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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Linux Device Drivers, 3rd Edition
Publisher: O'Reilly
Authors: Jonathan Corbet, Alessandro Rubini, Greg Kroah-Hartman
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Excellent book on a difficult subject

Does contain lots of interesting info about Linux drivers and Linux in general. But the meat is more reference than tutorial. A really great tutorial begins chapter two, and so I thought here I'm really going to learn everything I need to know about creating Linux drivers. Didn't turn out that way. After you work the first exercise, that is, the tutorial example at the beginning of chapter two, you have seen the last of the complete examples. From here on it's code fragments and isolated functions. The author obviously could have written the book we need. But he didn't. It's a valuable book, but it's not a tutorial. What a beginner needs are whole, complete, real, listings of programs that work. Which reminds me, a real driver that drives a real device, presented in its entirety, with all details of how to compile it, and how to run it, would have been far more instructive than a "driver" that reads and writes only in memory so that it can be "portable" across many Linux platforms. A portable driver probably is a neat stunt that impresses existing gurus, but that's not the group that needs this book. To see what I'm driving at, look at Kernighan and Pike's "The UNIX Programming Environment." Their big programming project is indeed presented in fragments and isolated functions in their chapter eight, but the entire project just as it will appear on your disk is listed in the appendix. If Rubini had followed that model his book could have been really instructive. But he didn't. So there's an opportunity here. Some guru should set down and assemble these fragments into the book we need.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Network Security Hacks
Publisher: O'Reilly
Authors: Andrew Lockhart
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
Not for the amateur

It's important to understand who this book is for. It's not for the amateur looking to configure their firewall. The book starts with locking up UNIX filesystems and doesn't turn back the complexity clock as it winds through all the way to advanced topics like Honeypots and various SSH tunneling schemes. I highly recommend this book for network administrators and security professionals looking to make sure they have all of their bases covered. However, for the personal computer user looking to make sure their DSL doesn't get hacked I cannot recommend this book.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: The Photoshop and Painter Artist Tablet Book: Creative Techniques in Digital Painting
Publisher: Peachpit Press
Authors: Cher Threinen-Pendarvis
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Fantastic How-To Book

If I could get away with a one word review for this book, the word would be "awesome." Cher's use of colour and layout in this book are both practical and eye-catching. I found myself drawn first to the illustrations, then to the text to see how she accomplished the end result. The oversized pages make this book easy to lay out and follow along while trying Cher's suggested exercises without struggling to hold the book open.
As I own both PhotoShop and Painter, it was also a bonus only needing one book to learn new skills for both programmes. I also found alot of tips and tricks for both programmes I previously was unaware of. Cher has a talent for teaching effectively, and she has successfully transferred those skills into an extremely useful tutorial manual. She makes it all seem so simple, and at times it seems as though her words are encouraging you along even if you aren't achieving the same results as those portrayed in the book. Cher gives subtle creative hints throughout the book, further encouraging experimentation with the design tools-her encouragement is what helped me find a true desire to continue working with the tablet, even though I can't draw very well. By working with different areas of the book, I found some improvement in my drawing ability, which in and of itself was worth the time I had thus far spent working with Cher's lessons.
I feel that many people who are very talented with traditional art tools are perhaps held back by a fear of the new graphics technology. Cher has successfully made the transition, and with Cher's comfortable teaching style, I think many more will venture into the world of digital graphics once they read her book. Cher explains the tools of the trade so well, it's like she is planting the seed of "I can do that" thoughts in the reader's mind and thus making them keen to try something new. This keeness I think helps traditional artists, and new digital artists, overcome their fear of "doing something wrong" and unleashing previously hidden creative processes.
Cher's inclusion of vendors, references and suppliers in her book's appendices is to me a tacit way of telling the reader "you've made it this far, now go ahead and try this." In fact, just by revisiting various sections of Cher's book during the writing of this review, I want to get out the tablet, open PhotoShop and get creating. Very few tutorial books can instigate the same kind of motivation. Well done, Cher.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Practical C Programming, 3rd Edition
Publisher: O'Reilly
Authors: Steve Oualline
Rating: 2/5
Customer opinion - 2 stars out of 5
Not a strong book on C at all....

I recently purchased the 8/01 printing of this book. I did so after a quick scan of the book. My decision was heavily based on the fact that it's publish by O'Reilly, a company I had come to trust for accuracy. The code examples in this book begin to make me question that trust.
Don't get me wrong, the author is very clear in conveying the given topics, and for that alone the book is worth purchasing. However, the book is riddled with errors in the example code. In some cases the errors are intentional and corrected later as part of the lesson. Many others have been reported to O'Reilly, but appear to have gone unchecked. The current errata page for this book is quite long and was last updated (8/15/01 as of this writing) during the same month as the printing I have. However, O'Reilly still has these glaring errors classified as unverified.
Overall the book has been a wonderful learning tool, but you must take the source with a hefty grain of salt, and make your first stop O'Reilly's errata page.