Monthly ArchiveMarch 2007

Fiction 28 Mar 2007 15:35

Storm Front

coverStorm Front (Book One of the Dresden Files)
Jim Butcher

I was driven to read this book by the recent SciFi channel version of this series (“The Dresden Files”). I watched the first episode of the TV series, then I went to the library and grabbed the first book of the series (which is not the same story as the TV episode).

My thoughts: it’s a bit of “Buffy”, a bit of “Harry Potter” and a bit of “Magnum, P.I.”. Our hero, aptly named Harry, is a wizard that manages (just barely) to earn a living by acting as a free-lance consultant to people in need of magical expertise; this can mean people who need to find something or the police looking for a murderer. Harry is, in fact, the only wizard listed on the yellow pages in Chicago; you’d expect business to be better. In this first book, Harry is hired by a worried wife to look for a missing husband, and by the police to look for the person responsible for a particularly gruesome double-murder.

The premise sounded good; good enough to make me interested in reading the book, anyway. The execution… not so much. Everything feels a bit “cliché”, the characters are very predictable (as are some plot threads) and the language is a bit overdone.

Still, there’s some promise there, and there seems to be some back story for the characters waiting to show up; also, maybe the author will find his footing in the next instalments. I plan on giving the book series one more chance, but I’m not so sure about the TV series.

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Technical 26 Mar 2007 16:11

Cascading Style Sheets

coverCascading Style Sheets
Eric A. Meyer

This book is an excellent introduction to CSS for anyone who’s still writing web pages using plain HTML and lots of tables; it’s also a very good book for anyone who learned CSS “the hard way” (that is, by looking at other pages, copying, adapting and hacking at files). It acts not only as a good reference to the several CSS elements, selectors and other keywords, it also shows you the theory behind how they work and why they were designed how they were.

Because of that, this is a good book to be read from cover to cover; not only to be kept as a desk reference (although it is great for that, too). One point to mention is that there should be a new version at some point in the near future, as there are many, many references to Internet Explorer 6 throughout the book (mostly in sentences such as “this selector is supported by all modern browsers except IE6″), and IE7 changes the game a bit.

One slightly annoying thing about this book: it would benefit greatly from a more attentive editor. There are lots of small mistakes in several chapters, such as text referring to images that don’t show exactly what the text says, or CSS items with different names in code examples and in the text that refers to them. It’s not a serious problem, but it’s distracting, and it seems to be more common in later chapters than in the earlier ones.

This doesn’t detract from the usefulness of the book, though; it’s still a great resource to anyone working in the field.

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