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Books: A User's Report

Elizabeth Zinkann

The benefits to any book's accompanying media, whether diskette or CD-ROM, continue to present a dilemma for any reviewer.

Should the advertised contents be listed if the diskette or CD-ROM hasn't been tested, or should it be ignored? After several inquiries from readers, I have decided to provide the publisher's intended contents within each individual review. Unless specifically mentioned, I have not tested the CD-ROM or diskette. Since I get so many of them, it would be difficult to find time to thoroughly test each of them. I hope this will end any confusion relating to the accompanying CD-ROMs and diskettes in my reviews.

In this month's column, I include reviews of the HTML Sourcebook, Third Edition, A Complete Guide to HTML 3.2 and HTML Extensions by Ian S. Graham (John Wiley & Sons, Inc.); Emerging Communication Technologies, Second Edition by Uyless Black (Prentice Hall); and Java in a Nutshell: A Desktop Quick Reference, Second Edition by David Flanagan (O'Reilly & Associates, Inc.).

Effective AWK Programming by Arnold Robbins, which I reviewed in the July issue, is now in its second edition. The revision contains updated material for GNU gawk v3.0.3 and includes the Specialized Systems Consultants' (SSC) AWK Reference Card, also written by Robbins. The new edition is published jointly by SSC ( and the Free Software Foundation ( Effective AWK Programming, Second Edition, by Arnold Robbins (ISBN 1-57831-000-8), remains $27.00. The 16-panel AWK Reference Card may also be purchased individually from SSC for $4.50 (ISBN 0-916151-97-2.)

HTML Sourcebook, Third Edition:
A Complete Guide to HTML 3.2 and HTML Extensions
by Ian S. Graham
John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
ISBN 0-471-17575-7

The continued popularity of the World Wide Web has not only encouraged the proliferation of new sites, but also has inspired sophisticated renovations of existing sites. Pages formerly displaying static information have evolved to include dynamic hyperlinks and multimedia bells and whistles. Whether the design appears simple or complex, the site's underlying structure remains the HyperText Markup Language (HTML.) To create or modify a Web page, the user must first understand HTML, its standards, and its potential. With the HTML Sourcebook, Graham provides an excellent explanation, tutorial, and reference for anyone working with HTML from either a professional or amateur frame of reference. The second edition (reviewed in the May issue of Sys Admin) furnished the reader with a complete source for HTML 3.0. The third edition addresses HTML 3.2 and HTML extensions, and features substantial modifications to the text. For example, the second edition briefly summarizes Java as an embedded application and lists Web sites pertaining to its possible inclusion in the HTML standard. The third edition describes how to embed a Java program within HTML, and contains entries on Java, Java applets, Java examples and programs, the Java-database interface, and JavaScript.

The third edition of HTML Sourcebook discusses: Introduction to the HyperText Markup Language; HTML and Document Design; The Design of Web Collections; HTML In Detail; Advanced HTML - Proprietary Extensions and New Features; Uniform Resource Locators (URLs); The HTTP Protocol; Data Processing on an HTTP Server; CGI Examples, Programs, and Tools; Graphics and Images in HTML Documents; Web Management and Maintenance Tools; and Designing Web Sites. The Appendices include: (A) Characters and Computer Character Sets; (B) Multipart Internet Mail Extensions (MIME); (C) Obtaining Software - Browsers, Shareware, Archives, and Archie; (D) "Listening" and "Talking" at a TCP/IP Port; (E) Tags for Identifying Languages - RFC 1766; and (F) Color Names and RGB Codes. Although many of the specific topics analyze similar aspects within HTML (i.e., CGI, URLs, HTTP, and including Graphics, etc.), the contents in the second and third editions differ considerably. The latest revision surveys the most recent developments, such as LDAP URLs (Lightweight Directory Access Protocols). Graham also details procedures employing HTML's more familiar features.

Graham's HTML Sourcebook, Third Edition, provides an excellent reference. An improved format highlights the author's many diagrams and examples. The inside front and back covers furnish frequently accessed information. Graham's extensive coverage of the HTML 3.2 standards combined with his well-organized text results in a superb guide to Web page creation and maintenance, utilizing the newest technologies and capabilities.

Emerging Communication Technologies
Second Edition
by Uyless Black
Prentice Hall
ISBN 0-13-742834-0

The inherent difficulty in any career relates to new and changing methods and products. Although this evolution exists in every field, systems administration remains one of the most challenging. Since the administrator's daily activities utilize both software and hardware maintenance and installation, as well as systems analysis and administrative procedures, a definitive source on new trends and processes does not exist. In Emerging Communications Technologies, Black endeavors to resolve some of these problems and provide a knowledge base for new and significantly modified communications technologies. He begins the book with an Introduction and the Foundations for the Emerging Technologies. Chapter 3, Emerged Technologies, examines T1/E1 CARRIER Systems, "Typical" Topology, X.25, ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Networks), Signaling System Number 7 (SS7), and FDDI (Fiber Distributed Data Interface). The central portion of the book discusses Frame Relay, Fast and Switched Ethernet, Metropolitan Area Networks (MANs) and Switched Multimegabit Data Service (SMDS), Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM), Synchronous Optical Network (SONET)/Synchronous Digital Hierarchy (SDH), Mobile Communications Technologies, Residential Broadband, Broadband Signaling Networks, Advanced Intelligent Network, and Internet Protocol v6 (IPv6). The Appendices contain: (A) A Tutorial on Communications Networks; (B) Layered Protocols, OSI, and TCP/IP; (C) Management Information Bases (MIBs); and (D)Emerging Communications Worksheet.

With the exception of the three introductory chapters, Black structures each chapter with an introduction, a chapter-specific worksheet, and a summary. (Since the beginning chapters cover various technologies and concepts, a single worksheet would not be sufficient for the chapters contents. He did include an introduction and a summary for those chapters.) The worksheets look like tables and include pertinent information. (The blank worksheet form appears in Appendix D.) These worksheets makes comparing the technologies easier for the analyst/administrator. (He or she can simply create duplicate worksheets, place them side by side, and contrast each technology's benefits, disadvantages, and capabilities.) Black describes each technology, its attributes, current uses, and topology. He details fundamental information for readers who are new to the topic and presents the knowledge in a logical manner. The author augments the text with figures, diagrams, and tables. He also furnishes a useful list of abbreviations, plus an additional section detailing further references. The second edition of Emerging Communications Technologies is an excellent book and a valuable resource for every systems administrator. I highly recommend it.

Java in a Nutshell: A Desktop Quick Reference
Second Edition
by David Flanagan
O'Reilly & Associates, Inc.
ISBN 1-56592-262-X

In the second edition of Java in a Nutshell, David Flanagan retains the organization of the original version, while addressing the new features of Java 1.1. This includes an introduction to Java, the Java syntax, a segment devoted to C and C++ programmers who wish to learn Java programming, and a comprehensive survey of the new options available in Java 1.1 followed by a more detailed explanation of the additional features. The author has divided the book into five sections: Introducing Java, Introducing Java 1.1, Programming with the Java 1.1 API, Java Language Reference, and API Quick Reference. The first part addresses Getting Started with Java, How Java Differs from C, and Classes and Objects in Java. The second section, Introducing Java 1.1, discusses What's New in Java 1.1 and Inner Classes and other New Language Features. The third section, Programming with the Java 1.1 API, details Applets, Events, New AWT Features, Object Serialization, Java Beans, Internationalization, and Reflection. In the Java Language Reference segment, Flanagan reviews Java Syntax, System Properties, Java-Related HTML Tags, and JDK Tools. The central segment of the book, the API Quick Reference, contains: How to Use this Quick Reference; The java.applet Package; The java.awt Package; The java.awt.datatransfer Package; The java.awt.event Package; The java.awt.image Package; The java.awt.peer Package; The java.beans Package; The Package; The java.lang Package; The java.lang.reflect Package; The java.math Package; The Package; The java.text Package; The java.util Package; The Package; and Class, Method, and Field Index.

The nutshell books are known for their easy-to-use interface, readily accessible information, and complete, yet compact, coverage of topics. Flanagan's Java in a Nutshell is no exception. He begins with general Java concepts; proceeds to an advanced tutorial; investigates the newly added features available in 1.1; and documents the classes, methods and variables for the 1.1 release in a book that readily fits on most readers desktops. Every Java programmer or those interested in Java should own this book and use it often.

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 (