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Primoz Peterlin

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The Unix Philosophy
The Unix Philosophy
von Mike Gancarz
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 58,80

2.0 von 5 Sternen Yada yada yada, 20. Juli 2000
Rezension bezieht sich auf: The Unix Philosophy (Taschenbuch)
I suppose this is the kind of book that should be adored by managers. First, it has a stylish cover. Second, it doesn't take much of your time. You should be over with it in about one hour - not only it's thin, it is also typeset in a size larger than the usual book letter size. And third, it comes with ready-made slogans like "Small is beautiful", "Make each program do one thing well" etc, that can come handy at staff meetings.

Even at its rather modest size, this book is stretched to the limits. There is about enough material in it to make a decent article in UnixWorld or some similar magazine, perhaps even two; it could also be made a chapter in some compendium. But that doesn't nearly make it enough for a standalone book.

True, Gancarz writes well, and anecdotical stories in this book make a pleasant bathtub reading. To convince you that Unix indeed is a great design, however, get something substantial instead. If you are a programmer and seeing some actual code doesn't scare you off, I would recommend The Unix Programming Environment by Kernighan and Pike. Though dated, in my opinion it still makes a better introduction to the Unix design philosophy. If you are not that much interested in Unix, you might nevertheless want to consider saving twenty bucks and subscribing to comp.unix.advocacy Usenet group instead.


The Unix Programming Environment (Prentice-Hall Software Series)
The Unix Programming Environment (Prentice-Hall Software Series)
von Brian W. Kernighan
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 79,99

5 von 5 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Oldies but goldies, 20. Juli 2000
Merely half an inch thick, and employing the same cover design - or lack of it - as the C Programming Language, this is probably the least pretentious looking book on my bookshelf. However, the look is misleading - there are very few books, regardless of length, that aim to teach you as much as this one, and even fewer than succeed in it.

Unix programming environment might sound a rather ambitious title nowadays, when a tutorial on each specialized tool can easily exceed 400 pages. However, this one actually delivers everything that it promises. Kernighan and Pike start with the basic description of Unix file system and the basic set of commands, continue with the command shell, redirection and piping. Next come the filters: regular expressions, grep, sort, sed and awk. At that point, the reader is ready for the full-fledged treatment of the command shell programming. Next come standard I/O and Unix system calls, followed by the program development tools: make, lex and yacc. The course is concluded with a chapter on document formatting with troff.

The chapters on I/O and system calls imply familiarity with the C programming language. The already mentioned tutorial on C by Kernighan and Ritchie, written in much the same style and spirit, can serve as the introduction to it. Also, while the book keeps up with its age remarkably well, there are some points where the described Unix system differs from the modern POSIX systems (most user commands are however backward compatible and still accept the old syntax). The required changes are really minor, but can nevertheles annoy an innocent reader.

The book belongs to nowadays rare breed of books on computers written for engineers and CS students rather than for dummies and idiots. Although primarily written for individual study, it can be used for one-semester course on Unix (like in C Programming Language, the exercises are lacking solutions, though). I would love to see it made-up with POSIX syntax and generally reflecting the changes made to Unix during the past 15 years.


The Cartoon Guide to Physics (Cartoon Guide Series)
The Cartoon Guide to Physics (Cartoon Guide Series)
von Larry Gonick
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 13,99

4.0 von 5 Sternen Not as good as The Cartoon History of the Universe, 28. Juni 2000
I was delighted when some time ago I received two volumes of Larry Gonick's Cartoon History of the Universe as a present from a friend. It is absolutely hilarious! Being a physicist, I considered it a must to add Cartoon Guide to Physics to my Larry Gonick collection.

However, I was disappointed. The guide indeed tries to cover a significant amount of the usual high-school physics course - mechanics, electricity and magnetism (missing are thermodynamics and optics) - but it is not really as charmingly funny as the Cartoon History of the Universe. As a physicist, I can assure you that the problem does not lie in the simple fact that the history is more interesting topic than physics - physics is plenty interesting, thank you! But the desired blend between the textbook and the cartoon resulted in something that is not educational enough to actually learn something from it and too boring to make a good cartoon.

Trying to find some bright spot, I am happy to report I have not discovered any major flops in the science part of the book. Also, I believe the book actually becomes somewhat more interesting toward the end. But then again, if I would have to choose between, say, the chapter on relativity and Joseph Schwartz's Einstein for Beginners, I would probably opt for the latter.


Running Linux
Running Linux
von Matt Welsh
  Taschenbuch

1 von 1 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen A classic, 23. Juni 2000
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Running Linux (Taschenbuch)
With its first edition dating back to early 1995, Matt Welsh's book is widely regarded as classic, to the extent this term can be applied to Linux. Mr. Welsh, now continuing his PhD studies at UC Berkeley, is a renowned Linux expert, and was actively involved in Linux development since 1992. In particular, he is known in the Linux community for starting the Linux Documentation Project, for contributing to it with Linux Installation and Getting Started (LIGS) Guide (available freely from the Internet) and, lately, for being the founding editor of the Linux Magazine.

Running Linux grew out of LIGS as its expanded and professionally edited version. This has its pluses and minuses. When it came out, there were hardly any other books on Linux available, so it tried to teach the reader everything, from Linux installation to Unix administration, from the command shell basics to compiling the kernel, and from using the C compiler to configuration of X Windows. Its breadth is thus encyclopedic, and yet it is surprisingly sharp at details. The third edition added all the things that happened since: KDE, GNOME, Samba... It may be my personal feeling only, but the new chapters somewhat stick out, without really growing into the tissue of the text.

More important, the book fails to recognize that the structure of new Linux users changed since 1995. At the time, it was written as a "getting started" guide, and it served its role perfectly. However, nowadays you cannot assume any more that every new Linux user is familiar with command line commands or other Unix systems. Therefore I don't think I could still recommend Running Linux as a beginner's guide.

Being one of the top-selling books on Linux, it doesn't need any particular recommendation, anyway. Still, Running Linux is a book edited to high O'Reilly standards, and written by some of the most knowledgeable people in Linux community - which is to many a definite plus compared to books written by journalists. I would say its best target population are seasoned Unix users wanting to try Linux, technically minded people in general, and CS students in particular. Others might find its learning curve somewhat steep.


UNIX Power Tools
UNIX Power Tools
von Jerry Peek
  Taschenbuch

1 von 1 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen If you can only afford one book on Unix, this is the one, 2. Juni 2000
Rezension bezieht sich auf: UNIX Power Tools (Taschenbuch)
I do not know about you, but for me, a book has to be pretty darn exceptional to persuade me to buy a second edition of a book which I already own the first. Unix Power Tools is one such book. It is simply packed with tons of useful tips which the authors have accumulated over decades of using Unix, and is a sort of `crème de la crème' of O'Reilly reference books.

Praise aside, the book is not for everyone. It is an intermediate level reference, not an introductory tutorial. If your problems are like "How do I delete a file?", you should read something else first, get acquainted with Unix, and then return to it. If, however, the questions you face are more like "How do I delete a file with a null name?", then this is exactly the book for you. Unless there is a real Unix wizard around you, this book is likely to earn you this title in your environment.

The second edition focuses on POSIX systems rather than on SysV/BSD, uses Bash and Tcsh instead of Sh, Ksh and Csh, and has moved from Awk to Perl. The two-colour printing is gone, though. Fortunately, the superb index - one of the best I have seen - is still here, and so are the cross-references in the text. Accompanying CD-ROM might be essential if you are living in the mountains of Tajikistan, but anybody connected to the Internet will probably prefer to download newer versions of software on-line.


Uncle Petros and Goldbach's Conjecture
Uncle Petros and Goldbach's Conjecture
von Apostolos K. Doxiadis
  Gebundene Ausgabe

5.0 von 5 Sternen Oudeis ageometretos eiseto, 20. Mai 2000
A young boy decided to find out the truth about his mysterious, eccentric uncle Petros, a retired professor of mathematics. As he grows into his teens, his obsession with the old man does not diminish, on the contrary, it tempts him into pursuing a career of mathematician himself. Page after page, we follow him as he unveils secrets about his uncle and his life-long struggle with a mathematical hypothesis known as Goldbach's conjecture.

With Petros and his nephew, the reader enters the arcane and exciting area of number theory, a pandemonium of Goldbach's Conjecture, Riemann Hypothesis, Prime Number Theorem, to name a few, with Goedel's Incompleteness Theorem being a guest star. Apostolos Doxiadis, a mathematician by his formal education, stands firmly on his ground - science-wise, there are no apparent flops in the book, which happens so often with writes less acquainted with the locale they put their protagonists in. The title of this review, borrowed from Plato, is an exaggeration - no prior mathematical knowledge is required to enjoy this novel; some love for mathematics, however, is.

Doxiadis - ......... - first published Uncle Petros (O Theios Petros ...) in Greek in 1992, one year before Andrew Wiles announced that he found the proof of the Fermat's Last Theorem. One out of the three most difficult problems in mathematics has thus proven to be solvable, after 350 years. To this day, Goldbach's Conjecture is still "only" 250 years old, and not solved yet. However, the publishers of Uncle Petros, Faber & Faber (UK) and Bloomsbury (USA) have issued a $1,000,000 challenge to prove it. Would you like to pick up where Petros Papachristos left it?


Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time
Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time
von Dava Sobel
  Taschenbuch

1 von 2 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen The birth of the chronograph, 17. Mai 2000
Latitude and longitude are fundamentally different. Rotation of Earth endows our planet with an axial symmetry. So while finding latitude is relatively easy, determining longitude is not. Save the moon and the planets, the night sky looks exactly the same if you travel along the parallel 15 degrees to the east east, or simply wait for an hour. Without an accurate clock and a sextant, this made navigation on the open sea a black magic. For any expanding overseas empire, this was serious matter. Serious enough that the British Parliament offered a high prize -- several millions dollars in today's money -- in 1714 for solving the longitude problem.

By 1730, the world still did not have any practical and reliable method of finding longitude. By 1760, it had two. One of them, backed by Britain's the most influential astronomers of the time, included a quadrant (later sextant) and tabulated ephemerides. With them, a skilled navigator could have calculated its position within hours, in clear weather. The other method required only an accurate clock. If the clock can tell you your home time, you only need to determine your local noon -- when the shadows are the shortest -- and the difference between the two tells you your longitude. This method was backed by a lone clockmaker, John Harrison. This book is about him, about his life-long pursuit of a reliable, seaworthy chronometer, and his battle with the scientific establishment.

Eighteen-century mechanics, while far from trivial, is intuitive enough to make explaination of the internal workings of a shiny brass clockwork a wonderful topic. With some diagrams and explanations of Harrison's ingenious inventions, this book could easy become any engineer's dream. Perhaps the illustrated edition (ISBN 0802713440) comes closer to this ideal. Ms. Sobel, although allegedly a science writer, was more interested in the socio-political aspects of the story, and hardly touches the engineering part. Deliberately neglecting the engineering audience, the book is far from being a historical scholarly text either. She writes in an easy-to-read, journalese style. Fair enough, some thirty references are listed in the end for anyone willing to pursue the topic further. So while you cannot claim you've learned a lot of science or history, Longitude still makes a great beach reading. And of course, reading this book is a must for anyone planning to visit the Royal Observatory at Greenwich, England, where the clocks are exhibited.


The Evolution Of Cooperation
The Evolution Of Cooperation
von Robert Axelrod
  Taschenbuch

5 von 5 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Can cooperation emerge among egoistic individuums?, 2. Mai 2000
Rezension bezieht sich auf: The Evolution Of Cooperation (Taschenbuch)
Sometimes, the individual benefit seems to conflict with the benefit of the community as whole, even though the community includes this very individuum. One such example has been formulated as the Prisonner's Dilemma: two suspects, A and B, are arrested, and kept separated so that they cannot communicate. If they continue to cooperate, they will be both sentenced to one year. However, if suspect A cooperates, but suspect B defects, A is going to be sentenced to five years, and suspect B will be released. Vice versa, if B cooperates and A defects, A will be released and B sentenced to five years. Finally, if both defect, they will both be sentenced to three years each.

It is clear that the best solution for both of them is cooperation. On the other hand, each individual is also tempted to maximize his own individual benefit. And each of them benefits most if he decides to defect, which in turn brings the worst possible outcome for both (six years total). So one-shot Prisonner's Dilemma rarely leads to cooperation. Now, what if the very two chaps are later arrested again? Will they cooperate when given another chance? Or if they know they will face the same situation every five years? Professor Axelrod tested the iterated Prisonner's Dilemma with computer programs, and investigated under which circumstances cooperation can emerge.

The book is nicely scattered with fragments of game theory and examples from world politics. All in all, as Richard Dawkins has commented in the foreword to its British edition, in breathes with optimism, and is a delight to read. Still, it has one problem, and actually shares it with Dawkins: the book reaches its climax right at the beginning. The book starts with a strong and very convincing idea, but later fails to keep the same pace of dynamic. The idea is splendid, but the structure of the book could be enhanced.


Complete Idiot's Guide to Linux (The Complete Idiot's Guide)
Complete Idiot's Guide to Linux (The Complete Idiot's Guide)
von Manuel Alberto Ricart
  Taschenbuch

4.0 von 5 Sternen Great for beginners, too shallow for others, 1. Mai 2000
Way into late nineties, most books on Linux still read like this: Here is Linux, which is zillion times better than MS-DOS, and here is the command shell, which is so much more powerful than COMMAND.COM in MS-DOS, then here are X Windows, which are like MS Windows in DOS, only better... A reader less acquainted with the history of computing might have asked "Wow, that's cool, but what is this MS-DOS thing you keep mentioning?"

When the first edition of this book appeared in late 1998, Manuel Alberto Ricart was among the first authors to admit that Windows 95 and 98 actually *did* happen. Rather than comparing bare-bones Linux with a historic relic, he chose a decent peer for a modern Windows environment: Linux with a desktop environment KDE.

Mr. Ricart starts with the elements of the KDE desktop, spends considerable time explaining basic operations with it, then proceeds to the programs of KDE base suite: file manager, text editor etc. The inevitable command line only comes in in part two. After explaining the basic commands -- file utilities -- some Unix concepts like pipes and regular expressions are discussed, while the programming in command shell is omitted. The section on programming editors Vi and Emacs is probably too short to be useful. The last part, part three, deals with the system administration tasks. Installation of Linux is added as an appendix.

What is the advantage of using command shell despite the existance of graphical interface? Mr. Ricart unfortunately cannot give a convincing answer, although it is probably clear to every second reader -- command shell contains a powerful macro language, which is superb for performing repetitive tasks. This is a pity -- spending 30-40 more pages on the Bash programming would actually give a meaning for including the complete Part 2. But I guess there has to be something idiotic in each of the books of Complete Idiot's series, right?

Leaving this aside, the book is perhaps the best introduction to Linux for beginners. Of all the distributions, Caldera Open Linux that comes with the book allegedly has the most user-friendly installation program -- unless you have some unfortunate exotic hardware, with which it won't work. Bear in mind though that every Linux CD included in a book is likely to be one year old or more when it arrives in your hands, and one year is a long time in Linux development. So the system you have just installed is already outdated... Watch the Web to find out what is really going on.


The Latex Companion
The Latex Companion
von Frank Mittelbach
  Taschenbuch

1 von 1 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen All the things you wish were written in Lamport's guide, 29. April 2000
Rezension bezieht sich auf: The Latex Companion (Taschenbuch)
First, a remark on the title: this is not a companion to theprogram, but rather a companion to some other book on LaTeX you shouldhave. I bought this book back in 1994, when it was the first book onLaTeX2e, and by now it is thoroughly worn (though the binding is still doing its job well :). However, at the time I bought it, I have already been using LaTeX for six years, and have read Lamport's guide (which is charming, and also the book The Companion intends to accompany) and Kopka and Daly's (which is better organized and more complete).

The LaTeX Companion is something between an advanced course tutorial (could just as well be named Selected Chapters from LaTeX) and a reference book. None of them was ever aimed at beginners, and this one is no exception. LaTeX comes with a rich legacy of add-on macro packages doing various useful and nifty things with lists, floats, tables, formulas, graphics, fonts, indices and bibliographies. This book covers some of them. I would love to see second edition of this book covering more of them. There is a treasure hidden at CTAN, but it is usually hard to find it. The examples are well chosen and it is easy to learn from them. I am less pleased with the index. At 36 pages, it looks very promising, but it rarely led me to the place I sought. During years of use, I mostly figured out where in a book things are, and stopped using it.

Despite the confusing index, the book is worth its (admittedly high) price and you will probably learn many useful things from it. The idea of a thin tutorial and a partly-overlapping "companion book" doesn't appeal to me, though. Personally, I would prefer one single book with a complete treatment of the topic.


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