Books: A User's Report
This month covers a variety of topics, as usual. However,
in two departures
from the norm, I reviewed a book primarily for Windows,
in an effort
to save countless repetitive explanations and confusion
downloading, and a book that simulates the newspaper
tabloids. As always, there was an abundance of books
to review, but
the final selections include: The Downloader's Companion
by Scott Meyers and Catherine Pinch; Internet Insider,
Prevost; New Riders' Official Internet Yellow Pages,
by Christine Maxwell and Czeslaw Jan Grycz; Solaris
A Guide for System Administrators, by George Becker,
Mary E. S.
Morris, and Kathy Slattery; The New Kornshell Command
Language, by Morris I. Bolsky and David G. Korn; UNIX
Security Essentials, by Christoph Braun; Exploring Expect:
A Tcl-based Tookit for Automating Interactive Programs,
Libes; and E-Mail Security: How to Keep Your Electronic
Private, by Bruce Schneier.
An item that may interest readers of this column: O'Reilly
Inc., has made "HTML Overview," a subset of
Internet Information Services book, available at no
its World Wide Web site (http://www.ora.com/). The overview
provides all the basic information for creating an HTML
Markup Language) document, plus a view of the recently
World Wide Web site.
The Downloader's Companion for Windows
by Scott Meyers and Catherine Pinch
Meyers and Pinch have written a valuable book on an
of personal computer and Internet use. Downloading a
file is only
part of the issue. After the file has been successfully
is it readable? Comparing the files to wrapped packages
be opened, the authors demonstrate the correct way to
which files can view the mystery packages, and include
all of the
The introduction covers the basics of downloading, its
importance. It outlines the structure and content of
and explains the various icons employed (installation
wizard for advice, and pitfall for caution). The authors
also introduce the software featured on the disk and
offer an "Installation
Summary (for the Impatient)." The second chapter
principles of freeware versus shareware, and the benefits
of each. More important, it describes the correct procedures
when using shareware programs.
The fundamental concepts of downloading are examined
in chapter 3.
Meyers and Pinch describe the different transfer protocols,
a summary of each protocol's benefits and disadvantages
in an excellent
table, and discuss how and why to choose a protocol.
The authors explain
the differences between text and binary files, demonstrate
downloading technique, and provide detailed downloading
for both binary and text files. Chapter 4 focuses on
compression and archiving. Meyers and Pinch introduce
illustrate what compression and archiving are and how
then explore the various types of archives. Chapter
5 discusses encoding
and decoding, and why it is necessary (and when). The
explain how to accomplish these tasks. Chapter 6 delves
images, sounds, movies, and the necessary tools to either
receive them. The final chapter references other books
and CDs pertaining
to functioning online, while the appendices list the
the reader may encounter, in both alphabetical and category
This book not only details the procedures used in downloading
and images, but also includes the software for Windows
the reader time-consuming searches). The techniques
described, so that no step can be overlooked. Meyers
and Pinch have
addressed a neglected topic. (Every time I go online,
if I know how to download. A "yes" response
a barrage of questions. Now someone should write one
users!) They include tips on such issues as how to avoid
an outdated file and what transfer protocol is the best
for the reader's
unique situation. The Downloader's Companion for Windows
well-written and easy to understand: it will become
for anyone using an online service.
by Ruffin Prevost
The newspaper tabloid has become an accepted part of
the various publications escort the shopper through
the grocery or
drugstore check-out lane. Television shows use the same
sensational stories. Could the Internet be far behind?
Insider uses the breathless tabloid style to feature
(and frivolous) articles. (One of my favorites, "Woman
Years While On Hold," reminds me of some phone
I have had!)
The Internet Insider reflects the Internet as it exists
partly serious, partly humorous -- a mirror of the current
reflections and concerns. Online access to The Internet
is available through the World Wide Web. This book illustrates
change from the instructional books and shows how the
currently used. It is fun to peruse and should bring
a smile to the
faces of serious Net surfers everywhere.
New Riders' Official Internet Yellow Pages
by Christine Maxwell and Czeslaw Jan Grycz
New Riders' Publishing
This revised edition features an improved format. To
additional listings and expanded International listings,
edition introduces a three-column page, replacing the
design. The newer fonts and typesetting give this edition
a more refined
and professional look than the original. The revised
version has approximately
45 percent more entries than its original counterpart,
keyword list to parallel the listings, an improved rating
and more concentration on multimedia resources. The
new format has
allowed the book to essentially remain the same size
book while providing
more information. (While this may seem an extremely
minor point, avid
readers with limited bookshelves can breathe a sigh
of relief. This
The modified appendices still include keywords, audience
Service Providers, a glossary, further readings, and
A Whimsical Tour
of the Internet. Additions include Making Your Voice
Heard and Advertisements.
(Some advertising does appear in the directory itself,
but has the
same form as an entry, no rating, and a tinted background.
not conflict with the directory in any way.)
I like this second edition better than the original.
to include more information and keep the directory current,
and Grycz have improved the book tremendously. New Riders'
Internet Yellow Pages remains an excellent resource,
will benefit any and every Internet traveler.
A Guide for System Administrators
by George Becker, Mary E. S. Morris, and Kathy Slattery
This book helps the system administrator make the transition
Solaris 1.x to Solaris 2.x. Although the versions retain
structure, enough differences exist to complicate an
job. This book is intended to supplement the documentation.
include an Introduction to Solaris, Planning and Preparing
Installing Solaris, Admintool, Boot and Shutdown Files,
Network, Security Software Management, Disk Utilities,
2.x Products. The Appendices include AutoInstall Samples,
Configurations, and Sources of Information.
The introductory chapter, An Introduction to Solaris,
more than the title indicates, including the major sections
2.x and their respective functions, common features
in 1.x and 2.x,
new features available only in the 2.x releease, and
a brief summary
of modifications and new tools important to the system
Ensuring chapters cover Solaris installation, then present
There is a bit of a problem with the Contents listing.
The last two
chapters in the Table of Contents, AutoInstall Samples
Disk Configurations, are not missing. Although they
are listed as
chapters 11 and 12 in the Table of Contents, they actually
as appendices A and B in the text. Appendix A in the
Table of Contents
thus becomes Appendix C in the text (Appendix C, Sources
uses one of my favorite designs: practical questions
and answers encountered
daily.) Prentice Hall is aware of this incongruity and
correct it in future versions.
Becker, Morris, and Slattery have written an extremely
book. The reader is put at ease with the second and
in the book: "We understand how hard it is to adapt
to a new environment.
We are all in this together." These words establish
for the book. The authors are expert in the field, and
their knowledge with the reader as if with a colleague.
It is intended
to be an auxiliary text to the documentation accompanying
software. Solaris Implementation: A Guide for System
deals with daily tasks and should be beneficial to anyone
Solaris 2.x, whether a veteran or new Solaris user.
The New Kornshell Command and Programming Language
by Morris I. Bolsky and David G. Korn
Since the KornShell first appeared, there have been
not only to the KornShell itself, but also to its environment.
the interim, COSE (Common Operating System Environment)
POSIX (Portable Operating System Interface) has tried
to set standards
in the UNIX community; and several desktop products
(such as Novell's
dtksh) and scripting languages (such as perl and tcl)
evolved. The KornShell has also been changing to keep
pace with current
The New KornShell Command and Programming Language book
resembles the original version. It has retained the
format of the
first book so that readers familiar with the original
easily find a topic. The sections include: Introduction,
The Built-In Editors, Programming Language, Application
and the Appendix. However, this KornShell is more powerful
1988 version. The book is compatible with earlier versions,
as with the Bourne shell. The authors have included
some hints that
will make your KornShell programs more efficient and
indicate which features are not included in the Bourne
shell or the
POSIX shell, and which features may soon be obsolete
(and what to
use in their stead). This information helps you tune
for optimum portablility.
The New KornShell Command and Programming Language features
an easily readable style and simple references. Since
the book is
designed for both novice and experienced users, ease
of use is an
important issue. The description of each command includes
of the command, an example showing how the command may
sample output from that command. This method results
in a very effective
demonstration of the language and its capabilities.
The appendix contains
a summary of the new features and a separate section
users currently learning the KornShell. This is the
on ksh. Everyone who uses the KornShell should have
to a copy, within reach if possible.
UNIX System Security Essentials
by Christoph Braun
Although many resources related to security exist for
the UNIX system
administrator, the user has been largely overlooked.
texts usually warn against choosing a simplistic password
the need to change it frequently, and some of the better
inform the reader of mesg y or n (allow or disallow
messages to your screen), but most don't advance much
In UNIX System Security Essentials, Braun focuses on
to a higher degree. His topics include an Introduction,
Users, System Administration, Security for Programmers,
Management, and Important Commands and System Calls.
Braun discusses the fundamental security measures available
UNIX user. He points out that users must decide what
they need to
protect and must see what utilities they can conveniently
He then examines how system administrators configure
a system to protect
it from unwarranted intrusions. He sees programmers
as a special class
of users: programmers must also ensure their project's
Just as each system's needs vary and every programmer
requirements to safeguard, each organization has its
own unique security
considerations. Braun discusses the process of developing
security management plan and how to structure one for
The last chapter describes UNIX system security commands
UNIX System Security Essentials focuses on the tools
already has available for implementing a security strategy.
approach emphasizes a carefully constructed design using
that are accessible with any UNIX system.
Exploring Expect: A Tcl-based Toolkit for
Automating Interactive Programs
by Don Libes
O'Reilly & Associates, Inc.
Expect is a "software suite for automating interactive
In other words, it can automate responses from the keyboard,
the user or administrator the tedium of having to sit
in front of
a terminal waiting to enter "y" followed by
a carriage return.
(This benefit is portrayed best by a set of cartoons
on page 2: "Before
Expect," an interactive process leads to the workstation,
someone sitting at the keyboard; in "After Expect,"
process goes through Expect before reaching the unmanned
complete with a crooked "Gone Fishing" sign.)
Written by Expect's
creator, Don Libes, the book demonstrates how to use
the reader may not need all of the information at once
(it is possible
to read various sections independently), the author
reading the entire book. Each chapter ends with a set
which should be read if not completed -- they could
to problems you may later encounter.
The author begins with an introduction to Expect, followed
by an overview
of Tcl. From that point, Libes clarifies the 25-page
man entry, describing
Expect's different properties and using code fragments
its capabilities. Following the introductions to Expect
and Tcl, Libes
discusses getting started with Expect. Moving from the
the specific, he illustrates some of Expect's concepts,
regular expressions, patterns, actions, limits, debugging
send, spawn, signals, and interact. Libes also describes
Tk (Expectk, pronounced "ek spect tee kay");
Expect, C, and
C++; and Expect as a Tcl extension. The book concludes
with a list
of the Expect commands and variables, an index of scripts,
the general index.
The material in Exploring Expect is logically presented.
The writing style is not only informative, but also
don't ignore the author''s footnotes; many of them reflect
sense of humor). The author uses examples liberally
book, which helps the reader to understand the concepts
Libes' expertise in both Expect and Tcl is obvious;
the clarity of
his presentation is a bonus. The book merits the attention
anyone using Tcl, Tk, or Expect.
E-Mail Security: How to Keep Your Electonic
by Bruce Schneier
John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Schneier encapsulates the entire electronic mail problem
than anyone else has: "The world of electronic
mail is the world
of postcards" (p. 1). Unprotected electronic mail
can be altered,
mis-directed, and delivered to the wrong address. Schneier
exactly what can happen to e-mail and then describes
to protect its delivery and integrity.
E-Mail Security is organized in two main sections. Part
I, Privacy and Electronic Mail, discusses The Problem,
Key Management, Authentication, Certificates, Keeping
Key Private, Odds and Ends, and Patents, Governments,
and Export Laws.
Part II, Achieving Electronic Mail Privacy, explores
annd Features, Privacy Enhanced Mail (PEM), Pretty Good
Comparing PGP and PEM, and Attacks Against PGP and PEM.
discuss Pretty Good Privacy and Privacy Enhanced Mail.
Schneier presents the topics in a logical order. The
book is entertaining,
but still maintains the gravity that the subject warrants.
understanding of the subject is reflected in the lucidity
of his discussion
of various concepts. This is an excellent book on an
topic. It merits the attention of anyone involved with
mail, online systems, the Internet, and security.
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: email@example.com), or via