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Books: A User's Report

Elizabeth Zinkann

In this issue, two mini-reviews on networking and network management lead the column, followed by reviews of a Solaris book, a Perl and CGI selection, and a preventative injury offering. The reviewed books are: Ethernet Networks, Third Edition by Gilbert Held (John Wiley & Sons, Inc.); SNMP, SNMPv2, SNMPv3, and RMON 1 and 2, Third Edition by William Stallings (Addison-Wesley); A Practical Guide to Solaris by Mark G. Sobell (Addison Wesley Longman); Perl and CGI for The World Wide Web: Visual QuickStart Guide by Elizabeth Castro (Peachpit Press); and ErgAerobics: Why Does Working @ My Computer Hurt So Much? by Perry Bonomo and Daniel Seidler (ErgAerobics, Inc.). (Note: The review of Sobell's Solaris book was done prior to its publication, using a draft manuscript. The final book may include some changes.)

Ethernet Networks
Third Edition
By Gilbert Held
John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
ISBN 0-471-25310-3
500 Pages
The design, implementation, and maintenance of any Ethernet network requires both planning and knowledge of the relevant software and hardware issues. In the third edition of Ethernet Networks, Held revised the topics discussed in the second edition, added numerous sections, and expanded existing sections. For example, the author has added discussions of Gigabit Ethernet requirements and procedures and doubled the material pertaining to intelligent and switching hubs. Most of the chapters have been modified to reflect new developments or trends while maintaining the organization of the previous edition. Held is an excellent author, and Ethernet Networks, Third Edition, provides a current and essential reference for system and network administrators.

SNMP, SNMPv2, SNMPv3, and RMON 1 and 2
Third Edition
By William Stallings
ISBN 0-201-48534-6
619 Pages
The configuration and architecture of a standard networking environment (assuming that there is a standard networking environment, for review purposes) may possess a variety of system platforms and include new and legacy computers, components, and peripherals. To effectively manage these networks, administrators utilize the Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) and the Remote Networking Monitoring (RMON) specifications. With the third edition of SNMP, SNMPv2, SNMPv3, and RMON 1 and 2, author William Stallings provides systems and network administrators with explanations of the SNMP networking principles.

Stallings presents an Introduction, the elementary concepts of Networking Management, details the features of SNMPv1, RMON, RMON2, SNMPv2, SNMPv3, and includes appendices pertaining to the TCP/IP Protocol Suite and Abstract Syntax Notation One (ASN.1). The modifications and changes in the third edition highlight SNMPv3, its attributes, and particularly its cryptography features. Stallings discusses the essential concepts and their practical applications logically and thoroughly. This is an indispensable and excellent guidebook and resource for everyone involved with network management or administration.

A Practical Guide to Solaris
By Mark G. Sobell
Addison Wesley Longman
ISBN 0-201-89548-X
1120 Pages
Following the pattern of his previous system-specific books (UNIX System 7, System V, Coherent, and Linux), Mark Sobell's latest contribution surveys the Solaris operating system. Specifically, he addresses Solaris 2, including "Solaris 7", or more correctly, Solaris 2.7 or SunOS 5.7. Sobell also features a large range of topics, detailing procedures for both the user and the systems administrator. He presents the individual subjects within three main divisions and the Appendices: Part I: The Solaris Operating System, Part II: Advanced Solaris, and Part III: The UNIX Utility Programs. In Part I, the author explores The Solaris Operating System, Getting Started, The Solaris Utilities, The Solaris Filesystem, and The Shell I. The second section discusses: Graphical User Interfaces, Networking and The Internet, The vi Editor, The emacs Editor, The Shell II (sh), Bourne Shell Programming, The C Shell, The Korn Shell and Advanced Shell Programming, Programming Tools, and System Administration. Part III presents The UNIX Utility Programs, and the Appendices examine A) Regular Expressions, B) HELP!, C) Security, and D) The POSIX Standards.

Many elusive details of the Solaris operating system (particularly the 2.7 release) are examined and illustrated. Administrators with experience in different systems will discover information relevant to their specific expertise. For example, users who have exposure primarily to UNIX System V may notice different command names for familiar tasks, depending on their particular Solaris system's configuration. The systems administrator familiar with UNIX System V will discern some differences, but will recognize most commands and procedures. The UNIX Utility Programs are listed by function in an introductory table; they appear in alphabetical order. Sobell also employs a sample page layout to demonstrate how the utility entries are formatted.

A Practical Guide to Solaris is an effective and thorough means to learn how to use or administer a Solaris system. The author demonstrates the aspects and capabilities of Solaris through its options and possible configurations. He reviews various windowing alternatives, SCCS (Source Code Control System), daily system operations, processes, encryption, POSIX Standards, networking, shell programming, email, and employs tutorials when applicable. A Practical Guide to Solaris is an outstanding book, providing a comprehensive study of the advantages and qualities of Solaris 2.

Perl and CGI for The World Wide Web: Visual QuickStart Guide
By Elizabeth Castro
Peachpit Press
ISBN 0-201-35358-X
272 Pages
The Perl programming language is multi-faceted; its capabilities include managing databases, executing system commands, and interfacing with CGI (Common Gateway Interface) for Web programming. As the title indicates, Perl and CGI for The World Wide Web: Visual QuickStart Guide features Perl in its role as a scripting tool for the Web. Castro provides the guidelines and information that a programmer needs to create Perl and CGI scripts for the Web. The Introduction addresses several questions the reader may have about the use of Perl and its relationship to CGI and HTML. Castro also reassures beginning programmers with her opening paragraph:

So what does it mean to program, anyway? Is it dangerous? ...
[Page 13]

Following the realistic conclusion that programming is not dangerous and that this book can safely be used by a novice, the author presents the opening topics: Perl Building Blocks, Creating Perl CGI Scripts, Getting Data From Visitors, Environment Variables, and Getting Data into the Script. Castro continues with Working with Scalars, Working with Arrays, Conditional Statements, Subroutines, Working with Hashes, Analyzing Data, Remembering What Your Visitors Tell You, Printing and HTML, Files and Directories, Debugging, and Using Other Folks' Scripts. The Appendices contain: A) Parsing Form Input, B) Permissions, C) Security, D) UNIX Essentials, and E) Perl and CGI Resources, succeeded by an extremely complete Index. Castro demonstrates a superior approach to the topics combined with a skillful writing style. Each chapter divides the respective subject into smaller segments, which are easy to comprehend. The Visual QuickStart Series provides illustration and written descriptions next to each other. This method permits the reader to envision the procedures and the results as the author discusses it.

Perl and CGI For The World Wide Web: Visual QuickStart Guide is an excellent book. Elizabeth Castro explains each concept thoroughly and clearly illustrates how the reader can implement it. This is a perfect book for a beginning programmer or for an experienced programmer who needs a quick review. The techniques are well presented, and the book may later be utilized as a reference guide. I often recommend books in this series for professionals who need the skills and knowledge immediately, if not sooner. The books also furnish excellent guides for anyone who normally has difficulty learning a new language. Perl and CGI For The World Wide Web is an outstanding learning tool, a valuable reference, and a superb book.

ErgAerobics: Why Does Working @ My Computer Hurt So Much?
By Perry Bonomo MAPT & Daniel Seidler MAPT
ErgAerobics, Inc.
ISBN 0-9664090-0-0
128 Pages
(800) 689-9199
It doesn't matter which term you use (RSI, CTS, or CIRSI) to describe that ache in your shoulder, wrist, or back. If you experience Repetitive Stress Injuries (RSIs), Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS), or Computer Induced Repetitive Stress Injuries (CIRSIs) from computer input, raking leaves, filing, or painting, the result remains the same: it hurts. Bonomo and Seidler utilize three cartoon characters plus photographs to demonstrate exercises to prevent neck, jaw, thumb, wrist, elbow, and shoulder pains and illustrate how to avoid slipping into bad habits and practices. The book contains the following chapters: Cast of Characters, Why Does Working @ My Computer Hurt So Much?, Ergella's ErgArrangement Checklist, Stretching & Strengthening, Posture, BACKground, Up to Your NECK, Law of the JAW, THUMBS Up, All in the WRIST, ELBOW Room, and SHOULDER the Load. The Appendices include: Conclusion, FAQS, References, Index, and About the Authors. Throughout the book, the authors examine the pains and habits that may generate carpal tunnel syndrome, lower back pain, neck pain, TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint) disorder, tennis elbow, shoulder impingement syndrome, Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, and DeQuervain's Disease. Each chapter discusses the respective injury, what activities may cause it, the symptoms, what to do if you have it, how to prevent it, and exercises.

Bonomo and Seidler explain the injuries clearly and present unobtrusive and brief exercises. Most can be completed without creating a major (or minor) interruption or appearing conspicuous. The book examines most of the aches and pains computer users experience, with or without a computer. ErgAerobics also offers a videotape ($14.95), which demonstrates 42 of the exercises and an 8" x 17"-poster ($3.95) illustrating eight of the most useful exercises to display within a workstation's view. ErgAerobics: Why Does Working @ My Computer Hurt So Much? provides an excellent way to relieve some of the stress and tension associated with any repetitive activity and highlights the problems connected with continued computer use.

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 (