Book Bytes Sizzling Summer Sextet
Special Report

Apple Training Series — Garage Band: Create and Record Music on a Mac
Mary Plummer
Publisher: Peachpit Press
ISBN: 0-321-2678-8
415 pages plus lesson CD
Price: $34.99 US, $49.99 CN, £26.99 UK

Garage Band
software is new, the book series is new, and this author is new to Book Bytes. Expect to see more titles in Peachpit’s “Apple Certified” catalog of “Apple Training Series” volumes. If future entries are as good as GB:CARMOAM, we are all the beneficiaries. At content-per-dollar, the valuable information and included CD files are worth much more than the modest price of this book.

I read through the entire text without a pause, forcing myself to remain seated instead of tearing into my own first Garage Band project. The writing, illustrations, and itemized steps are clear, direct, and informative. Chapters are lengthy and detailed, and because we’re all beginners to Garage Band, the author’s numbered lessons are applicable for complete newbie’s and musical intermediates.

In eight units, readers are taken from gentle introductions to Garage Band’s interface through the entire range of its tools and techniques. Chapters conclude with detailed summaries of all material covered, which we applaud. Users of older, slower computers are provided with sample audio files so they can study everything while reading and clicking in preparation for working with Garage Band on a required fast, powerful new Macintosh.

This book is one of the best tutorial texts we’ve ever reviewed, and Book Bytes has highest praise for author, publisher, and series coordinator. Keep ’em coming, please. Once each year we encounter a book that unexpectedly makes us want to do everything within its pages, and GB:CARMOAM is such a title. Stop what you’re doing, buy this book, disconnect the phone and cable modem, and spend a weekend going from novice to experienced Garage Band user. Highest recommendation, at 5 out of 5.

How to Become a Mac OS X Power User — Dr. Mac, the OS X Files, Panther Edition
Bob LeVitus

Publisher: Wiley Publishing

ISBN: 0-7645-4068-8
482 pages
Price: $29.99 US, $52.99 CN, £24.50 UK

We always knew Bob LeVitus was talented, hard working, and funny, but did we also know he is v-e-r-y smart, especially regarding power user tips, tricks, techniques, and troubleshooting, plus a surprising quantity of geeky Unix? Book Bytes continues to admire Bob’s plainspoken, user-friendly approach to serious and recreational computing, and this book receives our recommendation.

Be aware: a few Panther procedures and System Preferences were changed between the time he wrote Dr. Mac, the OS X Files, Panther Edition and now, with so many updates to 10.3, but you’ll always be able to figure out what Bob means.

Extra value in this book comes when Bob introduces readers to freeware, shareware, and payware that perform specific additional functions and enhance Panther’s performance. You’ll find more of these software recommendations in this book than in any other title we’ve seen to date. Keep ‘em coming, Dr. Mac.

Do you know how to fix funky System Preferences using Mac Janitor? How about creating Apple Scripts, or shutting down without being asked “are you sure” each time? Study these pages and you’ll know all this and oodles more.

My favorite chapter is 15, “What Other Power Users Think You Should Know about OS X,” in which he enlists the help of people like you and me to provide a wide array of dandy advice. “Don’t worry. Be happy. Just read them,” says Bob of the more than 100 offerings, because this bundle of intermediate and power user tips are “by far the most useful part of this book.”

I refer to Dr. Mac, the OS X Files, Panther Edition several times each week. Book Bytes rates this latest from Dr. Bob at a strong 4 out of 5 for the next generation of power users.

How to Do Everything with iLife ‘04
by Guy Hart-Davis
Publisher: Osborne / McGraw-Hill
ISBN: 0-07-223205-6
480 pages
Price: $24.99 US, $34.95 CN, £16.99 UK

Book Bytes likes inside-cover quick tips, chapter locaters, plus keyboard shortcuts, and this volume gets readers off to a good start by including some of each. Then the text provides a solid foundation of hardware requirements for making best use of iLife ‘04, with particular emphasis on digital still and movie camera selection.

How much time have you spent considering why rigorous copyright protection is in place? Author Guy addresses this topic head-on, with mastery. Common sense pervades the author’s prose, regardless of how technical is a given topic.

A 120-page mini-book delves into everything musical — iTunes and iPod, including crucial preferences and settings. This massive chunk is itself worth the entire affordable price of How to Do Everything with iLife ‘04. Wait, it gets better! A comparable 105-page iPhoto unit comes next, with valuable material on every page, especially for newcomers to iApps.

My personal favorite is the relatively brief iMovie section, which I’m using page by page and itemized step by step to teach a husband-wife couple how to make and edit iMovies with maximum skill and enjoyment. These tutorials exemplify introductory user lessons at their best. A short iDVD unit is followed by a surprisingly through, concise discourse on Garage Band.

I can personally recommend How to Do Everything with iLife ‘04, and our Book Bytes rating is 4 out of 5 for intermediates who need to catch up on their skills, and 5 out of 5 for beginners and above who learn best via guided instructions.

Adobe Photoshop CS one-on-one, featuring 2 hours of Total Training video
by Deke McClelland

Publisher: Deke Press / O’Reilly

ISBN 0-596-00618-7
465 pages plus CD
Price: $39.95 US, $57.95 CN

Deke is amazing, creating his own namesake imprint to compete with himself and other top-notch Photoshop authors from a variety of publishers. Book Bytes wishes him the best of success. Adobe Photoshop CS one-on-one is excellent value for its text and lessons, plus the included video training.

Tutorials embody most of the book, with numbered, itemized lessons linked to images and project exercises on the CD. High production and design values give purchasers additional sense of the quality that is going into this new one on one series. Photos, screen shots, and illustrations are all clear and bright. Each chapter has its own color scheme, in a unifying, soothing quest to make the burden of Photoshop instruction more warm and fuzzy.

The thrust of Adobe Photoshop CS one-on-one is the basics of Photoshop CS and beyond, but not on advanced techniques. Individual chapters conclude with unit summaries, helping readers understand “What did you learn?” Wit, wisdom, and Deke’s landmark personal touch permeate his writing and pictures.

We have here an excellent, thorough beginner’s course that I will use starting tomorrow as my essential text for Photoshop learners. Intermediates will find crucial tune-ups for all the Photoshop fundamentals. Do you really understand “what are hue and saturation?” or “RGB versus CMYK”? You should, pal.

Congratulations to Deke and your publication team on receiving our highest 5 out of 5 rating with this initial book. We want more!

Color Confidence — The Digital Photographer’s Guide to Color Management
Tim Grey
Publisher: Sybex Press

ISBN: 0-7821-4316-4
252 pages
Price: $44.99 US, $62.95 CN, £29.99 UK

Funny coincidence. My good friend R. B. recently attended a digital photography and Photoshop workshop in California where Tim Grey was lead instructor. Upon return she asked me if I had ever heard of Tim, seen his web site, or read his books. The name didn’t mean anything to me, but then, moments later, UPS delivered this book. Good timing, Tim and publisher Sybex.

Color management is a topic from which most mortals wisely steer a wide course and avoid, to the benefit of their enduring sanity. Serious digital artists and photographers spend a lot of time, money, and sweat determining which color settings are best for their equipment and visual standards. Good luck, chumps, without a book such as this one.

With more text than images or (all Windoze) screenshots, Color Confidence — The Digital Photographer’s Guide aims to help readers understand the terminology and apply intermediate or advanced techniques with clarity. Tim combines explanatory paragraphs with itemized steps in a comprehensive approach. If concepts such as “relative colorimetric” or “rendering intent” are unfamiliar, they will soon enhance your vocabulary with conversational panache. Ditto for basic light and color theory as they apply to photography and digital imaging.

Spend time and money establishing custom profiles for your monitor(s) and printer(s). Maximize the bit depth of your scans. Become cozy with white balance settings on your digital camera(s). Standardize your output workflow steps. Know the meaning of every term in Color Confidence’s glossary.

This book is not a thrilling literary masterpiece or visual candy store, but if you make the effort to allow author Tim Grey to teach you the basics of color management, its hefty price tag will be well invested. For readers who are prepared to focus on improving their color skills, a rating of 4 out of 5 is appropriate.

Bargain Hunter’s Secrets to Online $hopping
Michael Miller

Publisher: Que Publishing

ISBN: 0-7897-3201-7
320 pages
Price: $19.95 US, $28.95 CN, £14.50 UK

Let’s turn our review format upside down and give this book its rating right now, for readers whose eyes are numb from plowing through so many evaluations all at once.

Newcomers to Internet commerce will find Bargain Hunter’s Secrets to Online $hopping to be a friend looking over their shoulders with time-tested advice and hints that will make the experience as straightforward as possible. Readers with more than a tiny bit of mileage conducting online purchases will consider the material a useful refresher plus sensible tips, but not a revelation. For the newbie’s, our rating is 4 out of 5, and for the veterans it’s 3 out of 5. Please remember that “3” is still a darn good score, using our rigorous Book Bytes rating system.

I have mixed opinions concerning the 117 “purple pages” directory of recommended merchant URLs. Many of them are mainstream, with their “bargain hunter’s secrets” in plain site for observant clickers. Yet if only one of the hundreds mentioned turns out to be a hidden gem with spectacular savings, author Michael Miller will have given that purchaser value much greater than the modest price of the book. The time saved not using Google could be enormous. From Apparel to Weddings, listed by categories, you’ll find a lot to ways to spend your green while reading the purple. Examples: (batteries for all electronic devices) (internations flights and tours)

Special emphasis is given to chapters on eBay, Amazon, and a couple of other primo sites. Miller recommends BizRate, Froogle, and for price comparisons and merchant reviews. I was not familiar with the latter before reading Bargain Hunter’s Secrets to Online $hopping.

Would I buy and use this book? Yes, if I wasn’t already familiar with so much within it, but the price is low and the range of useful info is extensive. Overall it’s a splendid value for every bargain hunter.


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