Internet Books-- the next generation
by Alan Zisman
(c) 1996. First
published in Computer Player, March 1996
The Internet for Busy People
by Christian Crumlish
The Internet Yellow Pages (3rd Edition)
by Harley Hahn
The Internet Health, Fitness, and Medicine
by Matthew Naythons, MD and Anthony Catsimatides
The World Wide Web Complete Reference
by Rick Stout
Serving the Web (includes CD-ROM)
by Robert Jon Mudry
Coriolis Group Books, distributed by IDG Books
I?m on my third generation of Internet books, in about
as many years.
The first generation included volumes like Michael Fraase?s Internet
Guide volumes (for different computer platforms), focusing on how to
connected, and Paul Gilster?s ?Internet Navigator? series, looking at
to use the classic Internet text-based tools like e-mail, ftp, and
The second generation came out in response to the
sudden explosion of
popularity of graphical tools using the World Wide Web-- Mosaic, and
Navigator. Suddenly, the text-oriented classics seemed old fashioned,
the number of Net users doubled and doubled again, nearly all attracted
by the glitter of graphics, sound, and video on the Web.
Now, with the Web established as the main attraction
on the Net and
the number of users continuing to increase, the needs of readers have
On the one hand, the continuing surge of new users continue to need a
introduction to finding their way around the anarchy of the Net. On the
other hand, veteran (i.e. anyone with at least six months experience)
users want more -- increasingly, they are wanting to create their own
pages or even set up their own Web servers.
Christian Crumlish?s ?The Internet for Busy People? is
one of a series
of ?xxx for Busy People? books recently published by Osborne
It shares the strengths and one drawback of this attractive series.
its team-mates, it is an attractive introduction to its subject. All
are printed in full-colour, making use of colour highlights to draw the
reader?s attention to text, and including colour screen shots and
The text is clearly organized, with each chapter
starting off with a
Fast Forward outline, making it easy to hone in on exactly what the
needs to know. The actual text is wryly readable, at the same time
and opinionated. As befitting the needs of today?s beginning Net user,
it starts off with the Web and Web browsers, and then moves into the
of the Net that the current generation of browsers serve less well, if
at all-- mail, UseNet, real-time chat, ftp, Telnet, and gopher. Back to
the Net for searching and a brief introduction to home-page design,
by useful appendices on connections and links.
This book would serve as my standard recommended
introduction to the
Internet except for one limitation-- like all of the ?For Busy People?
books, it limits itself to Windows-95 versions of software. (Beware--
is nowhere indicated on the cover...) In some ways, this is less of a
than it sounds-- Internet programs such as Netscape Navigator, or
Mail have similar versions for Macintosh, Windows 3.1 and even Unix
And of course, general topics such as Web searches will be the same
of computer platform used. But for the vital topics of actually getting
connected to the Net, Crumlish focused entirely on Win95 options,
Microsoft Network. Users of other systems can benefit from this book--
but for specific, step-by-step hand-holding, they?ll be best off
for books aimed at their computing platform.
?The Internet Yellow Pages? are now into their third
more than one million copies in print. Now, we get the new, 1996
This is needed, because of the ever-changing nature of the Net... by
time a book gets into print, its content is already outdated.
The Yellow Pages is arranged like the phone company?s
source-- don?t expect chapters with paragraphs of text. Instead, its
pages are organized with short listings, by alphabetized topics, from
to Zines and on to Zoology. A table of contents and index makes it easy
to find individual topics or addresses. Along with the actual address,
each item includes a short, sprightly description, and replacing the
in the actual phone book, are frequent short, illustrated promos for
With well-over half-a-million home pages (and rising), even the
pages here cannot hope to be complete, but Harley Hahn has done a good
job of covering a wide range of sites, and doing so in an amusing
This is not a book you?ll want to read from cover to cover, but it can
be a fun and useful reference for any aspiring Net surfer.
Osborne McGraw-Hill has expanded the series with a
?The Internet Health Fitness and Medicine Yellow Pages?. Co-edited by a
real medical doctor (gasp!), this specialized volume looks at topics
from Addiction to (again) Zoology, including both alternative and
I know a volunteer group working with children with
cancer-- as a test
experiment I looked to see whether I could use this book to find
for them-- and it worked... four or five potential Net addresses both
the children, parents, support people, and care-givers.
Again, not a book to sit down and read, but a
potentially valuable reference.
Note-- you may find both of these Yellow Pages volumes
sold in Canada
under the titles ?Golden Directory?, for copyright reasons. Do not
them with Jim Carroll?s ?Canadian Internet Yellow Pages? volumes-- a
series, focusing on Canadian resources.
Rick Stout?s ?The World Wide Web-- Complete Reference?
is aiming across
the spectrum, at every potential user of the Web, from Internet
to would-be Web publishers. It starts off with advice on getting
moving quickly from Unix shell accounts through Internet Service
to accounts with on-line services such as CompuServe. He helps with
a modem, while including information for Windows, Win95, Mac, and OS2
The bulk of the book, however, is aimed at potential
The book moves through beginning tips for working with HTML (the
of the Web), through adding new HTML 3 features, working with
objects, and adding CGI interactive objects such as user-response forms
Several tools for editing HTML pages are assessed,
along with how to
find a home for your new page, and where to begin to publicize it.
is given to those wanting to create their own Web servers, including
at vital issues of security. A final section looks realistically at the
what can be expected doing business on the Web, ending with a nearly
page catalogue of business sites already established on the Web.
While trying to be comprehensive, this book suffers,
perhaps, by trying
to cover such a broad range of readers-- an introduction for new users,
an HTML editor section, and a guide for business-oriented Web sites;
readers may prefer to look single volumes focusing on just one of these
topics with added depth.
One example of such a specialized book is Robert Jon
the Web?. As its title suggests, it is aimed at users wanting to
their own presence on the Web, ranging from a simple personal home page
on someone else?s server, through your own server with a
to adding a high-speed leased-line connection, to running a Unix box
It helps readers assess their needs, and look at a
range of hardware
and software solutions. Security concerns are addressed. The bulk of
book, again, looks at creating Web pages... from simple HTML (both
or using authoring tools), through a wide range of more advanced
forms, scripts, image maps, advanced CGI add-ins, and Netscape
Inevitably, since the Web is a moving target, recent features such as
2.0?s tables are not covered; still, there is brief mention of
additions such as VRML 3-D, RealAudio, Java, and secure commercial
A CD-ROM is enclosed, including audio, video, and
clipart and a range
of shareware and freeware. This includes programs for creating home
such as HotMetal and HTML Assistant, and Web server software for
platforms. As well, for the really ambitious, Slackware 2.2.0 is
letting users install Linux, a free Unix clone for PCs. Installing
opens up the possibility of using a standard PC (386 or better with at
least 4 megs of ram) as a much more powerful Web server.
(Potential experimenters with Linux may want to take a
look at Que Books?
?Using Linux?, a single volume focusing on this free and powerful
system, again with a Slackware CD-ROM, including a suite of Internet
ISBN 0-7897-0100-6, $67.99 in Canada).