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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Beginning ASP Databases
Publisher: Wrox Press
Authors: John Kauffman, Kevin Spencer, Thearon Willis, John Kauffman
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
The REAL power of ASP

I have been designing web pages for years and never really saw the point of using "Programming" in them for my purposes. I kew a bit of VB, so I just skipped the Begining ASP book and dove into this one. I spent about 40 hours with this book and used it cover to cover. I have never done that with a technical book before. The fact that John is a teacher is very evident in this book. There are very few mistakes and the structure is incredibly easy to follow.
I followed all the examples and hand coded most everything rather than just using the prewritten code from the Wrox Site. I learned so much from the book that I couldn't help but to totally change my design methodology. Now when I am writing for an IIS server, I always use ASP. Databases are now integrated into almost all of my work. It's given me a completly new creative outlet.
John has focused on good design practices while he explained the details of connecting to the databases and the methods of interacting with them. I didn't fully digest all of the methods of connecting with ADO, but I just applied his methods to similar work, and it all comes out nicely.
This book focuses strongly on Access, but most of the scripting can be adapted to SQL server easily. All of the Server Side Scripting is done in VBScript and any Client Side is done in Javascript primarily for form validation. That's the standard method for most people, and it's not really confusing when you see it.
You don't need to know ASP before using this book, but it would be helpful to have a good ASP reference available to you. I ran into a few situations where I wanted to do something a bit diferent from the book, and I got stuck becuase I didn't know the syntax for a command I wanted to use. I borrowed a co-worker's "Beginning ASP" a few times, but probably would have been better served with an something which had an index of commands. After reading this book, I immediately set out to do a fully database driven site for my company and they love it. I could easily take a job as a Web "Developer" now.
If you are doing anything complex from an IIS server, whether it's maintaining records, using search capabilities, or just managing a large site, I highly reccomend this book. And ASP in general is very useful if only for the server side includes that can make your site so much easier to maintain.

Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: The Data Modeling Handbook : A Best-Practice Approach to Building Quality Data Models
Publisher: Wiley
Authors: Michael C. Reingruber, William W. Gregory
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Implementation details

When I had to create my first data model for an entire system, I instructed myself with this book and "Data Modeling For Information Professionals" by Bob Schmidt. Schmidt's book provided the theory, and this book provided the implementation rules and guidelines. I think the attribute rules probably helped me the most. The hierarchy rules, which were written in a way that I could relate to from an object-oriented perspective, were probably the next most helpful for me. I especially appreciated that the book's modeling notation matched the modeling tool I was using (Martin notation, with rectangular boxes, solid lines, little circles, hash marks and crow's feet, as opposed to something more UML-like with rounded boxes, dashed lines, little diamonds, and black balls.)
The database I created with this book's help is still going strong. It's robust, flexible and extensible, in large part due to the wisdom I received from this book.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Take Back Your Life!: Using Microsoft Outlook to Get Organized and Stay Organized (Bpg-Other)
Publisher: Microsoft Press
Authors: Sally McGhee
Rating: 2/5
Customer opinion - 2 stars out of 5
Get Getting Things Done Instead

An uncredited rip-off of Getting Things Done, almost to the letter. In addition, it's clearly not updated in any way for Outlook 2003 (where search folders make the notion of emptying your inbox obsolete.)

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Photoshop 7 Down & Dirty Tricks
Publisher: New Riders Press
Authors: Scott Kelby
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
The Ultimate Photoshop 7 Reference

Only oldtimers (not necessarily as old as me but older nonetheless) remember that Adobe did not create Photoshop. It bought Photoshop's parent company (Aldus) and the market. Not all of us feel that was a good thing because Adobe is, at best, quirky in its terminology and interfaces. Which is why so many of Photoshop users spend more on plug-ins than on Photoshop itself.
Enter Scott Kelly and his latest book Photoshop 7 Down and Dirty. If I'd known before what I know post-Kelly, I could have done vastly better work in a fraction of the time and for pennies instead of dollars.
Kelly is a brilliant communicator. His words are perfectly chosen for effectiveness and humor. Every step in each of the numerous projects is illustrated by what is seen on the screen. Even better, his projects are all useful and inspiring. The next time you see a stunning graphic and wonder "how did they do that?" start with Kelly's book.
I'm considering dumping the dozens of other Photoshop books in my collection and keeping just this one and Learning Photoshop Visually.