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Meryl K. Evans "Content Maven behind meryl.net" (Plano, TX)
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Google: The Missing Manual
Google: The Missing Manual
by Sarah Milstein
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 18.24
31 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Recommended guide to Google, July 7 2004
The super search engine has a multitude of features many don't know about. The authors do a first-rate job of describing its features and demonstrating how to use them.
When I start a search, Google is often the first place I go. Over time, I've learned of its new features and applyied tricks here and there. I have found the words to a song when I could only remember a handful of words. The song is no rock 'n roll hit or anything played on the radio.
Heck, save money with Google. A search engine that saves money? Indeed. Froogle is the word. Enter the item and it provides results with prices. I use it for comparison shopping to ensure I get the best deal. Thanks to Froogle, I located a hard to find item for my niece's birthday gift.
The book covers every trick I've learned and read about and taught me a few more. A call comes through, but the person doesn't leave a message. The CallerID shows the phone number and a company name, but it doesn't ring a bell. When I enter the phone number in Google, it provides three results (boy, talk about bad luck as a couple of companies who had the phone number went out of business) and I learn who called as the name that appeared the telecommunications company who provided the service.
The Google API (application program interface) is not covered although it is mentioned as a resource. The purpose of the book is to show how to use Google from a non-programming and non-techie perspective. The authors have accomplished the goal. They briefly cover using Google on Web sites as a search tool and for Ad Sense.
Those looking for hard-core Google tips using the API obviously won't find it in this book. This is a book for all the non-programmers and non-Web designers. Scanning the book takes little time and it's an excellent reference since it's well organized in five parts: techniques, unknown Google, search tools, Google for Webmaster, and an appendix with resources. Also extra nice is the authors' use of other browsers besides Internet Explorer when discussing tools.
One of the reasons the company is popular is for its simplicity. Its home page has hardly anything other than its logo and a search box. The book continues the theme by keeping it simple.

Digital Photography Hacks: 100 Industrial-Strength Tips & Tools
Digital Photography Hacks: 100 Industrial-Strength Tips & Tools
by Derrick Story
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 34.24
32 used & new from CDN$ 0.27

5.0 out of 5 stars Take casual or hobbyist photography skills to another level, June 19 2004
This book from the O'Reilly hack series differs from the other in that it has color images. Since there are colored images, the headers are blue instead of traditional black and that's why the book costs a tad more than the other Hacks books. The landscape photos are spectacular.
The first series of hacks covers tripods, travel-sized to one made for a bike. As expected, learn how to capture magic with flash and take professional portraits with a two flash-setup.
The hacks aren't just hardware-related. Receive tips on taking daylight and nighttime photos with and dealing with kids, whiteboards, passport photos, panoramas, and other objects. Almost 100 pages cover using the computer and software like Photoshop to manipulate images.
A chapter covers camera phones, providing creative ideas for their use. The chapter is brief, so those without an interest or a camera phone won't feel like a few bucks have been wasted. The next time you're bored, go to the projects section near the end of the book for ideas on what to do with photos. Such projects are guaranteed to keep you busy for hours and having fun in the process.
Who will benefit from the book? Those who want to learn the things the pros do without spending time experimenting. Those who aren't afraid to experiment or try new techniques. Those who want to make a camera do things without buying expensive equipment like professionals use. Traditional photographers making the move to digital will benefit. The group that won't benefit are the folks who use a camera on vacation or on special occasions and snap at everything in sight without a worry about how subject is lined up.

Sams Teach Yourself Movable Type in 24 Hours
Sams Teach Yourself Movable Type in 24 Hours
by Molly E. Holzschlag
Edition: Paperback
16 used & new from CDN$ 3.57

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Solid MT Manual, May 31 2004
Moveable Type (MT) is a blogging tool that I've been using on my site for several years. This is not a review of which software is the best, but on the book's usefulness in getting a person up to speed on MT. On that note, the authors do a first-rate job of helping the reader learn how to use MT.
As a person who is experienced in using MT, it provides me with a few tips and tricks I hadn't considered. Since I'm self-taught, I missed a few steps. Besides, there are many things you can do with MT especially when adding plug-ins.
For the person who has never touched a blog or MT in particular, the authors start at the beginning and keep things simple. Realistically, how do you write a book that meets the needs of the experienced while introducing the new users to the software? Experienced users will probably skip the first few chapters where it covers installation and setting up a blog. But the rest covering templates, plug-ins, managing archives, and adding features will more than provide enough to keep anyone busy.
Not only do the authors show how to use MT, but also they offer information on how to write and promote content. The book focuses on v2.x of MT. As I understand it, MT v3.0 doesn't have major changes and much (if not all) of the book is still valuable. You could wait around for a v3.x book, but by the time it comes out the software will have upgraded. Blogging tools upgrade very frequently and I use seldom use the word "very."
The MT online doc is one of the better blogging software documentation I've seen. The book offers accompanying pictures and additional information not found in the help doc. If you like getting all of your information in one place accompanied with visual aids, this is sure to please.

Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tollerance Approach to Punctuation
Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tollerance Approach to Punctuation
by Lynne Truss
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 18.18
135 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Imperfect, but an enjoyable read for grammar geeks, May 18 2004
I'm a stickler for grammar and enjoy finding grammatical errors, typos, and other funny goofs with the English language.
The book hasn't been in America very long and already it has reached the coveted bestseller lists, and this despite retaining its British syntax. In reading the introduction, I was pleased to find the publisher had decided not to change the UK spellings, phrases, and even punctuation rules in the American version of the book. Hurrah! It would have been a nice touch to add a note regarding the differences in the rules of American and British grammar.
A couple of problems do come with leaving the British intact, however. A sign mentioned in the book is racist in American English and should have been omitted. Also present is the word "fag," harmless in Britain, but a prejudicial term in the US. Not everyone realizes this.
Writing this review is stressful knowing the punctuation is going to be checked with a magnifying glass, while I remain true to what I have been taught. Here's an example of where we disagree:
Rule eight in using apostrophe to indicate the plural of words such as do, don't, but, and and. In reviewing my entire library of grammar-related books, a majority indicate the apostrophe is not needed when the context is clear. Thus, use dos, don'ts, buts, ands, Bs, CDs, and so on. Use the apostrophe when minding your p's and q's and trying to remember to cross those t's.
Truss clearly explains the purpose of ellipses and [sic], two items that have confused writers and readers. Since this book has given me a renewed and refreshed outlook into punctuation, I'm on the lookout for more grammar gotchas.
Those hemming and hawing at this review and the thought of saving punctuation won't want to come within ten feet of this book. Someone asked me if this would make a good book for learning the grammar rules. No, not this one. This is more for people who know the rules and need a laugh. It's the 'fiction' of grammar more than a how-to.
The author does discuss how things should be done, but it has essay-style writing about grammar. Hard to say which single book I would recommend to get for the rules since I have many on my shelf.

Putting It On Paper: The Ground Rules for Creating Promotional Pieces that Sell Books
Putting It On Paper: The Ground Rules for Creating Promotional Pieces that Sell Books
by Dawn Josephson
Edition: Paperback
13 used & new from CDN$ 2.92

5.0 out of 5 stars What to do after writing the book, May 16 2004
After pouring sweat over the newest book, it's time for the next step, getting it out there for people to buy. Unlike the Field of Dreams, if you write it, they won't necessarily come unless you're John Grisham, Mary Higgins Clark, or Patricia Cornwell. If you are one of them, "Hi! I'm a fan of your books!" Not all authors have a publisher to do the press releases and promotional material work or at least, enough to spread the news.
In Putting It on Paper: The Ground Rules for Creating Promotional Pieces that Sell Books, Dawn Josephson walks through the steps of developing a book marketing campaign with a press kit which typically includes and she covers all items: a cover letter, a press release, a mock book review, an author bio, a sell sheet, a catalog, a give-away item, and an article. However, it doesn't stop there. The advice isn't just applicable to authors of books. It's also valuable for writers who want to promote newsletters, services, and other published works.

I've seen my share of media kits for books and products. Some don't have any benefit for my needs while others sounds like a stereotypical used car salesman trying to make the sale in an uncomfortable way.
Josephson walks the talk since her book, of course, came with a media kit and it's one of the better ones I've seen. Based on this, the book describes how to create a media kit like hers using questions and answers, key points, templates, and real-life examples using the templates. The examples are exactly what I like to see in a press release and other materials in a media kit.
Publicity is hard that authors and publicists print a general kit and send the same thing to everyone. That might make it easier, but it won't be as successful has tailoring the kit to the recipient's needs. With word processors that do mail merge saving us time, it shouldn't be a problem to give the target reader the information needed.
Creating promotional materials may sound dull, but the book actually gives it a fun spin with its 160 pages of solid advice. Applying the tips and ground rules from Putting It on Paper, any author or publicist run a successful book marketing campaign.

Persuasive Online Copywriting: How to Take Your Words to the Bank
Persuasive Online Copywriting: How to Take Your Words to the Bank
by Bryan Eisenberg
Edition: Paperback
16 used & new from CDN$ 26.20

5.0 out of 5 stars Draw in your customers, May 16 2004
Are you like me in buying every self-help or non-fiction book to bring in more business? One problem. When do we have the time to read them? This book simply won't let that happen with its short chapters, personable style, and valuable information on how to keep visitors clicking until they make the buy.
This book is the how. How to take all the theories and whys discussed by other authors and make it happen. I have trouble with theories because they don't help me visualize the application of such theories. This book stays away from whys and shows you how.
When I started reading the book, several big projects got thrown my way leading to late night reading being replaced by late night working. Every now and then, I took a break and breezed through this book reading many pages in a brief time while gaining new knowledge and a refresher in creative writing as it applies to online copy.
Non-fiction is my thing when it comes to writing. Over time, I have forgotten creative techniques for adding spice to copy. The authors jolted memories of high school English classes where we learned about the different poetic styles (iambic pentameter, alliteration, meter, etc) and to avoid using passive verbs. Not only that, but also they cover how to write for different personalities.
Already getting high traffic to your site? That means you know how to draw attention and interest. But, how are you doing in building desire so that they take action? Hmm... could that be the challenge? The authors drive toward long-term results by engaging your visitors and leading the way for them to get what they need and be satisfied with it.
I'm familiar with a few techniques discussed in the book, but many may not be. It depends on what you do with regard to the Web site. I understand making a Web site usable and getting visitors to the site. My Web site's weakness is converting visitors into customers. Marketing pros may succeed with creating a desire, but have trouble with visitors taking action. The authors cover all the areas needed to persuade via the Internet from "notice me!" to "be happy with me!"
Are you thinking, "More technology! We need more technology to make this work?" We've taken technology for granted, but all it can do is what human programmers program it to do. Technology doesn't know human nature. It doesn't know how to feel or need something. People do and can convey what they know with words. Words make the sale. Technology ensures the words get their say (by quickly loading the Web page and functioning the way it should) and to push the sale through the back-end process (taking the order, managing inventory, etc.). This is where conversion principles apply. The authors share simple processes for improving conversion rates.
A splash page is the "introduction" page to a Web site. It's flashy, colorful, and cool. But it's a waste of time. It gets in the way of the core material. Customers don't care how good your designers are, they care about what you can give them and that comes through words and good online copy. It's time for the online world to get what print mastered many years ago. The authors' witty writing style makes the book enjoyable to read without sacrificing wisdom. They practice what they preach and it's no wonder that GrokDotCom.com, the site behind Future Now, Inc. is a success.
Time has come to let go of what's in it for the company and think of what's in it for the customer. In time, you shall reap the rewards at the bank.

Lessons from a Lifetime of Writing: A Novelist Looks at His Craft
Lessons from a Lifetime of Writing: A Novelist Looks at His Craft
by David Morrell
Edition: Hardcover
16 used & new from CDN$ 3.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Worth taking the time to read, May 16 2004
David Morrell's name may not sound familiar, but his works should spark recognition. Rambo. Brotherhood of the Rose. If you haven't read them, you may have seen or heard of the Rambo movies or TV miniseries. Who can forget Sylvester Stallone as Rambo in his black headband with his exposed sweaty muscular chest holding a machine gun with fury?
Impressive background aside, the knowledge that Morrell imparts is educational and constructive. He tells the story of the writer, Sterling Silliphant of Route 66, who influenced Morrell's career in writing. A story like that sounds dull, but Morrell tells it in a simple and gripping way like the rest of the book.
Morrell provides lessons on literary techniques: plots, structure, and voice. His technique of talking to himself and questioning every aspect of a story is a remarkably easy way to ensure the words and story have purpose.
Most writers don't have time to go to a writer's conference or take a class. This book is a class in itself without the annoying "how to" style of writing. I read this book over a period of several months, absorbing one chapter at a time. Reading it slowly was like getting a mini-lesson each reading session.
Not only does he offers tips on smarter dialogue and overcoming writer's block, but he also talks about the business of writing and what to do when a book is published. "Getting Published and the Business of Writing" alone is worth the price of the book. Every writer who publishes a book will benefit from this chapter.
Whether or not one is interested in screenwriting, the chapter on movies is a humorous adventure as Morrell dives into the red tape-like process for getting Hollywood to bring a book alive on the silver screen. Think writers whose books get Hollwoodified are rich? Think again as Morrell walks through the steps of where all the money goes and it ain't in the writer's pocket.
The genre of Rambo movies isn't my thing, but I'm Morrell's fan after spending time with this book. He's inspiring.

Get Published Today! No More Rejections
Get Published Today! No More Rejections
by Penny C. Sansevieri
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 17.58
11 used & new from CDN$ 11.08

4.0 out of 5 stars Quick advice on what happens after you write the book, May 16 2004
This book's start focuses on e-books and POD (print on demand) publishing. The first part digs into POD, its history, and its publishers' backgrounds. Oh boy, nine publishers from which to pick. 27 tips for finding the right publisher are at the end of "The Publishers!" for guidance on the process.
Sansevieri also covers setting up the business. When you're a writer, you're a business. That means taxes, paperwork, and accounts. This is concisely covered in "Stuff to Do before It's a Book." Get inside tips on actual publishing including POD publishers, covers, images, book titles, isbins (that would be ISBNs), copyright (ick), agents, and the keys to Amazon's secret hot spot.
Tooting your horn is a challenge especially since marketing isn't something to leave for the stars or publishers to handle. We think and dream about our books around the clock, but publishers and their PR people don't. Their focus is spread across many authors and books. Only authors can be sure the marketing gets done and done right.
The marketing section walks through media kits, press releases, expert sheets, postcards, reviews, book clubs, catalogs, and endorsements. Don't panic! The chapters in the book are short and all meat. When it's time to do a press release, open the chapter, follow the instructions, and it's done.
As soon as the last sentence is written, authors feel the load lighten and begin to think of the fun part of writing a book, interviews and appearances. Maybe for some, it's frightening, but think about the people who hear about your book and go buy it straightaway. Thinking big comes too easily especially with the Holy Grail of TV, The Oprah Winfrey Show. Appearing on her show has become a surefire way to a best seller. You and every author in the United States want to chat with Oprah. Sansevieri provides clues for approaching Oprah and other media outlets. She goes as far as naming names and listing contact information.
Staff turnovers and address changes do happen and the information is bound to be out of date at some point. That doesn't make the book any less valuable. Having these details kick starts the search for contacts with hints on where to begin the research.
About 60 pages tackle POD publishing while rest is applicable to any type of publishing. There is little mention of POD after the first section. Get Published Today! has two sides of it: POD books and traditional books making the reader wonder if they were separate books slapped together. Regardless of this, the bulk of the book deals with marketing and media tips every writer needs for a career boost.

Degunking Windows: Clean up and speed up your sluggish PC
Degunking Windows: Clean up and speed up your sluggish PC
by Joli Ballew
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 23.93
21 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars The title says it all, May 16 2004
With all the software reviews I do, I'm constantly cleaning Windows because I hate clutter. The title of the book immediately caught the eye of this organized freak. Get on board with this 12-step program, or rather processes, to clear out the cobwebs and garbage hiding in the chips of your computer.
Unlike most computer books, it's strongly recommended to follow this one from front to back rather than skipping around. Tying a shoe before putting it on a foot is not as effective as doing it the other way around. Though it's possible, it's not going to fit as well and it's harder to put it on.
The book focuses mainly on Windows XP Home and Professional. However, if you're using an earlier version, you can still benefit from the general operations are easily adaptable to most versions.
Each jargon-free chapter with a dash of humor begins with a Degunking Checklist to prepare you for the chapter's content. No need to reinstall your operating system as the program avoids that dreaded step.
Those who rely on their kids' or friends' advice when something goes wrong with the computer will benefit from this book. After getting through the dumping files and programs, cleaning the emailbox, organizing files, tweaking the desktop and registry, and optimizing the hard drive; the computer will be a happy camper and like in those old '50s TV shows where everyone is happy at the end of the episode.
Still freaking out at the mention of "registry?" The authors provide cautions and warnings so you can ensure you're covered.
The formatting is in the style of the 1950s and on the front page is the traditional housewife of the '50s looking overwhelmed at the thought of cleaning up the big mess. It makes me want to put on yellow dishwashing gloves and take the pink feather duster as I get to work. Be gone, crowded Favorites. Shoo, unused programs and files. When you finish the housework, take a load off and treat yourself to a TV dinner.

Change of Heart
Change of Heart
by Jack Allen
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 15.36
10 used & new from CDN$ 2.91

4.0 out of 5 stars Thriller is a good read, May 16 2004
This review is from: Change of Heart (Paperback)
In Change of Heart, Jack Allen introduces a new adventure hero Joshua McGowan who fits the character as an adventurer who becomes the hero. Up against one "bad guy" after another, blindsided by the antihero Mironov, escort to an uncooperative Valeria Konstantinov, Josh outperforms the "other side" always staying one step ahead even when he isn't sure of the enemy.
The fast-paced book is filled with adventure, chilling situations, and a unique ending, not quite what was expected. Although, Josh works for Naval Intelligence, he doesn't have the mind set of following orders, probably why his military career was a bumpy one.
However, becoming an intelligence officer keeps him in the Navy while making use of his ability to think on his feet, make decisions under pressure and do what it takes to accomplish his mission. The situation in the opening chapter gives a good look into his character.
The story is typical of a spy thriller - interesting characters both good and evil, plots and plotters, lots of action. Josh McGowan, however, was able to kill without a second thought and equally capable of falling in love and feeling the emotions that come with caring for someone, makes the reader care about him. He has his vulnerable moments, which is how Valeria gets away from him by taking advantage of one such moment.
You find yourself not just worrying about how he will get out of danger, but also what will happen to him because of what he feels and what he does. Will he continue in his work? Will he be scarred by what happens? Travel with him from Washington to the Kremlin with stops in the ocean and Tokyo. The reader who wants to know more about Joshua McGowan will be delighted to know that a series is planned.

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