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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Teach Yourself Visually HTML
Publisher: Visual
Authors: Ruth Maran
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Non-techies will love it - something for geeks too

My technical bookself is filled with all kinds of serious looking books that I am sure impress visitors. Tucked away in the back is this colorful gem with its fun cover and not-so-serious demeanor.
I have written my share of code, most of which was in JCL and REXX on mainframes, so how hard can a mark-up language be, right? Not hard when you have the right book, and this book is it. I was able to quickly pick up the basics in a few hours, and learned a lot of tricks and cool things along the way. I could have probably gained the same knowledge with a more technical book, but I do not think it would have been enjoyable. I am fairly positive that if I did not have an extensive background in computers I would not have bothered to learn HTML from another book.
Among the things I like about this book are: (1) It makes HTML accessible to anyone because it is presented in a highly visual manner. The design of this book is important because it makes learning easy, even for non-technical users who just want to get a web page up. (2) It goes well beyond the basics. You can have a simple, but attractive, page up very quickly, then refine it to include frames, multimedia pizzaz such as sound, animation and the such as you become more proficient. (3) It goes beyond the geek stuff to explain how to make a page eye-catching. This is really the hardest part of getting a web page up - anyone can create a web page, but it takes some real planning to create one that is not an eye sore. It stands to reason that authors who create visually appealing, well thoughtout books will pay attention to web page design, which is exactly what these authors did.
This book is so well written that I found the time in my busy schedule to read it and create some pages on my PC (hint: you can make pages with your favorite editor and preview them from your hard disk using your browser before you upload them to your web site). Now all I have to do is find the time to refine and test my pages and upload them to my own site, which is in dire need of a facelift.
I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It is fun to read, contains a wealth of information and makes learning HTML both fun and easy. Don't let the pretty cover fool you - the book also has some advanced techniques that are presented in a clear, friendly manner. If you want to put up a web page and thought it was too hard or technical buy this book. You will impress yourself and your friends.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: MDX Solutions: With Microsoft SQL Server Analysis Services
Publisher: Wiley
Authors: George Spofford
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
Best MDX book available

Unlike Whitehorn this author clearly understands MDX. MDX semantics are complex and mudled but he tries to explain them. However, the result is still as not clear as it could be. What does the filter expression *really* mean...

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Cocoa(R) Programming for Mac(R) OS X (2nd Edition)
Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional
Authors: Aaron Hillegass
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Excellent tutorial introduction to Cocoa.

First, I have to say I loved this book, I actually read half of it on a trip, not being in front of my computer, and still enjoyed the clear style and the gradual addition of new concepts and tools, chapter after chapter. Then I could hardly wait to be back home and start doing it for real.
Now for the potential buyer.
WHAT IT IS NOT: a reference book (no list of classes etc...) or a technical book for advanced programming; a book about Java or Carbon; an introduction to object-oriented programming; an introduction to C.
WHAT IT IS: an excellent introduction to programming in Objective C in the Cocoa environment of Max OS X, provided you know enough about object-oriented programming (some basic understanding of C++ is preferable too).
WHAT YOU LEARN: Objective-C in Cocoa; using Apple Developer Tools; building an application in Mac OS X; how to make optimal use of Cocoa classes and API, knowing how they were conceived and meant to be used; a number of basic concepts and tips that really get you started.
THE PLUS that make this book so interesting: very good and clear writing; some amusing brief 'historical' insights; you really feel the author knows what he is talking about; the author gives personal views (clearly stated as advices, not rules); follow-up, errata, examples, comments, and more on his web site; still completely useable with OS X.2 (a couple or very minor changes that are listed on the web site anyway), so that's the good time to buy it (price is down, but content is still up to date).
Final comment: Objective C in Max OS X is very powerful and enjoyable.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Thinking in Java (3rd Edition)
Publisher: Prentice Hall PTR
Authors: Bruce Eckel
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
Good book... but not the first 80 pages.

About 10 pages into this book, I think you'll really enjoy it. However, if you are not already familiar with Object Oriented Programming (OOP), I think you'll find the next 50 pages very confusing. I recently discussed this book with other Java programmers I know - we all agreed that the initial OOP converage is weak.
However, the remainder of the book is excellent. I do recommend it, especially for C++ programmers or those who already understand the basics of OOP.