Cover V07, I11


Books: A User's Report

Elizabeth Zinkann

More of my life is spent tripping over and sorting through computer books and magazines than I willingly admit. However, most of this seemingly wasteful activity leads to productive browsing, reading, and reviewing assorted computer trivia, topics, and trends. The selections for this issue include: Dictionary of Communications Technology: Terms, Definitions, and Abbreviations, Third Edition by Gilbert Held (John Wiley & Sons, Inc.); The Complete Windows NT & UNIX System Administration Pack (Hewlett-Packard Education and O'Reilly & Associates, Inc.); and the Macmillan "Imagine It! 66,000 Premium Graphic Images" Software (Macmillan Publishing USA).

Note: At this time, the only way that The Complete Windows NT & UNIX System Administration Pack (CODE: HPPACK) can be purchased is directly from O'Reilly & Associates, Inc. The two primary books, Essential System Administration (ISBN 1-56592-127-5, $34.95) and Essential Windows NT System Administration Book (ISBN 1-56592-274-3, $34.95) are also sold individually, as is The Windows NT Desktop Reference (ISBN 1-56592-437-1, $6.95.) The topics covered in the Job Aid booklets are also detailed in other O'Reilly books by the same authors. In an effort to prevent frustration for both bookstore staffs and their customers, the books that are sold include: Practical UNIX & Internet Security, Second Edition by Simson Garfinkel & Gene Spafford (ISBN 1-56592-148-8, $39.95); DNS and BIND, Third Edition by Paul Albitz & Cricket Liu (ISBN 1-56592-512-2, $32.95); DNS on Windows NT by Cricket Liu, Paul Albitz, & Matt Larson (ISBN 1-56592-511-4, $34.95); Windows NT in a Nutshell by Eric Pearce (ISBN 1-56592-251-4, $19.95); Managing the Windows NT Registry by Paul Robichaux (ISBN 1-56592-378-2, $39.95), and Windows NT TCP/IP Network Administration by Craig Hunt and Robert Bruce Thompson, (ISBN 1-56592-377-4, $34.95). I hope this will prevent customers from trying to find the pack in bookstores and also provide a viable alternative for readers and administrators who need only part of the package.

Dictionary of Communications Technology:
Terms, Definitions, and Abbreviations

Third Edition
By Gilbert Held
John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
ISBN 0-471-97517-6

The communications field encompasses numerous concepts, procedures, and a specialized vocabulary to describe its specifications and various features. Acronyms multiply overnight (rather like wire coat hangers) and may differ from familiar acronyms by a single letter. (We can merely hope the differing letters are not adjacent on the keyboard.) The telephony and communications sectors require precision and accuracy in both descriptions and implementations, and Held's reference simplifies that requirement. The book's entries encompass general theory and concepts terms, popular and frequently utilized vocabulary, acronyms, obscure details, hardware issues, and software procedures. The author provides communications specific entries, Internet/Intranet expressions, operating systems nomenclature, and product definitions, including vendor information. Many of the entries feature accompanying tables, figures, diagrams, charts, and screen output representations. For example, Held lists a variety of file extensions, a country and country code table, network topologies illustrations, wiring diagrams, reference models (OSI and OSI/ISDN), and I-Series Recommendations. The Appendix contains a list of RFC citations for the reader's information.

Held has compiled an outstanding technical reference. The entries are organized in uniform alphabetical/numerical sequence. The explanations and descriptions are logically presented and clearly expressed. The Dictionary of Communication Technology: Terms, Definitions, and Abbreviations, Third Edition by Gilbert Held is an effective and valuable reference for the computer professional.

The Complete Windows NT & UNIX System Administration Pack
Hewlett-Packard Education and O'Reilly & Associates, Inc.
(Ordering Information: 800-998-9938, U.S. and Canada)

O'Reilly & Associates, Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Education have created and compiled an assortment of twelve books and booklets to assist system administrators supporting both UNIX and Windows NT operating systems with integration and support issues. The pack contains two major books, Essential System Administration, Second Edition by Æleen Frisch (ISBN 1-56592-127-5, $34.95) and Essential Windows NT System Administration by Æleen Frisch (ISBN 1-56592-274-3, $34.95). The collection also includes ten booklets, officially entitled Hewlett-Packard Job Aids, created jointly by Hewlett-Packard and O'Reilly. Each Job Aid addresses a specific topic and is the perfect pocket size (4.25" x 7", ranging in length from 28 to 70 pages) for quick, portable, and easy reference. The Job Aids topics feature the following titles:

Understanding the Domain Name System (DNS) by Cricket Liu, Matt Larson, & Paul Albitz

Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) by Robert Bruce Thompson

Network Security by Craig Hunt

Windows NT & UNIX Integration from a UNIX Perspective by Eric Pearce

Monitoring & Optimizing Server Performance by Robert Bruce Thompson

Windows NT Registry Nuts & Bolts by Paul Robichaux

Windows NT Tips and Tricks by Eric Pearce

Using the Windows Internet Naming Service (WINS) by Robert Bruce Thompson

Windows NT Desktop Reference by Æleen Frisch

Cryptography from a UNIX Perspective by Simson Garfinkel & Gene Spafford

Essential System Administration - The first edition of Essential System Administration was unique; it addressed topics that few other books acknowledged. At the time, AIX wasn't mentioned in any book except its own manuals, and sendmail was discussed briefly in approximately three books. That has significantly changed in the four years between the first and second editions; the quality and range of Frisch's book remains, respectively, superb and extensive. The scope of Essential System Administration provides practical information and procedures for new and experienced administrators. Frisch discusses the following topics: Introduction to System Administration, The UNIX Way, Essential Administrative Tools, Startup and Shutdown, User Accounts, Security, Managing System Resources, Automating Tasks with Scripts and Such, Filesystems and Disks, Backup and Restore, Terminals and Modems, Printers and the Spooling Subsystem, TCP/IP Network Management, Electronic Mail, Configuring and Building Kernels, and Accounting. She dedicates the Appendices with Afterword: Don't Forget To Have Fun, (A) Bourne Shell Programming, (B) Selecting and Installing Linux Systems, and the Bibliography. The UNIX systems that the author describes include: SCO UNIX, SunOS, Solaris, HP-UX (releases 9 and 10), Digital UNIX, IRIX, AIX, and Linux. Frisch illustrates the information and techniques with skill, style, and expertise. Essential System Administration should be a prerequisite for every system administrator.

Essential Windows NT System Administration - In Essential Windows NT System Administration, Frisch directs her attention to Windows NT, version 4.0. As she clarifies in the Preface,

This book is the foundation volume for O'Reilly & Associates, Inc. Windows NT system administration series. As such, it provides fundamental information needed by anyone who takes care of Windows NT systems. At the same time, it consciously avoids trying to be all things to all people; the other books in the series treat individual topics in complete detail. [Preface, page xi]

Frisch details the Windows NT administration concepts and related tasks in the following sequence: Administering Windows NT Systems; Startup, Shutdown, and Server Configuration; User Accounts; Managing Processes; Disks and Filesystems; Files and Directories; Backups; Network Configuration; Print Service; Security; Performance Optimization; and Automating System Administration. The Appendices include: (A) Quick Start for Experienced UNIX System Administrators, (B) Useful Windows NT Resources, and (C) Windows NT Scripting Language Summary. The book also contains a Glossary. The author's customary approach introduces a topic and its concepts. She then details what procedures are involved and how to accomplish them successfully. One chapter that doesn't follow this pattern is Security, since each installation will necessitate different requirements, designs, and implementations. Frisch discusses administration tasks in an exceptionally logical, clear, and informative manner, which is extremely readable and thorough. Essential Windows NT System Administration is an impressive and exemplary foundation both for Windows NT administrators and the O'Reilly Windows NT series.

The Job Aids - The development of the Hewlett-Packard Education/O'Reilly & Associates, Inc. Job Aids permits system administrators to augment their current knowledge and acquire Windows NT/UNIX integration information quickly. Each Job Aids booklet describes an individual topic. Below is a brief glimpse at the Job Aids (in random order) and their features.

Network Security - Hunt examines the elements of security: Security Planning (including the basics of a security policy), User Authentication, Software Security, Security Monitoring, File Security, Encryption, and Firewalls. This is perhaps the most ambiguous topic in system administration, since every site demands its own customized policy and set of protections. Hunt explains the standard precepts well and examines the considerations necessary for adequate security.

Monitoring & Optimizing Server Performance - Thompson reviews the utilities designed to elicit the best performance from an administrator's combined operating system and hardware. Individual topics include: Monitoring Server Performance, Optimizing Server Performance, Monitoring Server Events, and Monitoring the Network.

Windows NT Tips and Tricks - In this Job Aid, Pearce demonstrates how to use some utilities in unique ways. These procedures fall in the following categories: Installing and Maintaining Software, Troubleshooting NT, Account Creation, Debugging Network Problems, WHOIS Information, NetBIOS over TCP/IP, Browsing, Installing Hardware, SCSITOOL, Using NT As a System Administration Tool, Registry, and Using NT as a Multiprotocol Print Server.

Understanding the Domain Name Service (DNS) - Liu, Larson, and Albitz analyze how DNS functions and introduce the DNS specific vocabulary. The distinct chapters detail: The Domain Name Space, The Internet Domain Name Space, Further Down, Delegation, Name Servers, Resolvers, Resolution, and Caching.

Using the Windows Internet Naming Service (WINS) - This Job Aid explores the Wins server. On page 1, Thompson describes it succinctly:

WINS is to NetBIOS and Microsoft Networking what the Domain Name Service (DNS) is to TCP/IP and the Internet. [Page 1]

He continues to analyze it via the following chapters: Why WINS Is Needed, How WINS Works, Installing the WINS Server Service, Managing WINS with WINS Manager, and Maintaining and Troubleshooting WINS.

Windows NT Registry Nuts & Bolts - Robichaux attempts to remove the mysteries and illusions surrounding the Windows NT registry and succeeds admirably. He examines: A Brief History of the Registry, What Does the Registry Do?, Advantages Offered By the Registry, Registry Zen, NT Registry Details, How the Registry Is Structured, What Goes in the Registry, and Getting Data In and Out.

Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) - The concept of DHCP utilizes a dynamic, rather than static, IP address structure. Thompson reviews the concepts, techniques, and pragmatic considerations of the DHCP service: Why DHCP Is Needed, How DHCP Works, Understanding DHCP Scopes, Planning for DHCP, Installing the DHCP Server Service, Installing and Configuring the DHCP Relay Agent, Managing DHCP with DHCP Manager, Maintaining and Troubleshooting the DHCP Server, and a Summary. The Appendix discusses the Microsoft DHCP Option Support.

Cryptography from A UNIX Perspective - This is an exceptionally intriguing booklet. From the concise introduction and history through the algorithms and programs, Garfinkel and Spafford explore and explain cryptography designs and implementations. The main topics include: A Brief History of Cryptography, What Is Encryption?, The Enigma Encryption System, Common Cryptographic Algorithms, Message Digests and Digital Signatures, Encryption Programs Available for UNIX, and Encryption and U.S. Law.

Windows NT and UNIX Integration from A UNIX Perspective - This Job Aid approaches system integration from a UNIX system administrator's viewpoint, knowledge, and experience. Pearce illustrates the similarities and differences through the following chapters: Microsoft Windows NT from a UNIX Perspective, Comparing Windows NT and UNIX Operating System Installation Procedures, Administering Users and Groups, Security in a Mixed Windows NT and UNIX Environment, Working with Different Filesystems, Network and Internet Integration, Service and Daemon Administration, Email in Windows NT and UNIX, and Remote Access in a Mixed Environment.

Windows NT Desktop Reference - The original O'Reilly desktop reference by Æleen Frisch is the only Job Aid also available outside of The Complete Windows NT & UNIX System Administration Pack at this time (ISBN 1-56592-437-1, $6.95) The singular difference (besides the cover designs and titles) is that the $6.95 version possesses an index. Frisch distilled both the Windows NT 4.0 and the Windows NT Resource Kit commands in the easily portable edition. She presents the following chapters: Introduction, Entering Commands, List of Commands by Topic, I/O Redirection, Help Commands, Alphabetical List of Commands, The Windows NT Scripting Language, The Windows NT GUI, and Useful Windows NT Web Sites.

The Complete Windows NT & UNIX System Administration Pack is an extremely thorough way to approach UNIX and Windows NT Integration. Each Job Aids booklet presents references and sources for further information if an administrator desires to learn more about a particular topic. All of the authors are experienced and accomplished, both in administration topics and writing ability.

This is an extensive and superb collection for any and every UNIX or Windows NT administrator. It contains an enormous amount of insight and knowledge, presented in a unique and extraordinary manner.

Macmillan Imagine It! 66,000 Premium Graphic Images
Macmillan Publishing USA
ISBN 1-57595-168-1

Graphics are no longer the sole property of graphics illustrators and designers. Fortunately, they have escaped to the Web, word processors, greeting card programs, and any other application that you might name. Macmillan Publishing (for those readers who do not frequent both bookstores and software stores) has developed a new line of graphic image software entitled "Imagine It!" There are currently eight varieties: 66,000, 111,000, 333,000, 555,000, and Sci-Fi Premium Graphic Images, plus 555,000 DVD Graphics, 100,000 Web Graphics, and 50,000 Animated Web Graphics. The 66,000 Premium Graphics Images package contains the Master Setup CD-ROM, 3 Vector Graphic CD-ROMs, a Web Graphic CD-ROM, and a Photo CD-ROM. The package also includes a short instruction booklet, which is all that the user will need to get the program running within minutes. The unique attributes of "Imagine It!" include its minimum setup time, the easy to use Quicksearch interface, and the thumbnail representations and catalog. The package contains both non-animated and animated graphics, allows the user to search by keywords, and includes printable thumbnails of all the graphics. It is extremely simple to use and is fun just to browse through the selections. However, if you are searching for a particular graphic or combination of graphics, the Quicksearch utility will tell you where it is located. This is an excellent program for anyone interested in clip art, photos, fonts, and animation.

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 (