Product: Book - Paperback
Title: REALbasic: The Definitive Guide, 2nd Edition
Authors: Matt Neuburg
REALbasic : The Definitive Guide is a must have reference to the REALbasic language, possibly more complete than Real Software's own documentation. While it is a great beginning guide for the experienced programmer who is new to REALbasic, the beginning programmer will stay confused throughout much of this book. It dives right in explaining the syntax of the language with little explaination of how to use it. A more step by step approach would have been more easily understandable. That being said, I would recommend this book to anyone who is serious about programming for the Mac OS, but expect to use it as a complement to other learning sources, not as the main learning tool.
Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: Digital Photographer's Handbook
Publisher: DK Publishing Inc
Authors: Tom Ang
As a relatively novice photographer (haven't owned one since my old Brownie Hawkeye) with some knowledge of computers and a new digital camera, I've been working my way through as many books on digicams and image-editing software as I can find. Some are pretty general, some are more specialized, but most seem to repeat the same mostly superficial information and advice on both photography and digital editing. This book is the great exception! Ang is a very talented photographer and this lushly printed... volume is crammed with his work, but he's also a very good teacher. The first part of the book, under the heading of "Total Photography," is a mini-course in types of cameras and lenses, lighting, optical physics, and the essential practical differences in using film-based and digital cameras. (There's also a survey of information on specific models of cameras, printers, and scanners, which will soon be outdated and which might have been omitted.) The second section, "Photography for the Digital Age," leads you through such topics as composition, zoom, optical distortion, color balance, and how to avoid or at least fix the most common mistakes; I learned a great deal from his clear explanations and visual examples. "A Compendium of Ideas" is almost a separate book, being an excursion through all the major categories of subjects that interest people with cameras, from buildings and travel to microphotography and high-speed sports; you'll want to return to this section now and then for leisurely browsing. "Radical Conversions" and "All about Image Manipulation" are worth the price of the book all by themselves, with very clear and often very detailed discussions of issues which I'm sure are old hat to experienced shutterbugs but which are new and often perplexing to me, including proper cropping, burning-in and dodging, sharpening, blurring, cross-processing, color vs. black-and-white, and lots of others. Ang is quite good at balancing received photographic wisdom with new digital ideas. He also gets deeply into such computer-specific subjects as levels, cloning, and the differences and similarities between channels, layers, and masks. (He seems not to have much use for such glitzy effects-filter tricks as stained glass and embossing filters, with which I have to agree.) "The Output Adventure" is very good on getting the color on your monitor to agree with the color your printer produces, and there's a final section on portfolios, copyrights, and the business of photography. I can't recommend this one highly enough.
Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Peopleware : Productive Projects and Teams, 2nd Ed.
Publisher: Dorset House Publishing Company, Incorporated
Authors: Tom Demarco, Timothy Lister
Reading the table of contents for Peopleware tells you a lot about the content and the tone. Here are a few of the chapter headings:
Quality - If Time Permits "You Never Get Anything Done Around Here Between 9 and 5" The Whole Is Greater Than The Sum Of Its Parts For two decades, Tom Demarco has been writing in plain, narrative English about improving IT project team productivity. In this book, he describes some of the reasons for our failures, reasons most of us know about - but rarely do anything about.
Pick a chapter. Let's say "Bring Back the Door". Some of us remember the days when we worked in an office with a door, the days when it was taken for granted that engineers needed a quiet, low-distraction environment to focus on their work. Alas, those days are gone and the cubicle farm has become so noisy and distracting that many people find they can be the most productive only when no one else is around. As DeMarco says: "As long as workers are crowded into noisy, sterile, disruptive space, it's not worth improving anything but the workplace."
The best part of this book is in Part IV - Growing Productive Teams. The agricultural analogy is purposeful - "growing" productive teams takes time, care and feeding. One of the harmful "Teamicides" DeMarco discusses is the fragmentation of time, the requirement that most engineers work on multiple projects at the same time. If management wants to get the productivity that is derived from 'jelled teams', they have to know that "no one can be a part of multiple jelled teams", he says.
The book is a fast, easy read. The prescriptions for achieving greater team productivity aren't fast or easy. But you have to start somewhere. To start, read this book.
Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Administrator's Pocket Consultant
Publisher: Microsoft Press
Authors: William R. Stanek
I received my copy of William Stanek's book, "Windows Server 2003 Administrator's Pocket Consultant", the other day. I don't normally sit down and read a technical book from front to back; however, once I started reading it, I just couldn't put it down! Mr. Stanek has a style of writing that makes even the driest of subject matter interesting. I like his examples of how to accomplish something, and at the same time tells the pitfalls and best practices. An excellent book all around. It stays on my desk in the office and has made my job so much easier!