by Rick Smith (November 1995)
My article this month is about several new books on several diverse topics.
The first book is the paperback Casting the Net by Peter H. Salus with a foreword by Vinton G. Cerf. It details the history of the Internet from before the ARPANET to the World Wide Web. It highlights important events such as the first network at Dartmouth College in September 1940 and the attack on 3 microwave relay stations in 1961 which necessitated the commissioning of the Rand Corporation in 1962 to produce a report on what is now called "packet switching", a technology used in the Internet.
The book helps you get to know the pioneers of the Internet, including their thoughts, memoranda and poetry.
If you want to know how the Internet was created and who helped created it, this book is for you.
(ISBN 0-201-87674-4, paperback, 300 pages)
Virtual Reality Systems by John Vince is a heavy duty book that at first glance looks like it is not for the meek or non-technical. The first 24 pages describe virtual reality in general including the history of virtual reality, then it explodes into the mathematics underlying VR. It describes subjects such as positioning the virtual observer, stereo perspective projection, colour (the writer is British and the book is printed in Great Britain) theory, illumination modeling, shading, collision detection, modeling transformation, shape picking, collision detection and human factors relevant to VR systems. Also described are VR hardware, software applications and the future of VR.
Instead of just being a book for VR techno-wizard developers to implement the mathematical equations into program algorithms, the book is formatted so that a novice, who wants to get a better source of the concepts behind VR can read through the book skipping the math sections and get an excellent understanding of how each topic is applied in the context of VR.
The book includes red / green "3D" glasses and several pictures. This book is great for the VR enthusiast by allowing you to read at your own level, skipping the portions you don't understand.
(ISBN 0-201-87687-6, hardback, 388 pages)
UNIX for the Impatient by Paul W. Abrahams and Bruce R. Larson is the second edition of the handbook which can be used as a comprehensive reference guide and for learning UNIX. It covers the IEEE POSIX.2 standard, widely adopted by UNIX vendors. New topics in this edition includes Korn Shell, internationalization, the World Wide Web, newsreaders and system administration from the user's perspective. This book provides a more substantial background than other books and is a good UNIX reference for the computer professional at a reasonable price.
(ISBN 0-201-82376-4, paperback, 824 pages)
© 1995 Rick Smith All rights reserved.