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Resources - Book Bytes|
|by Stephen M.H. Braitman - NBMA Director of Communications|
Book Bytes announces new publications of interest to our members and community in multimedia, technology, business, and culture.
First appearance of each Book Bytes column is in the NBMA email events newsletter. To subscribe, send a blank email message to: email@example.com.
If you have a recommendation for review and, especially, if you have published a book send the information to .
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COMPLETE WIRELESS HOME NETWORKING
205 pages, $19.99
Prentice Hall www.phptr.com
This is a basic guide to setting up a home wireless network for the Windows system (98 through XP) told in a mainstream, consumer-friendly manner. The author really wants you to go wireless! He spends a decent amount of time in the opening chapter laying out the case for wireless connectivity (mobility, speed, shared devices, etc.) with a large-type format and even larger photographs and illustrations. He gives useful points in how to research your particular needs with information provided by industry groups, mailing lists, Web sites, and newsgroups. Time is spent defining the solution, from the physical layout of your home to the realistic possibilities (as opposed to the hype) of fast connection speed. The steps to putting the system together - though not exactly one-two-three - are described as simply as possible and would challenge nobody who's ever used a computer. Even you can check for TCP/IP, add a router, or fix a bad network adapter!
TOTALLY TASTELESS PHOTOSHOP ELEMENTS
304 pages, $24.99
If you've ever wanted to shrink the President's head down to its intellectual proportions, gonzo comedy writer Wally Wang will show you how. It's on page 189 of this very funny, but very useful book on edgy Photoshop techniques. (Actually, it's Trent Lott who gets shrunk, but is there really any difference?) Sometimes you need someone from left field to give you that little bit of extra inspiration. Wang offers photo alteration and manipulation opportunities that certainly haven't escaped some of the major media or governmental institutions. Why shouldn't you take advantage of the ability to delete messy details (like the woman on your arm who's not your wife) or showing that Martians have really invaded our most popular coffee bars. Here's how to create the illusion of movement, to dim the scene to make a more sinister impression, and how you can change the shape of any element. Just remember: You can't trust what you see in the newspaper ever again.
GOOGLE POCKET GUIDE
Tara Calishain, Rael Dornfest, DJ Adams
129 pages, $9.95
I'm having more fun than I've had in a long time (don't ask) with the GOOGLE POCKET GUIDE sitting on the desk next to my computer. Not only is it a fun, easy read, it's providing a wealth of realizations about how Google can be used in so many different ways. Like me, you've probably thought the Google engine was only good for typing in your search terms and pressing the button to get your results. Now I'm using Google to find out personal and business phone numbers anywhere (residential, use "rphonebook: Smith CA"; business: "bphonebook: widgets Podunk ID). No more "Number, please" charges on my phone bill! The Pocket Guide is also a handy reference to the powerful intricacies of the Advance Search options on Google. You can even delve deeper into news topics by using specific search terms in their vast news area ("Angola gold revenge killings"). There's a lot more here on language tools, image archives, Weblogs,even Google's new Froogle, their shopping search service. Wow. FYI, this book is a condensed, reconfigured version of GOOGLE HACKS released earlier this year. That book is a great, comprehensive survey of everything about Google and what's it's capable of for both home and business purposes. The GOOGLE POCKET GUIDE, however, is the lean and mean action tool.
SAP PLANNING: Best Practices in Implementation
George W. Anderson
695 pages, $65
An essential reference work for anyone helping or leading the installation of an enterprise-wide business management software system. SAP AG's mySAP has become the bull elephant of the corporate world, and very few companies don't utilize some of its elements for order processing, resource management, client tracking, and all the other sundry functions of modern business. George Anderson tackles the tactical strategy of getting such a comprehensive system in place by starting with infrastructure analysis. What is the team doing this project? What are there training needs? Where is the work actually being done? What workflow needs to be in place? How about budget? These is all good, solid foundation thinking that will help prevent wrecks along the way to what will ultimately be a very expensive transition to a more efficient operation. Included is a valuable CD-ROM with project plan templates, white papers, comparative analyses, change management forms, and much more.
AMERICA AS SECOND CREATIONS: Technology and Narratives of New Beginnings
David E. Nye
364 pages, $29.95
The MIT Press mitpress.mit.edu
As the latest technology revolution permeates the mainstream of society and transmutes into a part of the historical narrative, it is instructive to look more deeply into how American culture has continuously used "second creation," in the words of writer David E. Nye, as a form of justification for technological progress. Nye's thesis is that since the American Revolution, this country has constantly readjusted and redefined its destiny using national narratives, "foundation stories" related to the introduction of technologies such as the axe, the canal, and the railroad. This is an intricately interesting survey of American folk legends, commercial messages, literature and art, and political discourse charting the rise and expansion of the imperative American experience, along with countervailing attitudes and parallel developments. Will the little garage in Palo Alto become a similarly heroic symbol of our progress and domination of the natural world? This book looks back at our past to bring up fresh questions about our future.
MAC OS X SECURITY
Bruce Potter, Preston Norvel, Brian Wotring
385 pages, $39.99
New Riders www.newriders.com
MAC OS X MAXIMUM SECURITY
John Ray and William C. Ray
747 pages, $44.99
Users of the latest Mac OS may not realize that its UNIX underpinnings make it much more vulnerable to cracker attack than any previous system manufactured by Apple. As powerful and robust OS X is, it also shares the opportunities for invasive mischief as any of the other multitude of PC owners using a UNIX-based operating system. Two new valuable books address the security issues of OS X users. The Sams project boasts a massive, comprehensive approach with plenty of UNIX code tutorials geared towards the network administrator-level. The authors of the New Riders volume are more specifically helpful to individual desktop users of OS X, with a less intimidating approach for less technically minded folks. Both deal extensively with educating about how to understand threats, what they could be, and how to identify them before they become tragic. Will Ray of the Sams book is particularly vehement when describing the actions of crackers breaking into systems; he admires their cleverness but spares no righteous anger for their immorality. This attitude gives MAC OS X MAXIMUM SECURITY a more vivid edge in style, and urgency. But MAC OS SECURITY is just as effective for the single user who needs to know about security issues from the ground floor.
GET CREATIVE! THE DIGITAL PHOTO IDEA BOOK
Kate and Richard Binder
340 pages, $24.99
CREATE! THE NON NONSENSE GUIDE TO PHOTOSHOP ELEMENTS 2
Greg Simsic and Katy Bodenmiller
201 pages, $16.99
As the authors of the DIGITAL PHOTO IDEA BOOK mention at the beginning, using a digital camera has benefits and deficits. You can take thousands of pictures, accumulate acres of space on your hard drive, and basically shoot to your heart's content. On the other hands, you have thousands of pictures, and once the initial thrill of instant gratification is over, and you've placed pics on Web sites, sent them through email, and printed some out for scrap books and refrigerator doors, what next? Theirs is a handy book that lists dozens of useful, fun, creative projects that will keep the bloom on your infatuation with digital photography. Basics like improving your picture quality to making a picture "ugly" (to give it an antique look) are explained in enthusiastic, friendly prose style, with plenty of images and a nice design. Beyond the basics, you get a multitude of tips and tricks like the suggestion about NOT waiting for the right moment to shoot-that moment may not come. And adding backgrounds and type to a finished photo presentation. And how to print on fabrics and metals. And much more.
The little CREATE! book is a helpful adjunct to any digital photographer who needs to use a photo editor on their computer. Photoshop Elements is an easy program to master for non-professionals and technophobes. This takes you through the (not so) intricate maneuvers for capturing images and manipulating them with a solid schematic approach. You'll be able to blend, warp, mix, and mask images in no time, and your final photo products will be transformed from snapshots toŠ art! And if you want to leave them as snapshots, they'll still be better than they were with the application of just a few of the tools available in the software.
MONEY CHANGES EVERYTHING: How Global Prosperity Is Reshaping Our Needs, Values, and Lifestyles
245 pages, $24.95
FT Prentice Hall www.ft-ph.com
"The debate on globalization is over. Globalization has won, and it's working." The blurb on this book is a pretty dramatic statement, given the world-wide protests over the disruptive effects of multinational corporate-enforced globalization tactics. Author Peter Marber takes these in stride by emphasizing the vast wealth-improvement profile of globalization, and its long-term benefits for all humankind to enjoy better food supply, healthcare, environment, and jobs. Trouble is, there are problems to surmount such as nationalism, "democratic imbalance," and geopolitical hegemony. In the abstract, globalization makes sense; one world economy, one shared standard of living. In reality, it's a rough road with detours of greed, jealousy, religion, fear, and hubris. Marber doesn't discount these downsides, but he looks at the larger, long-term impact of how individual lives have been changed, generally for the better. It may be he has his own bias in faith for the ultimate installation of a fair and equitable word economic system.
MAX OSX HEADACHES: How To Fix Common (And Not So Common) Problems In A Hurry
404 pages, $24.99
Here's a self-help book that starts with the problem at a very human level. "I don't like my desktop image." "I can't import my digital photos into the computer." "A CD will not eject." "I have certain disabilities and I need OS X to help me." Organized by the major "headache" categories - OS Program, Hardware, Email, iPhoto, Printing, etc. - Curt Simmons brings a refreshing amount of clarity and appreciated sense of humor to figuring out a multitude of issues and problems that come to everyone at one time or another while using the Mac OS X. This is the book for someone with a specific problem who doesn't need to be bothered with vast, comprehensive explanations.
THE LITTLE iDVD BOOK, 2nd Edition
216 pages, $19.99
Peachpit Press www.peachpit.com
This is a cool demystification of the DVD creation process through the Macintosh system, using the iDVD software. Continuing in the grand Apple tradition, iDVD makes the complicated seem easy down to the basic consumer level. Bob LeVitus begins by taking us on a historic survey of the DVD, with an essential look at QuickTime, FireWire, and DVD-R as technologies that form the root of home DVD production. Useful also are critical attention to storage on your hard drive. Diving into making the DVD, LeVitus gives equal time to the initial components, i.e., the video shoot and how to edit raw footage. The application of iDVD to create supporting visuals, chapters, sound, as well as menus and buttons, is covered in a concise yet complete manner. The DVD is a powerful medium, and this book, though slim, is equally powerful in teaching the skills needed to gain mastery.
RETURN ON DESIGN: Smarter Web Design That Works
284 pages, $34.99
New Riders www.newriders.com
This is a savvy approach to Web design that emphasizes project management as an engine of rational development. Phyo is very much a proponent of orderly process, and her examples such as "Seven-Step User-Centered Information-Design Process" and "Nine Schemes for Organizing Content" reflect a by-the-numbers approach that may work exceedingly well for designers who are too much right brain for their own good. This will instill a needed discipline in their work to enable more efficient, profitable client engagements. This isn't so much a workbook on tools and techniques as it is a method for encompassing work with an operational framework. Chapters on workflow, controlled usability testing, and helping a client prioritize content needs are invaluable roadmaps to success.
VISUAL BASIC .NET FOR WINDOWS
584 pages, $21.99
Peachpit Press www.peachpit.com
PROGRAMMING VISUAL BASIC .NET, 2nd Edition
541 pages, $39.95
For the novice, the Peachpit Visual Quickstart Guide to learning the Basic.NET programming language is the kinder, gentler approach. It assumes no previous programming experience and in it the usual Peachpit style starts with very basic (no pun intended) functions, handheld with comfortable by-the-numbers processes. In fact, it's not until page 45 you really start to see any code at all, and by then you've gained proficiency in the essential toolbox functions of .NET as well as created and tested a simple ASP.NET Web service. This "ease-in" approach makes it much easier to then proceed to total immersion in Classes, Windows forms, Message boxes, and all the robust development modules that can be created with this most popular programming language for the Windows environment.
Jesse Liberty's O'Reilly guide is more focused on the existing programmer community and attempts to bring newbies on board with mixed results. For one thing, he states at the beginning, "The single greatest challenge when learning to program is that you must learn everything before you can learn anything." Quite intimidating, gulp! The "whirlwind tour" he takes us on explores the history of Basic and .NET and then lands us in the very first project, a simple "Hello World" bit of programming that slams us into the WriteLine( ) Method, the Dot Operator, Just in Time Compilation, a Debugger, and Text Editor. Well, I think I know that last one. Kidding aside, this is a master approach to the subject that rewards the initiate with a comprehensive, tactical knowledge of this powerful language. The book serves ably as a deep tutorial and a reference for any number of situations one may find oneself in as they develop the next generation of applications and services.
ARTIFICIAL LOVE: A Story of Machines and Architecture
296 pages, $15.95
The MIT Press mitpress.mit.edu
A beautiful ruminative excursion through the theme of technology as architecture and as "force of nature." British architect Paul Shepheard has written a short series of essays that explore his attractive vision of evolution that takes the view that the building of buildings and objects -- from cathedrals to computers -- is an act of aesthetic will, essential in the makeup of human nature. As an example, there's one small story here of young lovers Jacques and Maria, driving in a Lumina, that enters the realm of philosophical discourse with the blues on the radio ("Now how does a Mojo do what it does?") and the "phenomenon of machines." In a few short pages we're close to the erotic passion of the couple as well as their intellectual jousting, and we hear and feel their connectivity to ancient myths, technical design interface, and dreams beyond evolution to individual human aspiration. I'd highly recommend this as summertime beachreading for people who can't ever stop thinking about the meaning of our lives and the things that humans have created.
SPECIAL EDITION: USING MACROMEDIA DIRECTOR MX
817 pages, $49.99
Director has rather quietly continued to enlarge its capabilities over the years, and now in the MX version provides a development platform that goes way beyond its animation creation origins. It can still create the most powerful multimedia, but it can also create software applications that are transportable in any format. It can be used for amazing Web pages. Its scripting language, Lingo, can be as powerful as C++ and Java, with even more possibilities. The latest edition of Rosenzweig's Director book incorporates Director's new interface, its ability to use Flash MX, and its ability to do Mac OS X authoring. Don't expect to learn Director from the beginning, however; this is very much an invaluable reference for current Director programmers who can benefit from the latest tools and power enhancements. For them, this will be a well-thumbed tool in its own right.