Microsoft PowerPoint 2010 Plain and Simple

Author: Nancy Muir
Publisher: Microsoft Press
Pages: 272
ISBN: 978-0735627284
Aimed at: Newcomers to PowerPoint
Rating: 4
Pros: Well organised and easy to follow
Cons: Screendumps sometimes too small
Reviewed by: Janet Swift

These days PowerPoint is part of every developer's toolkit - will this book help you get started?

Author: Nancy Muir
Publisher: Microsoft Press
Pages: 272
ISBN: 978-0735627284
Aimed at: Newcomers to PowerPoint
Rating: 4
Pros: Well organised and easy to follow
Cons: Screendumps sometimes too small
Reviewed by: Janet Swift

As a developer you will often have to present your ideas to others and these days PowerPoint is the almost ubiquitous vehicle for doing so. So mastering this tool is a good idea.

All this book assumes is prior knowledge of some Windows application software. If you've used PowerPoint 2003 and earlier it will help you upgrade and equally if you have used another of the Microsoft Office components in 2003 it will help you overcome the initial barrier of the new look and feel of the Office Ribbon that was introduced in Office 2007 and has been only slightly modified in the 2010 versions.

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Section 2 is devoted to what is new in PowerPoint 2010 and will be invaluablele to the experienced user who is upgrading. The new Microsoft Office Backstage that has replaced the Office button of 2007 and gathered all File operations together into a single tab is explained and its innovations such as Additional Themes and SmartArt are introduced. Power users will be pleased by Slide Sections that let you divide up large presentations and there's mention of Broadcast that let you make a live presentation viewable over the web.

What the reader will notice almost immediately is that this book relies on pictures rather  than words. Screen dumps are dotted with numbers and each of these corresponds to a numbered instruction. Although this is a "doing" rather than a "reading" book if you have any prior familiarity with PowerPoint you won't need to follow it slavishly point by point. However, the size at which screendumps are presented means you cannot easily read on-screen text.

The material at the  beginning of Section 3 reiterates the start of Section 2 with "What's Where in PowerPoint 2010 and an introduction to the Office Ribbon - presumably the publishers think that if you are not upgrading you'll skip Section 2!

Although it skips the installation procedure on the grounds that the Office components install pretty automatically, the book adopts a logical structure for the complete beginner. Section 4 looks at the basics of creating a presentation including opening an existing pres. It also introduces the slide sorter and running a pres in Slide Show View. Working with Slide Masters, something that is well worth emphasising early on, is the topic of Section 5 which also looks at Handout and Note Maters. Section 6 follows on with Building a Presentation and Section 7 helpfully introduces the use of the Outline, much the best way to work on multiple slides for which you already have text.    

Sections 8 through 11 are at the next level of competencee. First  comes instructions for managing and viewing slides in both the Slide Pane and the Slide Sorter. This also covers hiding and unhiding slides and using the new Sections facility. Next comes the use of Slide Layouts and themes and then working with tables and charts, inserting clip art, word art, SmartArt, pictures and media objects, Creating a photos album and drawing shapes and boxes. Then we arrive at formatting text, objects and slides, includes grouping and changing the order of objects, something that beginners find difficult.

Sections 12 and 13 introduce animations and slide transitions and then finalizing your slide show - reviewing slides and rehearsing a presentation. Section 14 is devoted to running a presentation including navigating through slides and annotating them. Printing, including inserting headers and footers, print preview is covered in Section 16 and the next one, Sharing on the Web, gives  the new broadcasting facility another mention. The final section, Introducing Advanced PowerPoint Topics discusses saving templates, creating a custom show, working with hidden data with the Document Inspector and customising the ribbon.

This is a comprehensive look at all PowerPoint's facilities and its clear approach makes this useful tool easy to master.


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Bloggers Boot Camp

Author: Charlie White and John Biggs
Publisher: Focal Press
Pages: 224
ISBN: 978-0240819174
Aimed at: Novice bloggers and those contemplating blogging
Rating: 4.5
Pros: Readable, interesting and helpful
Cons: Probably not the only book needed by beginner
Reviewed by: Sue Gee

How well does this book live up [ ... ]



High Performance MySQL 3rd Edition

Authors: Baron Schwartz, Peter Zaitsev & Vadim Tkachenko
Publisher: O'Reilly
Pages: 828
ISBN: 978-1449314286
Aimed at: MySQL DBAs, but useful for developers too
Rating: 5
Pros: Really strong technical tips and discussions
Cons: Some topics could benefit from more detailed discussion
Reviewed by: Kay Ewb [ ... ]


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