Books: A User's Report
For this issue, I reviewed books on a variety of subjects.
Preventing Computer Injury: The Hand Book, by Stephanie
(Ergonome, Inc.); The Elements of E-mail Style: Communicate
via Electronic Mail, by David Angell and Brent Heslop
The Whole Internet User's Guide and Catalog, 2nd ed.,
Krol (O'Reilly & Associates, Inc.); New Riders'
Yellow Pages, by Christine Maxwell and Czeslaw Jan Grycz
Publishing); Open Computing's Best UNIX Tips Ever, by
H. Rosen, Richard R. Rosinski, and Douglas A. Host (Osborne
Net Guide: Your Map to the Services, Information, and
on the Electronic Highway, by Peter Rutten, Albert F.
and Kelly Maloni (Random House); and Making TEX Work,
by Norman Walsh (O'Reilly & Associates, Inc.). I
hope that you enjoy
this collection as much as I did.
Preventing Computer Injury: The Hand Book
by Stephanie Brown
Although computer keyboards do not come with a label,
This may be hazardous to your health," it becomes
true in many
cases. Repetitive Stress Injuries (RSI) or Cumulative
(CTD), such as tendonitis and carpal tunnel syndrome,
20% of computer keyboard users. Stephanie Brown, a concert
first encountered these symptoms in other pianists and
method to help them avoid these injuries. When she bought
she noticed the same habits among computer users.
The Hand Book contains two sections: At Your Keyboard
and Caring for Your Hands. The first part identifies
positions that may damage your hands and wrists and
shows how to correct
them. Each chapter demonstrates several incorrect ways
to type, then
presents an exercise to help you find the best way to
while at the computer. Ms. Brown outlines the history
of the keyboard
and explains why some well-known typing instructions
are not healthy.
The second section of the book provides exercises, stretches,
massages to relax your hands, wrists, arms, and back.
It is complemented
by two appendices: Appendix A demonstrates how to adjust
and Appendix B provides the 12 Golden Rules. As I read
the book, I
also tried the exercises presented in these chapters.
Some of the
positions that cause problems hurt not only the hands,
but also the
shoulders, back, and neck. The exercises are restful
and don't take
more than a minute to complete. Ms. Brown presents 88
displaying both correct and incorrect positions. The
12 Golden Rules
consist of 24 photographs which are reproduced on a
color poster suitable
for hanging by your workstation. An eight-page brochure
how best to use The Hand Book is also included. In addition
to the exercises, the author also provides tips such
"Wrist pads are great while you're resting your
or reading over work, but not while you're typing."
Stephanie Brown has produced an excellent book focusing
on the potential
harm in certain keyboard techniques. Ms. Brown describes
well and in a readable style for the layperson. She
easily remembered connections to prevent computer injury.
although a jogger wouldn't run without the benefit of
cool-down exercises, he or she probably wouldn't apply
the same practices
to keyboard entry. Thanks to Sister Eusebia, my grade-school
teacher, I try to warm-up before playing the piano.
I read Ms. Brown's book, it didn't occur to me to transfer
to my typewriter or computer keyboard. This book should
be read by
everybody engaged in keyboard work, especially those
who are already
bordering on some type of Repetitive Stress Injury.
to poor technique are easy to learn and will soon become
Stephanie Brown has offered an alternative to RSIs.
The Hand Book
may be ordered from Ergonome, Inc., New York City, (212)
The Elements of E-mail Style: Communicate Effectively
via Electronic Mail
by David Angell and Brent Heslop
Addison-Wesley Publishing Company
Most e-mail messages resemble an impromptu speech; they
composed and dispatched, without the advantages of proofing
This spontaneity explains the many misspelled words,
structure, and flaming in current e-mail messages. Individuals
for their meticulous writing style in letters and reports
electronic mail with almost no technique and few standards.
respond emotionally to e-mail, expressing thoughts online
go unspoken in a face-to-face encounter. Angell and
these and other problems unique to e-mail communications.
after the classic The Elements of Style, by William
Jr. and E.B. White, The Elements of E-mail Style describes
simple and straightforward techniques for writing effective
Angell and Heslop recognize both the advantages and
of electronic mail, and they indentify points to consider
an e-mail message, including etiquette, politics, and
example, while all capital letters may attract attention
on a printed
page, an e-mail message entirely in upper case (SHOUTING)
headaches for the reader. The authors show the user
how to structure
an e-mail message for impact. Since the recipient may
be sent many
messages, he or she may use a filter to prioritize incoming
Angell and Heslop explain how to create a compelling
and compose an effective e-mail message. This includes
not only good
sentence and paragraph structure, but also the proper
formatting, and mechanics, such as spelling and abbreviations.
book concludes with a glossary entitled English and
and an Appendix, Conventions for Posting on the Internet."
The Elements of E-mail Style addresses a previously
subject. Many books describe how to send e-mail, but
very few discuss
how to compose it. Angell and Heslop not only tell the
should be done, but also demonstrate how to do it. The
presented guidelines for e-mail composition in a familiar,
style. This book should be read and kept next to your
where it will be referenced often.
The Whole Internet User's Guide & Catalog
by Ed Krol
O'Reilly & Associates, Inc.
Krol has updated the original edition to include new
and to provide more information on existing topics.
One of the first
new concepts discussed is Multi-purpose Internet Mail
MIME allows its users to attach files to e-mail messages.
MIME's reputation focuses on its multimedia ability.
It can include
images, recordings, and movies with an e-mail message
or permit the
recipient to execute software on his or her system.
One of the software
packages that can accept MIME messages is pine, which
become popular because of its menu, its simplicity,
and its availability.
Following the chapter on electronic mail, Krol examines
newsgroups, and newsreaders. Although he mentions all
of the different
newsreaders, he uses nn to demonstrate how to install
use a newsreader. However, at the end of the chapter,
a thorough introduction to the tin newsreader.
The chapter originally called "Finding Software"
changed to "Finding Files"; it includes an
updated table of
available archie servers and additional sections on
filename matching, controlling a search geographically,
under the X Window System. Under the X Window System,
the user may
access xarchie, which features a graphical user interface
to archie and a built-in FTP client. The chapters "Finding
Someone, Tunneling Through the Internet:Gopher,"
Indexed Databases: WAIS, The World Wide Web, and Other
have been reorganized and rewritten to explain new features
these topics. Krol addresses the changes in the "white
and shows different ways of locating someone on the
Internet via finger,
whois, and netfind.
In addition to new information, tables, and figures
gopher, Krol introduces Veronica and Jughead and details
they work. The author also provides public WAIS clients
how to use the Mosaic browser in the World Wide Web.
with the Macintosh, Microsoft Windows, and the X Window
UNIX (where it is xmosaic). Among the appendices, Krol
has added a
brief introduction to UNIX and has updated "The
Catalog" and the lists of service providers.
The first edition of this book was excellent; the second
with its extensive modifications and additions, is superb.
done the impossible; he has produced a book which provides
what the Internet user (beginning, intermediate, and
to know. His writing style remains logical, progressing
the least to the most complex concepts, and collegial
on tone, like
a colleague discussing the information super highway.
As I read this
new edition, I was impressed not only by Krol's considerable
but also by his sense of humor. I recommend that you
book, read it, and keep it near your computer for reference.
New Riders' Official Internet Yellow Pages
by Christine Maxwell and Czeslaw Jan Grycz
New Riders Publishing
The first few times a novice travels the Internet, he
or she may be
awed by its enormity and diverseness. However, the more
user becomes, the more the Internet resembles a friendly
with the traveler concentrating on his or her specific
oblivious to the other resources available. Enter New
Official Internet Yellow Pages. This book provides so
it could overwhelm the reader. However, magically, it
does not. Maxwell
and Grycz present a resource, not unlike the yellow
pages in your
local phone book, with over 10,000 entries.
The authors preface the directory with information that
reader's attention. They explain what a listing contains,
icons represent, the Uniform Resource Locator (URL),
and what the
user should expect when accessing the resource. Maxwell
have evaluated each entry as Standard, Major, or Turbo.
They not only
define what each ranking means, but also demonstrate
how to identify
each listing's ranking on sight. The authors briefly
discuss the most
popular Internet tools, including Telnet, FTP, finger,
gopher, and Mosaic. The appendices to the book feature
a keyword listing,
an audience field listing, a list of Internet Service
glossary, recommended further readings, and "A
of the Internet" by Eric Theis.
A particularly valuable feature of this book is that
it helps readers
find both general and highly specialized Internet resources.
have provided not only the entries' locations, but also
for the user attempting to subscribe to a specific service.
"Audience," and "Profile" sections
useful to the reader, since the names of some listings
confusion. For example, ADA is a programming language
or the Americans
with Disabilities Act, while the Bass Audience consists
enthusiasts, not fishermen or musicians. A given listing
more than once if it would logically relate to more
than one keyword.
This excellent directory helps the user find exactly
what he or she
is seeking, particularly the more obscure resources.
If the Internet
is the Information Highway, this book is the Atlas.
Open Computing's Best UNIX Tips Ever
by Kenneth H. Rosen, Richard R. Rosinski, and Douglas A. Host
Rosen, Rosinski, and Host address several topics which
questions or problems from UNIX users and system administrators.
the book's organization comprises chapters and subtopics,
vary from a few sentences to a few paragraphs in length.
Due to this
brevity, the answer to an isolated problem may be found,
understood before your prompt returns. The tips are
located by tip
number; no page numbers appear throughout the entire
book. This design
puzzled me at first, since I had started browsing at
the back of the
book. However, the Table of Contents lists chapter,
tip, including the tip number. The index also lists
the tip number.
Since each page may contain from one to three tip numbers,
it is easy
to locate a specific tip, which eliminates the need
for tip number
to page number mapping.
Open Computing's Best UNIX Tips Ever provides information
novice, experienced, and advanced UNIX users. Beginners
the first eight chapters, which focus on installing
a UNIX system, customizing the environment, mail, editors,
shell programming, and UNIX tools. The more complex
communications and networking, the Internet, system
and network administration,
using both DOS and UNIX, the X Window System, and C
experienced UNIX users should not dismiss the introductory
without first inspecting their contents. For example,
the first chapter
contains two tips and a diagram on the Framed Access
(FACE), plus a subtopic entitled "Some Useful Resources"
includes periodicals and organizations.
Rosen, Rosinski, and Host provide sources for software,
Elm, mush, mh, and Mosaic; present assistance
with sed, awk, and perl; discuss the ed,
vi, and emacs editors; and demonstrate text formatting
with troff. In the chapter on DOS and UNIX, the authors
most combinations: DOS and UNIX, DOS under UNIX, networking
UNIX, using Macintosh PCs and UNIX, utilizing the MKS
implementing X Windows on DOS PCs.
For each topic, the authors provide useful recommend
sources for further
study, and explain where and how to obtain related software.
from topic to topic is logical, the writing style is
clear and readable,
and figures and examples are used to good effect. Rosen,
and Host display an extensive knowledge of UNIX through
tips included here. Open Computing's Best UNIX Tips
complement your other UNIX books, enhancing their value
your understanding. This excellent book merits every
UNIX user's and
Net Guide: Your Map to the Services, Information,
and Entertainment on the Electronic Highway
A Michael Wolff Book
by Peter Rutten, Albert F. Bayers III, and Kelly Maloni
Random House Electronic Publishing
This well-organized handbook to online services focuses
not only on
the Internet, but also on America Online, CompuServe,
Delphi, Genie, Bix, Fidonet, and hundred of BBSs. Containing
4,000 entries, Net Guide classifies the listings according
to topics such as Arts & Entertainment, Computers
& Software, Business
& Finance, Home, Hobbies, & Shopping, Public
Affairs, and Politics
& the Media, to name only a few. Each entry consists
of the name of
the item, a short profile, the location of the item,
and how to access
it. As an introduction to the directory, the authors
answer 27 Frequently
Asked Questions (FAQs), including how to use a Net Guide
to telnet and FTP, how to download a file and look at
a picture, and
what to do when you forget the procedures.
Throughout the book, sidebars called "Cybernotes"
They may contain supplementary information about traveling
excerpts from different listings, and acceptable e-mail
Since each subject features several subtopics, an explanation
subject, and either sketches or pictures, the result
is visually pleasing.
The use of bold fonts, plus a mixture of red and black
to provide visual cues to the reader (at 3 a.m., this
important, if not essential!). Net Guide features some
that aren't published anywhere else, as, for example,
antiques, coins, dollhouses, postcards, Swatch watches,
baseball cards, and a general group on all collectibles.
to CompuServe and America Online and still didn't know
about all these
The Net Guide also offers free connect time to a new
service, Net Guide Online. Although it is not currently
it should be fully operational by the time this column
(I received an update to the book only yesterday that
modifications and five new sites.)
This excellent text examines the best (and worst) aspects
of the commercial
online services and gives the forums the credit they
so seldom receive. It describes common problems on the
discusses ways to prevent them. The authors introduce
each topic with
a brief explanation, which gives the reader a sense
throughout the book. The layout of the book is exceptional;
are extensive and informative.
Making TEX Work
by Norman Walsh
O'Reilly & Associates, Inc.
When Donald Knuth needed a tool to typeset scientific
text, he couldn't find one to meet his specifications,
so he developed
several pieces of software that became the TEX typesetting
system. Approximately 20 years later, word-processing
desktop publishing software have changed drastically,
to create quality professional documents, but TEX remains
in its ability to typeset equations. Versions of TEX
for every platform, and users are still frustrated by
the myriad of
programs TEX needs to work.
Norman Walsh wrote Making TEX Work to eliminate this
user frustration by showing clearly what programs are
TEX to run effectively. He presents the information
sections: Part I provides "An Introduction to TEX,"
Part II discusses the "Elements of a Complex Document,"
Part III gives "A Tools Overview." The first
TEX for the beginner, proves that TEX can produce the
same results as a desktop publisher, if the user wishes,
some informative flowcharts that demonstrate how TEX
Perhaps the most valuable item in the first chapter
is a detailed
list of TEX advantages. Other topics in Part I include
"Running TEX" (including errors and interpreting
messages), and "Macro Packages."
In the second section, Walsh examines fonts, graphics,
considerations, printing, previewing, online documentation,
bibliographies, indexes, and glossaries. The third section
non-commercial and commercial environments, TEX on the
and TEX Utilities. Among the appendices, Walsh provides
METAFONT examples, resources, and a bibliography which
sources than I realized existed on this topic.
Making TEX Work presents a clear, understandable explanation
of TEX. O'Reilly & Associates provide the ultimate
example: Making TEX Work was typeset completely in
TEX, and includes text in Hebrew, Arabic, Chinese, and
Walsh displays an extensive knowledge of the topic,
and his style
helps the reader to easily comprehend the concepts.
tables, and examples complement the text. Anyone who
uses a version
of TEX will enjoy this book; it tells you all about
developments and provides sources for the latest software.
who has ever wanted to learn TEX was waiting for this
It is for all TEX users, whether beginning or advanced.
About the Author
Elizabeth Zinkann has been involved in the UNIX and
C environments for the past
11 years. She is currently a UNIX and C consultant,
and one of her specialities
is UNIX education. In addition to her computer science
background, she also has a
degree in English. Elizabeth can be reached via CompuServe
(Internet format: firstname.lastname@example.org), or via