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Books: A User's Report

Elizabeth Zinkann

For this month's column, I read and reviewed the following books: The Internet Yellow Pages, Third Edition by Harley Hahn (Osborne McGraw-Hill); The UNIX Desk Reference: The Pages by Peter Dyson (Sybex); The Computer Phonebook 1996 by Robert Baker (no starch press); Internet Firewalls and Network Security, Second Edition by Chris Hare and Karanjit Siyan (New Riders Publishing); Multimedia: Making It Work, Third Edition by Tay Vaughan (Osborne McGraw-Hill); and HTML 3: Electronic Publishing On the World Wide Web by Dave Raggett, Jenny Lam, and Ian Alexander (Addison-Wesley). I hope that you find the reviews and the information in them useful, valuable, and enjoyable.

The Internet Yellow Pages
Third Edition
by Harley Hahn
Osborne McGraw-Hill
ISBN 0-07-882182-7

Finding items that have been misplaced (a recipe, phone number, or your car keys, for example) can occasionally present a challenge, but the key to a successful search (actually discovering the missing item) combines a logical direction and method. The same principle also applies to Internet information inquiries. The Internet Yellow Pages not only provides the user with the necessary navigational data, but also contains many humorous sidebars throughout the book. The entries are arranged alphabetically by topic, including Art, Computers, Crafts, Flight Simulators, Games, Gardening, Intrigue, Radio, Real Estate, Star Trek, and Zoology. Hahn has expanded and revised the existing sections and included several new topics: Dieting, Exercise, Herbs, Men, Motorcycles, and Recipes. The text is interspersed with graphics promoting other sites, quotations from the Net, and humorous bits of trivia and advice. Two of my favorites are:

"Go outside. The Net will be here when you get back." (p. 224)


"Little known fact: Charles and Diana met in alt.romance." (p. 579)

The Internet Yellow Pages, Third Edition, is an excellent reference and resource for Internet travel. It allows users to determine where they want to visit without online charges or frustration. Any Internet user will not only appreciate this book, but also use it frequently.

The UNIX Desk Reference: The Pages
by Peter Dyson
ISBN 0-7821-1658-2

The UNIX community possesses its own language containing commands, acronyms, variables, options, and syntax. Although this is neither surprising nor unusual, it can sometimes be confusing to the experienced UNIX professional and bewildering to the UNIX novice. When the specialized dialects of the various UNIX systems (Linux, UnixWare, HP-UX, AIX, Solaris, SunOS, and Free-BSD, for example) are added, communication becomes even more complex.

The user can always refer to the man pages provided he or she is within close proximity to a terminal, has the time to read the entry, and isn't interrupted. The UNIX Desk Reference, however, alleviates these problems and supplies a remarkably complete resource for UNIX terminology. Dyson includes the vocabulary for most UNIX variants and presents the entries completely in alphabetical order. (For example, 4.4BSD is located where the entry FOUR should be listed.) Special characters, and cross references to their complete definitions, appear before the letter A.

Dyson illustrates concepts including: text processing and formatting, X Windows, TCP/IP, UNIX shells, mail and networking, the Internet, security and administration, and communication. Where applicable, he provides tables to accompany a definition, displaying the option or argument, and a brief description of the action. Two appendices furnish a UNIX and DOS Command Comparison and ASCII tables in decimal, hexadecimal, and octal systems.

The UNIX Desk Reference: The Pages is an outstanding book. Each entry features a clearly written and knowledgeable definition, plus additional information when appropriate. The acronyms are effectively cross-referenced and easy to locate. Dyson has written a superior resource for the system administrator, network administrator, and UNIX user, whether beginning or advanced. I highly recommend it.

The Computer Phonebook 1996
by Robert Baker
no starch press
Distributed by Publishers Group West
ISBN 1-886411-03-4

This compact directory provides mailing addresses, online addresses (both email and Web site URLs), and phone, fax, faxback, and BBS numbers for over 14,000 companies. Baker divided the information into two segments: (1) a Directory of Companies, and (2) a Directory of Products and Services. The second section contains information about Accessories and Supplies, Hardware, Organizations, Publications and Information Sources, Services, and Software. The author describes how to use this book and presents an additional section, Maintaining and Troubleshooting Your PC. In that section, Baker describes a logbook, discusses what to do before you have a computer or computer-related problem, and suggests some possible troubleshooting measures to employ when a problem occurs. The Directory of Products and Services permits the reader to also use The Computer Phonebook 1996 as a marketing and research tool because it links companies with specific products. Its primary purpose for most users, however, will be to furnish technical support information, both for upgrades (via downloading) and performance problems.

The Computer Phonebook 1996 supplies addresses and contact numbers for computer companies in a single source. It eliminates time-consuming searches through installation and user manuals for the correct phone number or address. Baker places all pertinent information in one easy to use reference. This source can and will be utilized for upgrades, technical support, market research, and job seekers. It is an excellent addition to any computer user's library.

Internet Firewalls and Network Security Second Edition
by Chris Hare and Karanjit Siyan
New Riders Publishing
ISBN 1-56205-632-8
CD-ROM Included

The previous edition of Internet Firewalls and Network Security explained the mechanics of TCP/IP and its inherent security risks. Hare and Siyan further developed the concept of a firewall and the different security methods that both the user and the system administrator could employ to protect the integrity and information of the system. They also identified which hardware implementations were available and the benefits and disadvantages of each configuration. The second edition revises and expands the previous material to reflect changes in network security procedures. The authors retained most of the previous text, including the book's organization. There are three sections: Network Security Background, Screening Routers and Firewalls, and the Appendices. The first section contains Understanding TCP/IP, Security, Designing A Network Policy, and The One-Time Password Authentication (OTP) System. The chapter on OTP presents a new development. Although OTP was mentioned in the first edition, it was not addressed to this extent. The design and operation of the OTP authentication system produces an effective barrier to hacker password intrusion. With ordinary password files, the combination of the theft of the password file plus network connection eavesdropping can unlock users' passwords. OTP generates a different password for each login. Hare and Siyan examine some different implementations and aspects of the OTP system.

The second section discusses An Introduction to Screening Routers, Packet Filters, PC Packet Filtering, Firewall Architecture and Theory, Firewall Implementations, The TIS Firewall Toolkit, and Black Hole. This section analyzes the implementation of security measures and, in particular, firewall implementation for system administrators. The concluding chapters feature the Firewall Toolkit by TIS (Trusted Information Systems, Inc.) and Black Hole, the firewall implementation by Milkyway Networks Corporation in Ottawa, Canada. Part III, The Appendices, presents (A) List of Worksheets, (B) Sources of Information, (C) Vendor List, and (D) The OPIE and Log Daemon Manual Pages. The accompanying CD-ROM contains firewall software from Technologic Corporation, Trusted Information Systems, Inc., HTML links to Internet sites, and SATAN (Security Administrator's Tool for Analyzing Networks.)

Internet Firewalls and Network Security, Second Edition, features a logical, cohesive, and clear writing style and format. Hare and Siyan explain the concepts well, utilizing figures, diagrams, tables, screen simulations, and flowcharts to assist the reader. This is a superior book on a crucial topic for system and network administrators. Every administrator should read this book at least once.

Multimedia: Making It Work Third Edition
by Tay Vaughan
Osborne McGraw-Hill
ISBN 0-07-882225-4
Two CD-ROMS Included

For most of the computer community, the results of multimedia creativity have been experienced, and (hopefully) enjoyed. Graphic designers have usually envisioned and implemented these projects. However, as the popularity of the Internet and the World Wide Web in particular has increased, more programmers have become designers, and some designers have become programmers, at least for Web pages. The previous edition of Vaughan's Multimedia: Making It Work addressed the creation and the components of a successful multimedia project. The second edition's CD-ROM contained limited working versions of Macromedia products for both Macintosh and Windows platforms. The third editon updates the technology information (i.e., the software and hardware sections), adds a section specifically related to Internet design, and includes both a CD-ROM from Macromedia and a second CD-ROM from Allegiant.

Vaughan divides the book into six sections: an Introduction, Multimedia Hardware, Multimedia Software, Multimedia Building Blocks, Assembling and Delivering A Project, and Multimedia and the Internet. The Introduction addresses What Is Multimedia?, Introduction to Making Multimedia, and Multimedia Skills and Training. In the Multimedia Building Blocks section, the author examines text, sound, images, animation, and video. The Assembling and Delivering A Project section analyzes the pragmatic issues: Planning and Costing, Designing and Producing, Context and Talent, Delivering, and CD-ROM Technology. The most recent addition, Multimedia and the Internet, details How the Internet Works, Tools for the World Wide Web, and Designing for the World Wide Web. The Appendices review (A) Macromedia, Inc., and (B) Allegiant Technologies, Inc. products included on the CD-ROMs.

Vaughan introduces the concept of a multimedia project, discusses the hardware (Macintosh versus Windows platforms), presents the different types of software available, and separately reviews the elements of a multimedia project. He analyzes the business aspects of a project from the planning through the delivery stages and demonstrates how to apply multimedia concepts to the Internet and Web page design.

This is an unique text and a superb one. Vaughan clearly and aesthetically explains each concept. He provides figures, diagrams, images, screen simulations, tables, and photographs. The author also includes tips, warnings, cross-platform information, quotations, and anecdotes. Multimedia: Making It Work is appropriate for both the multimedia novice and the professional. Anyone interested in multimedia, whether as a creator or a spectator, will appreciate this book.

HTML 3: Electronic Publishing on the World Wide Web
by Dave Raggett, Jenny Lam, and Ian Alexander
ISBN 0-201-87693-0

HTML (HyperText Markup Language) currently defines the appearance of World Wide Web pages. (The user's browser ultimately interprets a site's final appearance, but it depends on both the HTML code and the browser's interpretation.) HTML 2.0 has been accepted; however, HTML 3.0 remains in the definition process, and Dave Raggett is working with the World Wide Web Consortium to finalize a standard HTML 3.0. Until that happens, the part of HTML 3 that is likely to be accepted as part of the standard (HTML extensions) is eagerly being used. This book describes both new HTML features (HTML 3.2) as well as the standard tags.

The authors examine some of the World Wide Web's background in the first chapters: What Is the Web? and From CERN to Cyberspace. Raggett, Lam, and Alexander then present an Overview of HTML followed by HTML 3 Generic Attributes. The creation of a Web page is procedurally followed. The design, simple HTML attributes, and the more advanced processes are illustrated in a logical order. The authors develop a page through the following chapters: Designing Your Web Project, Marking Up Paragraphs and Headings, Character Emphasis, Lists, Hypertext Links, Tables, Graphics and Other Media for your Document, Fill-out Forms, The Document Head, Style Sheets for HTML Documents, Equations and Mathematics, and Creating Your Own Artwork for the Web. The Appendices include: Examples of Tags, Alphabetical List of HTML elements, Special Characters, Special Symbols, URL (Uniform Resource Locators) Organization Types, Country Codes, Language Codes, Dingbat Icons, The Cyberia Café, and the Glossary. The HTML extensions, as well as whether an attibute is from HTML 2 or 3, are designated by icons. The authors discuss different ways to accomplish desired effects, and provide tips and explanations in shaded sidebars.

HTML 3: Electronic Publishing on the World Wide Web is an impressive book. It contains a touch of the past, present, and the future. The writing style is clear and easy to follow, whether it is a tip, an explanation (this did not work because...), directions for a tag implementation, or a general discussion of a concept. The graphics in the book are humorous, and the color inserts merit attention. The inside front cover, the inside back cover, and both sides of a fold-out reference keep the most frequently used tags at your fingertips. Each chapter begins with a bullet list of which topics are discussed within the chapter and an introduction. Depending on the topic, there may be more than just an introduction to explain the topic. The authors employ many examples to demonstrate concepts and present a tutorial on designing a Web page. This book provides examples, syntax, explanations of current practices, and a glimpse of the future. It is a valuable addition to the HTML library.

About the Author

Elizabeth Zinkann has been involved in the UNIX and C environment for the past 12 years. She is currently a UNIX and C consultant, and one of her specialties is UNIX education. In addition to her computer science background, she also has a degree in English. Elizabeth can be reached via America Online (