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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: MCAD/MCSD Training Guide (70-310): Developing XML Web Services and Server Components with Visual Basic .NET and the .NET Framework
Publisher: Que
Authors: Mike Gunderloy
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
tons of exercises

This book provides tons of "StepByStep" exercises to learn all about remoting,web services, etc. It's a great book for those that do not hae tons of experience in these areas. In the same token, it maybe too much coding for the experience developer who is looking to gain just the facts to pass the test. If someone is looking for that, then look at the MS Press book.

The one real complaint that I have is with the layout of the book. There is a lot of line wrapping which isn't really necessary, they could use the width of the page. But, this is the fault of the publisher, not the author.

Overall, another great book by Mike!

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Digital Compositing In Depth: The Only Guide to Post Production for Visual Effects in Film
Publisher: Coriolis Group Books
Authors: Doug Kelly
Rating: 3/5
Customer opinion - 3 stars out of 5
Spread too thin....

The title of this book is misleading: There is more *breadth* than actual "depth". This book has the potential of being the digital compositing world's equivalent of Trish and Chris Meyer's "Creating Motion Graphics with After Effects"--An invaluable *practical* bible for its field. Unfortunately, the author wastes way too much space by attempting to appease users of several different compositing applications at once. He tries to explain how to perform each compositing topic in Digital Fusion, Adobe After Effects, Newtek Aura, Nothing Real Shake, Puffin/Pinnacle Commotion, Discreet effect* and Silicon Grail Chalice.
This wouldn't be so bad if it weren't for the fact that a great majority of the time (particularly in regards to Newtek Aura), you are told that if you want to do such-and-such compositing task, you'll need to "use another program" that does because "<insert app here> doesn't support it". It's so recurring that it almost seems like a joke whenever you get to the Newtek Aura section of each tutorial, and the book basically tells you that you're screwed if you want to do that particular compositing task in it.
As other reviewers have mentioned, there is a heavy bias towards Eyeon Digital Fusion in this book. However, even as a heavy After Effects user, I didnt mind this at all, since its the *concepts* and techniques that matter to me more. If you understand these basic concepts, you can apply them to *any* compositing application. This is the book's main virtue. The in-depth discussions of Matchmoving, bluescreening, tracking and "cleanup" are very good, and haven't really been practically discussed at length in any other book, AFAIK. Theres also a lot of good information about the unglamourous side of CGI work--the "business" of selling yourself and getting work.
If the author would have just narrowed his scope, application-wise, this could have been an absolutely killer book. The inclusion of Chalice and Shake in this book are particularly puzzling, since it would seem to me that anyone who is in a position to be actually /using/ these products is already doing high-end film compositing to begin with, and probably wouldn't need a book like this. The fact is that the vast majority of digital compositors who would even *need* a book like this are most likely using more common applications like Digital Fusion, After Effects and Commotion. If this book just concentrated on these apps, more space could be used to discuss each of thier strengths and weaknesses relative to the compositing task at hand, and in the end, it would make for a much more practical and useful book.
All that being said, I still think this book is worth getting if you aren't already a battle-scarred veteran of digital compositing. Just be prepared to wade through a lot of chaff to get to the real useful bits. I would still recommend buying Brinkmann's "The Art and Science of Digital Compositing" first, though. Thats as close to a "bible" as you'll get right now. "Digital Compositing in Depth" is *almost* there....

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Moving to VB .NET: Strategies, Concepts, and Code
Publisher: Apress
Authors: Daniel Appleman, Dan Appleman
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
Worth the read I thought

You have to appreciate this book for taking a little bit of a different style than most of the 'document rehash' books out there. If you're looking for the nuts and bolts of the language constructs, this book is not for you. If you want to know the take on VB.NET for someone converting from other languages, you'll find Dan's perspective quite intriguing. I recommend this book to someone with programming experience but not quite up on it with .NET. You may or may not agree with all that Dan says but at least you'll know all the arguments.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: The Rise of the Network Society
Publisher: Blackwell Publishers
Authors: Manuel Castells
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
The Rise of Network Society

This is the first volume of Manuel Castells¡¯ ¡®Informational Age¡¯. The trilogy of ¡®Informational Age¡¯ is the de facto classic in the sociology of information. This volume focuses mainly on the economic feature of the network society: informationalization and globalization; the transformation of the enterprise; the flexibility in labor market; interactive media; transformation of space (or, in Giddens¡¯ term, time-space distanciation). You might ask ¡®what¡¯s the relevance to sociology?¡¯ Naturally, it¡¯s related to question, ¡®what¡¯s the substance of sociology of information?¡¯ Our day to day life can¡¯t clearly be distinguished from the economic affairs. Almost all the resources, whether they are material or human, appear as commodity or service which are tradable. Even the culture is organized on the market. Our identity and daily time table are deeply molded by our spot in the labor market. And that, the overall dynamics of social change comes from the economy. The epochal trends, such as globalization, informationalization, have been driven mainly by the economic needs. So the network society can¡¯t be grasped without the economics. But you should not conclude that the economics is the whole story. The market alone can¡¯t sustained even itself, not to say the whole society. The economy is embedded in the society. The economy and the society are intertwined with each other, but not determined by one another. So their relation could be called as the ¡®interaction¡¯. But when it comes to IT, the things are more complicated. IT can¡¯t act by in itself. IT is the resource to be mobilized by bodily actor. IT represents the epochal change in the environment. IT is not the variable in itself. Therefore we could say that the sociology of information is about the interaction between IT, economy and society. The argument of the field is like this: our activities are increasingly organized around networks. Networks have existed throughout the human history. But IT offers unprecedently elevated material basis. It allows the network pervasively to expand throughout the entire society and the globe. Over decades, we have observed sea change related to IT in economy, politics, and society. Those shifts are the object of the sociology of information. Castells¡¯ trilogy is about that sea change. As I said above, the first volume focuses on economic features. But Castells¡¯ work has some peculiar cast. Castells¡¯ characterizing informational society as network society makes the globalization be coalesced with informationalization. For this reason, some commentators classify Castells as a theorist of globalization. In fact, this and the second volume of the trilogy could be read as great illustration of globalization. It seems that Castells assumes that informationalization could be distinguished from globalization only on the analytical rationale. So he characterizes informational age as the network society. The term could be applied to both trends. Before closing the review, I should warn you that if you expect the firm theoretical founding, you should read first Castells¡¯ ¡®Information City¡¯, as I mentioned in the review of the author¡¯s another book, ¡®The Internet Galaxy¡¯. For example, Castells coined the term of ¡®the mode of development¡¯ to periodize the informational age. It¡¯s not a new mode of production like the capitalism, but a new mode of development which is different from industrialism or Fordism. But anywhere is the trilogy, you can¡¯t find such a theorizing. Without that kind of founding, the trilogy can¡¯t avoid being read as interesting but bulky sketching out the current affairs.