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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Macromedia Flash MX ActionScripting: Advanced Training from the Source
Publisher: Macromedia Press
Authors: Derek Franklin, Jobe Makar
Rating: 3/5
Customer opinion - 3 stars out of 5
Another Promising Disappointment from MM Press

Okay, so my rationale for getting this title is a bit questionable: I've been struggling with learning this not-exactly-user-friendly program for about two years now, and figured it was such a bear to begin with, why not delve into Flash's scripting language and get immersed in the most complex aspect of it? If nothing else, it might make Flash's more basic tools seem that much easier. Some other reviewers complained it wasn't advanced enough; that wouldn't be a deterrent for me.
Things started off promising enough: this was the first time I'd tried using such extensive script in the Actions Panel, it was actually working, and I was starting to not only get a sense of accomplishment but also sort of grasp the syntax of it all. If I messed something up, there was the Output Window to show me what I needed to change, and fixing mistakes is one of the best ways to learn.
However, starting at around Chapter 4, it became painfully obvious that the proofers didn't check what was written in the book against the tutorial files on CD. So here was another challenge, and eventually I was able to figure out what was intended ..... though it was not helpful when the authors would tell you to add some script but were not clear about exactly where to add it. By Chapter 6, when instructed to create a script in a new, blank document and not having it come out as the authors described even after the third attempt, things became seriously annoying.
Most publishers of these sorts of books post corrections to errors on their websites, and give readers opportunities to to report such. Sadly, niether is the case with Macromedia Press, which I think is somewhat arrogant ..... I guess they figure they supply the software, so we struggle with their screwups in print. Not that this book doesn't have useful information: it does, and the authors present it well, with potentially good tutorials and in depth interpretations of the scripting language. But buyer beware: it is by no means a perfect volume, and if you purchase it, prepare for no small amount of frustration.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Inside Com (Microsoft Programming Series)
Publisher: Microsoft Press
Authors: Dale Rogerson
Rating: 3/5
Customer opinion - 3 stars out of 5
Too many words, too little content

There are about 100 pages worth of content in the book. The rest is annoying filler, stories, and what appears to be padding to make the book fatter on the shelf. If you think spending $30 for 100 pages on COM is a good deal, buy it. Otherwise, look for something else (not Beginning ATL COM Programming, please!)

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: JavaScript for the World Wide Web: Visual QuickStart Guide (4th Edition)
Publisher: Peachpit Press
Authors: Tom Negrino, Dori Smith
Rating: 1/5
Customer opinion - 1 stars out of 5
I feel like I missed a page or 2 along the way?

I chose the Quickstart book to build on that foundation and provide a reference. The authors of the Quickstart book fail fill in the blanks as they go along, and have left me wondering what I missed in several excercises. I guess if you wanted to copy some code and didn't care if you knew how it worked, this would be a good book.

Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: Hackers and Painters: Big Ideas from the Computer Age
Publisher: O'Reilly
Authors: Paul Graham
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Graham's good fortune is my good fortune...

While it's possible that Mr. Graham didn't start a business and sell it for (I imagine) a mint to Yahoo! just so he would have time to edify me with his writings, it has worked out that way. I bought this book as much because I owe him for all the information I've picked up off his website (and the two Lisp books I bought used, including a PRISTINE copy of On Lisp that somebody sold at half.com for $25.00) as because I thought I would find the subject matter of particular interest. But what do I know? It's all fascinating. And well-written, too, if you can forgive Graham's habit of beginning sentences with "and."

Blaise Pascal once wrote, "I have made this letter longer than usual because I lack the time to make it shorter." Mr. Graham has taken to time to make this book shorter. I highly recommend to to geeks, nerds, and even unscarred smart people everywhere.