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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Mac OS X: The Missing Manual, Panther Edition
Publisher: Pogue Press
Authors: David Pogue
Rating: 1/5
Customer opinion - 1 stars out of 5
still missing


This book is as much an advertisement for OSX as it is help. Pogue starts by introducing OSX as "the best personal-computer operating system on earth" - which it very well might be - and keeps on singing his ode to Apple on the remaining 750 pages of the manual.

Don't get me wrong: I am an Apple fan myself. After having used Windows for over a decade, two years ago I finally got myself a G4 Powerbook and I swear by it. I am now a walking ad for Apple, short of tattooing one on my forehead. I have learned to use OSX without a manual and decided to get myself one just to be on the safe side.

I spent a whole day reading through different OSX manuals in the store before picking "The Missing Manual" and, unfortunately, as of today do not have an alternative recommendation. I am also aware of how hard it must be to write a good manual. However, in absolute terms, this one still sucks.

OSX is mainly self-explanatory and, where it is not, this book rarely helps. It is not useless, just very incomplete, full of praise and poorely organized.

I use my Powerbook for video-editing, I network, use AirPort and a few other gadgets and usually manage with the help of my regular genius brain and Apple's resources. I did learn a few tricks from this manual as well. However, I would need a manual that helps me (just a tiny bit) with troubleshooting. This one does not.

I am glad I bought this volume and it may very well be the best on the market. But who cares? The fact that there may be no better book out there does not mean we have to waste all our stars on this one. If you find the manual we are still missing, please let us know your name - the place on my forehead is still vacant.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: TCP/IP Network Administration (3rd Edition; O'Reilly Networking)
Publisher: O'Reilly
Authors: Craig Hunt
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
You would be hard pressed to find a better manual.

Having reviewed over 600 books in the past several years I am sometimes have to stop and recognize a truly exceptional book and this is one of those times. Having worked with TCP/IP for over 5 years, after reading this book I was amazed at how much I didn't know.

While it is true this book is written for the UNIX/Linux environments, the principles involved will apply to almost any network environment. The 700 plus page book is very well written and extremely well documented, the author has certainly done his homework for this book.

The breakdown of TCP/IP is excellent and there is great material for routing, security and troubleshooting as well. You have been given numerous examples to learn from and work with. Overall this book is certainly one to have around and a great addition to my technical library.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Secrets and Lies : Digital Security in a Networked World
Publisher: Wiley
Authors: Bruce Schneier
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
last of the anecdotal security surveys?

Don't we wish! Schneier has written what is likely to become a classic survey of information security for the second Internet generation. In the first generation, the Internet was a small club where everyone knew everybody, and it was possible to have major systems such as ITS with no security at all. The second generation launched eCommerce, and security became important but people didn't know how to deal with it. The third generation Internet will be the infrastructure for pervasive computing and communication, and perhaps a mature security perspective.
The second generation began with the myth of airtight security, provided by strong cryptographic algorithms implemented in provably correct programs and secure operating systems. The myth is shattered in this book, which organizes case after case of bugs, errors, slipups, threat mischaracterizations, and awesomely creative hacks, which coupled with users' inability to manage more than the simplest of secrets, have turned the myth into a Pandora's box of horrors.
But like Pandora's box, the book ends with a glimmer of hope, that the notion of risk managment, which balances value against rational threat assessment to determine countermeasure effort, will keep the potential losses within acceptable limits at reasonable expense. Identifying the balance point is a difficult task that should be performed by specialized arms of those traditional risk managment organizations, the insurance companies. Implementing the countermeasures that move the balance point towards greater security should be performed by specialized organizations, just like physical security is often managed by specialized organizations like ADT or Pinkerton's.
Today, computer security is so immature that some famous consultants (not Schneier!) tell their clients to ignore the FBI's computer crime statistics. The third generation of computer security should see a movement from the anecdotal analysis of speculative threats to the systematic, actuarial analysis of real threats that is required for stable, competitive pricing of insurance policies. Monitoring companies like Schneier's new startup and others will make it possible to collect the comprehensive, yet anonymous data that is needed. "Secrets and Lies" is already dated -- it misses the impact of MP3s and the war to enforce digital copyrights, and it misses the upcoming wireless revolution. But its coverage of potential threats to existing technologies is comprehensive, providing enough scary stories to keep any security professional awake at night. I'm looking forward in a few years to a followup book full of statistical data about actual threats and threat trends, with instructions on how to use that data to compute security return on investment. When that investment reduces insurance costs, security will have a positive contribution to the bottom line that can't be dismissed.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: New Perspectives on Creating Web Pages with HTML Third Edition - Comprehensive
Publisher: Course Technology
Authors: Patrick Carey
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
Excellent for self-study

When I took an Internet class in HTML web design through the local community college, this is the book that was used. I already had some basic HTML knowledge and was looking to expand it. I got a lot of useful information from this book, and use it as a reference guide to this day. I liked the emphasis on Netscape as browser of choice (chances are, if it looks good in Netscape it'll look good in IE) and the way they taught tables by measuring in percentages rather than counting pixels -- this "liquid table" approach will make your page look good on smaller, older monitors. Even though I am dead set against using frames on any of my pages, it was interesting to learn how to make them. Particularly intriguing was the chapter on how to create javascripts -- even though I never quite got the darn things to work, I go back and tussle with it now and again.
This book does have some errors in it, which have been pointed out by other reviewers. Filenames really should be all lower case (and try to keep it to 8 characters, 3-character extension if you can). In the hypothetical where you're using various kinds of tables to create an announcement about a meditation seminar, I found no way to get it to look exactly like the example using the code they said to use -- I had to add a couple of extra paragraph tags here and there. Things like that are a bit offputting, but I definitely recommend this book for beginners and people who are intimidated by the thought of handcoding. Along with the HTML Primer at ...,it remains if not my Bible, at least my Guideposts.