice designers, but has enough advanced information to satisfy an experienced designer who is looking for that fresh start.

The structure of the book facilitates the "fresh-start" idea. It starts with a web design overview giving an experienced user's tips on what software to use to write code, what browsers to design for, how to build pages from the very top to the bottom. (XHTML, unlike HTML, requires a preliminary document-type definition (DTD) to validate. Only after the introductory section does the first HTML tag appear.)

Like others writing in this area, he firmly advocates design for standards compliance, usability, accessibility, and last and least, visual design. Marketing Department people may want to choke on that priority list but there is no inherent conflict between function and aesthetics. Grannell does not spend a lot of time on the aesthetics aspect.

The middle chapters concentrate on modular construction of pages - the XHTML introduction, the structural elements like text blocks and images, the logical structure of the links and navigation flow, and finally, the stylizing with CSS. Comparisons of pages styled with HTML vs. CSS compellingly demonstrate the benefits and advantages of CSS. There will be no going back once you've decided to upgrade your technical approach.

Basic CSS concepts are explained and illustrated with code samples and screenshots. Grannell describes how to use CSS for text control, navigation, and layouts. There is a broad section on frames and another on forms and interactive components.

The last chapter covers testing and tweaking including how to create a 7 item browser test suite. Much time is used throughout the book in discussing overcoming browser quirks. There is detailed technical information, especially in regard to the XHTML introductory section of the page, which I have not seen elsewhere.

There are three welcome reference appendices at the end covering XHTML tags and attributes, web color coding, and a very comprehensive entities chart noting currencies, European characters, math symbols and more.

Much of this material is covered elsewhere in the growing set of publications about standards-compliant code. This book has the virtue of having a useful overall perspective on web design and acts as a framework for new designers and converting designers to renew and upgrade their technical approaches.

Photoshop Elements 3: The Missing Manual
Photoshop Elements 3: The Missing Manual
by Barbara Brundage
Edition: Paperback
Price: $30.23
82 used & new from $0.01

143 of 145 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fine primer to a powerful program, May 5, 2005
Although Photoshop Elements 3 is but the mere little brother of Photoshop CS, it is nevertheless a very powerful and feature-rich application. It is intended to appeal to the nonprofessional graphics person and especially the digital camera and photo hobbyists who want to edit their digital snapshots. While easier to learn and use than its big brother, Elements 3 still is a program which is not easily used well by "hunt and click" investigation.

Hence, there is a definite need for "Photoshop Elements 3: The Missing Manual", the latest such entry in the series of "Missing Manuals" published by O'Reilly Media,Inc./Pogue Press. This series, in my opinion, is the benchmark for applications manuals, better than virtually any OEM-provided manual (rare these days, except for online hypertext versions) and more than mere manuals. This book continues the series themes of not only describing and explaining the subject application's features but in providing technical background guidance on its particular subject areas. Here it is how and why to edit photos, the concepts behind taking and making better photos, user-level insights on what works best, all wrapped in a casual writing style with some humor.

David Pogue, the editor of the series (and who has written the bulk of the volumes in the series) does it best - he writes with style and humor which elevates the manual beyond a mere manual, but an enjoyable light technical read. The other authors of the series' volumes, including Elements 3's author, Barbara Brundage, are also very adept technical writers who clearly and comprehensively cover their subject material.

I would describe Ms. Brundage, a member of the Adobe Elements preproduction group and graphics teacher, as having done a fine, workmanlike job. The book reads more "manual-like" than some of the others, but the subject material is daunting. In seven parts and 17 chapters she introduces Elements 3, proceeds through the bulk of the application's tools and features, explains how to share and distribute creations, and shows how to do some advanced work with the program. Appendixes describe the program's components menu by menu. Particular attention is drawn to the differences between the PC and the Mac version of Elements throughout each specific section.

While the book emphasizes the how of digital photo editing, it makes sure to cover the tools which facilitate creation of original artwork, especially the brush, shaping, and similar tools. Every stage of the creative process is covered, beginning with how to import photos into the program and manage them with the Organizer (PC) and File Browser. Basic editing techniques like rotating, resizing, and cropping are covered in the beginning chapters, while more involved techniques like use of the many selection tools and options, use of layers, applying the sharpening tools, and mastering the tonal adjustment tools - like levels, hue and saturation, and burn and dodge tools - are explained later.

The most interesting chapters deal with the more advanced topics. Chapter 9 is called "Retouching 102" and describes how to fix blemishes, apply patterns, change colors, create black and white images, and how to apply special effects. Chapter 12 informs about Elements' multiple filters, effects, layer styles, and gradients. Chapter 13 deals with effects with type.

There is complete coverage of all of the contents of Elements. Elements can, for example, prepare photos for web and email usages, and create photo galleries, slideshows, and panoramas. There is a brief chapter on extending Elements by use of graphics tablets, plug-ins, and configuring Elements to work more like Photoshop CS.

This is a handsomely-produced book with great, full-color illustrations. Virtually every page has a photo or graphic screenshot, comparison images, chart, or other informative illustration.

I'm a big fan of the "Missing Manual" series and this book is a fine addition.

Web Design Garage
Web Design Garage
by Marc Campbell
Edition: Paperback
68 used & new from $0.01

51 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nice bookshelf reference, February 23, 2005
This review is from: Web Design Garage (Paperback)
"Web Design Garage" is a remarkably clear-headed, concisely-written and feature-rich book about contemporary web design topics. It is part of a "Garage" series of hip-looking, style-laden books published by Prentice Hall (Prentice Hall Professional Technical Reference -PH PTR) and is targeted at the "garage" level designer - small business professionals, hobbyists, and technophiles. It assumes some modest familiarity of HTML and working with Javascripts.

This is not a primer, tutorial, or concept-bound book. It is meant to provide practical guidance and solutions to the most common web design issues dealt with by web designers. Author, Marc Campbell, offers a set of 86 topics about web design problems and solutions. The format for nearly all of the 86 topics is to highlight a design issue and offer solutions using pictures, examples, and code snippets. Although a good and quick read from beginning to end, the book can be read piecemeal for information and guidance on a specific issue. One can pick and chose topics depending on interest or need.

There are no traditional chapters, but only a set of design topics of relatively short length organized into 8 general categories. Those categories include design and usability topics, layout, images, text, links, forms, and two others, - one of miscellaneous items and the last being an explanation of basic web design material. There is also an index and a short glossary of HTML, CSS, web, and graphics-related terms.

The fundamental theme of the book is that design and usability are, or should be, the same thing. Usability is paramount, of course, but the author's approach to web design emphasizes creating a "sense of place" so that good design unites pages so that they look like they belong together.

This is not an earth-shattering idea, but like most of all of the design treatments, the goal is to design pages which make it easy for visitors to use the site. Many good design virtues are virtually invisible to the casual user. There is a blend of design and usability. It's only when a design element doesn't work well that it comes to the attention of the user, and that occurrence is meant to be avoided. The author shows by example how design and usability are intertwined.

There are a handful of themes which guide the book. Admirably, the author emphasizes for every design element, a concern for accessibility. Many of the design guides refer to accessibility by screen-readers and non-graphic browsers. A second major concern is for compliance with contemporary web design standards as promulgated by the World Wide Web Consortium. Consequently, there is much emphasis on the separation of page structure from content where HTML is used for structure and CSS is used for content. A contrast of HTML and CSS formatting is highlighted in many of the chapters.

There is a large handful of sections which express HTML and CSS formatting differences on page layout, text and image positioning, and other web design elements. There is clear discussion on how to work with Javascripts and stylesheets. The emphasis is on "forward-looking" coding, i.e., clean, standards compliant, and accessibility conscious. Campbell offers an experienced designer's insights on choices to be made in design components. There is much value for both inexperienced and seasoned designers.

Each topic is richly expressed with clear and straightforward text, illustrations, screenshots, and sidebars on a variety of related matters. Throughout there are sidebars titled "FAQS" and "Geekspeak" explaining concepts or terminology for the less-knowledgable reader. Then there are those called "Tips" which usually offer an insight to practical problems, especially dealing with browser compatibility issues. There are many useful tables and charts indexing specific tag attributes, with examples. In addition and most useful are the "Toolkits" which are sample code snippets. It would have been nice to have the code snippets available for downloading from the publisher's web site ([...]

This is a dense volume containing all sorts of information useful for the "garage" web designer. For some reason, the depth and weight of the content is reflected in the book itself, which is remarkably heavy, weighing in at a well-produced 29 ounces.

There are many books available on basic web design, but this one is unusually clear and well-expressed. This is the type of book one keeps handy in the bookshelf next to the computer to access for quick solutions to everyday web design problems.

Revolution in The Valley: The Insanely Great Story of How the Mac Was Made
Revolution in The Valley: The Insanely Great Story of How the Mac Was Made
by Andy Hertzfeld
Edition: Hardcover
53 used & new from $0.85

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great production!, February 22, 2005
Evolutionary scientists are fond of emphasizing that the world as we know it is fundamentally an outcome of a random series of sequences involving biomasses, chemicals, bacteria, and other goodies heated at high temperature and simmered, like soup, over centuries, until it resulted in "us". In the late seventies and early eighties, there were the Apple Computer Company, the author and his inspired colleagues, Silicon Valley technology developments, a business economy open to new ideas, the vision and energy of Steve Jobs, and more. Occasionally, good things happen historically out of the random interaction of essentially unrelated components. This is how the Macintosh computer came to be.

The story is told in "Revolution in the Valley - The Insanely Great Story of How the Mac Was Made". This is a wonderfully-produced book written by one of the major principals in the development of the Mac, Andy Hertzfeld, a software engineer. The story unfolds in about 80 short recollections and anecdotes, mostly contributed by Hertzfeld, memoir-like. A small handful were contributed by other principals in the Mac's early development - Steve Capps, Donn Denman, Bruce Horn, and Susan Kare, the legendary graphic designer responsible for most of the enduring interface symbols.

The focus is primarily on the people who made the Mac. They were primarily young, enthusiastic, motivated nerds who possessed creativity and genius. There was no shortage of creative geniuses in the nascent computer industry at that time, but the group which created the Mac was special because the Mac was special. It was different. It was the first computer designed to be (relatively) easy to use. It was meant to be for everyone, not just the techno-nerds and corporate spreadsheet wonks, but for those others creative and cognitively nimble enough, to encompass the computer as a desktop metaphor with powerful and handy tools and features. It was meant to change the world. And it did.

Like the primordal, evolutionary ooze, the synergistic interaction of these people with the developments around them in computer technology, the idealism and vision of people in the Silicon Valley environment, and the shear dynamic force of the computer itself, created an outcome which clearly is significant to many people, and special to Mac fans.

The history of the early Mac is inherently of interest, but the presentation here makes it feel special. The production values of this book are topnotch. This is a hefty hardcover very well designed to not only convey the story, but to evoke the culture and ethos surrounding Mac history in both words and images. There are scans of contemporaneous personal notes and sketches by some of the engineers and designers. There are plenty of individual and group photos of the relevant personalities. There are photos of the work environment, the hardware, and the look of the software as it evolved. There are loads of illustrations of original graphics designs, icons and fonts, and screen images. The overall look of the book evokes the aesthetics of the time period with interesting use of colored text, page layouts, and fonts, together with graphics of early topical magazine covers, advertisements, and media presentations, and more. Except for the lack of music, everything is here and ready for a Ken Burns video production. Seriously.

Of course, the stories are most important and there are plenty of interesting and humorous memories of people and events. Steve Jobs is the chief character, of course, but Bill Gates and Mick Jagger play roles as well. The story of how a pirate flag was flown over one of Apple's design buildings reflects the attitude, in part, which inspired the Mac development team. For the nerdiest fans, the story of how the "marching ants" representation of a screen selection in graphics programs came to be, is a treasure.

This is an exceptional production.

Windows XP Home Edition: The Missing Manual (2nd Edition)
Windows XP Home Edition: The Missing Manual (2nd Edition)
by David Pogue
Edition: Paperback
Price: $18.36
128 used & new from $0.01

79 of 79 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars David Pogue does Windows, January 31, 2005
It is probably fair to say that author David Pogue "does Windows" as well as anyone. Not in designing the operating system, of course, but in explaining how to use it. Pogue has written "Windows XP Home Edition: The Missing Manual, 2nd Ed.", which is an update of the original 2002 Edition. Although he is long associated with writing about the Apple Macintosh operating system and applications, here he demonstrates his knowledge of the Windows XP system as well. The book covers the latest version of XP Home, including the Service Pack 2 update.

Pogue is currently a computer columnist for the NY Times and the author of 35 books, most notably many in the "Missing Manual" series published by Pogue Press/O'Reilly Media, Inc. With that series, Pogue has created a "template " for explaining operating systems and applications for non-technical users of all levels which almost cannot be improved upon. He describes and explains technical material in a straight-forward manner in clear, concise language. Nearly every page of the Manuals include either an illustration, chart, or sidebar helping to facilitate both reading and learning. More significantly, he mixes humor, practical experience insights and guidance, and some mild critique of the software to create manuals which don't really read as mere manuals. No one likes to read manuals after all, but Pogue makes such reading as pleasant as it can be, as well as being functional, of course.

This book starts by introducing some developmental history of the Windows operating system and provides some basics of the system. It describes the newest features of XP, and realistically notes the "Dark Side" of the current Microsoft offering - its security weaknesses, its privacy issues, its continual use of proprietary data and other formats, and its less than subtle marketing features. Pogue is not writing a critical work here, but fairly comments on matters which confront the user of XP, both to help explain a feature and why it works in a certain way, and to let the reader know that what seems like an oddity in design or function is not due to the user's failures.

There are five parts comprised of 18 chapters of substantive material covering pretty much everything a non-technical user needs to know about using and maintaining the XP operating system, as well as how to use the many applications which come with it. The book provides material on backing up files, maintaining the operating system, and troublesho oting. There are whole sections just on configuring the various Control Panels to customize one's machine, and a menu-by-menu description of XP Home.

There is even material for higher level users and for those who want to know more about the higher-level technical stuff. There are "power user" tips sprinkled throughout the book and Appendix C, for example, discusses the Windows Registry where novices are discouraged. Pogue describes the Registry, how to edit it, and even provides some (safe) examples.

There is plenty of material here for virtually everyone, including those who just want or need to know about specific matters, like how to handle digital photos and sound files, how to configure and use the chat and video conferencing applications, or in adding hardware, like printers, scanners, and external drives.

Perhaps the best aspect of it all is that all this good writing and printing production costs only $24.95. A bargain.

The CSS Anthology: 101 Essential Tips, Tricks, and Hacks
The CSS Anthology: 101 Essential Tips, Tricks, and Hacks
by Rachel Andrew
Edition: Paperback
Price: $33.28
96 used & new from $0.01

90 of 91 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fine Intro to CSS Solutions, January 26, 2005
My guess is that there are many hundreds, if not thousands, of web designers who continue to build sites and web applications using "old-fashioned" tables and HTML layout formatting instead of CSS (Cascading Style Sheets). I'm one of them. The problem is that the modern trend is away from HTML table and layout formatting and towards newer standards-compliant means. The protocols and standards of the World Wide Web are evolving towards "cleaner" code, more standardized code, and more capable code, generally guided by principles and standards set by the World Wide Web Consortium, known as W3C.

In the book, "The CSS Anthology: 101 Essential Tips, Tricks, and Hacks", author Rachel Andrew provides an easy way for hold-outs to ease into CSS design. This is not a treatise or concept-minded book, but a practical introduction and guide to putting CSS to immediate use in real-world contexts that every web designer is already familiar with. The author shows how to use CSS to style text, format headings and images, create navigation, style forms and user interfaces, and work with browser-compatibility issues.

Andrew is a working web designer and applications designer and presents the material in a very straightforward practical manner - almost as if the reader was following along at a workshop. The writing is clear, all examples are illustrated with relevant code samples, and she offers the insights of an experienced professional regarding everyday problems and solutions.

The book is composed of a preface, nine chapters, and an index. Chapter 1 is an introduction to CSS showing why it is replacing HTML table and layout formatting, and the basic concepts of CSS. The other chapters are set up in a "problem/solution" format where various design issues - text styling, image layout, etc. - are presented and solved by adept usage of CSS.

Even readers who have never paid much attention to CSS will quickly get a useful, working sense of how it is used and how to use it immediately themselves. Although CSS is yet another language to learn, Andrew presents it in such a way that it seems like it is an easy learn. And it demonstrably is, as here, easy to use.

The best parts of the book are the designer tips from an experienced code-writer on how to work with code across different browsers and platforms, and how to understand that browsers have two modes of parsing - a compliant mode and a "quirks" mode. Some browsers, she shows, just have "quirks", especially Microsoft's Internet Explorer. (Surprise!). Although all the CSS tags necessary to illustrate the solutions presented here are shown, a list or chart of most commonly used CSS tags would have been helpful here. Downloadable code for all of the book's examples are available at the publisher's website - [...]

This is a very nice book to transition to CSS and current web standards-compliant code.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 27, 2008 11:03 AM PDT

Photo Retouching with Photoshop: A Designer's Notebook
Photo Retouching with Photoshop: A Designer's Notebook
by Gerard Niemetzky
Edition: Paperback
Price: $18.36
62 used & new from $0.40

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring volume for professionals, January 19, 2005
"Photo Retouching with Photoshop: A Designer's Notebook" is a glossy, handsomely-produced book designed to inspire and instruct illustrators, graphic designers, photographers, and other professionals who create images. It is comprised of studio examples from eight French graphic professionals who provide explanations of the steps in the evolution of an original photo, illustration, or mere concept to a final stage usable by commercial professionals.

The eight examples are presented by professionals described as leading French artists and as translated from a 2003 French edition. They cover digitally restoring old images, improving holiday images, how to improve color renditions with a colorimeter, retouching facial and skin imagery, blending multiple images, and enhancing already existing images.

Among the examples, the reader will learn how these professionals review and imagine an initial project, how they collaborate with artistic directors and other parties involved in a commercial project, how they choose formats, and present an impression. Of course, the emphasis is on using Photoshop in creating commercial masterpieces from preliminary source material. I found it interesting that all but one of the experts used Apple Macintosh computers, but clearly the instruction, tips, and Photoshop-settings screenshots are not platform specific.

The level of presentation is clearly for imaging professionals and serious Photoshop users. Much of the workshops assume advanced graphic as well as Photoshop experience. None of the presentations is a real step-by-step instruction, but more "stage-by-stage". These stages are well-illustrated and screenshots of Photoshop settings windows are used extensively.

Some of the retouching examples are amazing. Chapter 2, entitled, "Digital Surgery", demonstrates how a professional figure model's bodily features and posture are altered for purposes of the commercial expression. The steps used to arch her back using Photoshop illustrate not only how powerful Photoshop is, but how clever highly-competent professionals can be.

Other workshops show how to enhance skin textures and color tonality, how to slice and dice unrelated photos to create a new one purporting to be realistic but is not, how to use colorization in creating multiple images in one illustration, how to create 4 x 13' panoramics, how to create photo images supplemented by special effects utilized in the film industry to create movie settings, and how flawless, spectacular product shots are made.

This is a nice little volume offering tips and inspiration about digital retouching for the graphic professional.

Mind Hacks: Tips & Tools for Using Your Brain
Mind Hacks: Tips & Tools for Using Your Brain
by Tom Stafford
Edition: Paperback
Price: $16.72
161 used & new from $0.03

118 of 128 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting popular science of the brain, December 17, 2004
If you ever wondered why your brain and your computer's brain don't seem to be in synch, I can refer you to a hundred reasons why. Check out the book, "Mind Hacks: Tips and Tools for Using Your Brain".

This book sets out in layman's terms the enormous developments in the brain sciences in the last two decades, which have lead to an apparent debunking of the metaphor of the brain as a logical, linear, information processor and has elevated the role of biological, emotional, and psychological elements in the understanding of perception. The book asks the reader to explore the architecture of his own brain by sampling the exercises in perception in the book. The intent is to foster a new appreciation of the way the brain (now differently conceived) shapes the reality one perceives.

The impetus for this examination and reevaluation comes from the world of technology, especially because of those tools which test, measure, and scan the brain during experimental acts of perception and behavior. Tools such as electroencephalograms, positron emission tomography, and functional magnetic resonance imaging now allow scientists to see the biological bases of perception via real-time brain scans. Examples of such studies are contained in the various "hacks" in this book, as distinct illustrations of the brain's hidden (biologically-based) logic. The authors emphasize that perception is far from straightforward and the brain in some ways has a life of its own.

Author Tom Stafford is a cognitive neuroscientist. The other primary co-author, Matt Webb, is an engineer and designer. Many of the "hacks" have been contributed by a large handful of others, mostly from the world of natural science research. Each hack is a probe, so to speak, into the works of the brain in its many aspects of perception - seeing, hearing, touch, attention, reasoning, memory, and more. Most of these hacks are structured into a template - introductory material on the latest science in that topic area, real-life illustrations of the topic, and suggestions for the reader to experiment with his own brain facilities. For example, have you ever thought why you can't normally tickle yourself? Hack #65 explains why and provides a work around. Many of the hacks are illustrated with graphics and others indicate links to websites where one can find text, graphics, video, and sound illustrations. Although these links are quite helpful and illuminating, it can be annoying to have to drop the book, log-on to a computer, and pull up a website before going back to the book to complete that segment.

This book is popular science about significant research and technology advances in the brain sciences. It will appeal to the many readers who like to keep up on important science matters without having to study for a college graduate program. The best chapters are those on Reasoning (Chapter 7) and Togetherness (Chapter 8) which include evidence puncturing the supposed rationality of human activities. Hack #70, for example, shows how the mere arrangement of a list can influence people's selection choices and why marking down a unit price from $20.00 to $19.99 is so significant. Hack #73 discusses the placebo effect and #75 delves lightly into Gestalt phenomenology.

The subject material seems a bit far afield for the publisher, O'Reilly Media, Inc., which has carved out a niche as a purveyor of computer-related books, many of which cover esoteric subjects. This volume of popular science seems to have been shoehorned into the structure of the popular O'Reilly "Hacks" series, but doesn't quite fit the template of compiling relatively separate clever solutions to discrete computer software problems. Rather than discrete and relatively independent segments, many of the individual hacks here really are just captions or headings separating subject matter.

iBook Fan Book: Smart and Beautiful to Boot
iBook Fan Book: Smart and Beautiful to Boot
by Derrick Story
Edition: Paperback
Price: $14.20
34 used & new from $1.74

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars great stocking stuffer!, December 17, 2004
If you can get someone else to buy your son or daughter, your sister or Grandma, an iBook from Apple, then you can buy the perfect stocking-stuffer for that lucky person - the" iBook Fan Book" by Derrick Story. This is a little 6 by 6 inch square, thin white volume which mimics the look of the iBook itself and is designed to provide a gentle introduction to the iBook.

The basic approach of this book is to provide just the amount of information and guidance needed to get a new iBook owner up to speed in using it and getting comfortable with it. It does not cover all you can know about the iBook or the Mac OSX operating system and applications. There are other books available for that, including many published by the same publisher of this book, O'Reilly Media, Inc. Each of them is noted in this book as additional resources for those who want more in-depth information and guidance.

This book is designed to point out (to primarily non-techie types), for example, what the ports on the sides of the iBook are for, how to select a carrying case for the unit, how to clean it and care for it, and more importantly, how to configure it to do the things most people want to do. Those things include personalizing the System Preferences to make the iBook work space reflect the personality and work habits of the owner.

IBook owners, like most Mac owners, are likely to have special relationships with their machines. They like to personalize it and organize it to allow them to do what they really bought the computer for - to listen to music, view photos, make movies, surf the web, and send email. It becomes less of a tool and more like a friend.

Derrick Story has a casual easy-going writing style which provides an almost-soothing voice to the presentation of information and guidance on setting up the iBook. He is an Apple fan, obviously, and provides tips and suggestions to the reader based on his own experience with the iBook and Mac OSX operating system. These guides are likely to be sufficient for most users to get comfortable early on with their iBook.

Story "walks" the new iBook owner through the relatively minimal number of steps to customize the desktop, set up the email and web browser programs, create contacts files for the Address Book, and get up and running with the included iLife programs - iTunes, iPhoto, and others.

After the Introduction, there are five chapters covering care and maintenance, personalizing and connecting to the Internet, setting up the organizing applications already installed on the iBook, like the Address Book and iCal calendar program, managing music, photos, and movies, and a concluding chapter on Wi-Fi networking, syncing with the iPod and being mobile with the iBook. After all, that's primarily why you get a laptop, right?

Beyond the basics of setting preferences and learning how to use the iLife applications, Story supplements each section with suggestions for buying and using accessories, including many of which he owns and uses himself and can vouch for their utility and value.

When one considers the whole of the book's look and packaging, its minimalist themes, the writer's style, and the Apple "karma", there is an almost a zen-like experience here in learning how to make the iBook your friend.

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