Our choice of new Computing books in May

This month’s selection of computer books is very diverse. For the Office crowd, there are new books on Excel and Office for iPad and Mac; for the more games-oriented, there are books on Minecraft and HTML5 gaming. For those after general information on the interaction of technology in society, there are books on libraries’ role in the digital future and the mass surveillance society cultivated by public participation in sites such as Google and Facebook. Happy reading!

Syndetics book coverPower Excel with MrExcel : 567 Excel mysteries solved / Bill Jelen.
“Updating the previous edition’s tips to include features in Excel 2013, this new edition of Mr. Excel’s popular software guide even incorporates suggestions sent in by readers. Each featured topic has a problem statement and description, followed by a broad strategy for solving the problem. Mr. Excel then walks readers through the specific steps to solve the issue. Alternate strategies are also provided, along with common scenarios that trip users up, leaving readers with not only answers to their specific dilemmas but also new and quicker ways to use formulas and spreadsheets.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverOffice for iPad and Mac for dummies / by Peter Weverka.
“…Are you a Mac user who isn’t accustomed to working with Microsoft Office? Consider this friendly guide your go-to reference! Written in plain English and packed with easy-to-follow, step-by-step instructions, Office for iPad and Mac For Dummies walks you through every facet of Office, from installing the software and opening files to working with Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and beyond. Plus, you’ll discover how to manage files, share content and collaborate online through social media, and find help when you need it… If you’re an Apple enthusiast who wants to get the most out of Microsoft Office, Office for iPad and Mac For Dummies shows you how simplifying and organizing your work or personal life is just a click away.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverCoding for dummies / by Nikhil Abraham.
“…No coding experience is required for Coding For Dummies, your one-stop guide to building a foundation of knowledge in writing computer code for web, application, and software development… Using foundational web development languages like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, it explains in plain English how coding works and why it′s needed. Online exercises developed by Codecademy, a leading online code training site, help hone coding skills and demonstrate results as you practice. The site provides an environment where you can try out tutorials built into the text and see the actual output from your coding… If you′re a student looking for an introduction to the basic concepts of coding or a professional looking to add new skills, Coding For Dummies has you covered.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBuild an HTML5 game : a developer’s guide with CSS and JavaScript / by Karl Bunyan.
“If you already have even basic familiarity with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, you’re ready to learn how to build a browser-based game. In Build an HTML5 Game, you’ll use your skills to create a truly cross-platform bubble-shooter game – playable in both desktop and mobile browsers… You’ll learn how to: send sprites zooming around the screen with JavaScript animations, make things explode with a jQuery plug-in, use hitboxes and geometry to detect collisions, implement game logic to display levels and respond to player input… Exercises at the end of each chapter challenge you to dig in to the bubble shooter’s code and modify the game… Learn to create a complete HTML5 game right now and then use your newfound skills to build your own mega-popular, addictive game.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA beginner’s guide to writing Minecraft plugins in JavaScript / Walter Higgins.
“The book is for anyone who wants to learn how to modify Minecraft–no previous programming experience required! The book uses JavaScript, a popular programming language for creating websites and scripting. Aimed at kids who already play Minecraft, this guide will teach coding through a series of “Recipes” (the term used in-game when crafting new objects)… The goal of each Recipe/chapter is to introduce a new JavaScript concept or expand upon a previously introduced concept. The author will present each recipe as a useful addition to the game while gently introducing programming concepts in an approachable style.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBeginner’s guide to digital painting in Photoshop : characters.
Beginner’s Guide to Digital Painting: Characters is a comprehensive guide for artists wishing to create convincing and detailed characters. It features established artists such as Charlie Bowater (concept artist at Atomhawk) and Derek Stenning (freelance concept artist and illustrator, with clients such as Marvel Entertainment and Nintendo) who share their industry experiences by covering such aspects as posing characters, choosing the correct costumes, conveying emotions, and creating suitable moods. Conclusive step-by-step instructionsmake this an invaluable resource for artists looking to learn new skills, as well as those pursuing the next level.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBeginner’s guide to character creation in Maya / written by Jahirul Amin.
“Autodesk’s Maya is the industry standard software used in the movie and video game business for creating assets. In Beginner’s Guide to Character Creation in Maya, the artist will learn transferable skills for modeling anatomy with Maya and Mudbox, covering topics such as texturing and shading skin, hair, and eyes; kinesiology; deformation; locomotion; and lighting. Step-by-step guidance by expert tutor Jahirul Amin (3D trainer at Double Negative, London) will also detail how to create links, constraints, and controls for animation. With over 30 hours of downloadable videos, this is a book of amazing value that you won’t want to miss” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBiblioTech : why libraries matter more than ever in the age of Google / John Palfrey.
“Libraries today are more important than ever. More than just book repositories, libraries can become bulwarks against some of the most crucial challenges of our age: unequal access to education, jobs, and information. In BiblioTech, educator and technology expert John Palfrey argues that anyone seeking to participate in the 21st century needs to understand how to find and use the vast stores of information available online. And libraries, which play a crucial role in making these skills and information available, are at risk. In order to survive our rapidly modernizing world and dwindling government funding, libraries must make the transition to a digital future as soon as possible–by digitizing print material and ensuring that born-digital material is publicly available online. Not all of these changes will be easy for libraries to implement. But as Palfrey boldly argues, these modifications are vital if we hope to save libraries and, through them, the American democratic ideal.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverData and Goliath : the hidden battles to collect your data and control your world / Bruce Schneier.
“Your cell phone provider tracks your location and knows who’s with you. Your online and in-store purchasing patterns are recorded, and reveal if you’re unemployed, sick, or pregnant. Your e-mails and texts expose your intimate and casual friends. Google knows what you’re thinking because it saves your private searches. Facebook can determine your sexual orientation without you ever mentioning it. The powers that surveil us do more than simply store this information… The result is a mass surveillance society of our own making. But have we given up more than we’ve gained? In Data and Goliath, security expert Bruce Schneier offers another path, one that values both security and privacy. He shows us exactly what we can do to reform our government surveillance programs and shake up surveillance-based business models, while also providing tips for you to protect your privacy every day. You’ll never look at your phone, your computer, your credit cards, or even your car in the same way again.” (Syndetics summary)