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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Photoshop Elements 3 for Windows One-on-One
Publisher: Deke Press
Authors: Deke McClelland
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
seems mostly about image editing

McClelland presents a set of 12 tutorials in the form of this book. It may appeal to you if you are the type who gets fidgety and impatient by just reading a book. Most of us can learn a subject better by doing some problems or tasks in it. Some can only learn in this fashion.

Hence the book and its enclosed CD could be handy. Perhaps aided by the CD containing not just the usual data files used in the tutorials, but also a 2 hour video of the author. Most other technical books with CDs don't go to this extent of providing a video.

The tutorials themselves delve rather deeply into many aspects of Elements. Like the way it handles both raster and vector objects, where the latter is often text. So you get true proportional scaling of text.

Elements, as you might know, is a stripped down version of Photoshop, in terms of its image editing abilities. Its forte is cataloging and publishing that catalog on the web. But in going through this book, it seems mostly about the image editing. The most difficult lessons seem to be here. Which may not be a bad thing. Even if your primay goal is to put up photos on your website, being able to enhance them is a good skill to master.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Programming the Perl DBI
Publisher: O'Reilly
Authors: Alligator Descartes, Tim Bunce
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Useful, even for insiders

I'm biassed; I'm the primary author of the DBD::Informix module. And I bought my copy of the book.
The Cheetah Book has a lot of useful information in it. Obviously, it describes the core DBI functionality very clearly, but it also contains a lot of information that was not previously available in a form comparable to what is in the book. For example, the extensive Appendix B, which lists a lot of details about each of the various drivers, is very useful and informative indeed. The information is not yet available elsewhere in this format, and you'd have to download all the drivers to be able to get all the information in one place. The guide to using the DBI Proxy Server is invaluable. The non-DBI database information in Chapter 2 is interesting; it shows how diverse the Perl modules are. And the comparison with Win32::ODBC is illuminating.
There is information in the main text which has not been documented before, such as the "use DBI qw(:sql_types);" -- that isn't in Appendix A (the DBI Specification), either, but that oversight will no doubt be fixed so that it is in 'perldoc DBI' by the time DBI 1.14 is available on CPAN.
This book does not attempt to teach you the rudiments of Perl, and nor should it. It does not teach everything about SQL, and nor should it. It doesn't teach you about every possible use of DBI, and it shouldn't try to do that either. It is a pity that the use of DBI with the Apache web server and mod_perl is not covered at all, but even that would be difficult to do sensibly. Half the effort would be in explaining how to handle HTML and CGI and not in using DBI per se. Nevertheless, should there be a second edition, this is something that should be covered in outline, even if not in complete detail.
If you have any intention of working with DBI, either as a regular user or as a driver writer, you need this book. It is clear and pleasant to read. Having the DBI specification printed in book format is worth the price of the book alone; the rest of the material is also very valuable.
Go, Buy!

Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: Design Patterns
Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional
Authors: Erich Gamma, Richard Helm, Ralph Johnson, John Vlissides
Rating: 2/5
Customer opinion - 2 stars out of 5
Good, but too complex

After years of writing code of all kinds,
Fun Video games as a kid, Compilers for the heck of it, Graphics programs for the love of art,Interesting AI programs because I am a CS guy,Boring Database Applications because I have to pay bills,Nifty n-tiered web apps because the World went crazy..,
I found a programming book that could still teach me something.
After books from Knuth, Djikstra, The Aho Gang and the like, here is a book which goes straight to the point.
The book summarizes a basic set of Software Design Patterns, which have been found over and over in all the software we create.Design Patterns is the perfect answer to all you OOP questions, Its an approach to sofware design as well as reuse.
If you are an artist, you would appreciate Design patterns better. The masters of the Renaissance began to see the world in terms of basic geometric forms..Spheres, Cubes, Cones and cylinders..this helped them in analysing an object..(any object, from the Human body to the Mountains and rivers.). Once they analysed any thing into its basic forms it was just a matter of detail. So, if you practice how to draw these basic shapes from different angles, and lighting,etc., and you learn how to analyse any thing into basic shapes, you have become a master.
The authors categorize all different software pieces into Creational, Structural and Behavioural patterns. Providing several possible patterns in each of these categories. A software designer, when confronted with a design problem, based on the needs, can pick a pattern from this catalogue and then fill in the details.
Well written, with UML diagrams too.
Caution: If you are new to programming, come back to this book a bit later.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Lean Software Development: An Agile Toolkit for Software Development Managers
Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional
Authors: Mary Poppendieck, Tom Poppendieck
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
An excellent book on applying agile to your process

If you are intrigued by the concepts of Agile, this is an excellent book to help you begin to map Agile methodologies and techniques into your team's software development process. Mary and Tom Poppendieck present 22 tools in 7 categories to help you begin to map Agile methodologies and techniques into your team's software development process.
Mary and Tom Poppendieck are experts in getting software done. They've taken a number of the most important Agile techniques from Lean Manufacturing techniques, and shown how they relate to lean/agile software development. They do not pontificate on Agile. Essentially, they extract a number of the most critical concepts, examine them, and then help you to see how you might bring them into your own software development process and team. This is not a cookie cutter approach: One of my issues with the leaders of movements like SCRUM and XP is that they believe that you should be using their techniques verbatim -- I once heard one of them say "You're either doing XP exactly, or you're NOT agile!"
This is not the case here. After a strong introduction, this husband and wife team launch into it. Like their in-person seminars, it's clear that they've been there -- they know what works, and what doesn't. These authors have developed a lot of solid software, built teams of developers, and delivered high quality code on tight deadlines. There's no fluff here -- at less than 190 pages, they don't have room for it. The first four chapters focus on modifying your process: making it lean, creating feedback loops, encouraging flexibility, and delivering fast. The next one focuses on development teams -- empowerment, motivation, and leadership. The final two are about coding: building integrity into your code and creating code that matches the entire system that is being built. There's also a fascinating chapter on creating contracts appropriate to the Agile model, which is definitely required reading, and is a rarely discussed topic in the Agile literature.
If you are intrigued by the concepts of Agile, this is an excellent book to help you begin to map Agile methodologies and techniques into your team's software development process. With its pragmatic approach, informative examples, and succinct and clear writing, this is an excellent book to get you thinking about how to apply the powerful concepts of agile to your development process.