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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Maya 6: The Complete Reference
Publisher: McGraw-Hill Osborne Media
Authors: Tom Meade, Shinsaku Arima
Rating: 3/5
Customer opinion - 3 stars out of 5
Could be brilliant, but...

This could be an outstanding book. The scope is quite broad and there are loads of interesting, helpful and exciting tutorials, tips and hints that should help to broaden your Maya horizons. And that's just it - 'should' help. But most of the time they don't really, because... you get stuck. Stuck in tutorials, for instance, that are so riddled not only with spelling mistakes but also factual inconsistencies that the mind boggles how this book was allowed to be released to the unsuspecting reader eager to learn. And at that price! Did nobody proof-read the darn thing? Meade credits Alex Tang as his technical editor. The guy must've been stoned when he proof-read the book, or simply not interested - same difference. For instance in Chapter 14 'Texturing in Practice' Meade early on exhorts you to bear in mind that "it is essential that you keep the project organized by naming the nodes as you create them". Sound advice - and he invites you to stick to his naming convention. Trouble is, he himself doesn't - through the course of the tutorial he starts renaming the nodes, e.g. a node 'tFloorColor' later becomes 'tCheckerTexture' or 'mTank' becomes 'mTankTile'. These may sound like small niggles, but as anyone knows who had do wade through dozens of nodes in a project, a precise naming policy, as Meade correctly advocates, becomes vital, especially if you are following a tutorial where you depend on it even more. Shame that Meade doesn't practise what he preaches. This means that you spend ages trying to 'read between the lines' (as reviewer kirei90 has said on these pages).
In Chapter 14 alone I counted no fewer than 14 mistakes, inconsistencies or ambiguities in the text. Files on the accompanying CD are named differently from those referred to in the text, at times making it difficult to be sure which is what without opening them in Photoshop, say. Pictures meant to illustrate the text sometimes do not show exactly what's being talked about, e.g. you may get a picture of a render from a much later stage than where you currently are in the tutorial or things like where you are asked to load a Driven in the Set Driven key window where the attribute you are meant to select is different in the image from the one in the text. And on and on.
In a nutshell. Great potential, broad scope and aiming high but very time consuming and at times frustrating if you don't feel extremely 'forensically' inclined. And it should have never been published in the state it is currently in. Simply no polished product. And definitely not for the novice. Look to Alias|Wavefront's own Maya tutorials first, if you want to know how it's done.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Professional Photoshop: The Classic Guide to Color Correction
Publisher: Wiley
Authors: Dan Margulis
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
An updated classic

Margulis is a highly respected professional who transcends the usual oversimplified chapters on color correction by writing an entire book on the topic. With a background in CMYK press work, his emphasis is on press color preparation which may seem a bit off track to RGB inkjet jockeys, but he has balanced his techniques to include all three color spaces Photoshop offers, CMYK, RGB and LAB, giving examples of the strengths and weaknesses of each. This is a book that will be re-read and retained for reference, and despite some curiously negative reviews, I found the book extremely helpful and quite well balanced. This is not a beginner's tutorial, but a professional's proven methods of color control within the Photoshop environment using all the tools available. I own 7 books on Photoshop 7 and this is the most indispensible. The book includes a CD with sample images for user experimentation.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: The Shellcoder's Handbook : Discovering and Exploiting Security Holes
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons
Authors: Jack Koziol, David Litchfield, Dave Aitel, Chris Anley, Sinan "noir" Eren, Neel Mehta, Riley Hassell
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Be Familiar with C, assembly, and computer architectures

I love this book, I have been gradually working through it over the last two months. I have been brushing up on C and Assembly as I go so that I can truly understand all the material.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
Authors: James Paul Gee
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Celebrating Games

I am involved with the entertainment industry and so I have seen first hand the impact of video games. Gee's book is about the ways in which good video games incorporate good learning principles, that is, how good games get themselves learned well and make learning part of the fun and engagement of playing.

This is so, as Gee claims, because if games can't be learned well or cease early on to involve any interesting learning, they will not sell well, either because they are unplayable by lots of players or boring. He also argues that the sorts of learning principles good games incorporate are well supported by contemporary research in cognitive science, the science that studies human learning.

I liked the fact that the book is based on his own game playing (an enterprise he came to late in life) and his own research in linguistics and education.

I noted the one negative review on this site, that ironically, comments on the only part of the book where Gee is reporting on an interview he conducted with a young gamer, not his own gaming. This has little to do with the main point of the chapter, which is that young people, even those challenged in school, often draw on a rich array of social resources to learn and game deeply and well when they are playing video games.

Gee's book is a ground-breaking integration of cognitive science and game studies. It is a celebration of games and gaming and of human learning when it is set free of the sorts of strictures that one finds in schools that stress drill-and-kill.