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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: HTML for the World Wide Web with XHTML and CSS: Visual QuickStart Guide, Fifth Edition
Publisher: Peachpit Press
Authors: Elizabeth Castro
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
The writing is clear and concise . Very well done

This revision (HTML4) of Elizabeth Castro's fine introduction to HTML coding warrants purchase as the first reference of choice for the web page creator. Not intended as an exhaustive treatment of HTML, the book presents examples of simple and easy to understand HTML tag use. Each example is carefully written and displayed in browser form, with proprietary browser differences annotated. "HTML 4 For The World Wide Web" is a part of the PeachPit Press Visual Quickstart Series.
The book is useful to the practising web professional as well as the casual page writer. Even though page creation programs are catching on, the user should still understand something about how the tags work in order to figure out problems or achieve custom results. Castro's summary is an easy way to learn about HTML. In fact, the user can type in the examples and then experiment until a personalized page is finished.
After having learned about HTML from Castro, the user can graduate to more exhaustive and detailed texts costing more. However, Castro's book should be enough for most casual and some serious users.
I keep this book close at hand to remind me about tag features that aren't used frequently. It's format and examples are better than those in many of the other more expensive texts on my shelf. I also recommend it to anyone wanting to learn about web pages. Additionaly, the fold out back cover gives the user a good color chart with hex codes, something even the most expensive reference books seem to lack.
Peachpit Press should be commended for establishing a concise and clear format and level of detail for the Visual Quickstart series. Their other offerings are as equally useful and economical.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Learning Python, Second Edition
Publisher: O'Reilly
Authors: Mark Lutz, David Ascher
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Good even for experienced...

I was a programmer for 15+ years and used Perl for 8 or so of those years, so although I'm a newcomer to Python I'm definitely not a newcomer to programming or to scripting languages. When I ordered this book, I was worried that it might be too basic, but the more advanced O'Reilly Python books have not been updated to Python 2.2/2.3, so I ordered Learning Python anyhow.
And now that I've read it, I can highly recommend it even for experienced programmers. You will have to skim over basics in various chapters, but it's well-written and covers many topics, including 5-10 pages on 2.2's new-style classes, including static and class methods, instance slots, class properties, and __getattribute__.
It refers you to Python's documentation for the details of complex topics, but still gives you an idea of the concepts in play. For example, after a couple of paragraphs on instance slots, it says,
"... Slots are something of a break with Python's dynamic nature, which dictates that any name may be created by assignment. They also have additional constraints and implications that are far too complex for us to discuss here (e.g. some instances with slots may not have an attribute dictionary __dict__); see Python 2.2 release documents for details."
Which I think is a good compromise. They don't fill the book with details, but they don't simply wave their hands and give you no clue as to issues outside the scope of the book.
It is well-written and well-organized. It covers the core language well and gives a good taste for standard packages and many other tools including things like Pyrex and ctype.
(And you won't be disappointed with Python itself. A great language!)

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Mastering Regular Expressions, Second Edition
Publisher: O'Reilly
Authors: Jeffrey E. F. Friedl
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Ding ding ding - we have a winner

Great book for newbies and advanced users alike. Regular Expressions are a pain to understand and learn, but this book is a great teaching tool for that. If you're interested in learning RE, this is the book to start with.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Official Final Fantasy VII Strategy Guide
Publisher: Bradygames
Authors: David Cassady
Rating: 3/5
Customer opinion - 3 stars out of 5
If you are just beginning, I greatly suggest this guide.

This is a great source for maps and battle strategies. It is also great for planning your own battle strategies.