Cool Scratch Projects in easy steps is an awesome book. The projects are really impressive. This is a fairly advanced Scratch book. A lot of children now learn Scratch at school and some are ready for something a bit more advanced at home where they have more time available and a bit of support.
I tried out the book with my 9-year-old who has quite a bit of Scratch experience but is more of a tinkerer than an instruction follower! However, he was drawn to the book because it’s packed with neat techniques that he’ll be able to apply if he takes the time to learn them.
The projects, especially the later ones, are very meaty. There’s lots of code to work through and kids need to really pay attention to instructions. The level of difficulty was about right for my son though he found the volume of code quite daunting at first.
The majority of the book gives detailed instructions on exactly what code to enter. This means that kids can create quite impressive projects. Some children won’t understand everything they are entering, but that’s okay, they’ll pick up more over time. My 9-year-old found some of the Scratch blocks quite hard to focus on in the print edition (they’re not all the same size.) I helped him keep track of where he was by reading out instructions and he was fine. It is a lot of information to take in. That’s not a bad thing, following detailed instructions carefully is a great skill to have.
My favourite thing about the book is that it spends lots of time on creating graphics using the paint tool in Scratch. This is something I always try to encourage. In my experience young kids are very happy to experiment with the paint tool and create their own sprites and backgrounds. Then somewhere around age 9 they start to think that the graphics they can create are rubbish and just want to use images they can find online. It’s important to teach kids digital arts skills so that they do have the skill to create graphics that they think are good enough. Cool Scratch Projects spends lots of time on these skills which is fantastic.
The printed edition of the book comes with a pair of 3D glasses because some of the projects involve creating 3D effects. This is a great idea and instantly appealed to my son.
Although the book is recently published it refers to Scratch 1.4 on the Raspberry Pi. Scratch 2 is now available on the Pi so you don’t have to use Scratch 1.4. Some projects say that they can’t be completed on the Pi but they can (except on older models.) Technology does keep moving on! At the moment there’s no support for programmatically taking photos on the Pi in Scratch 2 (I hope it gets added) and one of the projects does use that feature so you’ll still need Scratch 1.4 on the Pi for that one. The book also includes a taster of Scratch Jr. I guess this is so younger siblings can join in.
Cool Scratch Projects in easy steps by Sean McManus is a fantastic book for more experienced scratchers. The steps are fairly easy, but there are a lot of them! Kids will need to invest quite a bit of time to work through all the projects which makes the book good value. I often say that there’s no hurry to move children on to text-based programming languages. Cool Scratch Projects is a great way to keep kids on the Scratch platform for longer.
You know those really amazing Scratch projects that kids are always in awe of? This book is a great step towards learning the skills that are needed to be able to develop projects like that.
Review by the Chartered Management Institute on Effective Communications in easy steps
Book review by James Kelly – Effective Communications in easy steps, by Nick Vandome and John S C McVey
This easy to follow practical guide in a proven and popular series aims to help managers draw up and follow communications strategies to get across their key messages in the workplace and outside. One of the authors has already written over 80 practical guides for the In East Steps series and has clearly honed his skills in effective and clear writing. Aimed at new and middle managers, this text would also be useful to those senior managers who may have missed out first time round on I.T. skills and want to catch up on the web, U-tube and social media.
There are two welcome guidelines from the authors in the contextual introduction, firstly that managers must take an ethical approach, being honest and open, in all communications and secondly that plain English should always be used.
The various channels of communication are reviewed and the following chapters then give step-by-step instructions, with illustrations in colour, on creating a communications strategy and, usefully, guidance on how to evaluate its effectiveness, a key task in the plan-do-review cycle. The plain English message is reinforced in a chapter on avoiding corporate jargon. The authors then move on to specifically electronic communications, with instructions on setting up a website and writing for the web. There is a useful chapter to help managers decide whether to buy in a content management system and if they do so, how to project manage the process and remain in control. Finally two short chapters cover using video in embedded form or via YouTube and how to get the best from social media.
The ‘In easy steps’ series are clearly printed with icons for hot tips, things to beware of, and things to remember. They are also available to download and further resources are available on the publishers’ website. Although the series is published in England and the majority of the examples and further resources are British, the text uses US spelling, perhaps a reflection of the international distribution of this popular and useful series.
4 stars: Strong, strongly recommended for managers and leaders
Review by the Chartered Management Institute on Effective Negotiations in easy steps
Book review by Andy Cowe – Effective Negotiations in Easy Steps, Tony Rossiter
In 130 pages of large well-spaced text with lots of cartoon-type illustrations, Effective Negotiation lives up to its claim of treating the subject in easy steps.
It is a simple and readable introduction to negotiation that is suitable for a junior manager seeking to prepare themselves to take part in a negotiation. The text is broken into 15 colourful short chapters, each of which concludes with a summary that reprises the content of the chapter. Given that there are lots of bullet points and numbered lists in each chapter, the book takes the form of an expanded sort of checklist, but at this basic level it is none the worse for that. It is certainly easy to read and would be useful for having a quick recap of essential points before actually embarking on a negotiation. The key messages are the need for preparation prior to the event, thoughtful presentation of your case and keep working for the win-win solution.
Its approach practical and accessible to a reader who wants a short focused guide to the subject. The author provides a few examples from his previous career as a diplomat and civil servant so it’s a pity he wasn’t able to successfully negotiate with the publisher to use English (as opposed to American) spellings in a book published and produced in the UK. This however is a minor quibble in an otherwise entertaining little book.
4 stars: Strongly recommended for a young or inexperienced manager who is about to be involved in a negotiation
Reader reviews from Amazon.co.uk on WordPress in easy steps
“I bought this book in the hope of building my own blog and it really helped me learn the basics, as well as some cool features like building my own online store. I never knew you could actually do so much with WordPress. The book starts off slow and introduces the user to WordPress at a beginners pace, which was great for me.
Later in the book it gets into more advanced features, so this could be handy for those wanting to learn even more things you can do with the tool. I am a big fan of the In Easy Steps series, and this book did not disappoint.”
“WordPress is something I have been looking to learn for a while, and this book has really been handy to help me get my website off the ground. I knew quite a lot of things at the start from previous experience, however it really went from the basics all the way to advanced detail. It went through all the best plugins and how to set them up correctly and there is also a bit where you can create your own theme, which I may try at a later date.”
“Easy to read and understand, would recommend for anyone looking to set up their own WordPress website, hosted or not.”
Reader review from Amazon.co.uk on Windows 10 in easy steps
“5 Stars – An excellent book with all the basics to get started on Windows 10. […] This is perfect for somebody who wants [Windows 10] now or is thinking of installing or buying the new OS“
“A well-thought-out book for the young and new to coding, which can be confidently given to those without programming parents to support them, and will get the parents programming, too!”
Review on Effective Time Management in easy steps, by the Chartered Management Institute
“This book is very simple and easy to understand. It takes the reader through some simple steps in time management. This book is aimed at all levels of management with some helpful advice on delegating, planning and reflection. The book is clearly laid out with step by step advice, set out in a concise order with clear illustrations.
The ideas in this book are easy to apply and will help managers and staff alike. The techniques are simple yet very effective. This is a five star book and a must read for all managers.
5 stars: Exceptional, a “must read” for any manager or leader”
The Bellamarine Mac User Group’s review of iPad in easy steps, 5th edition:
Reader review from Amazon.co.uk on jQuery in easy steps
“I really enjoyed going through the fundamentals of jQuery. Clear, concise, in colour and makes you feel at ease. Highly recommended.”
Reader reviews from Amazon.co.uk on Windows 8.1 in easy steps
“I now have more information on what Windows 8.1 can do for me. Basic understanding on the various apps. Have still got a lot more to read, but I would definitely advise those who have Windows 8.1 to purchase this book. It certainly made life a lot easier. This book has taken a lot of the frustration away now I have more understanding.”
“This is a great clear easy to use guide to Windows 8.1. I love it and would happily recommend it to any one looking for such a helpful publication!!”
Reader review from Amazon.co.uk on Python in easy steps
“A well written and engaging book. Definitely a recommended option for someone who wants to discover python. It covers most of the key aspects of the programming language and provides lots of examples. Just what a beginner needs!”
Reader review from Amazon.co.uk on Building a PC in easy steps
“The book is very clear and understandable. The photos are clear and easy to follow to build your own PC.”
Reader reviews from Amazon.co.uk on CSS3 in easy steps
“I’ve been writing CSS for many years but I picked it up as I went along. The copious documentation on the internet is a bit daunting, so when I thought I should get up to speed with CSS3 I bought this book. It doesn’t just cover the new stuff and, indeed, it assumes no knowledge of CSS. However, I found that within a few pages it was explaining things I’d never fully grasped. Mr McGrath has managed to pack a fantastic amount of information into about 200 pages. It is all clearly explained and well indexed and there is a Handy Reference section. What is remarkable is that this book, in full colour (and printed in the UK), is cheaper than most computer manuals printed in black only. It is an excellent book and a considerable bargain. The publisher and author are to be congratulated.”
“Another good book from this publisher. Gives you a large step into understanding css3. Excellent for beginners like myself – just what a beginner needs.”
Reader reviews from Amazon.co.uk on Windows 8.1 for seniors in easy steps
“Very easy to understand and put into practice. A must for silver surfers at a good price compared to other books.”
“I was upgrading my Windows 8 computer to Windows 8.1 but before attempting this decided to read about this before updating. As a pensioner and fairly conversant with a PC I read the reviews on this book and seemed a good buy so ordered this. This arrived on time and I read enough to take the plunge and update. This took several hours to do and without the book would have been difficult. The procedure was well explained and easy to follow and the Quick Tips on the side of each page gave useful hints that you would not know without reading the book. Has proved very useful on several occasions so far when using Windows 8.1. Would recommend this book. It was so well written and easy to follow that without I feel I would have had a problem as the tips help you navigate around the system as some things are totally different to Windows 8. Well worth buying.”
Reader reviews from Amazon.co.uk on iPad in easy steps
“I know there is lots of online help to start using an ipad but you can’t flick backwards and forwards on an ipad at the same time as trying to learn how to use it. This book is very clearly laid out and its level is aimed very accurately at the first time user. It still covers all the details that a non-power user would want. I can now confidently search the net, order online, store my photos, use facetime, send emails etc. Excellent book for the first time user.”
“I cannot fault this book. Well laid out with each of the procedures carefully explained with hints along the way. I have found it an enormous help in getting used to my new iPad and making the most of the numerous functions available. Highly recommended!”
Reader reviews from Amazon.co.uk on Scratch Programming in easy steps
“A very easy to follow book for anyone who has no programming experience. My 8 year old son has no problem following the guide without any adult help – it is written in a clear, child friendly way. For me, as an adult that can only use word processing packages and the web/email etc, this book has proven to be a great introduction into the world of programming. Adult and child can learn together – perfect!”
“I am very keen on programming myself, but I was having trouble coming up with inspiration and ideas for my new Scratch games. I received this book and was immediately impressed with its simple-to-follow and child-friendly instructions. The book is very informative and has clear pictures and diagrams which made it easier for me to re-create the programs on my own computer. I loved the fact that you learnt about different areas of Scratch, and how the book had a range of programs, most of which were easily downloaded or produced. My favourite project from the book was Hangman, as it taught me how to write text on the stage, using a sprite ! I would highly recommend this book to all my friends and any beginner, or even experienced Scratch programmer, to improve or inspire their Scratch projects!”
Reader reviews from Amazon.co.uk on OS X Mavericks in easy steps
“The right amount of information for me. Clear and well laid out. Particularly like the color layout. Recommended.”
“Because of the fiasco that is Windows 8 (just a personal view), I was converting to a Mac and new operating system at the same time. My initial instinct was to get a really comprehensive book and I bought one from the ‘missing manual’ series. I found it cumbersome to use however, and hence I bought the ‘easy steps’ book which is far more visual, a handier size and weight, and contained all that I needed. If you are someone, like me, that’s just wants, even needs on occasion to use a computer with the minimum fuss and maximum ease this is a good choice.”
Reader review from Amazon.co.uk on Excel 2013 in easy steps
“Very helpful book and easy to follow would recommend this publication for beginners and those with experience of earlier versions.”
Reader reviews from Amazon.co.uk on Web Design in easy steps
“Brilliant book covering all the required steps to successfully plan, design, build and measure the success of a website.I work as an account manager for a digital agency and this book provided a great step by step guide on everything from the planning of a site (target audience, goals, purpose, devices) to optimising design, the benefits of using different coding languages and then on to how to measure and track the effectiveness of your site. Would suit an absolute beginner and allow them to build a site from scratch – but also works as a great aid to anyone working on websites and the best practices that could be used to optimise a site. Actually read mine whilst taking a few notes of hints to implement once back in the office. Will certainly pass it around the office!”
“The book is incredibly easy to read and follow. As a beginner about the subject I thought this book covered all the topics I wanted to discover and learn more about. From SEO to CMS or even CSS, HTML, testing etc etc, thanks to this book you will not waste your time gathering the information bits by bits from different sources. All you need is clearly categorised in chapters. It’s a ‘must-have’ book, whether you’re new at web design or not. Invaluable information regarding website navigation and effective design. HTML and CSS are covered in a way that it is easy for anyone to really understand and put it into practice! It is a great tool as well to tweak a wordpress theme for example if you use WordPress as a CMS. If you dont know what a CMS is then buy the book because it is also explained in it ! I find the book quite exhaustive and it comprises all you ever need to know for your first or even second website! This is a clearly-written guide to Web Design. Beautifully presented book with great layout, text and illustrations. The reminders, tips and warnings are very useful! I recommend it to anyone interested in Web Design!”
Reader reviews from Amazon.co.uk on iPad for seniors in easy steps
“Bought this for my Dad who’s in his 80s and it fits the bill perfectly. He’s been using his iPad for a while, and managed to upgrade it to iOS 7 without my help! However, his generation does like a physical reference manual which is clear without being patronising, and which uses analogies such as ‘typewriters’ which increase the clarity in a context that can be understood from his experience. As Dad can now look stuff up when stuck rather than wait until I am next visiting or on the telephone he can make quicker progress now. Recommended.”
“Very easy to follow and does not take things for granted. Simple terminology , well presented with clear graphics. Excellent value for money. It has saved me lots of frustration when trying to discover how to use my ipad especially as I am from the ‘old school’ and feel lost without some kind of manual. I would strongly recommend this to anyone who knows almost nothing about iPads and is worried that they may not be able to ‘use’ one. Still have lots to explore and try out but you can dip into the appropriate section of the book to give self contained explanations of what you want to do and how to do it.”
Reader review from Amazon.co.uk on Office 2013 in easy steps
“I always buy the Easy Steps books when I change a computer or buy any new software. I love the layout and it is very easy for a know some things but not a lot, kind of person.”
Reader review from Amazon.co.uk on Samsung Galaxy Tablet in easy steps
“As described well illustrated and easy to follow, a good purchase and if like myself a little help is required to master this tablet, then an ideal purchase.”
Reader review from Amazon.co.uk on Sage 50 Accounts 2013 in easy steps
“The book is clear and easy to understand and the coloured tips are great and point you in the right direction.”
Reader reviews from Amazon.co.uk on Android Tablets in easy steps
“OPENS UP the android world , an easily read book. Straight forward the information on androids is everywhere, but this is by far the BEST.”
“Again, this author has the edge over all other books on the subject. So clear and easy to understand, I would recommend.”
Reader review from Amazon.co.uk on Word 2013 in easy steps
“It does everything a 78 year old expects of it. I have purchased ‘in easy steps’ before and found them very informative”
Reader review from Amazon.co.uk on Raspberry Pi in easy steps
“This is just great! It spells all the stages of setting up, what not to do and what you MUST do in very clear steps. I think it should be incorporated in every school library.”
Reader review from Amazon.co.uk on Photoshop Elements 11 in easy steps
“If you are just starting out with elements 11 then this book is for you. There is a lot that can be daunting and this book can guide you without too much jargon and speak to you in plain english. Easy to follow. Get it!”
Reader reviews from Amazon.co.uk on Android Tablets for seniors in easy steps
“I was dithering about whether or not to join the tablet generation but, after reading this book, I realised there was nothing to get alarmed about and went ahead and bought my first tablet. The descriptions in the book are simple to understand, easy to follow, and by no means condescending. I would recommend this book to anyone who, like me, has doubts about their ability to cope.”
“Brilliant book. A lot of Tablets come with very poor users instruction manuals which are hard to read, poorly translated and about as much use as a chocolate teapot. This guide is excellent for us oldies who are not as computer savvy as today’s younger generation. I bought this and found it to be extremely helpful. It covers all topics and is easy to follow with step by step instruction and tips. A good buy and well worth the money.”
Reader review from Amazon.co.uk on Photoshop Elements 12 in easy steps
“Thank you for making this book. It was really an easy steps book, and easy to understand. Thank you editor.”
Reader review from Amazon.co.uk on iPhone in easy steps
“The publishers of this book who are also the distributors got off to a good start by sending it out by first class post on the day it was ordered. There is nothing more frustrating than having a new toy and not being able to play with it properly and this was immediately overcome by their prompt service. Impressive. The guide itself is easy to follow and full of tips, notes about matters worth remembering and warnings of things you should be aware of. The chapters are denoted by little colour coded tabs on the side of the page and the inside front cover has quick tips for using the iphone. The book begins with a chapter on basic information about the iphone and gives the reader a tour of the buttons, the screen and the operation of the smartphone. This is followed by chapters covering the phones functions, messaging, obtaining,playing and managing music and video, photos and video, the standard apps., web browsing, emailing, the accessibility settings , working with apps. and troubleshooting. Every page has good pictures so that the reader can see what the phone screen should look like during a particular operation being described .The book is easy to read and easy to follow. It does what it says on the cover.”
Reader review from Amazon.co.uk on Mac Basics in easy steps
“Everything you need to know for your first year with a Mac Desktop or Laptop. Have already bought a copy for a friend.”
Reader review from Amazon.co.uk on Laptops for seniors in easy steps
“What Widows 8 newcomers need. Excellent. All those tricky bits that throw newcomers are simply explained. I couldn’t manage without it.”
Customer feedback on Computing for Seniors in easy steps, 5th edition from Cynthia and Dave Christie, Wellington, New Zealand
“We have just borrowed a copy of this book from our local library. We are both low tech seniors (our 7 year old grandkids outshine us no probs!) but we have found your book very helpful without talking down to us.”
Customer feedback on C++ Programming in easy steps, 4th edition from Dinesh Fernando, Rugby, UK
“An excellent introduction to a complex subject, Thoroughy recommended.”