reads for high tech summer escapees
by Alan Zisman (c) 2004 First published in Business in Vancouver
13-19, 2004; issue 768, High Tech Office column
This week, it's the High Tech Office summer reading list - books to
read on the plane, on the beach or just in the yard.
Summer means taking pictures. With digital cameras increasingly
commonplace, books can help you take better digital pix. Julie Adair
King's Shoot Like a Pro!
(Osborne, $38) is full of real-world digital camera tips, from choosing
just enough camera (but not too much), to setting up a digital
darkroom, to taking better portraits, still lifes and close-ups. It
will help you with the tough shots: low-light and action photos, making
panoramas out of multiple shots, and manipulating colours.
Derrick Story's Digital
(O'Reilly, $44), offers 100 tricks to make the best
your digital photography gear. Story suggests that these are the tips
that the pros have been using for years "to make their pictures look
better than yours." (Note that many of these tricks are the same ones
that film photographers use as well. Story points out that Ansel Adams
"hacked the hell" out of his famous photos to get the prints that grace
museum walls and calendars today.
If you use eBay to buy, and particularly to sell, perhaps turning your
hobby into a business on the side, take a peek at David Karp's eBay Hacks
(O'Reilly, $39), another
set of 100 tricks. You'll see how best to monitor auctions and make the
winning bid, how to buy and sell safely, how to tweak your descriptions
and images to maximize sales, how to maintain your reputation online
Publisher Tim O'Reilly is on a mission to rehabilitate the word
"hacker." Besides the Hacks series, check out Paul Graham's Hackers & Painters
(O'Reilly,$34). Graham, whose start-up Viaweb created software to
simplify e-commerce and was purchased by Yahoo. He took the money and
ran to Florence to study art. Along the way, he became convinced that
programmers are the artists of this Renaissance. His book of essays
explores what makes start-ups work (or not) and why Web-based software
is the way of the future. He touches on issues from spam filtering to
how to make money as a venture capitalist to why nerds are unpopular to
how to think forbidden thoughts - and why that's a good thing.
Of course, some hackers do break into other people's computers. The
good guy hackers call that "cracking." Hacking
by Stuart McClure, Joel Scambray, and George Kurtz
(Osborne, $75) looks at how it's done and how it can be prevented.
Sections cover a range of network operating systems, along with
up-to-date wireless networking security and strategies for securing
phone PBXs, voice-mail systems, and more. Not a casual read, it's what
your network administrator should take along for her or his summer
It used to be that when you bought a piece of software a nice big thick
book came in the box.
Those who took the trouble to at least skim the manual saw what the
product could do and how to do it. In most cases, these user guides
have been replaced by a help file, which in too many cases fails to be
helpful, and is virtually impossible to skim.
David Pogue to the rescue with his Missing Manual series.
I looked at Mac OS X
The Missing Manual
(Pogue Press, $44). It's aimed at users
know which end of the mouse to use, but are prepared to read a bit to
get better use of their new software.
Pogue provides technical information with a sense of humour that was
lacking from the user guides that no longer grace software boxes.
This book, and others in the series are recommended to anyone who wants
to learn to do more with their computers, without becoming a (dare I