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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Tricks of the Windows Game Programming Gurus
Publisher: Sams
Authors: Andre Lamothe
Rating: 3/5
Customer opinion - 3 stars out of 5
Not true to advertising , but an ok replacement


I was really happy when I read the MacMillan advertising about having a 3D Quake level engine from LaMothe, one of my all time favorite programming authors. However the book is similar to Game Programming in 21 days and Windows programming for Dummies. It all looks like the same stuff except in Win32 and DirectX clothes. This is not all that bad because if you are starting out you will not have to try and guess what the Win32 equivalent of the DOS calls are as you would in Black Art of 3D game programming. This is disturbing because I really love LaMothe's books and this appears to be just a rehash. There is nothing on 3D game programming and the "rasterization" library is basic at best. If you are new buy this book else wait.



Product: Book - Paperback
Title: The Inmates Are Running the Asylum : Why High Tech Products Drive Us Crazy and How to Restore the Sanity (2nd Edition)
Publisher: Sams
Authors: Alan Cooper
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
Tries to fight the insanity of bad user interface design


Many of the points that Alan Cooper makes about the poor design of many of " computers " that we use every day are valid. How many times have we all stood at an ATM while two or three people or more waited behind us, tapping their feet, looking in frustration at their watchs, while we inadvertently pushed the wrong button and have to start completely over? Haven't we all passed by cubicles or offices from which frustrated and angry screams are coming because a piece of software is not " user-friendly?"
In his book, Cooper gives his reasons for the failings of the software industry. Primarily he blames the software engineers. He believes that most engineers are given free rein on how software is developed and what features are added. In most software development companies, the user interface is developed after all the code for in the software itself is written. Thus, the software is written by programmers for programmers.
He thinks they get away with this because we, as a society, need technology. In our personal lives we use ATMs, cars with computerized systems, computerized alarm clocks and of course our personal computers at home. At work, we may use multiple programs on multiple machines in a variety of ways. In a lot of ways, many of us really could not do without technology. We are able to deal with the poor design of software and technology because we can put ourselves into two categories that Cooper calls "apologists " and " survivors." Apologists love the technology, even with its failings. Survivors, realizing that they must use the technology, do their best to learn just as much as the need to learn.
Once Cooper gets beyond his descriptions of how we struggle to use the technology, he tries to lay out a plan for a better way of designing technology. His belief is that the interaction of the software with the user is the first thing that should be considered, not the last. His concepts have merit, truly being a possibility for improvement on the process of development and on the end products. However, when reality hits, it is difficult to envision the software industry changing so radically.



Product: Book - Paperback
Title: The Big Red Fez: How To Make Any Web Site Better
Publisher: Free Press
Authors: Seth Godin
Rating: 3/5
Customer opinion - 3 stars out of 5
Love Seth but should have passed on this one


Seth Grodin has some great books. This book goes back to the very basics. If you are not familiar with building websites and making them user friendly then this is a good book. As always, it's well written and it has great examples. It's mostly things that those working with websites are already aware of.It's a basic beginners book or a book to use if you need backup to show the boss that there's a problem with what is wanted.



Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Applied Cryptography: Protocols, Algorithms, and Source Code in C, Second Edition
Publisher: Wiley
Authors: Bruce Schneier
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
The most comprehensive text on computer-era cryptology.


Habitues of sci.crypt will be familiar with Bruce Schneier's *Applied Cryptography*; if any of them have but one text on crypto for reference, it will almost certainly be *Applied Cryptography*. It is the de facto standard reference on modern cryptography as well as serving as an excellent introduction to the subject.
The art is very old - Julius Caesar was the first recorded user of cryptography for military purposes - and reached a watershed when computers were put to work in order to break German and Japanese ciphers. Indeed, that was the first *real* application of electronic computers. A natural development was the use of computers for the development of cryptographic systems.
That is where Bruce Schneier's remarkable book begins. It is notable for two reasons: the breadth and depth of coverage, and the high standard of technical communication.
As a reference its scope is encyclopaedic, providing descriptions and assessments of just about every non-military crypto system developed since computers were first applied to the purpose. There are also military-cum-government algorithms amongst the collection, some from the old Soviet Union and others from South Africa. It is not just an A-Z procession of algorithms; the author progresses in a logical manner through the many technical aspects of cryptography.
It is common to find that masters of mysterious technical arts are poor communicators. Bruce Schneier demonstrates exceptional skill as a technical communicator. Here is a book about an esoteric subject - one built on a foundation of theoretical mathematics - that ordinary folk can read. Sure, one needs to be motivated by an interest in the subject, and the technical level sometimes requires a more than ordinary background in number theory and the like - but a degree in theoretical mathematics is not necessary to derive pleasure and profit from reading *Applied Cryptography*.
A thirty-page chapter provides a brief, but lucid account of the necessary mathematical background, spanning information theory, complexity theory, number theory, factoring, prime number generation, and modular arithmetic. Even if one needs no other information than a useful description of modular arithmetic the book is worth looking at; I can't think of any better source outside full-blown mathematical texts, and the author does it without being obscure.
The book is divided into parts, beginning with protocols (the introductory chapter is an excellent overview of crypto as it is presently applied) from the basic kind through to the esoteric that find application in digital cash transactions. Public key encryption, the second - and most significant - watershed in cryptography, is introduced with an explanation of how it is used in hybrid systems.
Part II deals with cryptographic techniques and discusses the important issues of key length, key management, and algorithm types. The strength of a crypto system relies very heavily on the length of the key, the way in which it is generated, and key management. A chapter is devoted to the practical aspects of using algorithms (which one, public-key as against symmetric crypto, hardware versus software) for various purposes (such as communications and data storage).
Part III is about particular algorithms, providing for each one a background of its development, a description, its security, and how it is likely to stand up to attack. The algorithms are divided into classes: block (some twenty-one are described); pseudo-random-sequence generators and stream ciphers (PKZIP is a stream cipher); real random-sequence generators; one-way hash functions; public-key; public-key digital signature; identification schemes; key-exchange algorithms; and other special algorithms. Many specific algorithms are described with information about covering patents.
Part IV is entitled, The Real World; in the words of the author, "It's one thing to design protocols and algorithms, but another thing to field them in operational systems. In theory, theory and practice are the same; in practice they are different". A chapter discusses a number of implementations, including IBM Secret-Key Management Protocol, Mitrenet (an early public-key system), ISDN Packet Data Security Overlay, STU-III, Kerberos, KryptoKnight, Sesame, PEM, PGP, MSP, smart cards, universal electronic payment system, and Clipper.
Another chapter discusses politics and puts the problems of US export restrictions into context and deals with patents. It also has information about bodies with an interest in public access to cryptography and standards, and legal issues.
An afterword by Matt Blaze should be required reading by everyone who thinks a good cryptosystem is all that one needs for security; the human factor can undo the strongest system.
A final part contains C source code for DES, LOKI91, IDEA, GOST, Blowfish, 3-Way, RC5, A5, and SEAL. North American readers can obtain a 3-disk set containing code for some forty-one algorithms, four complete systems, source code for some other utilities, text files, errata, and notes on new protocols and algorithms.
Who, apart from crypto professionals and aficionados, is likely to find *Applied Cryptography* of interest? Anyone with an intelligent interest in the art, and who wants something more substantial than a quasi adventure account of modern crypto; anyone with a responsibility for protecting data and/or communications; network administrators; builders of firewalls; students and teachers of computer science; programmers; and anyone with a serious interest in theoretical mathematics - I'm sure the list could be expanded considerably.
Apart from a book to be read, it is the most complete and up-to-date resource and reference presently available. The list of references (1653 of them) is a resource in its own right. An essential acquisition for libraries.
The book, of necessity, contains highly technical material, but it can be read. The publishers, Wiley's, are to be congratulated.
Reviewed by Major Keary majkeary@netspace.net.au
DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed are my own. I have no interest, financial or otherwise, in the success or failure of this book, and - apart from a review copy - I have received no compensation from anyone who has.