O'Reilly Staff Picks
Digital Video Production Cookbook
Matt Silver, Mac Systems Administrator
Photoshop Lightroom Adventure
Betsy Waliszewski, Tradeshows & Events Manager
Photoshop Lightroom Adventure
When my husband and I decided to take a cruise to Alaska's Glacier Bay last summer, I wanted to pack a photography book to inspire me. Lucky for me Mikkel Aaland's Photoshop Lightroom Adventure proved the perfect companion. Looking at the beautiful images taken by 12 photographers of the wilds of Iceland showed me how to set up my own shots of Alaska's dramatic glaciers, mountains, and wildlife. With Alaska's Inside Passage as the backdrop and Mikkel as the guide my photos definitely improved. I recommend this book to anyone wishing to learn more about shooting striking images as well as how to use Lightroom.
Betsy Waliszewski, Tradeshows & Events Manager
Some of the best sessions at Foo Camp are often just conversations, but with some of the sharpest minds on the planet. What if you could sit around a table with gurus like Brian Kernighan or Douglas Crockford and talk about the programming techniques that really get their blood flowing? Beautiful Code is your chance to do just this, but with about forty of the industry's finest minds. They candidly explain inventive solutions and personal insights. Pick this book up with an open mind, as if you just snuck into a lecture hall at just the right time. Settle in, listen, and learn!
Rob Orsini, Software Engineer, Author of the Rails Cookbook
Digital Video Production Cookbook
I was recently in a discussion about setting up chroma key on a blue felt background. I wanted to illustrate my description, so I grabbed a copy of Digital Video Production Cookbook. Not only did it have a good description of the technique, it also gave several step-by-step examples how to set up the chroma key for different situations, whether it's transporting an actor to a tropical island or flying a rocket ship through outer space. The rest of the book is full of great tips and tricks that can inspire anyone enthusiastic about video production, from lighting and editing effects, to camera movement, weather and even stunts and production effects. It's been almost ten years since I was serious about video production. This book makes me want to rush out and start production today.
Matt Silver, Mac Systems Administrator
The Internet: The Missing Manual
The Internet: The Missing Manual is a handy reference for both the novice and veteran Web surfer. Although most of the content in the book is familiar to me, its relaxed formula provides a pleasant overview, cleverly enhancing the readerís knowledge of various Internet nooks and crannies. The book explains, for instance, how to join a WiFi network, battle pesky Spyware, and determine the often lost art of proper email etiquette. It lists free professional networking, music, flight and hotel reservation sites. Youíll find timesaving tax preparation services, parental advice in keeping youngsters safe online, and even a section on multiplayer gaming to quell the tenth level fighter/mage in all of us. The Internet: The Missing Manual presents a concise and current collection of search tips, all with a touch of humor, and invites even the most timid Web surfer to benefit from its rewards.
Denise Elia, Receptionist
Word 2007: The Missing Manual
I've been using Microsoft Word for years and have figured out how to make the program do just about everything I need it to do. But, as I learned from reading Word 2007: The Missing Manual, I wasn't always doing things as efficiently as I could. Take, for example, something as simple as selecting text. No problem, right? But I didn't realize until I read this book how easy it is to tell Word exactly what to select (a character, word, sentence, paragraph, or entire document) if you know where and how many times to click, thereby saving yourself lots of time dragging your mouse around to select text. This book also covers far more complex topics, but that's a good example of something simple that can be done much more quickly and efficiently if you know how. For help with anything from creating new documents to creating your own macros, Word 2007: The Missing Manual is an excellent reference. And it's not only helpful to people with Word 2007—the author explains which features are new to this version of Word, so folks with previous versions can still find a ton of useful information.
Dawn Mann, Assistant Editor
HTML & XHTML: The Definitive Guide, Sixth Edition
Working at O'Reilly requires at least a little HTML knowledge. Which is what I have—a little. This book has been a lifesaver both professionally and personally as I get more involved in online marketing and work on my own funky little blog. HTML & XHTML: The Definitive Guide is easy to navigate, has comprehensive explanations and examples, and a handy cheat-sheet I can grab when I forget how to do something, like make a bulleted list. It sits on my desk and it always has the answer when I reach for it.
Jessica Boyd, Marketing Services Coordinator
iPod: The Missing Manual, Fifth Edition
My 14-year-old niece received a new iPod gift recently. She asked me to help her synchronize her iPod to upload cd's, download new iTunes songs and videos and become the master of this gadget. As I shuffled through the tiny case and packaging, I wondered, where's the instruction book for the new user? Fortunately, O'Reilly just released iPod: The Missing Manual, Fifth Edition. It provides all the useful tips, screen shots, and suggestions to make this new electronic experience enjoyable and pleasant on both a MAC or PC. Using this handy reference guide my niece was soon listening and dancing to Gnarls Barkley and Black Eyed Peas.
Mace Bergmann, Marketing Coordinator
Photoshop Workflow Setups and Practical Color Management
I've owned a digital camera for five years or so but have only recently gotten serious about producing my own images. As a visually oriented person, Eddie Tapp's learning series, Photoshop Workflow Setups and Practical Color Management , are the guides I need. What I like about these books is that you don't have to be an expert to learn from them or wade through miles of text. They're compact, about 150 pages long, concisely written, and packed with clear illustrations. But the examples are the best part. They make this confusing subject matter very clear. And my improved images are the proof.
Marsee Henon, User Group Coordinator
Stephen Johnson on Digital Photography
Tech publishing is by nature a fairly conservative industry, as are its cousins in academic publishing and trade publishing. There's a certain amount of risk in trying to play in new areas, and this was the case when O'Reilly began building a publishing business dedicated to creative and interactive technologies, such as digital photography. That risk is somewhat mitigated by publishing books like Stephen Johnson on Digital Photography, by giving industry leaders a platform to speak in their own voice and to say what they like.
In Steve Johnson's case, he's got a lot to say. Here's a guy who embraced digital technology in photography back in the 80s, and who's used it to at-times amazing ends: he's shown the world what high-res photography can do when you take it outdoors and point it at Nature. As an extension of that, he shows how the digital means make you aware of the process of photography, therefore forcing you to think about what you're trying to achieve. "Why am I making this photograph?"
Along the way, Steve has thought a hell of lot about photography; he's taught a lot of people how to make themselves better photographers by getting them to think more about the art and the science of what they do; he's mentored an astounding number of people who have gone on to influence the industry themselves; he's advised several hardware and software companies on how to improve the tools they create; and he's captured some sublime images that once seen, never leave your memory.
So for years, people have been asking Stephen Johnson when he was going to write a book in which he teaches what he knows, and now that book is finished. Less than 300 pages covering the essential physics of light and image capture; the why and how behind essential technique; selected historical riffs; a healthy bit of discourse on social, cultural, and ethical issues; and in general, some terrific writing and perspective on photography by someone who's more than earned the right to call it like he sees it. It's a beautiful book, with a definite point of view. Check it out.
Steve Weiss, Executive Editor
It's October; the baseball season has been distilled to the playoffs and the World Series; soon we'll have nothing but winter ball and winter trade talks and books to tide us through until pitchers and catchers report in late February. For serious fans of the game, you've got to consider grabbing a copy of Baseball Hacks, by Joseph Adler. It's a terrific reference, but also one of those books that's pure fun to just open and begin reading arbitrarily.
The book is many things to many people; I'll quote from the preface, "...about how to watch, research, and understand baseball. It's an instruction manual for the free baseball databases. It's a cookbook for baseball research. Every part of this book is designed to teach you how to do something. In short, it's a how-to book."
Following the "hacks" format, the the book is made up of 75 discreet elements, organized in seven chapters and two appendixes, and while the primary fans of the book will be fantasy leaguers, the first chapter alone is priceless for teaching *anyone* how to score a baseball game and how to read a box score.
Steve Weiss, Executive Editor
The Photoshop Cookbooks
Okay, full disclosure: I edited these books. But even if I hadn't, I'd still rave about them, because I find them so incredibly useful. I keep all 5 of them right by my desk—it's so much easier to look up how to do an effect than having to remember exactly how to do it. And the Photoshop Blending Modes Cookbook for Digital Photographers, in particular, has been a real eye opener. Now I understand blending modes!
I've had a lot of fun messing around with the recipes in all of the books, and have even created a few of my own variations to create some very unique effects. I've learned a ton about Photoshop at the same time, without feeling like I'm having to go through a whole tutorial on the application.
I'm not generally someone who turns to books to learn how to learn a new application—I kind of dive in on my own, for better or worse. In this case, though, I have found that these books tell me just what I need to know to actually do something I want to do.
Edie Freedman, Graphics Publishing Program Manager
We recently brought up a new circuit between the O'Reilly offices in Cambridge and Sebastopol and I found the Cisco Cookbook to be invaluable. I think it's much more than a cook book because there are more than just recipes and explanations. One of our goals for this new circuit is to carry VoIP traffic between the two offices, so we needed to configure the routers on each end for QoS, reserving some bandwidth for the voice traffic. Not only did the Cisco Cookbook have some tasty recipes for QoS but in one of the appendices is a really nice discussion of IP precedence, TOS and DSCP. I had never configured a router for this type of use and the Cisco Cookbook helped me get up to speed quickly and write a configuration that not only works well but is efficient. I refer to this book whenever I need to make changes to our router configurations.
Bob Amen, Director of System Administration
Adobe Photoshop CS2 One-on-One
Adobe Photoshop CS2 One-on-One has a great training video, a visual experience on what you are learning. This book is a fun and great way to learn things in Photoshop. I really like the step-by-step instructions, and the visuals make it easy to follow the lessons. I learn better by doing, so this book is perfect for kinesthetic/visual learners. With Adobe Photoshop CS2 One-on-One you don't have to go through each section in chronological order. You can use this book as a reference if you're having difficulty in a certain area or you come across something you don't know how to do. This book has helped me out with several projects over the years.
Susan Thompson, Production Designer
CSS: The Missing Manual and Head First HTML with CSS & XHTML
It's been almost a decade since I hand-coded a few primitive Web sites, using the kludgy design tools HTML offered back in the mid-90's. Recently I've been itching to cook up a small site, but I wanted it to look vaguely professional...something I could impress my mom with. That meant using CSS to pretty up the basic pages I'd be building. That also meant trying to wade through the intimidating mass of rules that HTML and CSS impose on any Web designer.
Peter Meyers, Editor
Jakarta Commons Cookbook
These days I've been brewing a lot of Java, and I've found myself continuously consulting the Jakarta Commons Cookbook. This book is where the maturity of the Java platform meets the ingenuity of the open source community; I find that time and again, the Jakarta Commons has answered those tricky questions that the commercial Java world avoids or botches. If you've ever been baffled by the complexities or boneheadness in the Java language, you'll agree that the Commons and this book provide exactly the right recipes for all kinds of problem areas such as logging, templates, and file utilities. Java may be bitter, but it's a heck of a lot sweeter when infused with Jakarta Commons.
Charles Greer, Software Engineer
Don't Get Burned on eBay is my favorite O'Reilly book right now. (After all, how many books have a flaming pig on the cover?) The great thing about this book is that it teaches you everything you need to know about eBay auctions in a painless way. This book is full of real-life stories (some hilarious, some hair raising) that teach by example. At the end of each story is a nugget of wisdom. In the chapter on packaging, author Shauna Wright gives some great tips on how to get free boxes. Shauna is such a character, it comes through in the writing. You'll find yourself laughing, and then you'll think, "What a great idea!" Read more >
Michele Filshie, Editor of Missing Manuals and Personal Trainers Series
Google Maps Hacks and Flickr Hacks
People have started asking me for a Web 2.0 reading list--and I'm working on one. But in the meantime, we've published two books that should be on every Web 2.0 developer's reading list (along with more obvious books like Head Rush Ajax, Ajax Design Patterns, and Ajax Hacks). I'm referring to Google Maps Hacks and Flickr Hacks.
Ultimately, Web 2.0 is about the web as platform, and even if you aren't interested in hacking on Google Maps or Flickr, you should be studying their APIs, because these are the two services that have demonstrated the most viral platform behavior. There are hundreds of Google Maps mashups and sixty or so for Flickr. These services define what "open" looks like in the Web 2.0 era. (If I were a web developer, I'd be paying attention to the comments on my recent query about why developers are choosing Google Maps over the competition.)
Tim O'Reilly, Founder and CEO, O'Reilly Media
We just replaced our ancient telephone PBX with Asterisk on Linux. For the last month or so, I've had Asterisk: The Future of Telephony open on my desk. It's still open. This book helped us roll out Asterisk to the Sebastopol campus with very few problems. It went so well we started adding new features a week and a half early. Thanks to Jim, Jared, and Leif, I learned how to write and modify our dial plan. It was easier than I thought. This book is well-written as both an introductory text, and it's working for me now as I look into the more advanced parts of Asterisk, so it's also a good reference.
Bob Amen, SysAdmin Director, O'Reilly Media
Amongst other things, college for me usually involved being hung over at an internet cafe catching up on development work. See, when you're hung over, the last thing you've got a mind for is choosing what books are going to go in your bag. C++ in a Nutshell managed to reduce the number of C++ books I was carrying around at any given time from four to one. It's an ideal nutshell book: it managed to cover every corner of C++ I would possibly need to reference. It even shed some light on features I was barely aware of.
Jay Laney, Lead Software Engineer, Online Publishing Group
I was so happy to discover the Access Cookbook, which detailed in perfect learning-by-doing fashion how to solve 170+ problems, from the mundane to truly aggravating. Compared to the bookshelf of 1000+ page tomes I'd purchased, this concise and instructive reference on Microsoft Access is worth its weight in gold. Read More.
Justin Watt, Senior Web Producer, Online Publishing Group
As the editor of O'Reilly's Emerging Telephony site I spend a lot of time keeping up on what's happening with VoIP and IP communications, and I found Ted Wallingford's VoIP Hacks to be a treasure trove of interesting information about this revolutionary technology. It combines technical tricks and solutions with practical advice to help you get the most out of your VoIP service, whether you're just using Skype to call your friends and family or setting up your own Asterisk system.
Bruce Stewart, Editor - Emerging Telephony
Window Seat: The Art of Digital Photography and Creative Thinking
One of the books I keep on my desk is Window Seat: The Art of Digital Photography and Creative Thinking. The photos are really beautiful, but what spoke to me is what the author had to say about opening yourself to the creative process. You don't have to be a photographer to apply her ideas to your own projects. As I read Julieanne's 18 "tips," I found myself nodding in agreement and vowing to take her advice. In particular, "Fix whatever you complain about the most," and "Take up an interest in something you know nothing about," really hit home for me. Whether it's "Keep a Journal" or "Play, Play, Play" that inspire you to make a change, I know you'll be thinking about your life differently after reading this book.
Betsy Waliszewski, Product Marketing Manager
Adobe InDesign CS2 One-on-One
Like most O'Reillians I have a collection of books I've picked up at work because they look interesting, but Deke McClelland's Adobe InDesign CS2 One-on-One actually came to my professional rescue. I took it home and started working through the lessons, gradually getting my InDesign bearings using the sample files that Deke provides for following along. Then I had a late night index crisis on a book I was editing, and I realized Dekeís step-by-step instruction was easily translatable to my actual project files. Gotta love a book that teaches you at a relaxed pace when you have time, but can still come to your rescue when you don't.
Colleen Wheeler, Editor - Digital Imaging
As a manager at O'Reilly, I find myself picking up a lot of books to get an overview of a topic. There are some books, though, that I find myself getting deeper into. Computer Security Basics, 2nd Edition, is one of those. The writing is so clear and patient it can be read cover-to-cover by anyone with even a cursory interest in the topic. I especially like the hints sprinkled throughout, page-long sections with bulleted lists of actionable tips and tricks on backups, safe computing, employee security management. The hints on picking passwords and keeping intruders out are readymade for posting on your intranet or for issuing to all employees. Reading this book will make you a more valuable employee, no matter your role, or it may get you started on a new career.
Allen Noren, O'Reilly Media
Although I've been working mostly with Ruby and Rails lately, I still find Perl one of the most powerful tools in my bag. I was skeptical about Perl Hacks when I saw it coming down the pipe, thinking it might be just another collection of obfuscated one-liners. Man, was I wrong. This book is a must-have. This is just the Perl Foo you've been waiting for. For example, there's a hack on Mac::Growl that explains how to trigger slick OS X GUI alerts from your Perl scripts. Perl Hacks demonstrates chromatic's complete mastery of Perl, as well his command of our editorial process. It's a fresh, well-organized look at the power and utility of this essential language.
Rob Orsini, Software Engineer, O'Reilly Media
I have a copy of Makers on my coffee table, and when people stop by, I usually show them the bacon-cooking alarm clock, the Rubik's Cube-solving Lego robot, and dozens of other projects from Makers around the world. But lately, I show the pages devoted to Sathya Jeganathan. Sathya is in Chengalpattu, India, and she made a $100 infant warmer (which usually costs $4000). After making about 15 of them, the infant mortality rate was nearly cut in half. Makers is filled with wonderful, amazing people and creations, but best of all, I think, it's filled with a bit of hope, a glimpse into the future of making.
Phillip Torrone, Associate Editor, MAKE Magazine
As a longtime Flickr user (or what counts as such for the online photo-sharing application that just celebrated its second birthday), I've never had more fun editing a book than I did with Flickr Hacks. Though I knew enough about Flickr when we started working on the book to know that there were a lot more possibilities I didn't know about, Paul and Jim consistently increased the value of the service to me with each new hack they submitted.
What used to be a passing interest has, I'll admit, become an addiction. I organize and share my own photos, consume those of others, and keep tabs on friends, family, and contacts in new ways, and there's no looking back now. Now that the book is in print, I have it open on my desk perhaps a little more often than I should, since playing with the wealth of toys inside no longer qualifies as "research."
Brian Sawyer, Lead Editor for O'Reilly's Hacks Series
It's tax season and that's reminded me of a book I don't turn to often enough, but should keep in the bathroom to consult more often: Online Investing Hacks. Because it's a Hacks book, it's broken up into manageable chunks. I can open it to just about any page and get a piece of advice that even I can follow. Bonnie does a great job of explaining how to use the proper components to make sense of the sometimes overwhelming amount of financial data that's out there.
Suzanne Axtell, Conferences Publicist
I love baseball and analysis. Baseball Hacks gives me both in a very accessible format. I'd like to figure out, before the 2006 season starts, if my favorite team will be better this year than last year. Who is going to be the best pitcher in the majors? Which team will score the most runs? How often does a team that scores more runs beat a team with a lower ERA? These are some of questions I am using hacks 8, 10, 18, 40, 46, 47, 49, 54, 55 to answer. This is great stuff! Impressively, this book provides the tips, tools, and techniques for me to do this analysis. With the first games of the season less than a month away, this book is a welcomed sign that Spring is just around the corner. Statter Up!
Mike Hendrickson, Associate Publisher
One of the books I've used most often recently is Advanced Perl Programming. I've found myself writing code, remembering that this book explained how to do something, and pulling it off of the shelf to browse. When putting together the "Related Articles" code a couple of months ago, I ran into a problem where I had too much useless information. I needed to extract and summarize only the useful information. This book has a whole chapter on language processing with Perl and, sure enough, a couple of the examples in there did just what I needed to do.
chromatic, ONLamp.com and perl.com Editor
Java I/O has been a key book for me for years, providing the concrete information I needed to sort out Java's many options for handling Readers, Writers, and other techniques of getting information, especially Unicode, in and out of my programs. Thanks to its examples and detailed explanations, I was able to write a number of projects which gave me vastly more flexibility than an XML parser could provide, which in turn helped me with my editing for O'Reilly.
Simon St. Laurent, Editor, Systems & Programming Books
This quick reference has solved many problems-- shaving an hour debugging into a quick look up. Just the other day, we couldn't figure out why the group_concat() function was failing. Twenty seconds after we picked up MySQL in a Nutshell, we knew it was due to a version difference.
Jonathan Wellons, Software Developer, Online Production Group
I usually fade about 300 pages into the thousand-page desk-crackers, but some topics need the space. Java Swing is one such example. For my first three or four years of desktop Java development, I frequently dove into this book when the javadocs were dead-ends and I said, "OK, what's the conceptual basis that ties all this together?" Try figuring out table column models or undo/redo without a guide like this...no, don't, it's too hard.
Chris Adamson, ONJava Editor
Even though it's written for sys admins, Time Management for System Administrators has a lot of good info for anyone who has to handle client requests in a potentially chaotic situation. Like any time management book, it's best read with an eye for tips that work for you, rather than trying to follow it as gospel. Lots of the underlying ideas are similar to concepts discussed in Getting Things Done and on 43folders.com, but there are definitely new tricks here. I like the tips and examples of how to be more effective in some of your human interactions at work. If this book had been out during my days as a tech support supervisor, I would've made it required reading!
Terrie Miller, Online Manager for MAKE Magazine
I keep a few reference books on CSS near my desk at all times, but none of them get used more than Cascading Style Sheets: The Definitive Guide. Its section on floated elements alone was integral in my learning of the concept. For a deeper understanding of the how and why of formatting on the web (as opposed to quick, incomplete answers), turn to this book. Read more.
Mark J. Levitt, Senior Web Producer, Online Publishing Group
Anyone looking to understand the internals of MySQL and truly problem solve with the server would be a fool not to read High Performance MySQL cover to cover at least once. For a moderately small book, it packs an amazing punch. Seasoned users are able to get the most out of this book while beginners can use it as a wake up call to how far they can take their learning. This book does a wonderful job of singling out key parts of the internals in order to design better databases and queries. While MySQL continues to evolve, the information in this book will stay relevant for a number of years. Read more.
Ryan Grimm, Software Developer, Information Systems
Some days, Windows behaves itself and purrs like a kitten; other days, it lurches and crashes like an old Model T, refusing to shut down, refusing to start, or just plain refusing to do anything. When trouble strikes, I reach for David Karp's Windows XP Annoyances for Geeks. The thing is packed with solutions, workarounds, and little-known tweaks that will make Windows work right. And if not, at least it will show you how to scrape your drive clean and start over. Full disclosure #1: I edited this book. Full disclosure #2: I learned a ton about Windows. This is my first stop when the bits hit the fan. Read more.
Robert Luhn, Executive Editor, Consumer Books Division
The Digital Photography Pocket Guide was the first book I pulled off the shelf when I started at O'Reilly. The book has been an invaluable resource, and I don't take my camera anywhere without it. It's like having a professional photographer along when I need advice on how to capture the best shot. Read more.
Craig Palmer, Web Producer, Online Publishing Group
I strongly recommend Word Hacks for even the casual Word user. This book will show you how to dig underneath the hood and unleash the program's most powerful capabilities. My favorite hack? Search Google without ever leaving Word. Full Disclosure: I was the editor of Word Hacks. Read More
Brett Johnson, Associate Editor Consumer Books