The magazine of the Melbourne PC User Group

For the Bookshelf
Major Keary

Adobe Photoshop

Adobe Photoshop is one of the leading photo design and production packages. Like all highend graphics software, it requires a considerable investment of time to master. Adobe publish - through Hayden Books - a Classroom in a Book series to provide "a set of intermediate and advanced workbooks". This is one in the series and it comes with a CD containing electronic images for the lessons. 

The book is of no value without the Photoshop program and is no substitute for the manuals. However, if you have the software loaded on a machine with suitable CD-ROM drive (double speed), at least 10 MB of RAM available to Photoshop, and a 386-or-better processor, then you will be able to work through an excellent series of lessons. Of course, they are the minimum requirements, covering painting and editing, working with layers, understanding colour, converting images, producing colour separations and printing, scanning, and other topics. There are practical projects with good instructional material. All the tools are covered with practical examples of their use. 

The book is large format, 280 mm x 215 mm, well produced, uses an easy-to-read layout, and the binding allows the book to stay open. So many books just won't lie flat at an opening, have pages with a mind of their own-never mind what you want, the pages flop back to their preferred position-or refuse to stay open at all. It is not 90 per cent illustration, but uses just enough to help the very good text. 

Adobe Photoshop Version 3 
ISBN 1 56830 120 0 
263 pages plus CD
Published by Hayden Books 
RRP $71.95

Graphic Design on the Desktop A Guide for the Non-Designer

This is not just another book on graphic design for DTP users. Many publications on the subject devote space to examples, but are short on explanation. Graphic Design' examples illustrate effective design and explains why they work.

Typical of the author's way of dealing with his subject matter is a discussion on the evolution of a logo. Not a hypothetical design situation, but a real-life task. Various design proposals are illustrated with comment on why they were considered unsatisfactory. The final logo went through a series of developmental stages and each is described. The result is an insight to the design process.

An interesting overview of the development of graphic design covers Gestalt theories of visual perception and elements of visual dynamics. It may sound a bit too deep for ordinary DTP users, but the language is jargon-free and easy to follow.

The terminology of typography and printing is explained and covers all those mysterious terms, such as gutters, mastheads, jumplines, sidebars, and teasers.

White space gets a brief mention. I would like to have seen it expanded; white space is one of the most essential elements of good page design, but "the inexperienced designer has a tendency to rid pages of all white space," Very few authors seem willing to chance their respective arms on a figure, but received wisdom seems to put it at 40 per cent maximum density for a printed page. Squeezing more text and pictures onto a page does not help comprehension, nor does colour: " ... a design with a weak concept that relies heavily on colour will not be successful."

The book contains a wealth of technical information presented in a way that makes it interesting to read and a valuable reference. Anyone involved in serious DTP, or who simply wants to know more about typography and design, should have it. Teachers and students of graphics arts and printing should look at it. A must for libraries, educational and corporate, with holdings on graphic design.

Toor: Graphic Design on the Desktop 
ISBN 0 442 01786 3 
Published by Van Nostrand Reinhold 
250 pages RRP 

Introduction to UNIX

The sub-title is, The Beginner's Guide to UNIX Basics, and that is what the book is

about: guiding UNIX beginners through what has been described as "the best-documented undocumented operating system". The emphasis is on UnixWare a PC version of System V Release 4.2 marketed by Univel. However, regardless of version the book deals with common fundamentals.

While graphical user interfaces (GUI) have been used on other platforms for some twenty years, it was not until the mid-1980s that development of a GUI for UNIX began. It is now well established and many of the book's illustrations are of X-Windows screens.

A chapter covers the use of vi, a UNIX editor that seems to strike terror into the hearts of many who have to make contact with the operating system.

The book is pitched at DOS/Windows users and shows how to run applications written for those platforms under UNIX. In keeping with that thrust there is extensive discussion of the Internet and the necessary UNIX tools and commands.

If you are a DOS or Windows user and are facing either a move to UNIX or a situation in which you will have to use UNIX from time to time, this book is a comfortable way of making the transition.

McMullen et al.: Introduction to UNIX 
ISBN 1 56529 722 9 
Published by QUE 
515 pages 
RRP $54.95

Applications for Distributed Systems and Network Management

This book is one of the latest in the Van Nostrand Reinhold VNR Communications Library series. These books are professional references for those working in communications as network managers and administrators, engineers, trainers, and consultants. It provides a realistic view of client/server structures and discusses a number of misconceptions. The authors point out that client/server and distributed systems-contrary to popular perceptions - can be more expensive than reworking legacy systems.

A significant portion of the book is given to detailed performance reviews of available applications with information about the advantages and disadvantages of each. If you are involved or just interested in network management or administration this book is well worth looking at.

Terplan and Huntington-Lee: Applications for Distributed Systems and Network Management
ISBN 0 442 01873 8 
390 pages 
Published by Van Nostrand Reinhold 
RRP $79.95

Falling Water in 3D Studio Case Study and Tutorial
reviewed by Isabel McRae

Amongst the AutoDesk range of high-end CAD software is 3D Studio and this book is a practical demonstration of the power and versatility of that program. Falling Water in 3D Studio is not for the faint-hearted who want to do no more than read about and dabble with simple constructions and animations.

3D Studio is designed for modelling, rendering, and animation (MRA) and the book, with its accompanying disk, takes the reader through a real-life application.

Falling Water is the name of a famous house in America; it was built in 1936 by the eminent architect, Frank Lloyd Wright, at Mill Run, Pennsylvania and stands over a waterfall. The house has been described as the greatest example of twentieth century American architecture and still attracts much attention and study.

The book uses MRA to explain in detail how the house was constructed. As a novice user of 3D Studio, and not having had much experience in modelling with such sophisticated software, I initially found it hard to follow the instructions about lighting, cameras, and rendering. However, as I went on - going backwards and forwards - the method became more apparent. And that is the book's primary purpose, to take the user through the features of 3D Studio, step by step. By using a famous architectural example physically small enough for inclusion of every bit of detail - the author provides a marvellous tutorial.

The user is taken on a walk-through of the completed house and then out in the open to view it from the outside. The experience is magical! 3D Studio is a complex program, requiring a considerable investment of time to learn. This book is bound to encourage a determination to master its capability to its fullest. It certainly fired my imagination.

Of course, to realise the full value of the hook You will need to have 3D Studio. The accompanying disk contains all of the necessary files. The program runs under DOS. While it is possible to run it as a 1)>s application from Windows, in my experience that is not satisfactory.

Sanchez: Falling Water in 3D Studio 
ISBN 1 56690 051 4 
Published by Onword Press 
RRP $62.95

Image Processing in C Analysing and Enhancing Digital Images
reviewed by Major Kearv

If you a C aficionado You should find this book fascinating. If you have an interest in image processing and enhancement it is a valuable text, particularly those who use, the TIFF format and need information about headers and tags (pointers).

It is primarily to do with TIFF images and there is a listing of C code for CIPS (the C Image Processing System), which reads and writes TIFF images and enables users to display and print them. There is much detailed information, including how to create and write to TIFF files.

Chapters include:

  • Histograms and Histogram Equalisation
  • Basic Edge Detection
  • Advanced Edge Detection
  • Spatial Frequency Filtering
  • Manipulating Shapes
There is lots of code, on a companion disk. As the selection of chapter headings above suggests, the book is technical and not designed for general readers.

LIPS can be run on low-end systems: 286, without a math coprocessor or special image-processing board, and a monitor from monochrome through CGA to VGA.
Dwayne Phillips: Image Processing in C
ISBN 0 13 104548 2 
724 pages plus disk 
Published by R&D Technical Books

Low-Cost E-Mail with UUCP
reviewed by Major Keary

UUCP stands for UNIX-to-UNIX Copy, an integral part of UNIX operating systems, which has been ported to other platforms such as DOS, Windows, OS/2, and Mac.

Many readers will associate UUCP with the Internet but, while used in that environment, it lends itself to private e-mail systems. That application is the focus of this book, which shows various ways in which UUCP can be used to link computers with different operating systems.

A particular application is as a substitute for fax where traffic is high between well-defined points. All sorts of data can be attached to e-mail messages using UUCP.

The system also lends itself to use by professional and community groups where members want an inexpensive messaging system.

When a low-cost mail network using telephone links is needed. UUCP could well provide a solution. The book does not assume the reader is a UNIX expert; it explains UUCP and provides a lot of information not found elsewhere. It covers the design, installation, and operation of a UUCP network with information about application to various operating systems and cross-platform access. It starts with a brief section, Deciding What to Install, which tells the reader what has to be considered for particular systems: DOS mail server, DOS leaf system, Windows leaf systems, Macintosh host or leaf system, and UNIX-like host. A chapter is devoted to extra useful utilities.

Two companion disks contain three shareware packages: WinMail, Waffle, and UUCP Utilities. WinMail is designed for connection to Witchcraft's Internet service, but can be used for any UUCP net. The utilities include TAR, COMPRESS, etc.

Anyone interested in communications will find it a useful, interesting reference; network administrators looking for low-cost alternatives should look at it; and librarians are likely to find it worth acquiring.

Thomas Madron: Low-Cost E-Mail with UUCP 
ISBN 0 442 01849 5 
411 pages plus 2 disks 
Published by Van Nostrand Reinhold 
RRP $69.95

Flow-Based Programming
Reviewed by Tony Stevenson

If you love programming, put this book on your Top 10 Wanted list of 1995. The concept of Flow-Based programming (FBP) is unique. It's not a procedural approach, in the way you would traditionally program Pascal or BASIC applications, and neither does it fit the object-oriented paradigm. It can't really be classified as new, because the author - who is also its inventor - has been successfully using this programming style himself for more than twenty years. It is a theory that, in some ways, was born before its due time. The impression gained from the book was that the author, whilst happy to recognise the growing popularity of object-oriented techniques, feels that FBP has something extra to offer to application developers. Now is the time to introduce it to a much wider audience than he has done in the past. Hence the book!

FBP is based on three principles:

  • Asynchronous processes
  • Data packets with a lifetime of their own
  • External definition of connections
Big words, but what do they mean? An asynchronous process is one that is independent in time-that is, unsynchronised. A data packet is a self-contained and organised amount of data that has a specific lifetime (it is created then destroyed later), whilst a connection is a route between two processes, along which the data packets travel. FBP is not so much a way of programming but rather a way of coordinating these packets of information, processes, and connections to achieve the desired results.

This is a book enjoy, but to do that you have to suspend your belief that the ways w e currently program-procedurally or using object orientation-are the only ways it can be done. It is a thought provoking book that, hopefully, will leave you feeling dissatisfied with the. programming tools and techniques we currently have at our disposal. Let the new age of programming begin!
J. Paul Morrison:Flow-Based Programming
ISBN 0 442 1771 5 
Published by Van Nostrand Reinhold 
316 pages 
RRP, $65.95

Reprinted from the Jan / Feb 1995 issue of PC Update, the magazine of Melbourne PC User Group, Australia

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