Books Books Books

Trying to get some of this stuff off my desk, chest, mind, whatever… A spate of new books:

The Big Book Windows Hacks by Preston Gralla
This is a compilation of tricks for Windows users. Although addressed primarily to people struggling, er, working with Vista, many of the hacks work with XP. The book contains a lot of more generic information as well, regarding wireless networking, Microsoft Office, and PC hardware.

Windows Registry Guide, Second Edition This second edition does not include Vista, but is primarily oriented toward XP and Windows 2003 Server. It includes a couple chapters of basic registry description…how the registry is organized, how to back it up, and then goes into some detail about how to change registry entries on your own. Lots of practical advice here. For example:

  • Customizing Folders
  • Renaming Desktop Icons
  • Adding Desktop Icons
  • Reorganizing the Control Panel
  • Adding File Templates
  • Preventing Messenger from Running
  • Customizing Internet Explorer
  • Logging on Automatically.

Some of this we’ve covered ourselves, (indeed using using the same sources). And some of these things are covered by utility programs such as TweakUI and other PowerToys..

The Practice of System and Network Administration – Second Edition
This very fine book of systems administration is broad enough to provide help for everyone from entry-level to senior management. It includes a balance of nuts and bolts tactical information with high level planning and strategic ideas which is a rare thing in a single volume. Backups, disaster planning, and staffing are discussed alongside open source vs. closed source, supporting mixed environments, maintaining your asset inventory, and maintaining your sanity. This is the one book I’d take on a desert island, assuming there was a network to maintain there.

And a trio of hardware books by Jan Axelson…

These editions are by Nuts & Volts and Circuit Cellar author and tech columnist Jan Axelson. If you want to know anything about interfacing computer hardware, she is the go-to author.

USB Complete – third edition
The Universal Serial Bus (USB) has evolved to replace “legacy” connectors on many computers, including serial RS232, keyboard, mouse, and printer ports. In addition, almost anyone who wants to connect to a PC these days will provide a USB interface. This book explains how to develop and debug such interfaces and describes the hardware and software necessary to make them work.

USB Mass Storage
This sub-class of USB devices encompasses things like interfacing a digital camera to a PC via the USB interface, where the mass storage is actually contained on a chip in the camera, or a removable card. Although generic mass storage units (USB thumb drives) are ubiquitous these days, there are a variety of emerging applications for this kind hardware.

Embedded Ethernet and Internet Complete

This is the classic “internet web server on a chip”, where you have a device or sensor located remotely that you want to access over the web, or as the subtitle describes:

Create tiny Web servers and use TCP/IP to communicate over local networks & the Internet

The book as a thorough and readable discussion of the internal parts of TCP/IP. She even talks about crimping cable connectors. But then the book continues on to work through example applications using two popular modules: The Rabbit RCM2300 and the Dallas DSTINIm400. Want to interface your toaster to the web? This book will show you how.

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