Book Bytes – MyMac Magazine #54

Photoshop Bible 5 Gold Edition
by Deke McClelland

IDG Books Worldwide

ISBN 0-7645-3372-X, 944 hardcover pages plus two CDs
$59.99 U.S., $89.99 Canada, £49.99 U.K.

“What,” you ask, “is the Gold Edition of Deke’s heavyweight Photoshop 5 Bible?” I was curious too, so I asked the author. Deke told me:

The Gold Edition is a cross-platform version of the soft cover Bible with some full-color creative chapters mixed in. I also added six of what I considered to be the best articles I had written for Publish magazine. Then I tossed in a bunch of PDF notes I had created for conferences to the CD. All in all, it’s kind of a “Best of” compilation of everything I’ve written on Photoshop.

In quality, weight, and cost, this is the finest book on Photoshop in existence. Because it technically is an “upgrade” to the original P5 Bible which we reviewed previously, the Gold Edition would normally be mentioned in a Bonus Book Bytes, but it’s such a remarkable book that I’m giving it special attention this month.

If you already own both the softcover Photoshop 5 Bible and the second edition of Deke’s Photoshop Studio Secrets, keep the latter and give the former to your best buddy at holiday time. The hard-earned $$$ required to pay for this Gold Edition is worth the cost. Book Bytes raved about Photoshop Studio Secrets, and you can read the archived reviews and the original Photoshop 5 Bible review in the Book Bytes archives at .

Working digital artists will appreciate the “new and improved” text, lessons, tips, and contents of both CDs in the Gold Edition. Deke is the best Photoshop writer on the planet. His knowledge and ability to communicate place him on the all-time Olympic team of Macintosh authors. When I consider the years of experience and preparation that have gone into Photoshop Bible 5 Gold Edition, I’m stunned. The value of this book far exceeds the purchase price.

My personal favorite parts are the “new to Photoshop 5” tips and witty insights Deke drops in to make the reading more enjoyable, such as this little critique of one of P5’s so-called “improvements”:

The untimely demise of floating selections

One brief note before I move onto my long and glorious explanation of paths: It is with sad heart that I announce the near death of floating selections. As you may (or may not) recall, Photoshop 4 bludgeoned floating selections into a state of unconsciousness. While Version 5 has not entirely killed them, it has moved them to the critical list.

Deke’s publisher issued a press release praising Photoshop Bible 5 Gold Edition as “the answer to graphic designers’ prayers,” and applauding “20 brand new full-color chapters.” I have to agree. If you are a professional designer or serious student of digital art, you will thank Deke McClelland every time you open this HIGHLY RECOMMENDED book.

Director 7 Demystified: The Official Guide to
Macromedia Director, Lingo, and Shockwave

by Jason Roberts and Phil Gross
Peachpit / Macromedia Press

lSBN 0-201-35445-4, 1184 pages plus CD
$49.99 U.S., $74.95 Canada

It’s been a long time since I’ve had the responsibility of examining an 1100+ page book and describing it in 300 words. If I had to understand everything in Director 7 Demystified before telling you about it, I would have to live to be 300 years old.

I have a pretty good idea what Director and Shockwave are, but what is Lingo? Oh, here it is, in the prelude: Lingo is Director’s unique scripting language, with two categories of command syntax and three distinct types of Lingo available. Director, the application, is powerful multimedia authoring software, for animation and so much more. Shockwave technology is used to covert the results into Internet content.

This massive book begins with a systematic tour of Director, followed by a fascinating tutorial on “The Elements of Animation.” Next comes a detailed “project profile” on how the preceding material was used to create an animated screen saver for the Oracle Developer Program.

Succeeding units cover lessons on multimedia authoring and interactivity. Each chapter concludes with useful “Points to Remember,” using bold to help readers keep the key terminology in focus. Chapter exercises are done in tutorial format, with itemized steps and plenty of margin space for notes, plus ample screen shots and sidebar tips.

Soon readers are “Deeper Into Graphics” in both greyscale and color, then are working with more of Director’s powerful production tools. All the preceding is in Book One of Director 7 Demystified. Not bad for openers!

“Digging Deeper,” in Book Two, takes us 300 pages further into advanced techniques for scripting, making interactive movies, and some enticing Shockwave projects. I admit I am unable to evaluate anything in Book Three: “Special Topics,” which includes:

• Debugging and Troubleshooting

• Extracurricular Lingo: Xtras

• Professional Topics and Techniques

and a whole lot more.

My head stops spinning when I turn to the appendices, in which Roberts and Gross introduce us to Director resources on the Internet and 200 pages of essential terminology on the program’s commands, functions properties, operators, and keywords, plus code references, keyboard shortcuts, and companies that produce third-party Xtras.

The CD contains an array of special effects and music files, Director movies, and demo software, plus links to recommended websites. If you drop Director 7 Demystified on your big toe, it will be crushed, but if you drop this masterful RECOMMENDED book on the desk of a multimedia person, it will become a prized possession.

Smart Homes for Dummies
by Danny Briere and Pat Hurley
Dummies Press

ISBN 0-7645-0527-0, 360 pages
$19.99 U.S., $28.99 Canada, £18.99 U.K.

What a concept! In a “smart home” you can: access the Net from anywhere in the house, inside or out; use remote-control on your appliances and connected devices; get technology to work for you; save money in the process; and improve your overall quality of life. Sounds enticing, and totally out of reach. Keep reading.

Bill Gates has a smart house, you smartie pants, so what’s taking you so long to be Billish? If you think COMPUTER network and MULTIMEDIA network, you are already at second base, given the correct hardware, software, routers, cables, wiring, and connectors. Next come your kitchen and other appliances, with a few wireless doo-dads thrown in, and you’re rounding third base, heading for home.

Oh, nuts. We have to do some actual work to make this revolution happen. See Chapter Four: “Getting It Done: Timelines and Budgets,” to help you with home evaluation, goals, financial requirements, and design aspects.

Yawn. Time to think about which television, stereo system, TV/music provider, video gear, and “more than you ever wanted to know about modulators,” before you are allowed to play with that new “hybrid satellite/video network.” Do you want in-wall or free-standing speakers? Single-room music or entire house?

By Chapter Ten, we’re “Planning a Phone System for Your Home.” If the thought makes you break into hives, don’t despair, because these authors are very thorough. Many readers will find the later chapters on local-area computers the best place to plunge into Smart Homes for Dummies. I learned on page 195 that my personal dream, an all-in-one Internet/music/TV satellite won’t work (yet) with my current setup. Fudge. Home security and (gasp) automation wrap up this ambitious book.

I am impressed. This is the first title with such a comprehensive scope, and many of you will find it valuable today and into the next century. RECOMMENDED.

Internet Auctions for Dummies
by Greg Holden

Dummies Press

ISBN 0-7645-0578-5, 300 pages plus CD
$24.99 U.S., $37.99 Canada, £23.99 U.K.

I’m looking at a fascinating article in New Yorker magazine from earlier this year, entitled “Stop Me Before I Shop Again!” It was written by James Gleick, under the column “The Wired World.” I apologize for not having the issue date, but I was given the article after it had already been torn from the magazine. Your local librarian will help you find the periodical.

Internet auctions are big business, big news, and a big question mark for most of the population. Somewhere between shopping and gambling, online auctions have succeeded beyond all outrageous expectations. Does this Dummies book help readers navigate the turbulent terrain of Mt. Auction?

Opening chapters introduce readers to the types of auctions on the Internet, and the hardware/software/connection requirements. Specific URLs for resources and downloads are recommended, but they are in an almost illegible type font. PLEASE, you Dummies designers, use a bold font for your URLs!

The author considers the online auction community worth joining and gives sensible suggestions for newcomers. We soon learn how to bid, close the deal, and receive the merchandise; then, how to promote and sell your wares, completing the transaction with efficiency and integrity. A 40-page chapter is devoted to “Creating Sales-Boosting Web Pages,” featuring personal examples from Holden’s site.

This guy is really serious. The text concludes with chapters on international marketing plus auction law and accounting. A valuable yellow pages directory contains over one hundred itemized sites to keep you busy around the clock. He even has six sites for book auctions. Get outta my way, cuz here I come!

You should know most of the information in Internet Auctions for Dummies in order not to be a dummy at Internet Auctions.

Networking for Dummies, 4th Edition
by Doug Lowe
Dummies Press

ISBN 0-7645-0498-3, 355 pages
$19.99 U.S., $28.99 Canada, £18.99 U.K.

Any technical title is only as good as its terminology and specialized information. The final section of this book covers the territory with a comprehensive glossary, plus: practical networking wisdom dealing with common mistakes (“assuming that the server is safely backed up”); extra hardware to keep handy; aspects unique to larger networks”; some “network buzzwords guaranteed to enliven a cocktail party,” and more.

Turning to the front of Networking for Dummies, we learn about servers and clients, how shared folders and network printers work, email basics, and some introductory troubleshooting advice. The fun really begins in Part Two: “Building Your Own Network.” This is when you remember you promised to wash the car last April, because:

• You have to plan ahead

• You need to decide which type of network to use (hint: in this book it’s not based on Macintosh, so keep your mind open)

• Server and physical location are critical

• Cables, hubs, and special software are part of the equation.

Most experienced users will benefit from a thorough reading of Part Three, on network management. In 40+ pages you will soon change from a dummy into a smartie. The next sections connect the network onto the Internet, with specific chapters on optimizing the dial-in procedure and using (ugh) Microsoft Office on the network.

Doug Lowe must be a mind reader, because I was wondering if he would consent to explain networking older computers and Macs, which he kindly does at the very end of this well-constructed book. If you are a serious network person or plan to be, this book may be too lightweight, but for most mortals who can handle some non-Mac terminology, studying Networking for Dummies is well worth the effort.

Fun With Digital Imaging:
The Official Hewlett-Packard Guide
by Lisa Price and Jonathan Price

IDG Books Worldwide

ISBN 0-7645-3307-X, 336 pages
$19.99 U.S., $29.99 Canada, £18.99 U.K.

Digital imagery looks like it will be around for a while. Even though many serious and recreational computer users have embraced or played with the technology, there are even more newbies who will be taking the plunge soon.

This lively and informative book first introduces readers to concepts and techniques. “How Pictures Go Electronic” is a lengthy opening chapter, offering an overview of basic tools and procedures. Fun With Digital Imaging contains page after page of useful greyscale photos and illustrations, plus a center section of color imagery, and helpful URLs for additional resources.

In the extensive Chapter Four, readers can work on “Projects at Home” workbook-style, with plenty of hand-holding by the enthusiastic and experienced authors. I’m getting inspired just reading the book! Activities include:

• Ironing your life into a quilt

• Creating special bags to hold party favors

• Taking your pet on an imaginary flight

and several others.

Next comes “Projects at Work and School,” including the use of photographs, clip art, charts, and custom graphics, followed by a charming unit on “Community Activities.” Throughout Fun With Digital Imaging the emphasis is on the FUN creating the projects and lessons. Lisa and Jonathan Price appreciate the process as well as the results. The troubleshooting appendix covers some basic material on digital cameras, scanning, and printing.

The price is right, and if you do even one of the exercises to completion the book will have paid for itself. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to
Online Shopping, 2nd Edition
by Preston Gralla

Alpha / Que / Macmillan

ISBN 0-7897-2130-9, 381 pages
$16.99 U.S., $25.95 Canada, £12.50 U.K. 

I just got off the phone with my wife. She will be a little late for lunch because she is stopping at the mighty Tucson Mall to purchase some underwear on sale at J.C. Penney. I have never been into a Penney store, but I notice on page 196 of this book they have a website. I could use some socks. Should I give it a whirl?

Let’s examine the book first. The theme is straightforward: “How to Buy Anything in Cyberspace,” from toys to jewelry to houses to groceries to vacations to software and computers and everything else imaginable. Author Gralla explains how to research and purchase safely and intelligently. The book is loaded with tips and warnings, and is written with wit and wisdom.

You want some bargains, buddy? How about a few online contests? All this and more is here, including Internet auctions and classified advertisements. Gralla offers recommended URLs for each area of commerce, with a brief description of what you will find at the websites. Here’s a new one: , with “just about any computer book you can imagine.”

The time and money you devote to The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Online Shopping will produce results on your first spending spree. This book is RECOMMENDED for newcomers to the Internet shopping experience.


The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Online Search Secrets
by Michael Miller

Alpha / Que / Macmillan

ISBN 0-7897-2042-6, 425 pages
$16.99 U.S., $25.95 Canada, £15.99 U.K.

Regular readers of Book Bytes (all three of them) know I am a real sucker when it comes to Internet directories and books on searching the Web. Prepare yourselves, troops, for another look at one of my favorite categories.

The book begins with a colorful tear out “report card” for seven of the most popular search sites. And the winners are… HotBot and Northern Light? We’re off to a lively start, Mr. Miller.

Opening chapters cover essential “what are they?” material on search engines and directories (there IS a difference), plus power-user-quality tips for searching with keywords and wildcards. If most webheads only understood what is in this first part of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Online Search Secrets there wouldn’t be so many complete idiots wasting time on the Web!

Chapters 3-10 deal individually with the “big seven” sites: Yahoo, AltaVista, HotBot, Lycos, Excite, Infoseek, and Northern Light. The author’s knowledge and enthusiasm make me want to stop at least once per page and searchsearchsearch like crazy. Screenshots and site-specific advice are plentiful throughout this well-designed volume.

Part Four contains “how do I?” chapters on locating people, all sorts of people, then Part Five help readers use the Web to track down business and financial information. Subsequent sections get more specific, with assistance on searching for things to buy, tech support, software, news and information, and bundles more.

For all you “I’m so smart I don’t need a book like this one” folks out there, spend some time with Miller’s final unit on fine-tuning and optimizing the search experience, complete with a 28-page appendix itemizing over 500 specific search URLs!

As expected, I’m hooked on The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Online Search Secrets, and give it a hearty RECOMMENDATION. Okay, now stop reading and start searching!


•John Nemerovski•

Websites mentioned:

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