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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Sams Teach Yourself HTML & XHTML in 24 Hours, Sixth Edition
Publisher: Sams
Authors: Dick Oliver, Michael Morrison
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
An excellent starting point

This text will not make you a wizened internet programming guru... but it doesn't pretend to do so. What it does promise, and deliver, is a solid grounding in the creation of basic web pages. The book starts with the absolute basics; nothing is assumed. Finding someone to host your web site is covered, as is the creation of files using the Windows Notepad text editor and the uploading of files onto a web hosting computer. And, of course, there's a tremendous amount of detail in creating web pages.
It's important to note that there are two approaches to creating web pages today: you can create them by hand, using XHTML code written with a simple text editor like notepad; or you can use a web page authoring package, such as DreamWeaver or FrontPage. Using a program like DreamWeaver (most agree its the #1 program of its type) will allow you to create web pages much more quickly than by hand coding them; and unless you have an innate skill as a design artist, they will likely look better than something you hand code.
On the other hand, you'll never have a clue about how the code actually works, if you don't learn XHTML; and so you'll never be able to modify it. You'll be stuck with whatever the web authoring package can do for you. And there's also the cost factor: web authoring packages cost several hundreds of dollars, but notepad is free; it's part of the Microsoft Windows operating system. (Macs have a similar built in text editor.)
Most internet pros can do both; they regularly use DreamWeaver as a production tool, but know XHTML so that they can quickly modify what the program generates when the need arises. On the other hand, amateurs building simple web pages probably would never be able to justify the cost of a full blown web authoring package, so learning XHTML makes perfect sense.
Either way, learning XHTML is an appropriate way to start your web page building education; and this book is the perfect way to do so. Having read several books on the subject - including some thousand+ page hardcover whoppers - I can confidently state that this book does a spectacular job of teaching you exactly what you need to know. It gets right to the point, and quickly and simply teaches the core material. All the fluff is gone; everything in this book is solid. There's thorough coverage of graphics, animated graphics, even some javascript. There's a lot of reference to readily available tools on the net, and some indication of how they might be used. I was particularly impressed with the clarity of the instruction; the book does a spectacular job of identifying and teaching exactly what needs to be taught, while deftly avoiding extraneous discussion. Most universities don't provide a quality of instruction as crisp and as easily followed as that contained within this book.
So what's missing? Not much. There's no coverage of Flash to speak of, or CGI scripting. I didn't see any mention of secure HTML, so you'll need more than this book in order to start processing credit cards, or conducting commerce. And a few of the web resource links that the author provides are dead links, and haven't worked for years; they should have been caught during the revision process.
But these are mere quibbles; make no mistake, this book gives you an awful lot. If your desire is a really good book that starts right at the very beginning, and gives you enough knowledge to build really good looking web pages from scratch... then this is your book. If you want to set up a simple web page for yourself - or an informational web page designed to promote your home business - this is a great text. And if you plan on persuing a career as a web page developer, but have no previous knowledge of web design or HTML... then this is a great book to start with.
The book is now in its 6th edition, and that says a lot; publishers won't revise a book with poor sales. For a computer book to be revised and released 6 times is a dramatic testament to its popularity, and inherent quality. I can only think of one other book on my bookshelf - Muellers' Upgrading and Repairing PCs - that has shown such a continuing popularity level.
When you invest in this book, you get a lot of value. When you've learned and applied everything in this book, you'll be able to create extremely good looking and well written informational web pages from scratch, without having to rely on a web authoring package; and you'll be completely prepared to learn the intricacies of Java, Flash, and CGI scripting, if you so choose. However, probably 90% or more of the people who read this book, will never need to move beyond it.
For most web pages, this book is all you'll ever need.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Adobe Photoshop 7.0 Classroom in a Book
Publisher: Adobe Press
Authors: Adobe Creative Team
Rating: 3/5
Customer opinion - 3 stars out of 5
Good, but not quite good enough

As a Photoshop user for over 2 years now, I purchased this book as it was recommended by Adobe as a preferred study guide for the ACE certification test. I purchased the book and went through all the lessons.
While the lessons were very helpful, some went over tips and techniques that those familiar with Photoshop should already know. However, I did pick up some new techniques and shortcuts to improve the quality and time that I spend within the application.
If you wish to learn more about Photoshop as a basic to intermediate user, then this is the book for you. However, if you are an intermediate user and wish to take this in order to pass the ACE test given by Adobe, I would recommend you purchase another item off the recommended list. This book did not prepare me for the test as much as I thought it would.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Cascading Style Sheets: The Definitive Guide, 2nd Edition
Publisher: O'Reilly
Authors: Eric A. Meyer
Rating: 1/5
Customer opinion - 1 stars out of 5
Whatever happened to O'Reilly?

I love O'Reilly books but "definitively" not this one!!! What a dissapointment! The author should first learn HOW TO WRITE A BOOK AND THEN, NOT TALK TO HIMSELF OR ABOUT HIMSELF AND HOW POWERFUL CSS IS ON EVERY F'ING PAGE!

Did the O'Reilly editors take a vacation?

Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: Genetic Algorithms in Search, Optimization, and Machine Learning
Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional
Authors: David E. Goldberg
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
The Best Book in AI so far

This book got me so excited that I was not able to continue reading. I had to put it down and walk about. The power of the learning classifier system (SCS) has yet to be fully explored. A system that organizes data (classifies) and learns new rules (generate new rules via the genetic algorithm) is a combination that still takes my breath away. The only negative to this book are the trivial problems the algorithms solve. There is none for the "bucket brigade" version of the SCS. Overall though it is an awesome book presenting a very powerful algorithm that has yet to be fully explored.