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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: SUSE Linux 9 Bible
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons
Authors: Justin Davies, Roger Whittaker, William von Hagen
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
Suse Linux 9 versus Red Hat LInux 8

New to Linux and running Red Hat 8, I found the Red Hat 8 Bible was the best of all the books I had on running Linux, particularly for getting direction on a specific problem. When I moved to Suse 9, I hoped that the Suse 9 Bible would be as good. Disappointment.

The Suse 9 has less pages, though some of the difference may be that the fonts are somewhat smaller. It also seems to have more "screen shot pages"--pages mostly filled with a screen shot with some text below that gives the obvious, e.g. "To create a user, click...," when the book is being consulted because filling the screen with the obvious did not do what was desired.

For a problem with Suse 9, I find I often end up sorting it out, by consulting the Red Hat 8 book. If you already have the Red Hat 8 Bible, getting the Suse 9 version is probably not going to add much. If you don't have either, then, for someone relatively new to Linux, I certainly recommend getting one of them.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: The Windows 2000 Device Driver Book: A Guide for Programmers (2nd Edition)
Publisher: Prentice Hall PTR
Authors: Art Baker, Jerry Lozano
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Best Book for learning Windows 2000 Device Drivers

I have read all, but one of the Windows 2000/NT device driver books and found this one to be the best for beginners, by far. It is very well organized in a top-down approach. I though the concepts were well presented and easy to understand. After readin two other books on NT device drivers, this one finally explained things clearly for me.
The book is also very hands-on. It describes an example device drive in full source and develops it through each chapter. You can actually build the driver as you go and the driver is developed as you would develop your own driver.
This book is also not wordy and quick-reading. I would suggest is, if you are trying to grasp NT device drivers.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: The Photoshop 7 Wow! Book
Publisher: Peachpit Press
Authors: Jack Davis
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
A Must Have Book for Serious Photoshop 7 Users

When I started reading this book, I was very discouraged as in the introduction the writers often use terms such as alpha channel, a mask, or a vector before they've explained them. Boy am I glad I read further where everything is not only explained, but illustrated!From the very first pages this book is special in that it's organized with the user in mind. The contents are organized into areas of user-need: Fundamentals of Photoshop, Color in Photoshop, Retouching & Enhancing Photos, Combining Images, Using Filters, Painting, Type, Shapes, Paths & PostScript, Special Effects for Type & Graphics, The Web & Motion Graphics. For example, I don't do print output but do do a lot of web stuff and want to learn the painting, so I can skip to the painting section.Actually I'm somewhere in between a beginner and a knowledgeable user, so I'm going to start with the Fundamentals.
The five pages detailing What's new In Photoshop 7 are worth the price of the book. They give a synopsis of features with reference to the detailed section. This makes it easy for you to quickly see version 7 solves a frustration from earlier versions. The enclosed CD contains tool presets for image fixing such as red eye, production shortcuts and custom backgrounds and buttons. The CD has some awesome additions on it for brushes,lighting styles, etc.
Each Chapter has an index of tips which lets you quickly scan to see if what you need to do is explained in this chapter.
If you're new to Photoshop, you might skip to the Fundamentals section as what precedes it assumes you understand alpha channels, masks, etc.In the Fundamentals section, detailed descriptions of recordable actions and use of the history palette will improve your productivity. The distinctions in ways to select items are explained and can save some frustrating hours of trial and error.
The order of items in chapter 1 did not seem logical to me. Almost at the end of the chapter was the topic Input with a description of ways to input graphics. Meanwhile, there had been extensive and very useful discussions on how to select parts of an image, make an alpha channel and some on using masks.The authors alternate between very complex descriptions such as the extract filter and concise tables with shortcuts. Experienced users will appreciate the complex descriptions, but as a novice, prepare to spend time to master them. I don't do printed output, just web stuff, so I was very tempted to skip chapter 2 about color. However, the section on Color Adjustment Options including Blend Modes was useful and pointed me to more detailed instructions in other chapters.
The chapter on Retouching Photos is worth the price of the book. Want to clean up old slides ? Blur the background like using a short focal point? take away wrinkles? These are shown step by step with examples! I had no idea you could retouch with history, but it's explained quite well.
Ever want to extract an image with edges like wisps of hair? Chapter 4 gives 35 tips from feathering to changing the axis. And here they explain vector masks and layer makes and how to make them. Vector mask was called layer clipping path in version 6. Want to keep type editable but show a photo or graphic inside it? This chapter tell you how. It also explains moving non-linked layers in a set, and how to drag a linked layer without dragging all linked layers. Blending images and type can help you create GREAT looking type! Need to blend point and shoot photos into a panorama? Or make type appear to surround an object? The answers are in chapter 4.Chapter 5 is all about using Filters. There are 40 tips for this chapter.One of the most helpful discussions is the difference between the 3 sharp commands and unsharp mask. The details of when to change the radius or threshold settings in Unsharp mask is priceless, as is the explanation of why you should use Unsharp Mask last, and use it twice!This chapter tells the difference between lighting commands... ambient, vs omni direction, using light sources, and how to save a lighting scheme. The liquify commands are not only explained, but illustrated! Did you know there's a reconstruct command which to return the liquified portion to its frozen state?Another great section was the application of a Logo using the 3D Transform functions.Do you know when to drag a layer style from one layer to another, and when to copy and paste instead? This chapter tells you..Although there was a section on 16 bit manipulation, I have no need for it, and didn't review it.Chapter 6 is on Painting and has 26 tips. The Wow Presets on the CD are great for this! They show the difference you'll get using the mouse versus a drawing tablet with their presets. Here are the steps to achieve the look of felt tip markers, how to use the eraser in airbrush, paint brush , pencil or block mode. The difference between Magic Eraser and background eraser for transparency answered one of my frustrations and why sometimes I can't paint. Tools that clone include the history bush and the art history brush where the authors explain the difference between style, area and tolerance. (the Wow patterns for Art History lessons use texture settings from fine tuned scans of real media). Want to fill noncontiguous areas? reposition a gradient? do wet painting in Plein Air style... the answers are here!The example of how to turn a photo or image into a painting, or an impressionist painting are awesome.Chapter 7 Type Shapes , Paths & EPS has 43 tips including the fact that shapes require 2 phases... so when you can't edit that shape, it's because you're in the wrong phase.They even tell you when to use other programs for type effects; what you must do before you can to tilt or distort individual characters in text. Making a sub path with the pen, the freeform pen or the magnetic pen is outlined as well as kerning using the option and arrow keys. There's a great set of illustrations showing the results of using Photoshop filters. Why you should use layer style, and what the layer style quirks are if you have to change file sizes.Chapter 8 goes into Special effects for Type & Graphics with 19 tips. It discusses what you can do with a color overlay, and talks about the disadvantages of global light. How to use textures & backgrounds, how to create seamless tile patterns, etc. are covered in depth.
Chapter 9 The Web and Motion Graphics tells you how to plan web graphics, optimize them, and animate them. The CD contains a lot of pre made buttons for your web site.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Network+ Study Guide, 4th Edition
Publisher: Sybex Inc
Authors: David Groth, Toby Skandier
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
Good Reference Material

I just passed the Network+ test and this book was an outstanding good source of information. It is getting a little dated though and CompTIA is changing the test format in the latter part of 2001, so I don't know how much longer it will be totally useful. I also used "Upgrading and Repairing Networks" by QUE (2nd Edition) but it wasn't really needed. With the Study Guide, the sample tests on the Internet (and on the CD that comes with the book), and some experience you too can pass the Network+ test.