Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Web ReDesign 2.0: Workflow that Works
Publisher: New Riders Press
Authors: Kelly Goto, Emily Cotler
The authors tell you to pay attention to the title: redesign. But more importantly, pay attention to part of that word: DESIGN. Workflow is most relevant on large projects, but how many large projects do you know that only focus on design? I've seen none--there is always a development aspect to the larger projects, even if it's integration with an exisitng system. There is a big black hole in this book that the authors do not cover--I was pleased that they pointed this out to the reader several times.
The content is valuable, and the text is well-written and easy to read. A lot of helpful checklists, forms, and questionnaires throughout the book. Valuable information for newcomers, to be sure. But anyone with experience in formal methodologies, or experience in mid to large-scale development efforts will find this a rehash of that which is already known. I would, howver, recommend this highly to anyone new to web application development and consulting.
Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Flash Cartoon Animation: Learn from the Pros
Authors: Glenn Kirkpatrick, Kevin Peaty, Glen Kirkpatrick
Beginning Flash animators will probably find no better starting place than this book. It includes just about everything the neophyte animator needs for a good start. The book traces the evolution of a Flash cartoon from idea to actuality, with a bonus chapter on publishing to the internet and the inevitable issues that arise at that phase. Coming up with a story can stall the most stalwart animator, and the first chapter is dedicated to this brain bulging dilemma. There may be nothing more important for a successful cartoon than starting out with and ultimately following a plan, and the book reiterates this idea almost ad nauseum - but for good reason. A script can easily translate to a storyboard, which will slowly morph into the final product. Plans will only save time and frustration in the end (a very hard learned lesson that can leave permanent damage). Many beginners may leap right into Flash with an abstract or incomplete idea thinking "I'll get the ending eventually, now let's get to drawing!" (I've never done this, no way, not me, no no...) A toon abandoned from frustration typically results. The authors do a great job of driving this home (so don't skip the first chapter). A great introduction to Flash's drawing tools follows the story line chapter (a subject that could fill an entire book). Discussions concerning style permeate the chapter (e.g., advantages of the brush tool over the pencil tool, etc. - readers make the choice in the end depending on personal preference). A surprising discussion on Art Direction follows. Beginning animators probably grossly underestimate the importance of mapping out characters for consistency, composition with color and space, and ease of animation (i.e., don't create characters with multitudinous moving parts and hard to animate elements). I did. Next, the book outlines the basics of storyboarding and some basic concepts of cinematography (e.g., establishing eyelines, camera positioning, etc). The authors stress the importance of making an animatic (basically a rough draft for an animation that typically involves animating the storyboard) for a toon. This probably comes down to personal preference as well (I've never made an animatic, but these guys do have massive and impressive experience). The most important chapter, "Animation Principles", provides the basic theoretical foundation for what makes a toon tick. The inexperienced will find vital principles here: squash and stretch, staggering, depicting weight, anticipation, cycles, following through, and animating acting. All animators should have these concepts down to an almost second-nature degree. Everyone who reads this book should also supplement it with another book on animation principles (the authors provide a short list of possible titles). This information will improve a toon's quality and professionalism exponentially. Of course the authors eventually discuss animating using Flash, but not in detail until chapter eight. They put great weight on theory, as they should. It will pay off in droves in the end. The authors themselves say "you could learn in a sentence something that has taken other Flash animators weeks and months of toil to discover, by which we mean ourselves of course!" Having learned a lot of things the hard way myself (this book was no where to be found when I began animating with Flash 4 some years back), I support this advice with great weight. Heed it. Read before animating for the first time. In fact, read this book before animating for the first time. As a bonus, the authors construct an actual toon throughout the book to emphasize the priciples discussed. This also provides some hands-on experience with Flash.
The book includes numerous typos and a few bizarre references (e.g. chapter eight says "You have probably heard of the animation term 'tweening'"; yes, because chapter five has already discussed it). These in no way detract from the discussion. Overall the book flows in an extremely readable way. Any and all Flash animation beginners should read it cover to cover.
Product: Book - Paperback
Title: USB Complete: Everything You Need to Develop Custom USB Peripherals
Publisher: Lakeview Research
Authors: Jan Axelson
This book provides a good overview of USB and in fact it answered all my questions, even though it does not cover the chip I've decided to use. Our USB device is now up and running!
Product: Book - Paperback
Title: eBay for Dummies, Fourth Edition
Publisher: For Dummies
Authors: Marsha Collier
This is one of the GREAT eBay books--covering about everything--but is quite opinionated. For example the author has the strange notion that money orders are the perfect way for paying at eBay. (Possibly because she is a sucessful seller, and I guess the little amount PayPal charges to receive money adds up if you receive a lot.) The reader, if a newbie to eBay, needs to keep in mind that the author's prejudice against PayPal is not shared by everyone. For many, PayPal is the absolute best way to go for both buying and selling...no running down to the 7-11 or post office to get a money order...no having to listen to a buyer lying about how the money order must have gotten lost in the mail, when they never sent one. At one point, the author even strangely advises the reader to lie if they need to about forgetting to send money! She also makes it sound like those selling illegal items are quickly booted out of eBay, when it's no such thing. eBay is easily one of the biggest pirate's den in the whole wide world for people infringing on the copyrights of others.Gee, and then there was her remark about how the bidder should never bid in an auction until the very end--doing so marks the bidder as an inexperienced newbie. That's one of the stupidest practices at eBay...unless the seller is a cheat who's into getting his friends or relatives to bid...and takes so much out of the fun of an auction...no activity to the very end...BLAH!The humor in the book is also extremely forced and unfunny. Or maybe after you've read so many Dummies books, none of the humor is amusing any longer...unless the topic has you totally scared out of your mind...and you are desperate for a laugh...any laugh.Ah, but it's still a great eBay book, with loads of useful information! And it resells VERY WELL at eBay...so feel free to buy it new here at Amazon.com...get free postage...and then resell it at eBay and get most of your money back! Just don't spill anything on it, or write in it, or let your pet rabbit chew on it! :)