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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Sams Teach Yourself Macromedia Flash MX 2004 in 24 Hours
Publisher: Sams
Authors: Phillip Kerman
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
Great beginner book

Flash MX is a program where one cannot just poke around and expect results. If you have never come in contact with layers or symbols in other graphics or vector programs, Flash is perhaps very a diffucult program to get used to.
This book guides you from a person who knows nothing about flash to a beginner. Trust me, this book only touches the surface in Flash simply becuase it offers almost nothing in the subject of ActionScripting. And that is why I would only recommend this book to absolute beginners.
For instance the actionscripting chapters only detail on gotoAndPlay(), startDrag() and onClipEvent(enterFrame) handlers (or whatever you call them) If you want to learn about dynamic event handlers or functions or prototypes, look elsewhere.
Putting that aside, this book is written and structured very well. The first few chapters offer an introduction to drawing while the middle of the book is devoted to animating. The last few chapters are about actionscripting and optimizing. Philip Kerman is offering a book that allows a serious Flash programmer to start a wonderful career/hobby.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: The Guru's Guide to SQL Server Stored Procedures, XML, and HTML (With CD-ROM)
Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional
Authors: Ken Henderson
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Get your XML here!

This book was all I could have asked for. I have been wanting to learn about XML in SQL Server for a long time. I read the Books Online, but just couldn't really get it. I mean I could write the code and I could play with OPENXML, but I didn't really *understand* what I was doing. This book changed all that. Now it all makes sense. Unlike a lot of other books, it doesn't repeat the online docs. It starts where the Books Online ends. And the sample code is really useful. The book says there are over 700 example files and I don't doubt it! The sheer number and the quality of the samples makes the book worth the price all by itself.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Professional Apache Tomcat 5 (Programmer to Programmer)
Publisher: Wrox
Authors: Vivek Chopra, Amit Bakore, Jon Eaves, Ben Galbraith, Sing Li, Chanoch Wiggers
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
Not for beginners

Very good book, but I first read it as a preparation to manage a tomcat server and I could barely understand. A re-read it later on and it was a lot clearer.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Adobe Photoshop CS: The Art of Photographing Women
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons
Authors: Kevin Ames
Rating: 3/5
Customer opinion - 3 stars out of 5
visually appealing, but not the best tips

I almost bought this book at a book store after flipping its pages. It has great formating - good combination of diagrams, colored pages and filled with beautiful pictures of women.

BUT, if you read in detail and try to follow its tips, you'll find it go through many laborious steps to do simple things. There's a section on archiving that barely talks about how to archive efficently. THere is also a section detailing how you can retouch photo of a bikini clad girl to look like barbie doll. I find the final picture appauling.

There are also sections on how to trim thighs, remove facial blemishes etc. However, there is another book I owned called "Photoshop Restoration and Retouching" - by Katrin Eismann, that does a better job on retouching. I strongly recommend Katrin's book if you're a serious photographer. That book has a much wider range of tips and the steps are easier to follow.