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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: The Guru's Guide to SQL Server Boxed Set
Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional
Authors: Ken Henderson
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Best SQL Server Books Available

I am a database consultant with Microsoft, and would not be without these books. I strongly recommend the boxed set of three books to everyone working with SQL Server. I also personally know Ken, and his overall knowledge of SQL Server and Windows development is tops.

Product: Book - Turtleback
Title: Color Index: Over 1100 Color Combinations, CMYK and RGB Formulas, for Print and Web Media
Publisher: How Design Books
Authors: Jim Krause
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
A Definite Must-Have for Graphic Designers

This book is a compact (4.5"x6") compilation of color schemes that I intend to keep close to my computer for a long time. The vinyl cover and sturdy binding will also ensure its durability over the years. What I found exceptionally useful was the browser color combinations section. A great purchase!

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Adobe Photoshop CS One-on-One
Publisher: Deke Press
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Book Provides Great Independent Learning Option

If you're new to Adobe Photoshop CS software, you probably know you can expect a learning curve with the program, so an investment in training can significantly jumpstart your productivity. This high quality 490-page book with multimedia resources produced by Adobe software expert Deke McClelland provides a learning experience aimed at graphic artists, photographers, students and teachers of Photoshop who want to edit and work with the imaging software.

McClelland uses a "read, watch, do" philosophy; after reading about a topic, you watch a training video, then return to the book to complete the corresponding practice lesson using the supplied practice files.

The included two-hour video CD provides high-quality topical training sessions, presented in an upbeat, realistic way. McClellan offers clear explanations, demonstrations, and even a discussion of the benefits of choosing one feature over another to accomplish a given task. The video content is grouped into four topic groups: navigation and color correction, selecting, copying and editing images, using masking, setting focus and working with layers and finally working with type styles and producing output.

After viewing a video, it's time to turn back to the book to work through the corresponding lesson, step by step. Each provides a task-based approach that guides you through a logical progression of the major features and functions of the software. You begin with the basic user interface of the software, work extensively with image creation and editing and management features, and conclude with the more complicated use of layer functions and adjustments. New Photoshop owners should plan to work through the lessons in order; more advanced users may select only needed topics. Included practice files and materials correspond with each lesson.

Along your learning journey, you will discover periodic pearls of wisdom providing insights into the interaction of Photoshop and the world of digital imaging. You can even take extra credit exercises for additional practice with a feature. As additional reinforcement, each lesson concludes with a "what did you learn" summary in the form of matching exercises along with the correct answers. The lessons are complemented by crisp screen shots, image examples, pullouts, and tips.

To make optimum use of the learning opportunities in this book, you should have Adobe Photoshop CS (also known as Photoshop 8) installed on your Macintosh or Windows system. And you'll need to download and install Apple QuickTime in order to run the videos.

This cost effective learning package provides a great alternative to classroom-based instruction and can be just the ticket for independent learners who want to quickly gain productivity with Photoshop CS.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Sams Teach Yourself Microsoft Visual Basic .NET 2003 in 21 Days, Second Edition
Publisher: Sams
Authors: Steve Holzner
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
Excelent starter book

I went into the store & sat for a couple hours reading a stack of vb.net books & trying to decide which one to get and this was the one. The writing style is a good mix between narative and reference, providing help where needed and reference where chatter would be no additional help.
The style starts out with a simple program, and introduces basic windows forms controls for a few days in a style that starts with the simple ones & moves on to the more complex ones.
It has some decent coverage of basic oop concepts, but is not the authority on the subject, or imo, sufficient for somebody who has never programmed before. Fortunateley the learn as you go way the book is set up will show you some practical application of how objects work (like the example of drawing new ui objects using a rectangle object to hold the dimensions)
The style after several days of reading became dry and I stopped reading. I recognized the basic pattern of the book at that point & the basic methodology of how the vb components were implemented in the language. By the time the book got dry, I recognized how it can be used as a reference in a concise and efficient way; really a best of both worlds situation. After things click for you, you don't need to finish reading the whole 900 pages or so of information in the book, and can go on to use it as a reference for basic program construction tasks (especially ui components).
I havent hit the chapters on asp programming with vb.net, so i can't comment on their quality. I have no interest in that topic, but i can see how it would be valueable. Instead of those chapters, i would rather see a case study program. After all, by the end of the book, you really don't have a whole picture of how to build an app beginning to end (and with save settings hint hint), only the pieces of how to do it & you're left to figure out how to put them together.
The book does gloss over a lot of other topics to make you aware of them & show some basic implementations (mulithreading, creating user controls) with a decent degree of effectiveness, but no depth (which is to be expected in a beginners book).
I now have several books on the topic and i'm using this one as a reference to form controls and how to interact with them most. It is one of a few books you will need on the subject. I firmly believe that there is no ONE book that covers every subject on this topic (and there shouldn't be, its a big topic).
I'm referring to the mspress vb.net cookbook most for finding system programming solutions (dealing with file system and string parsing). When i first bought it, i thought it was a weak collection of trivial stuff, but i'm using it pretty often.
As far as learning the language components, i'd reccommend any of the oop with vb.net books that are out there (i like the o'rieley ones).
This is a great first book to buy on the subject though, as it covers all the bases a little.
p.s. This is the first Sams teach yourself book that has been good to me. The other 6 i've had have all been without much value. They need to take this author on for more books.