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Sean Burke (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada)
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In the Beginning...was the Command Line
In the Beginning...was the Command Line
von Neal Stephenson
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 9,45

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2.0 von 5 Sternen A passable opinion piece, but with tedious writing., 4. Juli 2000
The opinions in this are most superficial but generally interesting, and make for an undemanding afternoon's read.
But good God, do we have to picket Stephenson's publisher to get an editor assigned to him? Stephenson says in four paragraphs what he could just as well say in two sentences. Much of this essay reads like someone just strung together the posts in a ranty Usenet thread. This, folks, is the kind of thing an editor is supposed to stop from happening. And unlike most bad writing, it's a /pity/, because this could have actually been a very good essay.


Sams Teach Yourself Perl in 24 Hours
Sams Teach Yourself Perl in 24 Hours
von Clinton Pierce
  Taschenbuch

5.0 von 5 Sternen excellent discussion of CGI do's and don'ts, 4. Juli 2000
This book is good for two kinds of people -- people who need an introductory text to Perl (especially if they don't have a strong programming background already); and people who are doing CGI programming. (Of course, you could happen to be both kind of person at once -- a not-advanced programmer picking up Perl to do some CGI programming.) No other Perl book I've seen so far manages to serve both audiences so well.
The part of the book (the first 3/5ths or so) that's intro to general Perl is good, clear, and free of any typos I've noticed. The current printing I saw tended to scrimp on whitespace (so you see "$x=$y*stuff($z)" instead of somehting more like "$x = $y * stuff($z)"), but I don't think it's /too/ much of a problem; and I've emailed the author and he says he'll see about getting that changed in later printings.
The section on CGI is the real windfall here. I'm sure that the author could have just banged out a chapter or two of "Hello World" CGIs plus a form2mail and a guestbook, and called that it; and the book would probably have sold just as well from casual buyers.
Instead, he ended up writing the absolute best and most careful discussion of CGI I've seen to date. Most importantly, if you're a new-to-CGI programmer and you read this book, I think it'll steer you clear of the nastier pitfalls better than any other book I've seen. That includes things that work but that open security holes, as well as things that just don't work.
And, incidentally, the book doesn't cost much, so I can recommend that even an advanced CGI programmer (even one not coding in Perl!) go and plunk down the ~$20, just because the long (about 2/5ths of the book, it seems) and deliberate section on CGI is bound to discuss /something/ you didn't know. I, for example, particularly benefited from the comprehensive and patient discussion of the benefits and limitations of the various ways to pass session-state around between CGI program instances.


The New Oxford Picture Dictionary: English-Navajo Editon (New Oxford Picture Dictionary (1988 Ed.))
The New Oxford Picture Dictionary: English-Navajo Editon (New Oxford Picture Dictionary (1988 Ed.))
von Oxford University Press
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 17,51

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3.0 von 5 Sternen the Navajo edition is deeply comical, 8. Mai 2000
I'm not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, esp. given the dearth of teaching materials for any Native languages. But being shown how to say "brandy snifter" or "Pluto" in Navajo does make one wonder about the cultural applicability of these endeavors.
(This reminds me of the Duden dictionaries that used the same illustration-templates for every edition -- based on the German -- so that in the English-Thai edition, we could all be shown how to say "serving pot for boiled potatoes" in languages whose cultures had no such concept.)


Colloquial Navajo Dictionary: A Dictionary
Colloquial Navajo Dictionary: A Dictionary
von Robert Young
  Taschenbuch

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4.0 von 5 Sternen good for intermediate or advanced students, 8. Mai 2000
This book is a good source on idioms in Navajo, and it also has lots of example sentences illustrating the idioms (as well as illustrating all sort of other things on the way). This should be quite useful to intermediate and advanced students.
However, this is /not/ for beginning students -- they will find this book basically unusable.
I advise beginning students to buy Goossen's intro book (/Dine Bizaad/), and to buy one or both of the other big Navajo dictionaries (/Analytical Lexicon of Navajo/ and /The Navajo Language: A Grammar and Colloquial Dictionary/, both by Young and Morgan).


Analytical Lexicon of Navajo
Analytical Lexicon of Navajo
von Robert W. Young
  Gebundene Ausgabe

5.0 von 5 Sternen Indispensible, 29. April 2000
This book is not terribly easy to use. But that's because Navajo is not terribly easy to speak -- or (looking at it the other way) to analyze. So I caution readers that they should spend some time learning the organization of the lexicon before they expect to be able to use it fluently.
However, this book is /the/ must-own book for anyone who studies Navajo language or culture. Its thoroughness (somewhere over twenty-five thousand entries, I think) is astounding.


Sicilian-English, English-Sicilian Hippocrene Concise Dictionary
Sicilian-English, English-Sicilian Hippocrene Concise Dictionary
von Marco Guarneri
  Taschenbuch

1.0 von 5 Sternen ruined by bad editing, 29. April 2000
Surprise surprise, Hippocrene Books comes out with ANOTHER dictionary that looks like it never once was looked at by anyone but the author. How they can honestly come out with a dictionary like this, that has an English entry for "eighteen" but not "eight"?
So, yes, coverage in the lexicon is weak. Moreover, the author's notion of phonetic notation is unintelligible (but could easily have been edited into shape). Gender is not noted for nouns, nor is it noted how they form the plural (as is not always predictable in Sicilian, as the author himself notes), which seriously detracts from the usefulness of the book. The notes on pronounciation (and morphology) are about as linguistically confused as three small pages can be. And the spelling isn't even consistent -- the author has a headword "libbru" (book), and elsewhere spells it "libru". If this reflects two possible pronounciations, then both should have been noted in the entry. The orthography, instead of transcribing Sicilian as a language in and of itself, too often decides to try to mangle the standard Italian writing system (which is rather insufficient to the task!) into conveying Sicilian pronunciation. This seems part of a general pattern of assuming the reader is fluent in standard Italian, which is about as useless as an assumption can be.
I've no doubt that the author put great effort into this book, and it should have fallen to editors at Hippocrene Books to point out where changes should have been made, to make it a fine dictionary. But apparently they did nothing of the sort, and so the final product ends up looking like an unusable mess.


A Dream Deferred: The Second Betrayal of Black Freedom in America
A Dream Deferred: The Second Betrayal of Black Freedom in America
von Shelby Steele
  Gebundene Ausgabe

2.0 von 5 Sternen one or two barely-supported ideas spread very very thin, 27. März 2000
The main point of this book is that US society's only real motive in supporing affirmative action (and other policies that seek structural solutions to structural problems) is not authentic concern for American blacks, but merely trying to assuage a sense of guilt.
This is a promising start, but unfortunately Steele takes it nowhere fast. In the end it just turns into bad writing based on plain old unexamined assumptions. The main problem is the author simply assumes not that his POSITION is right and others' POSITIONS are wrong; but that HE is right and anyone else IS wrong. It turns into really silly double standards of the sort: I am reasoned, THEY are fuzzy-headed; I uphold principles, THEY are beholden to superficialities; I voice my objections, THEY mindlessly repeat slogans; I am responsible for my freedom and agency, THEY are all cowed and cowardly. I am strident; and they resent that! And so on, and so forth, until you don't know which is worse -- that, or his interminable verbal benders where he seems intent on constructing as many sentences as possible entirely out of abstract nouns. (Try the Shelby Steele drinking game: take a drink for every sentence including any three of the words "freedom", "merit", "virtue", "ulteriority", or "responsbility". Double-score for for "moral accountability".)
Now, some writers just have their quirks, but Steele's bad habits just go on and on until they crowd out absolutely everything else. He overuses scare quotes. He charges ahead with weird generalizations that just leave you scratching your head: "Thus kitsch is always an invitation to a consoling sense of superiority." It... it is? Always? Invitation? What? "Ersatz virtue will thrive precisely to protect us from the risk of being stigmatized that real virtue always entails." It does? "'Diversity' and 'multiculturalism' have no substance as ideas except where they connote perfection exactly where America was shameful." I try to figure out what this means, but I can't get past the scare quotes and the nebulous abstract nouns and the assertion of a negative.
Steele seems happiest when the abstract nouns he's constellating are nice short words that gloss over the grey areas of American life: upholding educational "standards" glosses over the possiblity that one's SAT score may be a measure of nothing more "virtuous" than one's ability to score well on the SAT; "responsibility" and "individuality" and even "freedom" are clean-cut concepts only in a world where everyone has equal access to credit, education, and personal or family wealth. But he treats these all as absolutes; you're free, or you're not. You're responsible, or not. The dualisms pile up.
And the grandest dualism of all is his view of American ethnicity: black people, and those white people who feel guilty about those horrible things they did to black people, what with national original sin and whatnot. With this laughably minimalist view as the starting point, it's no wonder he strains to fill 180 pages. Life is so simple when you can see only two colors.
And all the while I had the nagging feeling that if Steele'd bothered to have a look at the relationship between Native Americans and white America's guilt manifest thru government, he'd have a much broader and deeper history to test his abstract generalizations against. But why ruin a good theory with bothersome data, especially complicated data with lots of grey areas? But THAT could have made for a book worth reading.


The Search for the Perfect Language (The Making of Europe)
The Search for the Perfect Language (The Making of Europe)
von Umberto Eco
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 27,95

2 von 2 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Points out a secret myth of Western culture, 11. März 2000
This book traces a pesky idea that's been bumping around Western culture for centuries: the idea that a language (or language-like formalism) is possible (which either existed, or which we can devise) which is somehow truer than our mundane languages. Eco traces this idea starting from its roots in ancient times, and he goes into fine detail in discussing the "philosophical languages" of the Renaissance, before discussing more recent constructed languages (Esperanto and the like).
The prose is very clear and straightforward, and the subject full of interesting nooks and crannies.
The book is most valuable in that, once you've read it, you will start recognizing the "perfect language" idea popping up everywhere -- the idea that if we just stick to a really rigid formalism (which we're /almost/ finished coming up with!), then we can get everything right. This idea appears in everything from formalist linguistics ("since the framework is perfect, you just plug in the right parameters for your language, and it works!"), to the voodoo equations of quantitative political science ("and this formula /explains/ why the Sino-Japanese war happened!"), to American law ("I don't care if this law is just -- I'm talking about whether, formally, it's Constitutional; because that's what really matters!"), to the endless wars over which is the best programming language ("Python is better than Perl because it's based on objects, and if you don't understand why that's important, you need to learn more lambda calculus, and indent your code more /correctly/!").
It'll make you think twice about anything that needlessly uses a formalism for expressing what could be said just fine in one of these mundane languages we speak!


Object Oriented Perl: A Comprehensive Guide to Concepts and Programming Techniques
Object Oriented Perl: A Comprehensive Guide to Concepts and Programming Techniques
von Damian Conway
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 33,76

5.0 von 5 Sternen Excellent for intermediate AND advanced programmers, 4. März 2000
/Object-Oriented Perl/ is miles ahead of any other book on OOP that I've ever seen. It sets a new standard in how concepts of OOP should be explained, and how they should be related to the language that the OOP framework is implemented in.
And the best thing about this book is that, on the way to explaining various OOP concepts, it manages to elucidate all sorts of non-OOP advanced programming techniques in Perl. So I recommend this book to anyone who's finished /Learning Perl/ and is looking for what to learn next.
It's a surprising achievement, and one that makes this book very worthwhile reading for people who don't even particularly care about OOP!
And, conversely, because /Object-Oriented Perl/ touches on so many of the possible approaches to OOP, I think that this book would be interesting to people who are interested in OOP, but not terribly interested in Perl per se.
It is, in short, a book of immediate as well as lasting value.


Advanced Perl Programming (Perl Series)
Advanced Perl Programming (Perl Series)
von Sriram Srinivasan
  Taschenbuch

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2.0 von 5 Sternen no longer useful, 4. März 2000
This book is a waste of a good title, and I wish it would either go out of print, or be completely rewritten. It isn't so bad in and of itself, but it's useless to anyone nowadays, as the really interesting material that it tries to cover is much better addressed in Conway's excellent /Object-Oriented Perl/.
(To be fair, chapter 20 of /Advanced Perl Programming/ is a very good discussion of the internals of the Perl interpreter-compiler. However, that's of real interest to very very few people.)
Instead of spending their time and money on this book, learners are better off reading the other, more recent good books on Perl, flipping thru modules in CPAN, and subscribing to The Perl Journal.


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