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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Photoshop for Right-Brainers: The Art of Photo Manipulation
Publisher: Sybex Inc
Authors: Al Ward, Sybex
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Makes Photoshop a Program I can really use

I am a self-taught Photoshop user. That is to say, I know just enough about PS to be REALLY dangerous! Al Ward's book, Photoshop for Right-Brainers was a JOY to read. I was able to follow what he was talking about and even reproduce the effects using my own photos rather than the ones on the included CD. Now THAT is a well written book when you can actually use the information on photos other than the ones provided for the tutorial.
One of the very first pieces of information, something that I will actually use when I work with photos, is High Pass, a filter that grays out pixels so the edge details are clear. Two other items in PS that Mr. Ward talks about are Extract and Pattern Maker. Extract is just what it says - taking an object and extracting or removing it from the rest of the picture. Great way to see how you would look as a blonde! The Pattern Maker is a tool that I will use as a web designer. I am forever trying to find a suitable background for my web pages. Now, thanks to Al Ward and Photoshop for Right Brainers I don't have to look, I can make my own. Pattern Maker allows you to select part of a photo and then creates a background from the pixels selected. VERY COOL.
Are you a text nut? If so, this book shows you how to create Chrome letters. In the same section, it shows you how to use Opacity and Fill on the text. Of course, this can be applied to an actual photo as well but it is a very nice technique to allow the background to show through lettering.
A few of the other techniques this book walks you through are Masking, Cartooning images, Warping images to "fit" to another object and Photo Merge. This last technique gives you the collage effect that allows you to create one photo from many or to blend two photos to make a panorama. There is a CD with the book and it contains a free version of Maya 5 Personal Learning Edition, Source Files so you can follow along with the techniques being taught and Preset Tools created by Al Ward for use in the various techniques he shows.
This book is packed with useful information and is one that can actually be followed and understood. Many times authors go into so much detail that you can't follow or they make it so difficult that you give up. Not this author! Al Ward has my sincere thanks for writing a book to make a program that I had only a little knowledge of into something that I can actually use in my daily work.

Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: Introduction to Electrodynamics (3rd Edition)
Publisher: Prentice Hall
Authors: David J. Griffiths
Rating: 3/5
Customer opinion - 3 stars out of 5
You have to evaluate this one for yourself

Some of you will like this book, some will hate it, and some will never crack it open to find out. It's a better introduction than some others I have seen for advanced undergraduate E&M. Griffiths has very good phyiscs; if you take the time to work out the [copious] parts of the derivations he leaves out, you will develop a good foundation.
However, there are two important problems with this book. First, Griffiths leaves out way too much from his derivations. There are somethings that I saw that I couldn't make heads or tails of because sufficient information wasn't given. Further, if your math skills aren't very good, and I mean very, very good, you're screwed. There were some problems that my professor, with about forty years of experience, could not solve.
Second, Griffiths can't write his way out of a paper bag. It is excruciatingly difficult to present introductory electrdynamics clearly, but it must be done. If you can't write clearly and understandibly, you have no business writing textbooks; judging from the book, Griffiths can't. Feynman is reported to have said that if something could not be presented at the level of his freshmen, then it is not truly understood. By that standard, Griffiths fails to understand a lot.

Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: Troubleshooting, Maintaining & Repairing PCs (Troubleshooting, Maintaining & Repairing PCs)
Publisher: Osborne/McGraw-Hill
Authors: Stephen J. Bigelow
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
Good Book

I want Know This Book

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Search Engine Optimization for Dummies
Publisher: For Dummies
Authors: Peter Kent
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Good SEO!

Great advice for the web owner newbie. This book allowed me to significantly increase my hit count and search engine placement.

One warning, however: SEO seems to be more of an art than a science -- please every web site is different -- so don't expect this book to make you #1 on every search engine. However, it will point you in the right direction and help you figure out where best to spend your time and your money.