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Deborah Lynne Wiley
Next Wave Consulting


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Recommended Reading for Expanding Your Knowledge Base

ONLINE, May 2001
Copyright © 2001 Information Today, Inc.

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FEATURED BOOKS:
Internet Blue Pages: The Guide to Federal Government Web Sites, 2001-2002 edition

Design Workshop

Digital Imaging: A Practical Handbook

PC Hardware in a Nutshell



This month we look at some books that I can't categorize with any one theme, except perhaps expanding your knowledge base. The guide to government Web sites will help you learn what's available, while the other three books are great references for tangential facets of your working life.

* * *

Internet Blue Pages: The Guide to Federal
Government Web Sites, 2001-2001 edition

researched and compiled by Laurie Andriot

ISBN: 0-910965-43-9
Published: 2000
Pages: 446; softcover
Price: $34.95
Available from: CyberAge Book, Information Today Inc.,
143 Old Marlton Pike, Medford, NJ 08055;
609/654-6266; http://www.infotoday.com

As we all know, the government is putting everything on the Web, without much noticeable thought to coordinating or organizing it all. Thus, a book like this can save a lot of time for those looking for government information.

The book is organized in the same fashion as the U.S. Government Manual, with chapters organized by government department. Each entry has a reference number, which you can use on the companion Web site, FedWeb.com, to access that particular government site. There is also an extensive index to help you find sites by subject. Some of the entries here are a bit odd, such as "Web Page Design" connects you to the Air Force Air Combat Command Site, but that site at least has a link to a beginner's guide to HTML.

For most sites, there is a short description of the content of the site, with a list of all the links to which the home page connects. I found the descriptions much more useful than the list of links. Just the linked phrase is listed, so it is often difficult to know what the link means. Plus the list is in paragraph form so it is very difficult to scan through it. I think a little more editorial effort to actually describe the major content sections of the Web site would make this book a lot more useful. The last chapter covers gateways to government information and the Appendix links you directly to the search features of various government agencies, as well as search engines that focus just on government sites. As with any book of this type, some of the URLs are out-of-date, but at least you have a starting point. If you use government information often, this book may save you some time in finding the site you want.

* * * *

Design Workshop
by Robin Williams

ISBN: 0-201-70088-3
Published: 2001
Pages: 280; softcover
Price: $39.99
Available from: Peachpit Press, 1249 Eighth Street
Berkeley, CA 94710
800/283-9444; 510/524-2178; http://www.peachpit.com

In ecology, they talk about specialized feeders and generalists. Librarians need to be generalists, and at least know a little bit about lots of things. With the advent of desktop publishing and the Web, design is a skill with which we all need to be familiar. Even if you don't design things yourself, becoming a knowledgeable customer will help your designer create a better design for you.

So, it was a pleasant surprise to discover this eminently readable book. The authors clearly present design principles without the jargon, and use lots of examples of designs in progress, so you can easily see why they chose one layout or typeface or size or whatever over another. There are many color illustrations and examples of design projects to browse through, if you like.

The book is aimed at beginning designers, and covers all kinds of design projects, including logos, invoices and forms, brochures, flyers, table of contents and indices, advertising, and Web sites, but there is much you can learn from each section, even if you don't ever plan on creating whatever project they are using as an example. The first few chapters cover the design process and creating visual impact, and the last few chapters have different designers go through projects they have done to show the varying approaches to design.

Although everyone seems to agree that content is king, a good design will help in communicating that content in a more comprehensible and appealing manner. This book will definitely help improve your designs.

* * *

Digital Imaging: A Practical Handbook
by Stuart D. Lee

ISBN: 1-55570-405-0
Published: 2001
Pages: 194; softcover
Price: $55.00
Available from: Neal-Schuman Publishers, Inc.
100 Varick Street, New York, NY 10013
212/925-8650; http://www.neal-schuman.com

If you think digitization is a simple project, read this book. There is more involved than most people think, and this book guides you through the various stages of a digitization project. The aim is to educate those in charge of such a project, as well as those new to the process but who need to participate.

The author uses a project-management approach, providing checklists of the decisions that will need to be made and the steps involved. He starts with assessing and selecting the material, and provides a sample questionnaire to help solicit input from interested parties as to what content should be digitized. He then goes on to preparing the material for digitization and the actual process. He wisely points out the many options one has in the types of scanners or digital cameras, and the dilemmas of resolution, file size, and use in choosing exactly how to capture the required digital images.

The last chapter covers the cataloging and delivery efforts, and points out the importance of making it easy for the user to find and use digital image. He covers metadata, SGML, and XML, and suggests items which should be documented for different images. He also covers the various delivery options available for serving high-quality images and searchable text files.

The author obviously has a lot of experience in digitization projects, and this book may help you avoid some problems if you are starting on a project of your own.

* * * *

PC Hardware in a Nutshell
by Robert Bruce Thompson &
Barbara Frichman Thompson

ISBN: 1-56592-599-8
Published: 2000
Pages: 501; softcover
Price: $29.95
Available from: O'Reilly & Associates, Inc.
101 Morris St., Sebastopol, CA 05472
800/998-9938; http://www.oreilly.com

This is a great reference book to have on hand if you ever need to troubleshoot, upgrade, or just plain understand any component of a per- sonal computer. Like most O'Reilly books, this is stuffed full of the information you'd think would come in the manual to your PC (if you got one).

The book is aimed at people who want to build their own PC, or at least upgrade it themselves. It is not "PCs for Dummies," but rather a detailed and meticulously researched reference guide for those with at least moderate knowledge of the machine and its components. In other words, if you don't know the difference between a floppy drive and a hard drive, this book is not for you. However, if you think you are reasonably familiar with computers, but still can't figure the specifications for a new hard drive or CD-R, then this book will ease your frustration and improve your choices.

The book devotes a chapter to each of the major components of the systems, covering motherboards, processors, memory, floppy drives, CD drives, hard drives, video adapters, monitors, sound cards, speakers, keyboards, mice, cases, and power supplies. Each chapter stands alone, so you only have to read the parts you want at the moment. The authors include their picks for the best products in each category, while acknowledging that the choices could well be out of date when you read the book. They provide updates on the Web site (http://www.hardwareguys.com).

Even understanding the specifications on a new PC these days can be difficult. Use this book to interpret the data and make the best choice for your next PC or component purchase.


Deborah Lynne Wiley (deb@consultnw.com) is Principal of Next Wave Consulting, Inc. and HARDCOPY Editor.

Comments? Email letters to the Editor to marydee@infotoday.com.

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