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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Photoshop Restoration & Retouching, Second Edition
Publisher: New Riders Press
Authors: Katrin Eismann, Doug Nelson
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5

This book is remarkable both for its scope and for the depth of knowledge, natural teaching ability, and trustworthiness of its author. The book starts with both general and specific corrections to tone, exposure, and color, and goes on through restoring faded and damaged photos, adding and removing elements, and all the way to professional portrait retouching including glamour and fashion retouching.
Katrin presents an inherently fascinating subject in clearly written and illustrated step-by-step explanations. She details her own work and the carefully chosen work of others with tremendous respect for differences in approach, while ensuring that every method she presents is of the highest caliber.
Her respect for the retouchers whose work she features extends also to the subjects of the photos. Her straightforward and thoughtful appraisal of what it is we are about when we restore or retouch photos is unmatched by anything I've seen in other books. Philosophically as well as technically, readers are in good hands with Katrin.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Beginning XML (Programmer to Programmer)
Publisher: Wrox
Authors: David Hunter, Andrew Watt, Jeff Rafter, Kurt Cagle, Jon Duckett, Bill Patterson
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Best XML Introduction

I've read several 'Introduction to XML' books, and this one is by far the best for users with at little more than a basic understanding of HTML beyond a WYSIWYG environment. Unlike other shorter titles, this book spends a great deal of time covering the basics of XML (without spending many a dry page in theory) and a host of accompanying technologies which make up the family XML belongs to.
There is no shortage of information, examples, screenshots, or explanations. Shortly into Chapter 2 you begin a hands-on approach to learning, using freely available editors and parsers to create XML data files and documents; all in a graduated learning fashion, each example building on the skills gained from the last. Don't want to type it? The code is readily available for download and the book shows the results within screenshots.
Beyond the main body of the book itself are appendices which can provide greater context for you as to how to implement XML in different environments, such as application and web development. These appendices can be skipped without hindering the over-all learning environment.
As described, the title is quite lengthy. However, XML is typically not a stand-alone language, and to truly harness XML you need to understand the other technologies XML uses - and this title gives you that knowledge in a very reader-friendly fashion. What you will gain from reading this title is well worth the time invested.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: MCDST Exams (Exams 70-271 and 70-272)
Publisher: Charles River Media
Authors: Timothy L. Warner
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
Solid exam preparation book

One of the many Microsoft certification exams the Microsoft Certified Desktop Support Technician (MCDST) certifies a technician to support the workstation or home user's system. The certification consists of one exam on Operating Systems and one on Applications. The purpose of this book is to prepare the test taker to pass the exams. As such, the book covers the exam objectives, installation, configuration, troubleshooting operating systems and applications, hardware devices and drivers, user environments, customization, and application security. It even comes with a CD-ROM with practice tests.

The book does a good job of covering the various ways to install a Windows operating system as well as how to update a Windows system. Throughout the book are questions and answers to help the reader test their knowledge of the subject. Unfortunately, while it does provide the answers it does not provide an explanation of why it is the correct one. Presumably you would have to look it up in the text to understand why it is the correct one and the other answers incorrect.

While the subject can be very technical it is written in an easy to follow narrative style. One of the problems of most certification exams is that real life often varies considerably from a pristine laboratory environment assumed in most exam situations. This may be an excellent book to prepare for the exam if that is your goal but it may not the best to learn actual installation and troubleshooting. For example, the problems that arise when upgrading an operating system can be quite difficult to troubleshoot and the book does not deal with this real life situation to any significant extent. For the purpose of passing the certification exam MCDST Exams is a recommended purchase and since acquiring the certification is the purpose of the book, it scores a direct hit.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Essential XML Quick Reference: A Programmer's Reference to XML, XPath, XSLT, XML Schema, SOAP, and More
Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional
Authors: Aaron Skonnard, Martin Gudgin
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
Good even as no-nonsense overview

I was looking for a concise, no-nonsense book about the various XML technologies, including XPath, XSLT, and schemas. Although this book is billed as a reference, it was also a quick way to get up to speed on these ideas, without having to skim hundreds of pages of hype. The schema reference does not have as complete an overview as the other chapters, or I would have given 5 stars.