Photoshop Masking and Compositing

David Mejia: Illustrator, designer, long-time Photoshop geek and Raleigh InDesign User Group member. Check out his portfolio at


You’re probably wondering “Another Photoshop book?” Well if you’re like me, the two areas covered in this book occupy a lot of my productive time when designing or illustrating. Masking, especially in highly detailed areas (like hair!) can be a real headache. You might already have CS6, which has some really awesome built-in tools for detail masking, but if not then the techniques in this book could really save some time. [Read more…]

Picture Perfect Practice: A Self-Training Guide to Mastering the Challenges of Taking World-Class Photographs By Roberto Valenzuela

Picture Perfect Practice

Photography isn’t reality. Taking a photo that truly captures the moment unfolding in front of you is different than simply seeing it. Oftentimes the results you get are disappointing. Roberto Valenzuela’s Picture Perfect Practice provides a much-needed set of guidelines that enable you to make art in your camera everywhere you go. [Read more…]

Book Review: Adobe Illustrator CS5 – One-on-One by Deke McClelland

Okay, I’ll admit it, I never buy these kind of tutorial books to read them cover to cover and I don’t know anyone who does. If you’re like me you just flip to the section that covers what it is you need to get done at the time, usually late at night with the project due the next day! What I found was a book that was very well organized and logically laid out starting with basics like artboards and selection transforming all the way to more involved techniques like gradient mesh, Live Paint and preparing files for print, web and Photoshop – who knew! [Read more…]

Fitness for Geeks

This book aims to get us out from behind a computer screen, and get moving in the way we were originally designed to do so. The author addresses  the all too common modern geek lifestyle of living on coffee, junk food from the office snack bar, and processed take-out food; all while we’re behind computer monitors and televisions from early in the morning until late at night. [Read more…]

Learning PHP, MySQL, JavaScript, and CSS: A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating Dynamic Websites

PHP, MySQL & Javascript:  A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating Dynamic Websites


This book is a very useful introduction to three of the core aspects necessary for web programming. It is also handy as a textbook as it has questions at the end of each chapter. It is easy to understand and well-written. I noticed that the author has release a new book (©2012) that adds CSS to the title, another vital component for web design. Appropriate for self-study, introduction and reference. [Read more…]

High Performance MySQL: Optimization, Backups & Replication

High Performance MySQL:  Optimization, Backups & Replication


This book appears to be the result of the accumulative experiences of three premiere experts in the field of database administration – MySQL style. It is written is such a way that a MySQL application developer can self-teach himself numerous ways to optimize application performance and the system operating performance as well. They do this by training you to understand the internal workings of MySQL. Very in-depth, yet written so that one that is beginning database development (i.e. knows something about MySQL) can easily understand and be appreciative of the teachings contained throughout this book, many of which are actual case studies that any Database Administrator can use to gain expertise in monitoring his/her own database. [Read more…]

Twitter API: Up and Running

Reviewed by Joy King, veteran Air Force Mainframe Computer Operator & Database Administrator “back in the day” (I remember punch cards for Pete’s sake!) and current Computer Programming student at a Durham Tech Community College as well as Raleigh InDesign User Group member.

Twitter API: Up and Running


First I’d like to say that the easy readability of this book must be due to the author’s Masters of Science in Human-Computer Interaction. His history of Twitter in Chapter 1 is excellent. Up front he tells you that while you don’t need prior programming knowledge and that with the samples provided in the book you can piece together your own app. [Read more…]

Vector Basic Training

Vector Basic Training

I had the good fortune of attending Von Glitschka’s Drawsigner Lecture over a year ago. In person, Von is warm, witty and informative. In addition to being an incredibly creative designer, his mastery of drawing in Adobe Illustrator is second to none. I remember watching a 10-second clip of a promo of the dvd that accompanies this book at that lecture. No joke -merely from watching that clip, my use of Adobe Illustrator improved. His work has won many design and illustration awards and has appeared in publications such as HOW Design, Print, Graphis, American Illustration, Society of Illustrators, Communication Arts and LogoLounge II, III, IV, V and VI. He has spoken nationally at many forums (including Adobe MAX Conference among others.)  In short, time spent with this book and accompanying DVD is time well spent. [Read more…]

Book Review: “Being Geek: The Software Developer’s Career Handbook”

Many geeks face the all-too-common struggle of successfully interacting with co-workers and employers. The days of a geek are often spent alone, behind a giant computer screen. Geeks often prefer interacting with the computer over interacting with people face-to-face… Because people are messy and act in unpredictable ways. Bosses come and go, companies shut down, but the computer is always there. It is a place of mental safety. [Read more…]

Book Review: The Moment it Clicks

OverviewThe Moment It Clicks: Photography secrets from one of the world's top shooters

Whether you know it or not, you’ve probably seen Joe McNally’s photos. His work has been in Time Magazine, National Geographic, Entertainment Weekly, Life, Sports Illustrated and many others. His most well-known series is “Faces of Ground Zero — Portraits of the Heroes of September 11th” -a collection of portraits taken shortly after 9/11. Awards and accolades go to him the way other people accumulate coffee cups. American Photo magazine has listed him as one of the hundred most important people in photography. Blending high-level photo philosophy with technical how-to knowledge, The Moment It Clicks is one of the best books on photography that I’ve come across. [Read more…]