|Old News! for 1996||Featuring 75 book reviews and 24 guest applets in 1996.||Click on the images to activate the guest applets.|
The guest applet is an animated GIF I threw together (very quickly) with
GIF Construction Set for Windows.
These are the covers of all nine WWWiz Magazines to date.
This week's featured book is Elements of Web Design by Darci DiNucci with Maria Giudice and Lynne Stiles (Peachpit Press, $40). This is a very visual book which relies mostly on showing how (well designed) Web pages look and then explaining how they were done. They have drawn their examples from some of the very best designers, who have explained their "secrets" of HTML programming. This book covers the gamut of Web page design and includes chapters on the process of Web design, structuring the site, HTML, graphics, optional (non-HTML) page formats, multimedia, interactivity, programming, and designing for change. The book is handsomely designed and replete with color graphics. In all, it was a pleasure to peruse this book. Now, if I only had the time to take their advice...
Also from Peachpit this week, Home Sweet Home Page by Robin Williams and Dave Mark ($15) is a handy little guide for setting up a family Web site. The thrust of the book is on content, rather than technique. (The authors have written the book for novice Web page designers and assume they'll be using Web authoring software.) There are some great ideas and projects for using a Web site as a vehicle for geographically dispersed families to keep in touch. Now I'm curious to see what they'll come up with when they throw in the Kitchen Sink.
This week's featured book is Electronic Highway Robbery by Mary E. Carter with (Peachpit Press, $19). This book contains a concise guide to your rights and obligations vis à vis copywritten material on the Web or other electronic media. Although written for artists, the book applies to any developers of intellectual property and should be of interest to anyone interested in this complex subject. The book is written plain English rather tham legalese and I found it to be interesting and worthwhile.
There are two featured books this week. web concept & design by Crystal Waters (New Riders, $40) is cut from the same cloth as the excellent books by Lynda Weinman. By which I mean that a great deal of attention has been paid to the book's design (by Andrew Mundy). The emphasis in this book is on the design process itself, rather than the resulting HTML code. The book covers the traditional design concepts of Web page layouts then goes into several specialized areas such as storyboarding, using color effectively, playing with type, using or avoiding plug-ins, interactivity, optimizing design for various browsers, and more. There's even a chapter about putting ads on your site. The book is heavily punctuated with color graphics to demonstrate what it's talking about.
This week's featured book is The New Hacker's Dictionary, 3rd Ed. compiled by Eric S. Raymond (MIT Press, $16.50/$32 Hardcover). This is a rather amazing book, being at once a thorough and authoritative dictionary of computer terminology and a totally off-the-wall irreverent (some might say irrelevant) collection a computer hacker aphorisms and jargon. I've recommended computer terminolgy books here before, but this one is about three sigmas out of the norm. It's full of fun and surprising definitions that I supppose make it the most complete lexicon of the legendary computer hacker. The book is thoroughly cross-referenced so that terms defined elsewhere in the book are printed in bold-face. On the whole, I'd say the book is more entertainig than informative, but the information is all there.
This week's featured books are both on Java. One is more general and the other is rather specialized. 1001 Java Programmer's Tips by Mark Chan, Steven Griffith, and Anthony Iasi (Jamsa Press, $50/CD-ROM) is an unusual Java reference. It is designed to ask and answer specific questions about how to do various things in Java. The book is large in both format and pages (over 600). It is full of useful information, arranged in a very accessible way, that you can put to use immediately. Among the many topics covered you'll find detailed discussions of programming for platform independence, multimedia and animation, event processing and exception handling, 2- and 3-D graphics, file I/O and scripting, and multithreaded code. Code is provided where appropriate and range from small snippets to full pages. All of the code in the book is available on the CD-ROM.
Client/Server Programming with Java and Corba by Robert Orfali and Dan Harkey (Wiley, $45/CD-ROM) tackles the question of the state of the CORBA/Java integration in depth while giving a gentle guide to client/server programming. This book introduces CORBA to Java programmers (but not vice versa) and assumes a working knowledge of Java. The book begins with an overview of what Java and CORBA do for each other and ends up with a full-blown Web-based client/server application. The book is specifically written for anyone involved with (or evaluating) client/server programming or distributed objects. The CD-ROM contains all the source code in the book. The book is also supported with an authors' companion Web site. (NOTE: the title and cover art have changed since that shown here.)
This week's first featured book: Converting Content for Web Publishing by Janine Warner, Ken Milburn, and Jessica Burdman (New Riders, $50/CD-ROM). With all the rush to publish everything in the known world on the Web it's surprising this book wasn't published a year ago. In this volume you'll find out how to convert files from the most popular word processing, spreadsheet, desktop publishing, and graphics programs, over a dozen in all. But the book goes beyond that, covering the basics of graphics, HTML, and most importantly, tailoring your converted files so they don't look like they were done by an automatic converison program. If you or your company are contemplating even a modest amount of file conversion, this is definitely the place to start. The PC/Mac compatible CD-ROM contains a variety of Web conversion tools and editors plus some demo software.
I have two gripes about this book, one professioal and one personal. First, this book doesn't include my personal Microsoft Word conversion program of choice, Jill Swift's Ant, which I think is infintely better than Internet Assistant (see my reviews of Ant in WWWiz Magazine for September 1995 and January 1996).
Now I'm going to air a personal grievance, call it sour grapes if you will. Many of the books I get for review, including this one, have sections on resources for Web developers. Well, helllllooooo, anybody home. Just exactly what do you think this is? Only the most complete collection of books for Web developers on the Web with links to authors, books, and publishers. In 16 languages. Updated weekly with a perfect record for over 15 months. With 75 book reviews in 1996, and a dozen so far in 1997. Authors, wake up. (End of tantrum.)
This week's featured book is Hacking Java: The Java Professional's Resource Kit by Mark Wutka (Que, $60/CD-ROM) with a guest review by Stephen Pietrowicz.
Hacking Java by Mark Wutka is an excellent resource for programmers who have been programming in Java for a while and want an overview on a variety of more advanced Java topics. Among the chapters in this book are discussions of the two main Java HTTP servers, Jeeves and Jigsaw, discussions of Java and Corba, examples of how to write protocol Handlers for HotJava, and much more. I especially liked the discussion of writing simple agents using Jeeves servlets. The CD that comes with this book comes with five other books in HTML format, and also a version of Microsoft Visual J++. The amount of really good information in this unique book along with so much more on the CD make this book quite a bargain. It's a welcome addition to my Java book library.Stephen Pietrowicz.
My next feature is at once a book review and a caution. The book featured above also comes with Microsoft Visual J++, Publisher's Edition on the CD-ROM. If this feature is of interest you and/or you are interested in the book Learn Java Now by Stephen Davis ( Microsoft Press, $40/CD-ROM) please read the email I received from Jerry Velders concerning his horrible experience with Visual J++. This may save you a lot of aggravation with Visual J++.
The guest applet program seems to have died an untimely death. I offered authors the opportunity to do a small applet, animated GIF, or whatever to promote their books but there is too little interest and I don't have the time to keep after them. Au revoir, les GIFs.
Keeping with the theme of images, Olin Lathrop's The Way Computer Graphics Works is a good first book on graphics that will guide you through the basics of graphics primitives, 3D vectors and transformations, modeling, animation and more. The author tries to explain some complex subjects like 3D transformations without getting into the mathematics. And he gets away with it through clever use of 3d images to demonstrate the point.
For those who can't be satisfied to look at images and have to get their hands on it, try Classroom in a Book: Adobe Photoshop 4 (Adobe Press, $45/CD-ROM). This book/CD-ROM combinaiton takes you through a series of lessons, using hands-on experience, to teach the basics of working with Adobe Photoshop. The cross-platform CD-ROM (Macintosh and WIndows) contains the files you need to work through the lessons. Of course, you'll have to supply Adobe Photoshop. As you would expect, the book makes extensive use of images to demostrate what to do or how to do it.
I like the idea of small specialized books that cover a particular topic in detail. There's also something to be said for a book that doesn't require a back brace to lift. One recent find is Java Threads by Scott Oaks & Henry Wong (O'Reillly & Associates, $30). This is an in-depth coverage of threaded programming in Java by two Sun Microsystems engineers. Among the topic covered are synchronization, scheduling, and threaded groups. The book is sprinkled throughout with example code.
Professional Web Site Optimization by Michael Tracey and Scott Ware (Wrox Press, $40) is a very interesting book on a subject I have never seen covered elsewhere. The book is aimed primarily at Web server administrators and anyone else responsible for the server. It focuses on the many aspects of Web server speed. The book begins with an overview of the factors that affect Web site performance. This is from the point of view of the individual Web page and should be of interest to anyone with a Web site. From there the book goes into some detail on networks and servers, including optimizing the network and the Internet connection. There are also chapters devoted to each of the big three server platforms (UNIX, Macintosh, and Windows NT) detailing the advantages and disadvantages of each and how to best use each one. Finally, to my surprise and joy, there is a chapter on modeling server performance. (I joy over modeling, not servers in particular.) Overall, I'd say this is a serious book on a complex subject and is not for the casual reader.
Java Network Programming, a new book published by Manning Publications
is a great resource
for people would like to know more about using Java's networking classes. It
gives a clear explanation of how to create servers and clients, and goes into
detail that some of the other "Here's everything about Java" books can't go
into. If you know something about networking already, there is some good
information in this book for you too. This book goes the extra step by
answering people's "second round" of questions they usually have about
networking. By that I mean, usually you can find explanations about how to
write clients and servers, but that's about it. If you have follow on
questions, most books make you go elsewhere. Java Network Programming takes
that extra step and gives you an introduction to cryptography and issues in
writing fairly complex clients and servers. It gives special attention to
Java specific areas such as stream filters and RMI. This is a book that gets
a lot of action around the office here... people are constantly borrowing it.
I highly recommend it.
Keep in mind there are two books named Java Network Programming. The other book is published by O'Reilly. I have not seen it, so I really can't comment on it either way.
Java Network Programming by Merlin Hughes et al., published by Manning, $44.95, 519 pages, includes CD-ROM.Stephen Pietrowicz
Whiz Bang Web Site F/X by Tom Lockwood (Que $35/CD-ROM) is an interesting collection of tips and tricks as well as an introduction to advanced Web page development for those who already know some HTML and want to go further with graphics, animation, and sound on their Web sites. The book covers plain text (fonts and more, tables, and frames), images (basics, backgrounds, image maps, GIF animations, dynamic pages), sounds, multimedia, and how to use Java and CGI to your advantage. The CD-ROM contains the usual panoply of freeware, shareware, and demo programs.
Finally, HTML Sourcebook, 3rd Ed. by Ian Graham (Wiley $30) is out in a new edition. It was exactly a year a go that I recommended the 2nd edition of this venerable classic. The third edition continues the tradition of excellence and has kept up with all the latest developments. There is no CD-ROM with this book but it is supported with companion Web sites from both Wiley and the Author.
The deluge of books on Office 97 has begun. I've decided not to include these books on this list even though the Office 97 programs gnerally support Web publishing. I feel that this is beyond the scope of my intentions with this Web site. Nevertheless, I will list and feature books of particular merit if their main focus is on Web publishing. Now, if you would like to start a list like mine devoted to Office 97 please contact me about hosting it here at WWWiz Magazine.
Wiley has established itself as the premiere publisher of books about CORBA (common object request broker architecutre). This week saw the release of two new titles. So new, in fact, that they don't even have Web sites yet. It's not within my purview to review books on CORBA, but I recognize its improtance on the future development of the Web. So I feel it's important to inform those of you who might be interested. Instant CORBA by Robert Orfali, Dan Harkey, and Jeri Edwards (Wiley/$20) is about the marriage of distributed objects and the Internet. This book is a guide to understanding this new technology. The authors have even provided a quick tour they claim will make you CORBA literate in four hours or less.
Java Programming with CORBA by Andreas Vogel and Keith Duddy (Wiley/$30) introduces Java programmers to object request brokers (ORBs) and how to build CORBA-based object-oriented applications that interact with CORBA objects anywhere on an network regardsless of differences in operating system or language. How far we've come from the first primative Java animation applets!
O'Reilly & Associated has released its Java Network Programming by Elliotte Rusty Harold. I'll see if can get Stephen Pietrowicz to do a review.
This week's featured book is Shockwave Studio: Designing Multimedia for the Web by Bob Schmitt (O'Reilly & Associates, $40/CD-ROM). This book is written for people who are already familiar with Director and its scripting language Lingo. There are chapters on designing multimedia for the Web, animation, mouse rollovers, managing files sizes, palettes, Lingo language extensions for the Web, user interaction, and more. The book relies heavily on examination of real director/shockwave projects that live on the Web. Where Lingo scripts are discussed the author goes through them step-by-step to explain exactly what is being done. The book is very richly illustrated, but only to exemplify what's in the text. Somehow the author manages to do all this in less than 200 pages, so the information density is very high. The CD-ROM contains the Lingo source code from the book as well as some Shockwave examples and demo Director programs for Macintosh and Windows.
Fundamental Photoshop 4, 3rd Ed. by Adele Droblas Greenberg & Seth Greenberg (Osborne/McGraw-Hill, $35), now in its third edition, is a thorough guide to Photoshop. The book is written for all levels of user from novice to professional. There are three sections that are at the introductory, intermediate, and advanced levels. A final chapter goes into watermarks and copyrights. The book goes into detail on all aspects of Photoshop and should serve equally well as a tutorial and a reference. It is punctuated throughout with real-world examples of "Photoshop in Action" inserts. This book is very large (over 800 pages) as is appropriate to the scope of the program. There are numerous enumerated instructions to describe how to create the various effects possible with Photoshop, many of which are accompanied by graphical examples or illustrations. In lieu of a CD-ROM, there is a Web site where you can download images that appear in the book to practice on.
There are three featured books this week. Producing Web Hits: Fear, Loathing, and Getting Over It by David Elderbrock, et al. (IDG Books, $30). is one of a growing number of books about developing a Web site which is aimed at managers rather than technical people. Taking a business point of view, the book considers the potential of the Web as a new marketing and advertising vehicle. Then it proceeds to use that goal as the basis of Web design and implementation. The book addresses such questions as planning a marketing strategy, clarifying the purpose of the Web site, creating and realizing a Web identity, and finally, how to draw an audience to your site and take advantage of the medium. I didnít see a stitch of HTML code in the book, rather it tells the manager how to build the team to do the software development. Unfortunately, the bookís title doesnít do justice to its content.
Castanet and Bongo are the first products from Sun Microsystems/JavaSoft spin-off Marimba, Inc. Castanet is a new technology that tackles the inherent ephemeral nature of Internet connections (e.g., applets must be loaded or reloaded every time you visit a Web site, data canít be stored locally, for the most part applets canít be stored locally, and so on). Castanet contains two major partsa tuner and a transmitter. The tuner resides on your system and is used to locate and acquire channels. The transmitter broadcasts or publishes to the channels so that tuners can locate them. When you locate a channel with your tuner the software or revisions are downloaded to your system. Bongo is the first of what I presume will be a series of programs or tools for Castanet technology. Bongo is an interface-building tool for stand-alone programs. Basically itís a high-level tool that extends the Java widget class and is extensible itself. Bongo allows you to create Java applications and interfaces without a lot of Java programming.
If all this sounds up your alley then check out these new titles from Sams.net. Official Marimba Guide to Castanet by Laura Lemay ($40/CD-ROM) and Official Marimba Guide to Bongo by Danny Goodman ($40/CD-ROM). Both CD-ROMs contain evaluation versions of the Castanet Tuner and Transmitter and Bongo for Windows 95, Windows NT, and Solaris. These are the "official" Marimba guides done with the approval and cooperation of the software developers and are written by some of our best computer book authors.
There are two featured books this week. Although they are both on Java they are very different in their scope and intended audiences. Laura Lemayís Java 1.1 Interactive Course by Laura Lemay, Charles L. Perkins, Michael Morrison, and Daniel Groner (Waite Group Press, $50/CD-ROM) is a complete (not to mention huge) book which teaches all about the Java language and how to create applets for the Web and standalone applications. It will take a beginning Java programmer through all the steps in 25 chapter (plus appendices) with almost 500 quiz questions. And itís written by the team that literally "wrote the book" on Java programming. Equally important is that the book is tied to Waiteís eZone which provides a number of services and resources to help you work your way through the book. Purchase of this book gets you access to the eZone where you can: take quizzes online and work toward CEUs from Marquette University; have access to a live mentor to answer your questions; and other resources and reference material. The image on the left is a portrait of Laura Lemay by her literary agent. (Only kidding, itís the theme image from the eZone).
My next selection is diametrically opposite from the above. Whereas Lemayís book focuses on the mechanics of programming, Java Design: Building Better Apps and Applets by Peter Coad and Mark Mayfield (Prentice Hall, $40/CD-ROM) is about the cognitive processes behind (or should I say before) the programming. This book is about design, not programming. Specifically, itís about design strategies that grow out of the intrinsic language features found in Java. After an introductory chapter, the book covers Design with Composition rather than Inheritance, Interfaces, Threads, and Notification. Using the method of teaching by example, the book follows two hypothetical developers through the complete design process. The book is shy on code (as it should be) and abounds in illustrations and Coad diagrams (a graphical representation of objects, their attributes and methods, and their interactions). This book is recommended for experienced programmers who wish to improve their pre-coding planning and design.
There are three featured books this week. Hands On Visual Café CD-ROM tutorial from MindQ Publishing ($50) is not a book at all, but an interactive computer-based training course. The key word here is interactive. Unlike earlier MindQ CD-ROMs I've looked at, this one requires user participation. As the concepts are being discussed the user is encouraged to carry out the steps being described, albeit in a simulated Visual Café environment. Nevertheless, it's effective. (So actually, you don't even need Visual Café to learn about it.) Occasionally, the program pauses to send you off on a hands on exercise on the real Visual Café (which it presumes you have). These forays into the real world are accompanied by step-by-step instructions plus optional hints if you get into trouble. I found these to be helpful and moreover they made me re-think how I would approach a new Visual Café project when faced with a blank form. The tendency with rapid application development (RAD) environments is to work on the form right away. But realistically, there is a need for advanced planning and top-down design. Anyway, given the dearth of books on Visual Café this CD-ROM will give you a good introduction to this RAD product. My only regret is that there is no hard-copy for reference later on. Don't forget to read my review of Visual Café in WWWiz Magazine.
This next book is a tough call. The information content in Mind Grenades: Manifestos from the Future by John Plunkett and Louis Rossetto (Hardwired, $33) would fill a page. Really. What makes the book interesting is the graphics. Absolutely every page is edge-to-edge full color graphics, many of which are very exciting. If you've seen Wired Magazine you'll find yourself in familiar territory. The design and content of the book are very much what I (perhaps mistakenly) call the Generation-X style. Okay, the bottom line is that the book is visually exciting and you should take a look at it even if the content is somewhat banal. But to say that it contains manifestos from the future is on the level of saying that you learned all thing important things about life from a three minute song.
Designing Infographics by Erik K. Meyer (Hayden, $40) is a book about graphical conveyance of information. Information graphics has been with us for a long time but seems to be growing in importance. Perhaps it has something to do with this era of sound bites and declining literacy. At any rate, the author gives a good introduction to the subject, a crash course in computer drawing, and then detailed descriptions of six types of infographics: glances, graphs, maps, diagrams, sequences, and illustrations. In the last part of the book the author discusses how this material extends from traditional media into cyberspace. The one shortcoming in the book is the very brief coverage of color and the complete absence of color illustrations.
Java Network Programming by Elliotte Rusty Harold (O'Reilly & Associates, $35) is recent entry into the Java networking book category. This is a fairly recent book, and it is able explain many topics in terms of JDK 1.0.2 while pointing out differences (or additions) with respect to JDK 1.1. The author apologies for not being more JDK 1.1 specific (because the book was finishing up nearly when JDK 1.1 came out to the public), but I think he does a pretty good job of pointing out the JDK 1.1 features. Overall, this book is a good mix of traditional network programming that gives a good background in networking itself, (which applies to any language you program in) and Java specific topics such as writing class loaders and content handlers. This book offers numerous examples throughout the book, and the examples are actually pretty good. Some are handy utilities that stand well on their own and others are programs you'll probably end up using to test your own network programs. The book doesn't come with a CD-ROM, but all the examples are online, so you don't have to type them all in. I don't always see eye to eye with the author, (for example I don't agree with him that software agents aren't very useful if they're not mobile), but I do think this book is well worth looking at if you're interested in network programming.Stephen Pietrowicz
Visual InterDev is Microsoft's latest addition to their family of development tools. It's a Web site development application designed for experienced programmers. Naturally, it will spawn a brood of new books and one of the first is The Visual InterDev Handbook by Brian Maso (Osborne/McGraw-Hill, $30). The book starts with an overview of Visual InterDev covering the program layout and basics of creating a Web site. It then goes into considerable depth on creating and integrating content and adding interactivity, specifically with scripts, ActiveX controls, and Java. Another section covers the creation, use, and programming of databases. The book is completed with a section on advanced topics, including security and electronic commerce. Visual InterDev is a $500 software product so obviously neither the software or the book are for the casually interested. However, the book is an inexpensive way to find out if the program is for you.
Practical Object-Oriented Development in C++ and Java by Cay S. Horstmann (Wiley, $35) is a different kind of programming book. The author assumes familiarity with the basic syntax of these languages and sets out to give you insights into programming. The book goes into detail on the similarities and differences in C++ and Java for those who have to work in both worlds and teaches you how to exploit the best features in each language while avoiding the pitfalls. The book makes extensive use of CRC cards and UML methodology. In my estimation this book is for serious programmers who wish to learn more about and improve their craft.
<designing web graphics.2> by Lynda Weinman (New Riders, $55) is now in its second edition and is bigger and better than before. The book is impeccably designed by Ali Karp (whose work I have previously admired in <coloring web graphics> and <deconstructing web graphics>) and is itself an object study in design. This edition is nearly twice the size of the original and has been thoroughly rewritten and updated. This book is about putting together a Web site but with design emphasized over coding, although there is plenty of the latter. In addition to the basics of Web graphics, Lynda covers issues of typography, layout, animation, sound, and interactivity. This book is suitable for beginning Web designers who wish to learn the process from A to Z as well as for experienced designers who can benefit from the many tips and tricks. This book is a keeper. At least until the next edition.
Cascading Style Sheets: Designing for the Web by Håkon Wium Lie and Bert Bos (Addison-Wesley, $30) was written by the developers of this important advance in Web page design. Both authors are with the World Wide Web Consortium. The book begins with an overview of HTML and them jumps right into cascading style sheets (or CSS, for short). You will find that style sheets are more complex to program than straight HTML but will give you infinitely greater control in designing your Web pages. This book will teach you all there is to know on the subject in a clearly written, logical progression of ideas. Among the things covered are fonts, structures, space, images, and colors. The authors also cover management of large numbers of Web pages and details of cascading and inheritance for the technically inclined. To get an idea of just what CSS can do for you, check out the book's home page with Netscape Navigator 3 (which doesn't support CSS) and Microsoft Internet Explorer (which does). Go do it!
Special Edition Using HTML 3.2, 3rd Ed. by Jerry Honeycutt, Mark R. Brown, et al. (Que, $50/CD-ROM) is now in its third edition and is 50% larger than the first edition. In additiona to covering all of HTML in detail this book gives some introduction to virtually every other aspect of Web page development (including VRML, Java, scripts, sound, etc., etc.). There is also coverage of some of the up and coming technologies such as layers (allows you overlap blocks of text or artwork anywhere on the Web page), style sheets (standards for formatting Web pages), and dynamic HTML (an application programming interface for manipulating Web documents). In addition to the usual panoply of editors, plug-ins, browsers, etc. on the CD-ROM you get four additional Special Edition books in HTML format (Java, CGI, VBScript, and ActiveX). If you're looking for an HTML tutorial and a general reference book, this 1000+ page brute might be just what you need.
This book review represents a radical departure for this Web site as it's the first non-technical, non-computer, non-Web authoring book to be featured here. The Tenth Justice by freshman writer Brad Meltzer (William Morrow & Company, $23) is a great book in the tradition of, dare I say, Scott Turow and John Grisham. Suffice to say it's a legal thriller with a compelling plot, interesting characters and sharp, witty dialogue. A novice clerk in the Supreme Court, and his generation-X friends get caught up in a web of deception and danger as they attempt to right a wrong he indavertently committed. (The author himself is a recent law school graduate.) It's the best book I've read so far this year and I'll tell you, I lost sleep over this one staying up too late to read more. I highly recommend this book for fans of the genre and am looking forward to Meltzer's next book. Smart shoppers will be able to find this book at 40% off the list price. (Let me know what you think of this foray into the real world.)
Advanced Java Networking by Prashant Sridharan, Bill Rieken, Laraine Peterson is a new book from Prentice-Hall ($50/CD-ROM) and a new addition to their expanding Java library. The book explains basic networking concepts (like how to use sockets) for the first part of the book. The really nice thing about this book is that it gives a pretty good introduction to the various Java technologies that leverage networking for the rest of the book. These include Java IDL, RMI, JDBC, JMAPI, the Java web server from Javasoft, and Java Beans. The examples are all in terms of JDK 1.1, which is included on a CD that comes with the book. One minor point that I wish had been included is an explanation of how to use the multi-cast technology that's in Java. It is an advanced topic, and one that I think developers will be working with more and more in the coming year. As I said, that's only a minor nit-pick. Overall, this is a great book if you need to get exposed to many different Java technologies quickly.Stephen Pietrowicz
Naked in Cyberspace by Carole A. Lane (Pemberton Press, $30) takes an objective look at the business of personal information gathering. The book is subtitled "How ot Find Personal Information Online," but I found that it is somewhat more than that. I think it serves as a guide to finding many other kinds of information online as well. There are three main sections comprising over thirty chapters covering an introduction to personal records in Cyberspace, how personal records are used, and types of personal records. A fourth section describes where to find mroe information and extensive appendices catalog databases of all sorts. The author contends there is very little she cannot find out about you online, just starting with your name and address. The book is supported with a publisher's Web site with links to approriate resources. For more on this book see my review article in WWWiz.
Webonomics: Nine Essential Principles for Growing Your Business on the World Wide Web by Evan I. Schwartz (Broadway Books, $25) should be read by everyone interested in doing business on the Web and anyone who plans to transact business on the Web (that's you). Schwartz examines how the Web is changing the way business is conducted along with the shifting paradigms of consumer interactions, and this affects us all. He takes a look at how things might be in the not-too-distant future and winds up with some plausible models. He goes further, however, with advice on how businesses can prepare for the brave new world as well as giving many examples of those who are already on the path. In a sense this book is a doctrine for those already doing business on the Web and a wake-up call for those who aren't. For those of us who aren't in business it's an interesting read and a sneak peek at the future.
ActiveX: VB5 Control Creation Edition by Gary Cornell and Dave Jezak (Prentice Hall, $40/CD-ROM) is the only book I've encountered so far on Microsoft's free VB5 Control Creation Edition (CCE), which means it's the only documentation available for this program. The software is a full-featured visual development IDE similar to Visual Basic. The book covers the gamut of building ActiveX controls: the CCE environment, building user interfaces, Visual Basic programming, object-oriented programming, wizards, templates and more, plus real-world examples of ActiveX controls. The book is amply illustrated with screen shots and sample code. Unfortunately, the beta version of the software on the CD-ROM is out-of-date and you'll have to download the 7MB program from Microsoft. The CD-ROM also contains the sample code from the book and additional ActiveX controls from about a dozen vendors. Look for more titles on ActiveX coming soon from Prentice Hall.
I'm in the process of reviewing NetObjects Fusion and am looking into companion texts to augment the documentation. Laura Lemay's Web Workshop: Net Objects Fusion 2 by Kabriel Robichaux & Derrick Woolworth (Sams.net, $40/CD-ROM) is task oriented and can be read at random to learn how to do this or that. The bulk of the text is given as "Tasks" to accomplish specific results. The book covers the basics of working with Fusion, creating interactivity (e.g., multimedia and forms), and creating dynamic content (e.g., CGI and scripts). Web Designer's Guide to NetObjects Fusion 2 by Timothy Webster & Mike Barrs (Hayden, $40/CD-ROM) takes a more anatomical look at Fusion and covers in detail each aspect of the program in turn and is probably best read straight through. Both books come with trial versions of Fusion for Windows 95/NT plus the usual array of junk they feel compelled to add to fill up a CD-ROM.
T. rex and the Crater of Doom by Walter Alvarez (Princeton University Press, $25) is the story of the unraveling of the mystery of the great extinction of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. Since it's widely accepted that a large comet or meteorite struck the earth at that time I was somewhat surprised at how recently this was all discovered and verified. I was even more surprised to learn that they had ample scientific evidence of such an impact long before they found the actual site. Anyway, it was a good read; my only complaint is that it's a rather short book, I would have preferred more. There are numerous notes and references to the scientific literature for those who want more details, but this book is a popular accounting from the author's point of view. And you will learn how to pronounce Chicxulub.
Intelligent Java Applications for the Internet and Intranets by Mark Watson (Morgan Kaufmann Publishers, $45/CD-ROM) is the first book on artificial intelligence (AI) in Java. This book includes a broad spectrum of tools covering neural networks, genetic algorithms, natural language systems, expert systems, and more. The book is completed with specific examples and projects such as games, handwriting recognition, optimizing neural networks, natural language queries, and data collection agents. The CD-ROM contains the complete Java source code and class files for the author's AI packages as well as the source code for the examples in the book. As the Interent is becoming more personalized with the advent of broadcasting and customized services it's easy to see how AI will play an increasingly important role, and Java, of course, is the language of choice. Needless to say, this book is for experienced programmers who are prepared to do some serious studying.
Java Fundamental Classes Reference by Mark Grand and Jonathan Knudsen (O'Reilly & Associates, $45) is the companion volume to O'Reilly's Java AWT Reference by John Zukowski. Java is growing and you'll have to grow with it to keep up. The basic packages in Java 1.0 have been expanded with new classes in Java 1.1 along with four totally new packages. This book covers all the core Java packages (exclusive of the AWT) through Java version 1.1.1. Although the book contains some brief tutorial-style chapters it is primarily a reference text. The book is arranged alphabetically by package and class. For each class there is a synopsis of the available information followed by detailed descriptions of all the variables, constructors, and methods of the class. All the material new to Java 1.1 is clearly marked. If you're looking for a more general Java reference book, take a look at O'Reilly's also-just-released Java in a Nutshell, 2nd Ed. by David Flanagan. This book is only $20 and was one of the most popular Java books in its first edition. The 2nd edition covers Java 1.1.
CGI For Commerce by Gunther Birznieks and Selena Sol (MIS:Press/M&T Books, $40/CD-ROM) contains a complete Web store application with instructions on how to install, customize, and use it. The first part of the book covers the basic aspects of setting up a Web store, choosing between stores based on HTML pages, dynamically generated pages from a database, and query-driven databases, setting up order processing, and secure shopping setup. The role of frames and client-side scripts is also discussed. The Web store is based on Perl scripts and HTML so a minimal knowledge of each is required (or at least some programming experience). But the point in Part 1 is that it isn't necessary. Only in the second part of the book do the authors go into depth in the Perl scripts. There is enough detailed explanation of the underlying code to allow the experienced Perl programmer to customize the Web store to her satisfaction. The CD-ROM contains all the scripts in the book for both Unix and Windows 95/NT platforms. Unfortunately, the publisher isn't very aggressive about keeping their Web site up to date (hint) so you won't find this book there. When they get around to it you'll find it in their Internet Programming section.
HTML & Web Publishing Secrets by Jim Heid (IDG Books, $50/CD-ROM) is a second-generation Web publishing book. It assumes you already have some knowledge of HTML and want to take your Web site beyond simple HTML pages. This book covers a broad spectrum of topics for Web site developers. Part I covers the creation and optimization of Web pages, including the latest HTML developments. Part II covers interactivity including searching, chat rooms, messages exchanges, and database access. Part III covers multimedia, including audio, video, animation, and virtual reality. Finally, Part IV covers servers, including optimizing performance and working with in-house and out-house servers. (Oh come on, you know what that is, you've seen plenty of them.) The CD-ROM boasts 55 Web tools. I'm pleased to note that the author has taken great care to provide a full complement of Mac tools, something which is often overlooked on CD-ROMs with Web publishing books.
Webcasting: Broadcast Marketing Over the Net by Jessica Keyes (McGraw-Hill, $25) covers the full spectrum of multimedia delivery across the Internet. The emphasis here is on real-time streaming audio and video and other delivery devices. The book opens with an introduction to this new media and some success stories. In then goes into some detail on what is available from the big players (Microsoft, Netscape, ReadAudio, and VDOLive) and a handful of minor ones. The author then discusses the blurring distinction between telecommunications, television, and the Internet and the move toward a Global Information Infrastructure. The book finishes with a chapter on audio and video production considerations for neophytes. The book is supported by a Web site where you can get current information about Webcasting technologies and tools. Much of the book is available online at McGraw-Hill's bet@ books Web site.
It seems tht every time you blink there's a new Web technology to learn about. And naturally there's a slew a books about it as well. This week I came across Extranets: The Complete Sourcebook by Richard H. Baker (McGraw-Hill, $40) . Extranets are somewhere between the Internet (full public access) and Intranets (private access) which gives limited access to a Web site where a company can provide a wide-area network to its employees, suppliers, and customers. The book covers Extranet whys and wherefores, planning and strategy, detailed instructions for implementation and management, and conducting business in a secure environment. In addition, there are real world examples drawn from several companies who have taken this route. I don't know much about Intranets and such but I thought it would be worthwhile to call your attention this new area. This book is likewise available online at McGraw-Hill's bet@ books Web site.
Graphis New Media 1: A Compilation of New Media Design by Clement Mok (Ed.) ( Graphis Press, $70) is a large format (okay, coffee table) book featuring 100 of the best designs to be found in the new media (Web sites, CD-ROMs, video, etc.) More than just a collection of pretty pictures, there are diagrams that give insight into the planning and production of the various projects. There are also three introductory pieces with unique perspectives on design and the new media. Designers, if you're not familiar with Graphis Press I strongly urge you to visit their Web site and get a copy of their catalog. They have a large selection of books on various aspects of design.
FrontPage 97 for Windows: Visual QuickStart Guide by Phyllis Davis ( Peachpit Press, $18) is a good guide and tutorial to using Microsoft's Frontpage Web page development program. The book covers the basics of Web page design and goes into the particulars of the program regarding working with text, graphics, multimedia, tables, frames, and so on. Like all the books in Peachpit's Visual QuickStart Guide series, the book is replete with images showing what's to be done and enumerated steps for carrying out the desired action. Also recommended: Photoshop 4 for Windows: Visual QuickStart Guide.
Jamsa Press has an interesting line of books in their Programmer's Reference series. I have previously recommended the Java Programmer's Library and I'm pleased to feature more titles in this series at this time.
The VRML Programmer's Library by Kris Jamsa, Ph.D. et al. (Jamsa Press, $50/CD-ROM) is more about using VRML than learning it. So, assuming you know something of programming VRML you can jump into this book and get some pretty exciting ideas (and code) for 3D scenes. To the book's credit, and to my surprise, the book goes into some fairly complex shapes; not the usual sort of kindergarten stuff you see in so many books. I should point out that the emphasis in this book is on developing objects. Conspicuously absent are many of the VRML 2.0 features that lend more reality to VRML scenes. The book is amply illustrated and boasts over 50,000 lines of source code, containing a mix of VRML 1 and VRML 2 code. At the end of each chapter there are about half-a-dozen VRML Web sites the author's recommend. Finally, the CD-ROM contains all of the source code in the book.
Jamsa has also just released ActiveX Programmer's Library by Suleiman Lalani and Ramesh Chandak which covers the full spectrum of ActiveX technology. Check it out!
Not Just Java is the latest Java book from Peter van der Linden (Prentice Hall, $35). The first book (well, two books if you count different editions) was "Just Java". That book covered how to program in Java. "Not Just Java" isn't a programming book, it's a discussion of the technologies surrounding Java.
Network computers, security, Java libraries, ActiveX, JavaBeans, CORBA (and more) are all discussed. Instead of a simplistic explanation of the topics he covers, Peter explains the advantages and disadvantages of each technology. He even gives explanations on why some (C++, for example) are in the state they are today.
There's a lot of very timely information in this book, which I found especially enjoyable. He tells about where some of the first NCs will be deployed, and the reasons why some companies are switching to them. He covers Oracle, Sun Microsystems, Apple, Microsoft, and Netscape, explaining what each of their strengths and weaknesses are, and what challenges they face. Most importantly, Peter talks about the state of Java today and where it's headed.
I really enjoyed this book. Since the time the book has been published, some of Peter's predictions on what he saw coming were right in line with what is happening now. I really hope that Peter continues to update this book with new editions. We need books that can give this kind of analysis, and I'm happy that Peter decided to write this one. Even if you've got a ton of Java books on your shelf, be sure and take a look at this one. think you'll be pleasantly surprised.Stephen Pietrowicz
To me the Internet principally means the World Wide Web, but to many it begins and ends with Usenet, which is know mostly for its NewsGroups. If this is your thing, or if you are just interested in the history, status, and future of the Interent then by all means you should read Netizens: On the History and Impact of Usenet and the Internet by Michael Hauben and Ronda Hauben (IEEE Computer Society Press, $29). The authors cover in great detail the ideas and people that shaped the Interent of today and speculate on where it's headed in the next century. Throughout, the authors stress the importance of free or cheap access for everyone and how the Internet has and will impact our very social fabric. I think it's important for we Netizens to be aware of the forces that are shaping our lives. This book is not a casual history of the Interent as you find in so many books. Rather, it is a thoroughly researched piece of work that chronicles one of the most important phenomena of the decade.
Timothy Webster's Web Designer's Guide to Graphics: PNG, GIF, & JPEG (Hayden Books, $50/CD-ROM) is a two-edged sword. It is at once a technical reference to the three principal graphics formats for the Web and a design guide full of tips and techniques for preparing Web graphics. Of course, this book won't make a Web artist out of you., but it will help to hone your skills. It will also teach you the difference and advantages and disadvantages of the Big 3 graphics file formats. And in particular it will bring you up to speed on the newest entry into the fray: PNG (Portable Network Graphics). The first of the four parts of the book covers graphics fundamentals (color monitors, color models, bit depth, resolution, palettes, anti-aliasing, compression, and interlacing). Each of the remaining parts covers one of the three graphics file formats in details, including comparisons where appropriate. Of particular interest are the chapters on when (and when not) to use the particular format and how to optimize the files for size and/or quality.
Also of interest for Web artists/designers is the PANTONE® Web Color Resource Kit by Mordy Golding and Dave White (Hayden Books, $65/CD-ROM and PANTONE® Web Color System Guide). This is a treatise on color and working within the limitations of the Web.
I'm sorry there are no featured books this week. However, two books caught my attention. I just haven't had time to review them properly. First, Rewired by David Hudsom and eLine Productions (Macmillan Technical Publications, $30) has some interesting perspectives on the past, present, and future of the Web. Slaves of the Machine: The Quickening of Computer Technology by Gregory J.E. Rawlins (MIT Press, $25) is an introduction to computers for those who don't much about computer or what they can do for you or to you. In the author's words,"Read it at the beach."
Learning Perl, 2nd Ed. by Randal L. Schwartz & Tom Christiansen (O'Reilly & Associates, $30) is the new edition of this venerable Perl tutorial. (Well, venerable means something different regarding the Web than it does, say, in philosophy.) This new edition covers Perl 5 and has new chapters on Perl references and CGI programming. The book is indeed structured as a tutorial and is sprinkled througout with short code examples. Moreover, there are exercises at the end of each chapter with answers provided in an appendix. Of course, this edition is much more Web-aware than the first edition which was published almost four years ago.
O'Reilly & Associates has had a strong commitment to the Perl language since its inception. They are hosting a Perl Conference in San Jose, CA this month (19-21 August). Please visit their Perl Conference Web page for more information and online registration.
Teach Yourself VRML 2.0 in 21 Days by Chris Marrin and Bruce Campbell (Sams.net, $40/CD-ROM) gives a straight-forward lesson plan to learn how to write VRML worlds. Each chapter lets you take what you've learned in that chapter to build VRML scenes by using a Web browser with a VRML plug-in and a text editor.
As you would expect, the book starts with simple topics and goes on to more complex issues. The examples illustrate the concepts well, and the explanations are clear. The book also covers strategies for building more efficient VRML scenes, using HTML and VRML together, and more. Appendices give a breakdown of each VRML node and event type. There's also a glossary which covers words you might be a bit unsure about.
Some of the topics covered in the book will be a bit difficult for beginners to understand. If you've already been working in 3D graphics modeling as a user or as a 3D programmer, you should be able to read this book with no problem.
The CD-ROM which is included with the book gives answers for the lessons which are at the end of every chapter. It also includes demo versions of a number of graphics and HTML tools.
Although the book says that you can learn VRML 2.0 in three weeks, learning anything like this is a much longer process. You'll really need to create a lot of your own worlds to really get the hang of VRML. VRML 2.0 itself isn't even the latest version of VRML. VRML '97 is. And, at Siggraph '97 (August 3-8) it's likely that new revisions will be made. Does that mean you should wait to get a newer book? No way! VRML is a continually evolving standard, and this book is a very good starting point. Stephen Pietrowicz
Java Programmer's Reference by Herbert Schildt and Joe O'Neil (Osborne/McGraw-Hill, $17) is a complete reference guide to Java 1.1 syntax, libraries, classes, and methods. There are introductory chapters discussing data types and variables, classes and methods, operators, inheritance packages, and interfaces, and a summary of Java keywords. The main chapters are arranged by libraries, then subdivided into classes, and finally, alphabetatically by method. In addition, there are many programming tips and examples. What distinguishes this from book from others of its ilk is its compact size.
Web Design Template Sourcebook by Lisa Schmeiser (New Riders, $45/CD-ROM) boasts over 300 Web page templates for getting your Web site started. After an obligatory skills primer covering the basics of HTML the author gets into the meat of the book. There are chapters on Text-Heavy Materials (e.g., annual reports, business plans, papers, magazine articles, etc.); Frequently Updated Contents (e.g., news releases, announcements, calendars); Corporate/Promotional Web Sites (e.g., company reports, media kits, brochures, and catalogs); Forms (e.g., order forms and surveys); and Multifunctional sites (a bit of everything). The book finished off with some alternatives to HTML templates with an overview of the emerging technologies of dynamic HTML, style sheets, and layering. Of course, the templates come with complete source code on the CD-ROM and you can use them as-is or as a jumping-off point for your own creative juices.
Winn L. Rosch Hardware Bible, Premiere Edition by Winn L. Rosch (Sams Publishing, $65/CD-ROM) is an exhaustive book on all aspects of PC hardware. The book can be read at many levels depending on your own level of technical expertise. For the novice it can provide a general background on the workings of a microprocessor or memory or hard disks. The expert can benefit from the detailed discussions of expansion buses and networks. There are 25 chapters covering every piece of your system. Unlike the previous edition of the book, this one is Internet-aware throughout. The book is so large (over 1200 pages) that they have relegated some of the information to the CD-ROM, so it contains the complete text of the book and then some. In fact, there are five complete appendices on the CD-ROM that aren't available in the print version. These include chapters on PC History and Health and Safety. Moreover, the CD-ROM is in HTML format for easy access with your favorite browser. All-in-all this is a fun book just to browse through on paper or on screen.
The Web Publishing and Programming Resource Kit (Sams.net, $150/3 CD-ROMs) is Sams.net's magnum opus on Web publishing. This set contains seven original texts and 3 CD-ROMs. All of the books are new, i.e., they didn't just grab a bunch of old books and repackage them. The set was obviously carefully planned and coordinated. The seven volumes in the set are
Curiously, Sams.net has also just come out with another complete Web publishing set, Laura Lemay's Electronic Web Workshop (Sams.net, $60/2 CD-ROMs). This set contains only one book Teach Yourself Web Publishing with HTML 3.2 in a Week, 3rd Ed. by Laura Lemay but has ten searchable books plus a collection of Web publishing tools on the two CD-ROMs. The ten books on the first CD-ROM contains over 6500 pages of information, they are:
I don't have this set so I can't make a fair comparison of these two approaches to the "total" Web library. There are some differences worth noting. First, one set is heavily oriented toward printed material whereas the other in pricipally available only on CD-ROM. Second, the Lemay set has some older material which will soon be replaced by new software releases such as Frontpage 98 and Netscape Composer (replacing Navigator Gold). So with a substantial price difference it's a toss-up. Another question is how much reading you can stand to do from acomputer screen.
O'Reilly & Associates has just released its Java Language Reference, 2nd Ed. by Mark Grand thus completing the trilogy of reference books on the Java programming language, Version 1.1. The other books in the series are Java Fundamental Classes Reference by Mark Grand and Jonathan Knudsen and Java AWT Reference by John Zukowski. The Java Language Reference is just that, a guide to the definitions, syntax, and control structures of the language. The second edition includes updated information on the Java features. The book is not intended as a tutorial on the language and is geared for serious programmers. The ten chapters in the book cover the data types, expressions, declarations, control structures, program structure, threads, exception handling, and a lengthy chapter (almost half the book) on the java.lang package. The book is riddled with railroad diagrams and code snippets to illustrate the important points.
Much has been written about how the Internet is changing the fabric of our society, but the late Timothy Leary's vision of cybeculture is unique. The path from "turn on, tune in, drop out" of the 60's to "turn on, tune in, boot up" of the 90's is not a striaght one. Chaos & Cyberculture by Timoth Leary (Ronin Publishing, $20) is a collection of articles and essays (by Leary and others) from the past decade describing how the computer is revolutionizing communication and empowering the individual. This book touches on those topics most others shy away from: drugs, sex, religion, and politics. There are also interviews with the likes of WIlliam S. Burroughs and David Byrne. Embrace chaos!
I'm sorry to report that for the second week in a row there are no featured books. This is a cosequence of receiving very few new books and not finding any of them suitable for featuring at this site. You may want to take this opportunity to review the 150 or so books featured here previously in 1996 and 1997.
This week I've had a flood of new books to make up for the drought of the past two weeks. Here are some of the most notable books I've received.
My overriding feeling in reviewing these books is that I'm glad I learned HTML when there were maybe 30(?) HTML tags instead of God knows how many there are now. For that matter, I'm glad I started with personal computers in 1978 with a an Apple ][. (And that was before there were any modems for PCs.) Learning new things as they came out has been easy. The prospect of buying a computer and having to come up to speed now on everything at once is quite terrifying.
For a total change of pace take a look at The Interactive Book, A Guide to the Interactive Revolution by Celia Pearce (New Riders, $40). I don't know what to make of this book. It's a collection of essays on the interactive revolution as perceived by the author, a self-proclaimed member of the "digiterati," or "artificial intelligentsia" as she likes to call it. I thought this was very funny because I put the emphasis on the word artificial. Besides, how many people do you know who tell you they are a member of the intelligentsia? Do they have a degree for that? Anyway, there is plenty to read here. I'll leave it for you to separate the useful from the digibable. (Hey, I made that up!)
The time-space continuum has not allowed me to review the following books that I also thought were of interest:
Moths to the Flame: The Seductions of Computer Technology by Gregory J.E. Rawlins (MIT Press, $10) explores the potential future impacts of computer technology. The first few chapters looks at the "local" aspects of computer technology: privacy, virtual reality, publishing, and computer networks. The remaining chapters look at the "global" social issues such as warfare, jobs, and the future itself. The book is well-written and often humorous. Rawlins brings us an interesting perspective on the future written in an accessible style. Moths to the Flame is now available in paperback for only $10. I have previously recommended Rawlins's more recent book Slaves of the Machine here as well.
JDBC Database Access With Java: A Tutorial and Annotated Reference by Graham Hamilton, Rick Cattell, and Maydene Fisher (Addison-Wesley, $38) is both a tutorial and reference manual for JDBC, the programming interface that allows you to access databases from Java. The authors recommend some knowledge of both Java and SQL (if you have to ask this isn't for you!). Basically, JDBC allows you access a remote database, process data via SQL statements, and publish the results on a Web site. I'm not a database person so I can't appreciate the details, but it's apparent that the tutorial is replete with many examples and sample code and the reference manual contains an extensive listing of the classes, interfaces, methods, and fields, with explanations of what they mean and do with many examples of their usage.
The Photoshop Plug-ins Book by Daniel Gray (Ventana, $40/CD-ROM) shows you how to get more out of Photoshop with plug-ins. Everybody knows Photoshop is the de facto standard graphics manipulation program. But did you you know there are literally dozens of third-party plug-ins you can use to enhance it capabilities? This book covers most of the plug-ins available for Photoshop 4.0. Each of the 42 chapters covers one or more plug-ins with a description of who should use it, what it does, why to use it, and how to use it. One entire section of six chapters is on plug-ins for optimizing images for the Web. There is also a guide to additional plug-ins not covered in the book. The companion multi-platform CD-ROM contains over 30 plug-ins (or, at least, demo versions) plus Internet links for more plug-ins and useful sites. Also note that many of the plug-ins are compatible with other graphics programs as well.
Word 97 Annoyances by Woody Leonhard, Lee Hudspeth & T.J. Lee (O'Reilly & Associates, $22) is a great concept for a book. Rather than attempt another soup to nuts tutorial on Word this book is written for the active Word user and deals with improving the program performance and your own productivity. The premise of this book is that Word is replete with poor design or simply stupid features. Covering everything from program installation through customizing the toolbar through writing VBA scripts to virus protection, this book sets out to right the wrongs. I recommend this for anyone who has been frustrated with Word or simply wants to increase their productivity. The lead author, Woody Leonhard, is one of the world's leading experts on Word and I have read his books and used his software in the past. You might also want to check out O'Reilly's other annoying titles.
Also this week, two of my previous favorites and now out in second editions. Check out David Siegel's Creating Killer Web Sites, 2nd Ed. and Coloring Web Graphics.2 by Lynda Weinman and Bruce Heavin.
Java How to Program, 2nd Ed. by Harvey & Paul Deitel (Prentice Hall, $51) is now available in its second edition and is fully updated for the JDK 1.1. It's been exactly a year since I recommended the first edition. This book not only covers the latest features of Java 1.1 but (they claim) all the examples have been rewritten and recompiled. There's an old saw about journalism or public speaking that goes something like "tell 'em what your gonna tel 'em, tell 'em, and tell 'em what you told 'em. This book is a perfect example. Each chapter begins by laying out the objectives and ends with a detailed summary including all the tips, caveats, and other observations therein. Finally, there are self-review exercises and many homework exercises to keep you very busy with this college-style textbook. Be prepared to work hard if you select this book, it's not a walk in the park. That's a promise, not a threat. There is no CD-ROM but the examples can be downloaded from the authors' Web site.
Photoshop in a Nutshell by Donnie O'Quinn & Matt LeClair (O'Reilly & Associates, $20) is a convenient desktop reference covering all the tools, menus, and palettes. There is also a rather large appendix covering the common techniques used in Photoshop and another with all the keystroke shortcuts. (You'd have to be WordStar fan to love these. If you're too young to remember WordStar just say a prayer of thanks.) The book is sensibly organized with section tabs on the page ends and the contents and index are quite complete if you don't have the patience to thumb through the pages. Each tool, menu item, etc. is accompanied by it keystroke shortcut and a description of its common uses and errors and special notes. Moreover, each of the common uses is delineated in step-by-step instructions in the Common Techniques appendix, 170 in all. This book is suitable for all levels of Photoshop users and should be a useful companion when working with this complex program.
Hacker Proof: The Ultimate Guide to Network Security by Lars Klander (Jamsa Press, $55/CD-ROM) is a rather daunting book and is well beyond my own ken. Yet I can recognize its importance and feel it's worthwhile to call to your attention. The increasing use of the Internet, Intranets, and Extranets increases the general level of vulnerability, not to mention a shortage of qualified people to run all these networks. This book reviews all the network connection protocols and where the weaknesses are and how to protect your network. Specific advice is given on identifying and repelling intruders and security issues with Java and CGI scripts are also covered. The book covers all the popular network platforms: Unix, Windows 95/NT, and Novell. The CD-ROM includes trial version of some security software for Windows NT, NetWare, and Unix systems. Additional freeware and shareware programs have been collected and made available at the Jamsa Web site.
Core Java 1.1, Vol 1. Fundamentals by Cay S. Horstmann and Gary Cornell (Prentice Hall, $40/CD-ROM), now in its third revision, is targeted at serious programmers who wish to put Java to work on real projects. However, it doesn't require knowledge of C++ or object-oriented programming (OOP). The book has twelve chapters that emphasize cross-platform application development with applets taking a back seat. This is good. There are altogether too many books that cover applets already. In this first volume the authors cover the basics of the Java language and OOP. Kudos to the authors for acknowledging the role of UCSD Pascal in the development of cross-platform applicationsthis fact seems to have eluded most authors who've written on the history of Java. This book covers displaying images (the right way), handling events, developing cross-platform GUIs with the AWT, data structures, and exception handling. The second volume will cover streams, multi-threading, network programming, JavaBeans, and more. These authors have an excellent reputation and the previous incarnations of Core Java have been very well received. The CD-ROM contains the examples in the book and the JDK 1.1.
Peter Kent, whose books have been featured here previously, promoted his new book Poor Richard's Web Site: Geek-Free, Commonsense Advice on Building a Low-Cost Web Site with a drawing for five free copies.
There were no new books to feature this week.
XML: Principles, Tools, and Techniques, World Wide Web Journal: Volume 2, Issue 4 by Dan Connolly (Guest Editor) (O'Reilly & Associates, $30) is the first book on the emerging new standard for Web documents. XML stands for Extensible Markup Language. It is positioned somewhere between HTML and SGML, providing extensibility for the former but not being quite as complex as the latter. For example, XML will allow you to define your own markup tags and attributes, encode math equations, and publish databases automatically. This book, actually the Fall 1997 Issue of The World Wide Web Journal has a few editorial pieces, a few reports from the W3 Consortium, and more than a dozen technical papers covering various aspects of XML and its relation to other aspects of Web publishing (cascading style sheets, browsers, Java, Perl, etc.) This book is required reading for anyone trying to stay ahead of the game in Web authoring. (Note: The World Wide Web Journal is available at $100 for an annual subscription4 issues).
Web Graphics Bible by Ron Wodaski (IDG Books, $50/CD-ROM) is a big brute of a book with just about everything you need to know about Web graphics. The book has 22 chapters in three parts covering the basics of Web graphics, publishing graphics on the Web, and design related issues. Many of the chapters are enhanced with tutorial material on the CD-ROM and all of the chapters have a Web tour on the CD-ROM showing great examples and additional resources (such as where to download graphics tools). One of the things that particularly impressed me in this book was the discussion of basic design principles and artistic composition. This is very valuable information for Web page designers who aren't schooled in graphic design. Also, throughout the book there are references to techniques with specific graphics software such as Photoshop and Paint Shop Pro. In addition to the things I've already mentioned, the CD-ROM contains many shareware, trial version, and demo software. The book also has a Web site with more free stuff and other goodies.
If your graphics interests tend to animation in particular you should check out Web Animation for Dummies by Renée LeWinter & Cynthia L. Baron (IDG Books, $25/CD-ROM). This books small size (~350 page) belies it comprehensive coverage of the subject. It covers planning an animation, effective use of color, use of type, photos, and clip art, preparing images, and file sizes. Then it discusses many of the freeware, shareware, and commercial animation programs, with specific instructions on using some of the more popular ones. (Note that the book covers both Macintosh and PC software.) Finally, all the Dummies books have a Part of Tens, replete with useful tips on what you absolutely must know about the subject. The multi-platform CD-ROM contains samples from the book (in moving color) plus other sample goodies and trial software.
Teach Yourself Web Publishing With HTML by
is now in its fourth edition and continues to be one of the best books for newcomers to Web programming.
The first edition was one of the very first books on HTML and Laura Lemay herself has become something of
an icon in Web publishing. Naturally, HTML has come a long way since that first edition and you might
expect it's got to take more than a week to learn it all. In fact, the book has two "bonus days" covering
new material (and the other seven days are more heavily packed too). The book covers all the basics and
this new edition covers the standard HTML 4.0 enhancements plus those particular to Netscape Communicator
4 and Microsoft Internet Explorer 4. The sections on tables, frames, and forms have been expanded and
there are new sections on Dynamic HTML and Style Sheets. If you're new to this game you can't go wrong
with this book. If you're an old hand you might be better off with books that are specialized to the
Comanche Moon by Larry McMurtry ( Simon and Schuster, $28.50/but heavily discounted everywhere) is the final book in the Lonesome Dove quartet. Chronologically, it would be the second book in the series. The saga of the flippant Augustus McCrae and the taciturn Woodrow Call continues in this rather large book. It's hard for me to judge how accurate the Lonesome Dove books are in their portrayal of Western life in the period surrounding the Civil War. I can't say that they have the ring of truth, but they are nevertheless fascinating. I've enjoyed all these books but am feeling melancholy as I near the end of the book. I don't want it to end as it's like the loss of a good friend when you finish a book you really enjoy. What will I do next? The book is a must for all Lonesome Dove fans, don't wait for the paperback. All you others, go get a copy of Lonesome Dove and start there.
Real World Photoshop 4 by David Blatner and Bruce Fraser (Peachpit Press, $45) addresses the question of how to make images look best when reproduced. To this end, it focuses on color correction, color reproduction, and image retouching. This book distinctly separates itself from those that feature special effects with Photoshop filters and plug-ins. It concentrates on the basics of putting out world-class images. Although primarily aimed at print photography, there is a chapter on Web graphics as well. Color is the overriding theme throughout the book. There are chapters on color basics, color settings, tonal correction, color correction, multitones, black and white, grayscale, and color management. There are also chapters on photographic techniques, sharpening, scanning, selections (paths, masks, and channels), and more. The book is highly detailed and replete with images showing the effects of the various Photoshop tools and options discussed in the text. This book is for the serious Photoshop user, but certainly everyone can benefit from it.
The Java Class Libraries, Volume 2: java.applet, java.awt, java.beans by Patrick Chan and Rosanna Lee (Addison-Wesley, $54) is now available and is a definitive reference for the Java 1.1 Class Libraries. These have grown so large that it is now being published in two volumes. Volume 2 itself is almost as large as the original first edition, and Volume 1 will be even larger than that. The Classes are arranged alphabetically in the book. Each Class description includes a class hierarchy diagram, syntax, description of all the class properties, class examples, member summaries, and member descriptions. The member descriptions may include the following fields: syntax, description, parameters, returns, exceptions, related classes of members, overrides, and examples. In the event that a method is no longer recommended this is indicated in the text and an alternative method is proffered. This book is well laid out and each section is clearly delineated. Volume 1: java.lang, java.io, java.math, java.net, java.text, java.util is due out in February.
Netscape Communicator for Busy People by Christian Crumlish and Jeff Hadfield (Osborne/McGraw-Hill, $25) is strictly for newcomers. It covers what I would consider the necessary basic skills to bring you up to speed on using the Web and Netscape Communicator in particular. The book covers the essentials such as getting on line, setting up the browser, searching on the Web, and setting up your email. It also covers setting up and using Netcaster and Conference. The final third of the book deals with creating and enhancing Web page with Netscape Composer. The book is heavily illustrated in color and is replete with charts, tips, shortcuts, summaries, and step-by-step instructions. It is clearly written for right-brain people (or is it left brain? I can never get that straight). However, that is not to detract from its quality. In fact, it's very good and the only reason I recommend it specifically for newbies is that experienced users will only profit from a few of the chapters. If you like this book, Osborne has a large line of Busy People books of similar layout on various computer subjects. Check it out at their Web site.
Step-by-Step Electronic Design Techniques by Talitha Harper & Sara Booth (Eds.) (Peachpit Press, $40) is a rather large collection (over 80) of techniques and strategies for use with the popular drawing and illustration programs. The book covers Photoshop, Freehand, Illustrator, Painter, Ray Dream Designer, and more, but it is principally concerned with the first three of these. Many of the articles are written by the designers who developed the technique and are heavily illustrated. As you would expect, the techniques are describes in detail so that you can learn to do them yourself by following the step-by-step instructions. There is such a variety of design styles in this book that there is bound to be something of interest for most designers.