I'm very familiar with the Nutshell books, what my pal Van Wolverton calls "propellerhead books," or books for the nerds among us. This is appropriate because nerds appreciate brevity. On the other hand, Evil Geniuses in a Nutshell
I was guessing that maybe the book was about crazy computer scientists. And, in a way, it is! But more accurately, Evil Geniuses in a Nutshell is a collection of the User Friendly cartoon strips, originally published on the Internet at http://www.userfriendly.org/. The fuzzy-headed-with-feet guy on the book's cover is Dust Puppy, the strip's mascot (who is apparently very popular among the propellerheads; a copy of him secretly appears in the game Quake III). Other characters, familiar to anyone who works in high tech, also appear in the comic strip, as well as various foreign agents, domestic spies, and what possibly could be parodies of well-known computer geeks.
The book is funny--the only Nutshell book I've ever laughed at. The illustrations were obviously done on a computer in some bitmap graphics application, but they aren't bad (and don't tell me they're stupid unless you've tried it; it is hard). The humor is often subtle, but I occasionally found myself bursting out laughing. Like Dilbert, Calvin and Hobbes, or even Married with Children, it takes a while to soak in the humor, but then it becomes addictive.
I recommend Evil Geniuses in a Nutshell if for no other reason than so you can have a truly funny computer book on your shelf. (Or in the WC, which is where I read it.) There is a follow-on called User Friendly the comic strip, also from O'Reilly. The more you're into technical things, the more you'll appreciate it. --Dan Gookin
The follow-up to the highly successful first collection of User Friendly comic strips from O'Reilly & Associates, Evil Genuises in a Nutshell tells the continuing tale of Columbia Internet, "the friendliest, hardest-working and most neurotic little Internet Service Provider in the world." Take three techs, two salespeople, a designer, two executives, a couple of administrative staff, mix in a mischievous Artificial Intelligence and a "dust puppy" born from the innards of a mega server, put them all together in a crowded little office, and you have the makings of one of the most off-beat, original and funny comic strips to come along in years. User Friendly reads like Dilbert for the Open Source community. With a massive online following, it provides outsiders a light-hearted look at the world of the hard core geek, and allows those who make their living dwelling in this world a chance to laugh at themselves. The User Friendly fan base is growing by almost 30% a month, and this title has the potential to help foster a greater sense of cultural identity between O'Reilly and its customer base.
There is also the potential to attract a newer, younger audience who are fans of User Friendly but are not as familiar with O'Reilly.