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Please note the prices on Amazon vary and the prices quoted here were those on the date the review posted.

Focal Press gives a 40% discount to our User Groups, use code MEET4.

O'Reilly Press gives a 40% discount to our User Groups use promotional code DSUG.

O'Reilly

I have posted reviews for these books and other purchases on Amazon.com, see there for further details.


VINTAGE TOMORROWS
PUBLISHER: O'Reilly, February 2013: Pages 397, COST: $14.99 for our User Group Members (Amazon $14.21).
Rating 4* out of 5*
This is an intriguing narrative about the steampunk culture.
So what is steampunk? Basically, James Carrott, a cultural historian, says steampunk is playing with today's technology with tools from the past.
In Vintage Tomorrows, Intel's resident futurist Brian David Johnson joins Carrott in a globe-spanning journey to dig beyond definitions and into the heart of this growing subculture. Through interviews with experts from around the globe this book looks into steampunk's collection of 21st century-inspired contraptions but powered by steam and where appropriate driven by gears and built by old-world craftsmen and what it means in our age of disposable technology.
This is an intriguing look at this phenomenon and the interviews are very revealing although towards the end the point has been made and the questions all answered. This is a must read for anyone with an interest in the past and with a whimsical outlook on today's technical culture.
Rating 4* out of 5*

Posted March 30, 2013. Review by Barry Brown, SIR Area 2 CAT Group

WINDOWS 8 HACKS
PUBLISHER:O'Reilly, December 2012: Pages 391, COST: $14.99 for our User Group Members (Amazon $14.21).
Rating 4* out of 5*
I have been a fan of Preston Gralla since I read "Windows XP Hacks" and this new book confirms his knowledge and ability to express himself with clarity and ease.
As we are all new to Windows 8 this book will be useful to everyone. The contents range from the fairly mundane and obvious such as obtaining a start button from third parties to serious editing to the registry (please do so with caution!). This book covers a multitude of potential changes that can be made to Windows 8. I use the word changes rather than improvements as not all the suggestions will suit everyone and therefore you should pick and choose the choices offered here. I was particularly happy with the chapters on "productivity" (chapter 4) and "security" (chapter 8) both contain a wealth of useful information.
This is a book I use as a reference rather than one I would read from cover to cover. Looking through the table of contents gives you an excellent overview and from there you can cherry-pick the items that interest you. For instance If you use or need information on g-mail for instance there are some very useful tips in the chapter on e-mail.
My only complaint is the choice of title; "hack" is defined as either "to break into computers" or "an inelegant but effective solution to a computer problem". Although this book tends to be the latter I think most of the tips given are anything but inelegant!
To summarize a very worthwhile and cost effective addition to your library when you venture into Windows 8.
Posted February 1, 2013. Review by Barry Brown, SIR Area 2, CAT Group

PANOBOOK 2012
PUBLISHER:Rockynook/O'Reilly, October 2012: Pages 240, COST: $23.97 for our User Group Members. (Amazon $25.30).
Rating 4.5* out of 5*
Kolor the developer of the Autopano image-stitching software has been running the Kolor Panobook competition for several years and the quality of the images seems to get better every year.
The 150 winning images from over 1600 submitted for the 2012 competition is a wonderful variety of photographs including the magnificent “Panoramic Photography of the Year” winning image of the interior of St. Mary’s cathedral in Krakow Poland.
The entries are divided into sections such as “Mountain”,”Landscape”,”Architecture”  and my personal favorite “Cityscapes”. Each section has several beautiful panoramas illustrating the theme and at the end of each section is a description (multilingual) of how each of the images was created for those interested in following the procedure.
This collection will have you browsing through the book for hours and coming back frequently to admire the beautiful and colorful images that can be created in panoramic scenes and hopefully inspire the reader to try to emulate them.
Posted November 13, 2012. Review by Barry Brown, SIR Area 2, CAT Group.

LEARNING WEB DESIGN, FOURTH EDITION
AUTHOR: Jennifer Niederst Robbins
PUBLISHER: Pogue Press/O'Reilly, August 2012: PAGES: 638, COST: $29.99 for our User Group members. (Amazon $26.36).
Rating 4.5* out of 5*
The author has produced a very readable book on a complex subject.  She starts from the basics and advances in small but important steps so as to avoid overwhelming the novice without boring the more advanced user.
The book is divided into sections which guides the newcomer along a logical path to designing a web site and at the same time allows more experienced people to check out updated topics.
The latest HTML5 elements are covered as well as CSS3 and considerable space is devoted to creating web styles suitable for the new era of mobile devices such as tablets and phones. At the end of each chapter a short quiz tests your understanding of the content and concepts.
If you want to build a website and you have limited or no desgn expertise this book is a wonderful place to start. The author takes you slowly but thoroughly through the process of building a web page and on to creating a web site with multiple pages that will adapt for viewing on mobile devices.
Everyone, including those with experience need to be reminded of the details and this book will certainly help everyone become a better web designer.
Posted: October 1, 2012. Review by Barry Brown, SIR Area 2, CAT Group.

PRACTICAL HDR, SECOND EDITION
AUTHOR: David Nightingale
PUBLISHER: Focal Press, January 2012: Pages 176, COST: $14.97 for our User Group members. (Amazon $16.06, Kindle Edition $13.72)
Rating 4.5* out of 5*
The book covers HDR in 6 chapters from the theoretical: Understanding Dynamic Range (Chapter 1), to the practical: shooting and merging bracketed images (Ch 2-3), creating photo-realistic or hyper-real images using a number of HDR programs (Ch 4-5), and HDR post-production techniques. The author explains HDR both as a technical solution to exposure problems and as a creative technique. This complete guide will be useful for photographers wanting to explore HDR for the first time as well as those who have tried, and want to improve their techniques.
HDR images can be created in a continuum from photo-realistic to hyper-real images, and the author reports in detail on five programs to demonstrate how to create images to satisfy the photographer's creative urges. The author does not declare any program a `winner', but the differences between the five programs are clearly illustrated so the reader can select one which yields the desired results.
The book concludes with a chapter which explores some post-production techniques from creating HDR-like images from a single image (preferably RAW), as well as showing why the reader might want to merge a tone mapped image with one of the source files. Practical check lists and a decent index round out this very Practical HDR guide.
Posted: May 22, 2012. Review by Derek Southern, SIR Area 2, CAT Group.

PHOTOSHOP ELEMENTS 10, THE MISSING MANUAL
AUTHOR: Barbara Brundage
PUBLISHER:Pogue Press/O'Reilly, September 2011: PAGES: 638, COST: $26.99 for our User Group members. (Amazon $26.89, Kindle Edition $23.39)
Rating 4* out of 5*
Another good book from Barbara Brundage although with the changes from Elements 9 to 10 being rather meager there wasn't a lot of new material required! Consequently the book is a virtual repeat of the previous edition for Elements 9 with just a few modifications. See the review below.
Posted: February 15, 2012. Review by Barry Brown, SIR Area 2, CAT Group.

FOCUS ON PHOTOSHOP ELEMENTS
AUTHOR:David Asche
PUBLISHER: Focal Press, April 2011: PAGES: 154, COST $11.97 for our User Group members. (Amazon $13.00)
Rating 4.5* out of 5*
David Asche has done what so few authors writing about Photoshop Elements have done, focus on the very basics. Users of Elements who are reasonably proficient may find this book too simple but for a newcomer to the program this book is invaluable. No matter what version of Elements you have all the fundamental tasks are covered and explained clearly, so that any "newbie" can get started quickly. Even users who think they are knowledgeable could be surprised with some of the tips. Recommended for every bookshelf especially at the price.
Posted: October 15, 2011
. Review by Barry Brown, SIR Area 2, CAT Group.

WINDOWS 7, INSIDE and OUT
AUTHORS: Ed Bott, Carl Siechert and Craig Stinson
PUBLISHER: Microsoft Press, August 2010: PAGES: 1026, COST: $29.99 for our User Group members (Amazon 27.26, Kindle $24.83)
Rating 4* out of 5*
This book is geared toward a more technical user who will enjoy the very straightforward descriptions and explanations of the operating system. The authors are experts in the field and their approach is to explain and show the attributes without a lot of the attempted humor found in the likes of the "Dummies" series.
Not that the average user could not benefit from this very well written book but be prepared for a very no nonsense approach to the subject. The subject is explained in a very logical and understandable way so that most readers will grasp the fundamentals quickly and be able to search and find answers to most questions easily.
The CD that comes with the book contains the entire text of the book in an easily searchable format, plus some utilities. You can install it on your hard drive and have a convenient desktop version of the book.
Posted September 28, 2011. Review by Barry Brown, SIR Area 2, CAT Group.


THE PHOTOSHOP ELEMENTS 9 BOOK FOR DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHERS
AUTHORS: Scott Kelby and Matt Kloskowski
PUBLISHER: Voices That Matter, November 2010: PAGES: 436, Cost $49.99 (Amazon $27.49)
Rating 4.5* out of 5*
Kelby and Kloskowski are probably the two best known authors and instructors about Photoshop and Photoshop Elements around today and it is easy to see why when you explore this book. First however a word of caution, if you are an absolute newbie to the program you might find it hard to follow some of the tutorials but for everyone else with a little knowledge you should have no problems. I find this a very useful reference book, if I have a problem picture or have an idea but not quite sure how to accomplish it, checking through the chapter descriptions for a solution usually works. I am not sure which of the duo has the slightly warped sense of humor when it comes to naming chapters ("Scream of the Crop"?) but don't let that put you off this is a very good book for everyone.
Posted July 1, 2011. Review by Barry Brown, SIR Area 2, CAT Group.

HOW TO CHEAT IN PHOTOSHOP ELEMENTS 9
AUTHOR: David Asch & Steve Caplin
PUBLISHER: Focal Press, 2011: PAGES: 311, COST $23.97 for our User Group members. (Amazon $26.37)
Rating 3.5* out of 5*
This book is very well illustrated with numerous full color images and lots of projects for you to follow. A CD is included with the tutorial images plus some free fonts and brush presets. Some of the projects are not what I would call basic learning techniques but rather for intermediate level users. The authors have great technical knowledge but getting the point across simply is not to the same standard. If you have a good basic knowledge of Elements 9 this is a worthwhile book but it is not for beginners.
Posted June 25, 2011. Review by Barry Brown, SIR Area 2, CAT Group.

DREAMWEAVER CS5, THE MISSING MANUAL
AUTHOR: David Sawyer McFarland
PUBLISHER: Pogue Press/O'Reilly, June 2010: PAGES:1073, COST $29.99 for our User Group members. (Amazon 27.49, Kindle 19.79)
Rating 4 out of 5
For beginners and experienced web designers this is good reference book to have on hand .I am a long-time user of Dreamweaver, and have to say that this is a very clear, well-written and comprehensive book. For advanced users it Includes a very helpful section on building dynamic websites with MySQL and PHP. This is a great resource for every Dreamweaver user, at many different levels of competency. Virtually all the nuances of designing a decent, workable website are covered and explained in great detail (hence the 1000+ pages).
Posted January 15, 2011. Review by Barry Brown, SIR Area 2, CAT Group.

PHOTOSHOP ELEMENTS 9, THE MISSING MANUAL
AUTHOR: Barbara Brundage
PUBLISHER:Pogue Press/O'Reilly, September 2010: PAGES: 622, COST: $26.99 for our User group members. (Amazon $29.69)
Rating 4* out of 5*
Another good teaching book from Barbara Brundage. This book is complete and easy to use but not so technical one can't properly utilize the information. It is a good book for all levels of Photoshop Elements 9 users: beginning to advanced. The index is quite complete so if you have forgotten how to do one thing, you can easily get to the right page. However considering that the big change with the 9th edition of Elements is the inclusion of layers masks in the editor the coverage of this topic is very meager for such a great addition. The example shown is not at all indicative of the power and versatility of layer masks. However it is still an excellent book for learning the program with very good examples.
Posted September 25, 2010. Review by Barry Brown.

OFFICE 2010, THE MISSING MANUAL
AUTHORS: Nancy Conner & Matthew MacDonald
PUBLISHER: Pogue Press/O'Reilly, July 2010: PAGES:926, COST: $23.99 for our User Group members. (Amazon $21.99)
Rating 4.5* out of 5*
Although the authors do not pretend to completely cover the whole Office Suite in this book it more than addresses the most important areas of the Office programs. Well written and very easy to follow it is an essential addition to your library unless you are an expert already!
Posted July 1, 2010. Review by Barry Brown.


USING ADOBE PHOTOSHOP ELEMENTS 9
This is a free PDF download on the Adobe website (see my review in the September 2009 Newsletter). As mentioned in the December Newsletter a local print shop has given me a great deal to print and comb bind this for only $28 plus tax, (about $2.59), which I highly recommended. Adobe have also posted a PDF version of using the Organizer which I have just downloaded. It appears to be another winner and at 180 pages will probably be cheaper to print. If anyone is interested I will talk to my local print guy and get a quote.
Posted February 5, 2010. Review by Barry Brown.

PREMIER ELEMENTS 8 FOR DUMMIES
AUTHOR: Keith Underdahl
PUBLISHER: Wiley, January, 2010 PAGES: 346, COST: $29.99 (Amazon $19.79)
RATING: 3.5* out of 5*
As with the Missing manual edition the images are not very good although an improvement. The organization of the book is better than the missing manual although it suffers from the same "jumping around" rather than setting a course and following it. I give credit though for the easy to understand narrative and ease of finding answers.
Posted February 5, 2010. Review by Barry Brown.

PREMIER ELEMENTS 8, THE MISSING MANUAL
AUTHOR: Chris Grover
PUBLISHER: Pogue Press/O'Reilly, October, 2009 Pages: 462, Cost: $34.99 (Amazon $23.09)
Rating: 3* out of 5*
The illustrations in this book are all black and white and it is very difficult to see the details of the monitor screen. This is a big drawback and makes reading very irritating. This is compounded by the seeming disjointed approach to the program, jumping around from one subject to another is distracting. Fortunately the index is well organized and helps to find answers. As one of the few third party books available on the subject it is probably the best available at this time.
Posted February 5, 2010. Review by Barry Brown.

PHOTOSHOP ELEMENTS 8, THE MISSING MANUAL
AUTHOR: Barbara Brundage
PUBLISHER:Pogue Press/O'Reilly, September 2009: PAGES: 622, COST: $44.95 (Amazon $29.69)
Rating 4.5* out of 5*
Barbara Brundage deserves a round of applause for her continued efforts in the Photoshop Elements series. This is the sixth book in the series she has written and as always it is concise, interesting and very informative. The comments made in the review of the Elements 5 edition hold true for this book, the colors are not very good. For those of you who own a Kindle reader or who have the free Kindle for PC there is a Kindle version available from Amazon for $26.72.
Posted December 28, 2009. Review by Barry Brown.