Book Bytes – MyMac Magazine #47

Adobe PhotoDeluxe for Dummies
by Julie Adair King
Dummies Press
ISBN 0-7645-0426-6, 354 pages plus CD
$24.99 U.S., $35.99 Canada, £23.99 U.K.

I have been spending quite a bit of time reviewing books on Photoshop, and now it is time to examine a title covering Photoshop’s “little brother.” The author describes PhotoDeluxe: “Designed for those with little or no background in digital artistry, this entry-level program enables you to open a scanned photograph or image from a digital camera and perform a variety of special-effects maneuvers,” and a whole lot more.

At the same time, King advises that “image editing is still fairly complex,” with which I agree completely. Consequently, she spends plenty of time introducing new users to all the basics of PhotoDeluxe, in a friendly and helpful manner.

Almost every page contains a greyscale image or screenshot, explained in detail, complete with hints and tips. Whenever possible, the author itemizes the steps necessary to perform an action. Her genial prose includes phrases such as “don’t be alarmed” and “because you can’t predict,” letting readers know that image manipulation is an uncertain craft.

If you don’t know the difference between a GIF, a TIFF, and a JPEG image, you will learn quickly. Color balance for both screen and printed results is explained so that even I am comfortable with the concepts and variables.

Chapter Seven is my favorite: “Turning Garbage Into Gold,” in which King systematically explains “cloning good pixels over bad,” “creating a digital patch,” and much more. Fifteen outstanding inserted color plate pages are included in Adobe PhotoDeluxe for Dummies, providing brilliant illustration for many of the greyscale images in the book.

The more I study this book, the more interested I am in locking the door, forgetting about my review, and putting PhotoDeluxe through its paces. Final chapters take readers into “Wild and Wooly Pixel Adventures” and “Projects for a Rainy Day,” followed by “Ten Ways to Wreak Havoc on an Image.” Good thinking, Julie.

If you are new to digital imagery or Adobe PhotoDeluxe, this book will soon become your best friend. Strongly RECOMMENDED.

Palm Pilot for Dummies (Covers Palm III)
by Bill Dyszel
Dummies Press
ISBN 0-7645-0381-2, 328 pages plus CD
$24.99 U.S., $35.99 Canada, $£23.99 U.K.

Okay, I promise I’ll try to limit the quantity of Dummies book reviews to two per month.

In this book, PalmPilot and Palm-III are equivalent. There may be only one Palm platform, but there are several books covering it. See the Bonus Book Bytes for an additional title.

Dyszel begins with the physical Palm, describing what does what. Next comes the screen area and the standard Palm applications. Graffiti and the stylus are covered in depth. Readers then learn how to personalize the little wonder, starting with the calendar and a bunch of important preferences.

Lengthy chapters plow through the Palm’s many features: names and addresses, to-do lists, memos, date book, and mail. Each section details specific procedures for setting up the appropriate software and entering data, in an easy-to-follow tutorial style. Tips and warnings are numerous, as are the many screen shots.

Chapter Twelve is hearty: “Operating the PalmPilot Desktop Program for Windows and Mac.” The book ends with chapters detailing use of the modem, upgrading the Palm, and commentary on specific recommended software, plus helpful tips and troubleshooting advice.

This book-CD combo is best suited to new users of the Palm III or PalmPilot, and for them I can RECOMMEND it.


Official Excite Internet Yellow Pages
by Cheri Robinson, Earl Jackson, Jr., and Scott Davis
IDG Books Worldwide
ISBN 0-7645-3145-X, 885 pages plus CD
$34.99 U.S., $49.99 Canada, £33.99 U.K.

I hate to be a party-pooper, but I predict this book will not be a huge seller. As web search engines, directories, and portal pages multiply and improve, Net searching is taking place entirely on the web, instead of being based on printed web yellow pages.

I adore books like this one, and use them all the time, but mine arrive compliments of the publishers. Will typical Internetters pluck down their $$$ for this title? What does it offer?

The book opens with a brief introduction to the features of the Excite service, <>, including Power Searching. Then come the dozen chapters corresponding to Excite’s Channels, such as Shopping, Business & Investing, Entertainment, Travel, and eight more.

Within each channel chapter are an introduction, then one-paragraph website reviews, with each URL linked on the CD. Certain recommended sites are “Worth a Look,” and others get a “Reviewed by Excite” icon. One screen shot from a website illustrates each physical yellow page, and 2,000 total sites are indexed.

You can spend a lifetime with a book such as Official Excite Internet Yellow Pages! Whether pursuing serious research or goofing off, everything you need to help you browse forever is here.

The additional Excite services, including free email and Excite PAL massaging, are covered in Chapter 15. The final chapter, “Global Excite,” deals with international channels.

If you are looking for a well-presented web directory, consider putting Official Excite Internet Yellow Pages to use. I plan on giving this book a thorough workout. RECOMMENDED.


Photoshop 5 Web Magic
by Michael Ninness
New Riders Press
ISBN 1-56205-973-0, 228 pages plus CD
$39.99 U.S., $57.95 Canada, £37.50 U.K.

Here is a little book with a big price. Is it worth the cost?

Photoshop 5 Web Magic is beautifully designed and organized, using tons of color throughout. Starting with Photoshop Basics, active lessons utilize sharp, clear screenshots, complete with colored highlights and color-coded paragraph headings.

The book is divided into major categories for Animations, Buttons, Edge Effects, Textures, and Type Effects. Writing is direct and easy to follow, which is essential in a hands-on book. The author uses a two-column format, with a narrow text section on the inside and a wide illustration area on the outside of each page.

Projects are developed from start to finish, so readers can treat the book as a workbook for specific techniques. I can’t tell you how excited I am, just looking through the exercises for making effects like rust, curled page buttons, animated bricks, and so much more.

Each of the completed projects is displayed in full at the back of the book. The CD is loaded with valuable artwork and bonus animations, curves, patterns, software demos, and stock photo images.

Purchasers of Photoshop 5 Web Magic should be familiar with using the application on the web before plunging into Michael Ninness’ bag of tricks. Intermediate-level users will find the book to be particularly beneficial. All web designers and digital artists should see the care and quality of this book. I certainly RECOMMEND it.


Sams Teach Yourself Web Publishing with HTML 4 in 21 Days
by Laura Lemay <>
and Denise Taylor <>
Sams Publishing
ISBN 0-672-31345-6, 794 pages
$29.99 U.S., $42.95 Canada, £26.95 U.K.

I have been intimidated by this hefty book ever since it arrived several months ago. I kept pushing it to the end of my “review this month” stack until it fell off the edge of my bookshelf and almost fractured my foot. Time to roll up my sleeves and turn down the boom box.

I’m pleased to welcome these accomplished authors to Book Bytes. They are good writers, and are extremely knowledgeable on the topic of HTML. This “Teach Yourself … in 21 Days” series divides the process of learning complex applications into 21 logical steps. At the end of each chapter there is a summary, followed by valuable questions (with answers!), plus a pertinent quiz and a bunch of exercises. I approve 100 percent.

The text and tutorial are delivered in plain English, with common-sense headings such as: “HTML Describes the Structure of a Page” followed by “HTML Does Not Describe Page Layout.” Chapters are liberally illustrated with instructive diagrams, charts, and website screen shots, plus loads of real-world HTML code. Tips, Notes, and Cautions are plentiful, and are EXTREMELY helpful.

The 21 chapters are broken into major parts, covering:

• getting started and creating simple web pages

• web graphics and multimedia

• style sheets, tables, frames, and linked windows

• effective page design

• putting your site online, then promoting and maintaining it.

The five appendices contain, in 98 pages, massive reference lists for HTML code, tags, and cascading style sheets; sources for additional information; hexadecimal values of the web-safe color palette; and “MIME Types and File Extensions.” Whew!

During the past two years I have come into contact with several worthy books on the subject of HTML, and this one is the most thorough so far. Readers must be prepared to address each aspect of HyperText Markup Language head-on in order to grasp and work with it, and the authors make the experience worth the effort. Certainly RECOMMENDED.

Web Design in a Nutshell
by Jennifer Niederst
O’Reilly and Associates
ISBN 1-56592-515-7, 560 pages
$19.95 U.S., $29.95 Canada

O’Reilly’s “Nutshell” series consists of extensive books on serious topics. To give an example of the thorough work author Niederst has done, her five Appendices span 66 pages: HTML Tags and Elements, HTML Attributes, Depreciated HTML Tags, Proprietary Tags, and CSS Compatibility (comparing the various browsers to demonstrate what works with which one).

This book is loaded with HTML examples and code, and is therefore rather technical in nature, focusing “on the front-end aspects of Web design—HTML authoring, graphics production, and media development.” Even though she states the opposite, I advise potential readers to learn the basics before tackling Web Design in a Nutshell.

Most of the pages are text-only, with screen shots used sparingly. Charts and tables are extensive, and impressive, including: Character Entities, Streaming Video Summary, and Equivalent Values of Web Palette Shades.

I admit that the material is over my head, but if I were planning to immerse myself in everything necessary to create superior web pages, this book would be a contender. You must see for yourself if the “Nutshell” approach fits your style of learning.

Covering five parts and 27 chapters, and ranging through design principles, graphical formats, multimedia, and emerging technologies, Web Design in a Nutshell is unlike any design-oriented book I have previously encountered. Please read her excellent text, study the technical material, and put this book’s advice to work. You will be rewarded by doing so.

For readers who learn meticulously from well-crafted textbooks, this book is RECOMMENDED.

Animation on the Web
by Sean Wagstaff
Peachpit Press
ISBN 0-201-69687-8, 494 pages
$34.99 U.S., $52.50 Canada

I am a hard sell on this topic, because I prefer to spend my time visiting websites that are lean and mean. I realize that animated sites are important to many webheads. My advice is to keep them easy to load and navigate.

The author is knowledgeable and informative. If the writing is a bit dry, he can be forgiven, due to the scope of this ambitious book. Wagstaff incorporates a blend of straight text with illustrated tutorial-style lessons, for effective presentation of complex material.

I’m having a difficult time warming up to Animation on the Web, and I don’t know who should get my complaint. Seeing so many books as I do, my standards for design and illustration are high. The author/publisher chose a uniform color for all screen shots and graphics: insipid sepia-toned brown. Sorry to be so picky, but this brown hue is dull, friends, in spite of the content portrayed.

Check out the book’s dedicated website for more colorful renderings of the imagery, and much more.

Topics range from principles of 2-D and 3-D animation through sophisticated methods using QuickTime VR and VRML, plus Shockwave, Director, Flash, Java, DHTML, as some examples. All the relevant applications are covered, and every imaginable type of web animation is explained in detail.

Tips are plentiful, as are suitably serious or goofy components of dynamic animated images and graphics. If the topic was closer to my personal area of interest, I could delve into the actual mechanics of creating the animations, but I leave that to you.

Yes, I will RECOMMEND Animation on the Web, but I urge readers to examine the brown printed imagery, then compare them to the ones on the book’s website. In future, author/editor/publisher, please use color in a more interesting way for your graphics.

PageMill 3 for Macintosh & Windows, Visual QuickStart Guide
by Maria Langer
Peachpit Press
ISBN 0-201-35443-8, 253 pages
$17.99 U.S., $26.95 Canada

PageMill is a powerful and fairly easy-to-use web page authoring application, fighting for market share. Maria Langer systematically takes the reader from installation basics to “Using Site Management Tools” in this new book.

Knowledge of HTML (HyperText Markup Language) is not necessary to work with PageMill, although a brief reference section on HTML Web formatting code and tags comprises Appendix D. The other three appendices cover:

• an illustrated reference for PageMill’s “Inspector” options

• details of the toolbars (done brilliantly!)

• comprehensive itemization of every menu item and keyboard shortcut.

This book is completely cross-platform, with Mac and Windows screen shots given equal treatment. Maria breaks down PageMill into incremental procedures, presented in tutorial-form, along with numerous tips.

You may feel somewhat frustrated at the limitations of a greyscale book, when dealing with color. Stick with it, and use the author’s website for assistance with examples.

My favorite feature is the whimsical narrative that evolves in the course of this book, in which Maria describes aspects of her life in Wickenburg, Arizona, complete with helicopter lessons! In fact, she used PageMill to author specific components of her informative website, so the examples are particularly relevant for users of PageMill 3 for Macintosh & Windows.

The eleven full-service chapters include topics: formatting text, working with links, using frames, plus much more, including “Adding Images and Multimedia Objects.” Langer has taken this application apart and reassembled it for her readers and Web site visitors in a truly user-friendly manner.

Regular readers of Book Bytes already know I am a big fan both of Maria Langer and of the Visual QuickStart Series. Once again we have a perfect match between application, author, and book format. If you are considering working with PageMill, first see if PageMill 3 for Macintosh & Windows is compatible with your style of learning before looking into different web authoring software or third-party manual. RECOMMENDED.


Time to plunge back into the stacks for more reading and reviewing. Thanks for taking the time to read Book Bytes…

•John Nemerovski• <>


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