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What Kind of Books do You Want? 942

ctrimble asks: "I'm the acquisitions editor for a technical publishing company (not the one with the animals, but we have had six of our books reviewed favourably, here on Slashdot) and part of my job is to determine what books my company should publish. This consists, mainly, of me sitting in my apartment eating peanut butter sandwiches, reading Slashdot, and writing perl scripts that generate titles in a Madlibs type fashion: "Hacking Ruby for Midgets" (forthcoming in July). Unfortunately, there's a bit of an impedance mismatch between my methodology and filling the needs of the programming community. Market research is tough to do in tech books since you need to forcast about a year in advance. So, let me pose the question to you -- what kind of books do you want? What spots do you see as needing to be filled? For that matter, do you even want dead-tree books, or are eBooks and/or online documentation sufficient?"
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What Kind of Books do You Want?

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  • Dead trees are nice (Score:2, Interesting)

    by milkme123 ( 302350 )
    I love dead tree programming books. And O'Reilly is the only one who seems to deliver the kind of books i like. I don't want to reference a book on a secondary monitor. :/
  • Good ones (Score:3, Insightful)

    by drew_kime ( 303965 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2002 @03:47PM (#2962889) Journal
    Anything that's well written is better than anything that's not, no matter what languages they cover and what ones you're using. As long as you have a decent function reference for your language, the rest is all programming theory anyway.
  • dead tree books (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Em Emalb ( 452530 ) < minus poet> on Wednesday February 06, 2002 @03:48PM (#2962899) Homepage Journal
    For you comment on us wanting dead tree books, I vote yes. I like being able to make notes in the margins, highlight, etc., and taking a book places is usually easier than a laptop or pc.

    On a side note, ancedotes are good. Most topics are usually pretty dry, so adding in a little humor can make the books more fun.

    • Don't forget muscle memory -- I can flip to within 2 or 3 pages of the section and page I want -- can't do that on a website or with an e-book, even with bookmarks or search engines.
    • Re:dead tree books (Score:3, Insightful)

      by raddan ( 519638 )
      Dead tree books are essential for when you crash your computer while following along with the text or troubleshooting your computer.
  • There's something comforting in having an open book next to the keyboard. I'd love a book on programming for the upcoming KDE3 and/or a book on Qt3.
    • I would like to go a little further in clarifying this request. KDE3, QT3, and the most relevant versions of gnome from a C/C++ perspective.
      I like to see books with a lot of meat and less fluff. There needs to be more books with good examples, and not just books where the examples are taken from the online text. I want the code examples to demostrate the concept(s) being learned. I am sick of reading a book only to learn the program examples to demonstrate the concept(s) were taken from online text provided with the code and/or libraries. These examples tend to be out of date and/or very simple examples that a monkey could figure out.

      Another topic would be ODBC 3.x on Unix platforms. I have a general book on ODBC, but it isn't a good resource for programming ODBC on Unix platforms.
  • It's hard to write notes on the margins of an e-book. Hard to read one of those while eating, since I don't eat at my computer.

    What kind? Zope, and other web application servers are an area of interest. Hmmm, sorry, can't think of any other interests that aren't met by the Books With The Animals On The Covers. Heck, I've got 5 of those within arms reach right now.

    • I've got to add my voice to the dead-tree lobby; when chilling on the couch of an evening, I tend not to huddle up with my palm pilot. A chunky tome is just the thing.
      As for content: there's only one thing worse than humourless books, it's books with badly-written, forced humour. Especially if the book is a reference book; something that seems quite funny the first time really gets on your tits when you've to flick through the chapter for the nth time. So no jokes in chapters on regular expressions, please.

      Other than that: the real-life example is far too underutilised, in my experience. How I Configured Apache And Why My httpd.conf Looks Like This and Leaves These Options Out is a trifle unwieldy for a title, but it'd be a very handy book to have.
  • A short list: (Score:5, Informative)

    by Dancin_Santa ( 265275 ) <> on Wednesday February 06, 2002 @03:49PM (#2962906) Journal
    Programming KDE
    Programming Gnome
    Perl 6, it's not your father's Perl
    Ruby, for exceptionally tall people
    Linux kernel, line by line
    Programming C#
    Programming for Mono
    AtheOS, line by line
    Embedded systems in C

    And so on and so on.

    Dancin Santa
    • Re:A short list: (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Sethb ( 9355 ) <> on Wednesday February 06, 2002 @04:06PM (#2963086)
      I'd like to see one like:

      Windows Administrator's guide to Red Hat Linux

      Something that'd use the knowledge that many Windows NT/2000/XP domain administrators already have, but relate it to the Linux way of doing things. Have the book set up so that you look to the area you'd find the equivalent setting in Windows, and it'd tell you what the Red Hat equivalent was.

      I'm not trying to say Red Hat is the only distribution, and I actually prefer debian myself, but it's the most widely known, and would be a good place to start for a book like this.

      Such a book would be nice, because it could be written above the "Linux for dummies" level, since it would assume the reader has some technical skills, but would ease the transition to a new system.

      I do Windows support for a living, and there are a lot of things that I can do quite quickly in Windows, but I wind up kind of lost trying to find them in Linux, even simple things like changing the resolution/refresh rate/color depth of my display.

      • Sybex already has a book that covers Linux written for Win Admins. It's 'Linux for Windows NT/2000 Administrators', ISBN 0-7821-2730-4.

        It's very well reviewed at Amazon.

      • by coyote-san ( 38515 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2002 @04:31PM (#2963304)
        How about a book going the other way? I usually try to stay far, far away from Windows admin tasks, but the generally low quality of Windows admins means that I'm often left on my own since the problems I'm solving rarely fit into the point-and-click world they live in.

        There are books that attempt to explain simple Linux tasks to Windows users, but don't seem to be any books that discuss advanced Windows topics to Linux/Unix users. E.g., I know that the "system tray" is similar to our /etc/init.d, but what's the details?
    • by celer77 ( 556997 ) <celer+slashdot AT scrypt DOT net> on Wednesday February 06, 2002 @04:50PM (#2963472) Homepage
      Here are some of the books I would shell out $$ for.

      GCC Internals: How it works/How to modify it. - Have you ever looked at this heaping mess of code? I would love to play around with it, but the learning curve is too high to just jump in.

      Linux/Unix Lowlevel Programming: Ok there are bunchs of crappy assembly programming books out there... by chapter 12 they have covered what a register is. I don't want the most basic stuff I wanna know exactly how the linker works, I wanna know how stack frames are setup. How ELF binaries are loaded. What assembly code is needed to bind it all together. Sure I can piece most of it together from web sites, the kernel and other sites, but it is hard to put it all together.

      Programming KDE 3: QT and KDE are awsome, I do a little bit of development with QT/KDE now, but there is just some documentation that cannot be found...

      Architectures of Popular Linux Apps: A book that does an overview of the architectures behind popular linux applications, with a little bit of discussion about thier architecture and implementation, maybe mixed with a little theroy. For instance an chapter on apache, X11, SSH, postfix, php, konqueror, mozilla... This would be really good at helping linux developers dive into existing projects. You could even solicit open-source authors to provide an overview of thier project architecture and ask them to discuss how what thier biggest challenges where, why the did so and so.. This could really boost participation in certain projects.

      Using GNU Development Tools: A book that details how to use GDB, gprof, gcov, ld, ar, and etc. effectively with all the options and do-dads. Maybe cover other tools like DDD, Electric Fence, etc.

      Oh yeah! These need to be in paper form! Screw electronic form, it sucks to read.


    • Re:A short list: (Score:5, Insightful)

      by phungus ( 23049 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2002 @05:02PM (#2963585)
      How about some more FreeBSD books. I still can't quite believe we have so few.


      More CISSP options would be great too. :)
    • Re:A short list: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by gouldtj ( 21635 )
      Programming Gnome

      Specifically I'd be interesting in the Bonobo aspects of GNOME. Perhaps a book looking at Bonobo in comparison with COM and the Star Office object model.

  • by PoiBoy ( 525770 ) <(moc.sgnidlohiop) (ta) (nairb)> on Wednesday February 06, 2002 @03:49PM (#2962907) Homepage
    Speaking both for myself and many other Slashdot readers, I really need the book An Idiot's Guide to Getting Laid Tonight.

    Moderators: That is a joke.

  • Using OpenLDAP (Score:5, Informative)

    by rapid prototype ( 551089 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2002 @03:49PM (#2962909) Homepage
    a nice Linux book which covers administering OpenLDAP [] would be great. and please, dead tree, dead tree. when the server is down, you need a dead tree to read. when the server is up, you don't need a book.

  • Books I want (Score:5, Insightful)

    by schulzdogg ( 165637 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2002 @03:49PM (#2962911) Homepage Journal
    I would like something like a text book: 50 java problems. Each chapter a short problem that requires some java hacking to do, and then at the end each problem coded out. So you could hack through it and then read good reference code about a problem with which your are familiar.

    I use java as an example, but I really would like it in all languages.
    • Re:Books I want (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Jayson ( 2343 )
      Mod this up. This is a great idea for a book. The problems would need to expose the working of Java and not be some random problem. There are great problems posted on comp.lang.lisp often, but these are probably better siuted to Lisp and often involved some novel Lisp feature that makes the problem absurdly simple. Something like that for Java (or any other language) would be great. Any there any out there for other languages already?

    • Sounds like this... (Score:4, Informative)

      by ragnar ( 3268 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2002 @03:57PM (#2962986) Homepage
      The Java Cookbook [] sounds like what you are looking for. I own it and really enjoy it.
    • Here ya' go (Score:5, Informative)

      by devphil ( 51341 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2002 @03:57PM (#2962996) Homepage

      Essential C++ by Herb Sutter.

      The comp.lang.c++.moderated newsgroup ran a series of problems from the moderately thoughtful to the downright fugly, entitled "Guru of the Week" and contributed to by the best of the online C++ community. About 50 of the GotW article were then pulled into a book and published.

      For C++ in general, get everything (right now, about 8 books) from the new "C++ In-Depth" series. Stroustrup is the series editor; Essential is one of the titles. The idea behind the series is to get away from the massive 1200-page MFC tomes meant solely to generate revenue for the publisher; all books in the In-Depth series must be less than 300 pages long (main body). Short, clear, and to the point.

  • Or at least one with heavy input from him.

    It doesn't matter *what* topic. Whatever he wants you to write about.

    He can talk about hardware design.
    Software design.
    Cross platform design.
    Graphics trends.
    Project management.

    I'd be interested.
  • by mr.ska ( 208224 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2002 @03:50PM (#2962920) Homepage Journal
    I'd like a book on how to forecast the needs of the technology sector about a year in advance. ; )
  • jakarta books? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by tongue ( 30814 )
    I don't know about anyone else, but I would really like to see a 1 or 2 volume set on the various components of the jakarta [] project and how they fit together, especially in a practical enterprise.
  • Dead trees are still the best read-only medium for text I've found. I stare at the screen enough, some nice non-backlit paper is a welcome change.

    I buy about two book per year. Generally, I like books that offer a little theory. I've been programming for a while, and a book on "language X" isn't so interesting, while "Some Application with Language X" is nice because then I get to learn some theory while gaining an understanding of a the language.
  • OK here goes... :) (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mrroot ( 543673 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2002 @03:50PM (#2962929)

    1. Learning VB.Net for Java Programmers
    2. Migrating from Linux to Windows .Net Server
    3. basically anything on .Net
  • ebooks (Score:3, Insightful)

    by HuskyDog ( 143220 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2002 @03:51PM (#2962930) Homepage
    I think that it would be safe to say that most slashdot readers aren't interested in any sort of ebook unless they can at the very least read it under Linux. If you read /. lots you can't have failed to notice considerable 'disquiet' at the appearance of ebooks which restrict things like fair use and the right to first sale.

    Speaking personally, I am more than happy to continue buying the occasional dead tree computer book, provided that it is really up to date (not easy with fast moving topics like Linux).

  • i use struts [] a lot and there isn't any good documentation out there.

    there are a lot of exciting things going on with the jakarta people, we need more documentation on that stuff, including ant, jMeter, log4j, tomcat, etc...

    this [] book does a pretty good job but we need more.

  • THINNER books (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jetson ( 176002 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2002 @03:51PM (#2962935) Homepage
    I'm getting tired of having to choose between a $75 book with 1200 pages and a $70 book with 1150 pages. Whatever happened to concise text? Doesn't anyone at the publisher actually try to carry these monsters around any more? Let's get back to basics and not have any more of these 2 kilogram wonders with 18 faces on the cover....
    • and on that note: (Score:5, Interesting)

      by mblase ( 200735 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2002 @04:03PM (#2963057)
      - No color pages unless they are absolutely, unquestionably necessary
      - No CD-ROMs full of code when a Web site would do the job better

      If I must spend oodles of money on a computer-programming book, I'd prefer it be the smallest quantity of oodles possible.
    • O'Reilly books are so loved. They're concise. Although the Python Libraries book is a monster. May be their thickest ever.
    • The 1500 page reference tome is fine. I don't carry those around, they sit on my shelf and look pretty. However, I only buy those that include an e-book version so I can use it on laptop (copied to hard drive, not carry around the cdrom); it's much easier to do a search for something in the e-book than to dig through the tome.

      As for "learning" books, if it has to be 1200 pages, I'd rather it was broken up into smaller books in a boxed set. That way I only have to carry around a 1lb book instead of a 8lb one.

      You don't need to include pictures of everything- we're smart enough that if we're not at a computer and we can't picture it in our heads, we'll come back to it when we are near a computer.

      And those "HINTS", "SECRETS", "WARNINGS"- yeah, yeah, they're important, but we're not idiots- you don't need to waste so much space with fancy borders and colors and icons so it attracts our attention.

  • Some of my best research is done while I'm on the john. I can sit and relax and go through a reference manual without any interuptions. My wife won't let me take a computer into the bathroom to do research.
  • by jub ( 10089 )
    I love the dead tree editions. Online manuals (the PHP manual is the best example i've seen) are fantastic, but only when i'm sitting at the computer online.

    There are lots of times when i just want to see some good examples of code use, and that can be really hard to find online.

    plus, i don't have a network connection in the bathroom...
  • Bioinformatics (Score:2, Interesting)

    by perlchimp ( 263475 )
    I would like to see some more in depth books about programming, bioinformatics and statistics. So far, the only books out there - that I know about - are pretty basic.
  • by 0WaitState ( 231806 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2002 @03:53PM (#2962948)
    A book on how to configure management would be useful. By "configure management", I mean:

    -describe typical management structures
    -explore how decisions are made
    -attempt to aggregate and parametrize hierarchical processes, such that one can start referring to them by their "Pattern"-name shorthand.
    -discuss what the managed can and cannot do to influence these decision-making structures.
  • by Chundra ( 189402 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2002 @03:53PM (#2962952)
    1. Teach yourself ANSI Common LISP in 24 hours.
    2. The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Linux Kernel Internals.
    3. Assembly language for Dummies
    4. Giving yourself a Enterprise Java Enema.
  • What I want (Score:3, Insightful)

    by evanbd ( 210358 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2002 @03:53PM (#2962954)
    And I know it's not easy. First off, Dead Tree is good. sometimes just a break for the eyes, sometimes just the security of knowing it won't go down.

    What I want is the Linux Application Guide. Basically, a book that says "Here are the major Word Processors. These are the key features of each. We suggest you decide based on whether you need to do this, that or the other." Ditto browsers, Desktops, mail clients, DVD players, Instant Messaging, p2p.

    Basically, I use Linux. I use KDE because I tried it and I like it. pine because I tried it and liked it. Ditto Konq, Kword, mplayer, and others. They may or may not be the best there is. They're just the first I tried that was good enough. So... help me pick my applications.

    I know you don't write the books... but I've been waiting for that book, and haven't heard anything about it. I know there are problems -- time frame, distro, etc. Just try to make it distro-independent, maybe list easy distros for each app. Also, it would need a brief bit about configuration. I'm thinking two to three pages per app plus a couple screen shots. Order of five to ten apps in less than a dozen categories.
  • by Marx_Mrvelous ( 532372 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2002 @03:53PM (#2962956) Homepage
    What *I* want are "pocket" ie small books with clear-cut examples of useable code. I switch between Perl, C, C++, Java, etc all the time, and it get frustrating when you forget a certain syntax or way of doing something. Either ONE book with lots of basic syntax examples, or many small books for each language!

    I know LOTS of CS students who would buy them.
  • by SnapShot ( 171582 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2002 @03:54PM (#2962960)
    Short, specific, inexpensive, and if it claims to teach me anything in 24 hours, 1 week, 1 month, or even in 10 easy steps I'm not going to buy it.

    If it claims to be a "Bible". I'm not going to buy it.

    If it has source code it had better come with a CD or a link to a well-designed and fast web site.

    If it doesn't have source code, I'd rather save $5 and not get a CD instead of getting a CD with demo software that is already 6 monthes out-of-date by the time the book is published.

    Also, any book that begins with a "history of the computer" introduction goes back on the shelf down at Borders.
  • by The Wookie ( 31006 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2002 @03:55PM (#2962970)

    called Teach Yourself Teaching Yourself In 21 Days In 21 Days

  • by blaine ( 16929 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2002 @03:55PM (#2962973)
    please, dear god, offer RING BOUND versions of your books! I really don't understand why this isn't a common thing, especially among technical references. Standard bindings do not hold up to the abuse that my books take, and are especially annoying if I am trying to work on a piece of code while keeping a reference book open at the same time. Ring bindings allow for books to lie flat on a desk, instead of flopping closed. To get the same effect from a normally bound book, you practically have to break the binding.

    Just a thought. I'd probably own more books if they were just easier to use while doing actual work.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      The problem with most things other than "Perfect" binding is that they either don't have real spines (spiral bound) or they have angled covers (ring binders). The best I've seen is "Lay Flat" binding.

      It's more expensive, but it makes very nice manuals.
    • Me too.
      This is an excellent suggetion and I hope Cliff pays attention to this one and can have some influence here. Regular soft bound books that I actually use fall apart after awhile. Sure, a few pages might get ripped out of a very roughly used spiral book, especially if the covers are not heavy enough (please have covers of sufficiet weight not to be ripped off when being yanked out of backpack) but that is nothing like having the binding of the book disintegrate. Also, being able to have book lie flat is a big plus.
  • well (Score:3, Interesting)

    by nomadic ( 141991 ) <> on Wednesday February 06, 2002 @03:55PM (#2962974) Homepage
    Do you mean technical in general, or programming? The terms aren't necessarily synonymous. Wish you'd said which company you are, so we could get an idea of what kind of stuff you publish.

    If you're just talking about programming, there are enough language tutorials around, maybe something on the difficulty level of an intro book, but on software engineering?

    If you're talking about technical/scientific books in general there's a lot of classics that should be reprinted (like Buckminster Fuller's stuff, or Norbert Wiener's), but if you're talking along the lines of purely technical, computer-related books, you probably wouldn't be interested.
  • What I'd most like to see is a book about general development in the KDE environment. It'd be great if the following were covered:

    1. General orientation to the various KOffice suite
    2. Programming with the latest version of Qt/KDE
    3. Scripting for KOffice using Python
    4. Using KParts components
    5. A section on database access (Qt components, Rekall, etc.)
    6. A KDevelop primer

    That's it for now. Even if it was only in a cookbook format with a reference it'd be great. I like it dead tree with online errata/examples/discussions, etc.

    The reason why I think this could help is because it would allow the possibility of migrating an office automated with another (you can probably guess which one) Office Suite over to alternatives that are more "free", or starting a new one knowing all the potential for automation later on.
  • by geekd ( 14774 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2002 @03:56PM (#2962984) Homepage
    I am an avid consumer of tech books. I buy about 1 a month or more, at $50+ a pop.

    Whatever subject I am currently interested in gets my money. Lately it's been OpenGL and game programming (especially math). In the last 3 months I've purchased or recieved for X-mas (by request):

    OpenGL Game Programming
    Programming Linux Games
    3D Math For Game Programmers
    Physics For Game Programmers
    Tk/TCL For Real Programmers
    3D Game Engine Design
    DNS and BIND
    SSH (the O'Reilly one)
    Game Programming Gems 2

    and a few more.

    So, what am I looking for?

    It depends what I am interested in today. Right now I need a really good C++ STL reference book.

    I also need a math primer. I haven't thought about math since my aborted attempt at college 12 years ago. While I did get an A in Calculus, that was 12 years ago and I remember nothing. The 3D Math book I mentioned above pretty much assumes you already know Calc.

    It seems to me that there are alot of beginning programming books, especially about game design and C++, but few advanced books.

    Also, there are few game AI books out there, but I see on Amazon that there are 2 promising titles to be released in the next few months.

    One of my favorite programming books of all time is The Perl Cookbook. Now, I make my living programming Perl on Linux, and this book gets cracked open by me at least once a week. I've even seem comments in other people's code that said "If you don't understand this next bit, see the Cookbook page xxx". A Cookbook type thing for C++ would really be cool.

    Alright. Lunchtime. Off to Fry's.

    • Cross-platform programming using wxWindows
    • Switching between Unices (i.e. a quick reference on differences between Linux, *BSD, Solaris, ...)
    • Linux for Windows programmers
    • Windows for Linux programmers
    • Mac OS X for Linux programmers
  • spiral binding.. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Mr. Quick ( 35198 )
    although slightly off-topic, i would love a book that i could lie flat on my desk...
  • by Jon Howard ( 247978 ) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {noj.drawoh}> on Wednesday February 06, 2002 @03:57PM (#2962995) Journal

    I'm a Lisp programmer (Allegro CL [] mostly), so naturally I would like to see more books covering Lisp. I'd specifically like to see the following topics covered:

    • Network programming with Lisp for a wider variety of protocols
    • Advanced tuning with foreign functions/mixed language programming
    • Graphics and OpenGL programming with Lisp
    • Sound programming with Lisp
    • Game programming with Lisp
    • Databases in Lisp

    I'd really like to find more practical Lisp examples on bookstore shelves.

    Oh, and before I hear "Lisp can't do that", here's a short list of Lisp success stories:

    • Animation & Graphics [] (including Square USA and Naughty Dog Software)
    • Artificial Intelligence [] (including Kurzweil and Microsoft Research)
    • BioInformatics [] (including MDL Information Systems)
    • B2B & E-Commerce [] (including ITA Software [powers Orbitz])
    • Data Integ. & Mining [] (including Cadabra/GoTo Shopping)
    • EDA/Semiconductor [] (including AMD and American Microsystems, Inc.)
    • Expert Systems [] (including Univ. of Chicago Infolab and Signal Insurance)
    • Finance [] (including Price Waterhouse Coopers and Cognition Corporation)
    • Intelligent Agents [] (including Fujitsu Limited)
    • Knowledge Mgmt [] (including Design Power, Inc.)
    • Mechanical CAD [] (including Parametric Technologies Corp.)
    • Modeling & Simulation [] (including Boeing and Johnson Engineering)
    • Natural Lang. Proc. [] (including Sony CSL and Stanford University)
    • Optimization [] (including NASA and Space Telescope Institute)
    • Research [] (including Univ. of Southern California and University of Wyoming Applied AI Lab)
    • Risk Analysis [] (including Arthur D. Little, Inc.)
    • Scheduling [] (including Northwest Airlines and Ascent Technology, Inc.)
    • Telecom [] (including France Telecom R&D and British Telecom Labs)
    • Web Authoring [] (including The Performing Graphics Company and Schema GmbH)
  • I would like a history book. It should cover in detail...
    • The rise of free software.
    • The economic benefit gained by removing the software rent gatherers. Consider a rent gatherer to be a company which holds a protected place in the software economy and collects revenues vastly beyond its expenses by virtue of that position.
    • The evolution of some rent gatherers into productive companies and the whitering away of the rest.

    But I expect it will take more than a year to write that...
    I'm still working on providing material for chapter one.

    Feel free to mod me down into oblivion. I'm just cranky and unproductive today.
  • Development Books (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Aloekak ( 172669 )
    I'm being quite general, but I think there's really a lot of OS books out there. How to run your OS, Securing your OS, Being One With Your OS, etc.

    I'm looking for more cutting edge development kind of books. XML-RPC, PHP, PHP-GTK and any other web/internet high level coding language.

    Give me something new, something cutting edge, something that I can read/browse through, and will help me pick up new languages quickly and make me more efficient.

  • Sort of the opposite of the dummies. Something that assumes you already have an idea about the subject, but dont know excatly how to go about doing it. Something the reverse of the normal teaching method. FOr instance, im trying to learn pearl right now. The thing is all the books start out at the very basic, and go to the complicated. I would like somehting that takes a complex example and breaks it down in a logical manner. Yes, i can do this on my own, but itd be nice to have it set up that way in a book.

    ANd im quite happy with electonic verisons, as long as theyre vaguely palm friendly.
  • I definately need the dead tree version. A small book on unix/linux admin would be nice. Just cover adding users, wrappers(firewall), ssh/sftp, bash, vim, apache, samba, and installing from source for newbies. Less than 10 chapters, less than $20.
  • Ebooks just don't cut it. Having a dead tree book is way nicer. I can read it in class when the teacher is rambling on about something pointless. I can have it in my lap or on the side when I'm working on a project, and don't have to keep tabbing between windows. I don't have to worry about software compatibility, about having a computer that works, or whatever.

    Regarding content, I don't want a book for idiots. The book that taught me C++ was: "C++ for Dummies - Quick Reference". It's not a typical "For Dummies" book, it assumes who can program, but need a refresher. For people who have already been programming (in -any- language) a book on syntax is more than enough.

    Furthermore, a great addition would be a set of projects with increasing difficulty and source code.

    Theory is great, but it doesn't teach you real-world problems. And most people can't think up basic projects to learn certain concepts. (For example, using the Josephus problem to teach circular linked lists).

    That's just my 1.5 cents worth.
  • Dead-tree books are a necessity. I don't want my tech materials on a laptop, because I can't always run that. I can read a real book throughout the flight, while taking off or landing, while waiting for the flight to be taxied to the runway. It might not seem like a big deal, but if you fly enough, all that time adds up very quickly.

    P.S. I would always rather dog-ear a book than make a bookmark on an Ebook, and resume reading there. Plus, I can read books when I go camping, a time when I don't bring any computers with me.

    P.P.S. While we are on the subject: Geeks, think about how many trees were cut down to make all those nifty O'Reilly reference books. Take some time out of your day, and plant a tree. It helps.
  • dead trees (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Cecil ( 37810 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2002 @04:00PM (#2963028) Homepage
    I think that paper books are the way to go. Screen real-estate is always at a premium, especially when programming. And no one would want to clutter that with yet-another-window.

    With that said, it's also useful to make the content available online if possible, as an abridged reference if nothing else. It's really handy for when you don't have the book handy and just want to look up "hey, how did they do that trick again?"

    As for subjects I'd like to see? I prefer books that don't neccesarily focus on a single library (everything you ever needed to know about gtk!). While useful as reference manuals, the same thing is generally online. Focus instead on using some combination of libraries to come up with a useful working environment for whatever it is you're aiming for, be that quick apps, huge apps, games, or what have you.
  • by jordan_a ( 139457 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2002 @04:00PM (#2963029)
    Personally I'd like to have hemp paper books. Hemp paper is of exceptional quality and a tonne of hemp will make much more paper then a tonne of dead trees.

    That and I'd love to see some idiot try to smoke a book.
    • by Wraithlyn ( 133796 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2002 @06:41PM (#2964259)
      Why is this modded as Funny? Should be insightful. Hemp was primarily villified and made illegal by an industrial conpiracy to protect monopolistic oil and wood interests.

      "Hemp is the standard fiber of the world. It has great tensile strength and durability...and can be used to produce 25,000 products, ranging from dynamite to Cellophane.

      "The natural materials in Hemp make it an economical source of pulp for any grade of paper manufactured, and the high percentage of alpha cellulose promises an unlimited supply of raw material for the thousands of cellulose (plastic) products our chemists have developed.

      "All of these products, now imported, can be produced from home-grown Hemp. Fish nets, bow strings, canvas, strong rope, overalls, damask tablecloths, fine linen garments, towels, bed linen and thousands of other everyday items can be grown on American farms...all of this income can be made available to Americans."

      "The paper industry offers even greater possibilities. As an industry, it amounts to over $1,000,000,000 a year, and of that, eighty percent is imported. But Hemp will produce every grade of paper, and government figures estimate that 10,000 acres devoted to Hemp will produce as much paper as 40,000 acres of average (timber) pulp land."

      - Popular Mechanics, February 1938
      (Taken from here [])

      Hemp can be used to replace wood pulp paper, and we're cutting down our planet's forests at a suicidal rate. Hemp can be used as a domestically produced, renewable fuel, and yet we fight wars over foreign oil and pollute the atmosphere with it.
  • J2EE books (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ragnar ( 3268 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2002 @04:01PM (#2963032) Homepage
    Personally, I would really like to see a J2EE book that isn't written like a doctoral thesis nor like a primer for manager's who don't code. The ideal J2EE book would have install guides for setting up Tomcat, Jboss and Postgresql. These are tools anyone can freely obtain and use. The books I've seen thus far have left me dizzy, not entirely sure how to apply the knowledge, and I've been programming in Java for over 7 years. Go figure?
  • Satellites (Score:2, Interesting)

    by mtnbkr ( 8981 )
    First off, I want dead trees (in book form, not lying around). Second, I'd like to get a decent book on Satellite Data Communications that is
    1) inexpensive,
    2) not a textbook, and
    3) covers the topic from a high level (basic information) to mid level installer/integrator). I don't need the math involved.

    All I've found are propellerhead type textbooks (at $80+). I want the Cliff's Notes version :)

  • Why does it have to be an either-or?

    The advantages of a book are:

    • Carry it with you.
    • Generally, easier to deal with.

    The advantages of an e-book are:

    • Read it the way YOU want.
    • Potentially everything has a hot-link.

    The advantages of online material are:

    • Generally kept up to date.
    • Easier to add new material.

    Can't these all just "get along"???

  • JavaDoc (Score:2, Insightful)

    Sun's J2SDK 1.4 JavaDoc is my favorite piece of documentation. It is an indexed, cross-referenced API reference covering every standard class. It has detailed method specifications and in most cases useful and relevant examples of what data is excepted by the methods and what output will be produced.

    A dead-tree version would be great, provided it was full of accurate cross-indexes (pages numbers, etc). I would love something like this for C++.

    The documentation isn't half bad either.

    Lastly, my one major gripe about books and references in general is their lack of examples, or the over-complication of examples. For instance, Sun's examples for threading all involve Swing, which accounts for 90% of the code. If you don't understand Swing, you're lost. A lot of little, simple, relevant examples and an explanation of what's happening would be great.

    And this applies to more than just programming languages. I would have killed for something like this when I was learning Bind and OpenLDAP.

    Make it comprehensive--full disclosure of APIs down to protected fields and methods, and examples, examples, examples. Make stuff easy to find, and make it worthwhile, and you've got my money.
  • kerberos (Score:2, Interesting)

    by jgilbert ( 29889 )
    I'd like a good book on deploying kerberos in a corporate network. The one book I found in my extensive search (amazon) yielded a single book that got mostly negative reviews from the 5 or so people who reviewed it on amazon. 4/ qid=1013025758/sr=8-1/ref=sr_8_3_1/104-3227082-325 3536


    - configuring kerberos in various types of network configurations. Case study sort of analysis of how kerberos has actually been deployed in real world installations. Including the applications that use it.

    - How and what applications it integrates with.

    - How and/or to what extent can the MIT krb5 implementation be integrated w/ windows 2000.

    - How to kerberize an application. Best practices/strategies for integration.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 06, 2002 @04:04PM (#2963066)
    • No power source needed.
    • Less fragile.
    • Less chance of data loss through accident or negligence.
    • Losing one physical book denies access to that book; losing your eBook reader denies access to all eBooks.
    • They smell nice.
    • They look pretty lining bookshelves.
    • Difficult to make copies (but that's true of eBooks too, so long as copyright overprotection continues to be a trend).
    • Bulky and heavy.
    • Not backlit. (Goes with having no power source).
  • Dead Tree Books (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Lew Pitcher ( 68631 )

    Given the current controversy with 'digital rights management' and the stability, availability, and durability of various electronic media, I much prefer hardcopy paper books to ebooks. Paper is more convenient, can be photocopied when I need a snippet from a manual, and does not depend on expensive hardware, spotty power supplies, or the largess of a publishing company that wants me to pay for each time I read the book.

    As for which books I'll be looking for, that varies a lot. My current interest list includes:

    • DB2 on Linux
    • Linux on large systems
    • OS/390 Unix system Services
    • OS/390 web server and services
    • and a bunch more that I don't have time to list

    Is any of this helpful?

  • by Steve Mitchell ( 3457 ) <> on Wednesday February 06, 2002 @04:05PM (#2963072) Homepage
    Maybe it's just me, but my biggest complaint is most computer books out there are concentrating on how to use the newest coolest language instead of the underlying principles. I'd rather have pseudo-code cover how to pattern a peer-to-peer network, an mp3 codec, a nearest word match spell checker, a regular expression engine, or a typical Civ-like AI. These days I hunger for books to explain how the hell Divx works without trudging me with specifics like how to fashion an if statement in Java or an STL in C++. I want material with reasonable amounts of math and code snippets, not a rehashed programming lesson.

    One of these days I'll write that encyclopedia.
  • Content Management (Score:3, Interesting)

    by scaryDog ( 110368 ) <nathan@boost[ ].nz ['.co' in gap]> on Wednesday February 06, 2002 @04:06PM (#2963084) Homepage
    I would love to see a book on practical Content Management. Maybe covering the ZOPE CMF, but also looking at the issues invloved, workflow, edititing models, etc etc.

    Maybe looking at some of the more established systems (Story server, Spectra), but also looking at Jakarta, Tomcat, Velocity, Jetspeed and Turbine.
  • by Xzzy ( 111297 ) <sether@tru 7 h .org> on Wednesday February 06, 2002 @04:07PM (#2963095) Homepage
    I'm up to my ears with books detailing how to write in a specific language. Structure and syntax is easy.. you learn how to use an if statement in one language, you know how they work in all languages. API's are about the same, references documenting joe random library are a dime a dozen.

    My problem whenever I involve myself with coding something is getting knowledge about all the other vital pieces to programming, various algorithms, methods of structuring a program, stuff like that.

    See, for those kids who managed to push themselves through college all think this is easy stuff.. linked lists, random numbers, event based programming, hashing, and so on (have a firm grasp of these concepts, just using them as examples). That's what they paid to go to school for. But for the rest of us who're trying to cut a living and can't easily do the school thing anymore, a "teach yourself" book or books educating the more abstract parts of programming would be a major help.

    Some of this is documented, slightly, on the web or in existing open sourced projects. But most of it reads like class notes at best, and I have yet to find good books that go over these sorts of things. The information is there, but it's not presented in a manner that's easy to absorb.

    As an example, oreilly did a book a while back called 'Practical Programming in C'. That was a step in the right direction. It was an easy read, but taught a lot of really useful C concepts that most people take for granted. As far as it went, it was immensely valuable to me both as a reference and a tutor.

    Basically, there's a niche between API references and language syntax books that seems horribly unfilled. I'd buy books immediatley if they seemed to fall in that category.
  • Xfree86 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by digigasm ( 84016 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2002 @04:08PM (#2963103)
    I would like to see an entire book based on "Cool Things with X"

    Most of what I've seen written about X is a short overview in a "Learning Linux" book or 7 volume programming manuals. There doesn't seem to be anything in between. The book should explain, in detail, the X config files, the startup files, stuff to do with the client and server. Maybe touch on window managers.

    Answer questions such as "Can I just run one X server on my network instead of on every host to save disk space?" or "Can I display a window running on one host on another host?".
  • by rho ( 6063 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2002 @04:10PM (#2963118) Homepage Journal

    I think it's safe to say that we don't want (or need) any more "How to Be An Unleashed Dummy In 21 Days" books.

    Rather than Yet Another Computer Book that simply cats the "--help" into a book, I'd like to see a revolution in the computer book template. Oh, sure, a book that explains what each and every function in PHP does is helpful, but I can get that online.

    How about a case study book? A series of case study books?

    I'd like to see a section in every book titled, "These things will likely shaft you".

    Fictionalize a manual. The Adventures of Nerd Man. (okay, this one is reachy)

    Best yet, I'd like to read a book that doesn't have this damn phrase in it: "... but that is beyond the scope of this book..." Usually, that's the part that I'm stuck on.

    You can probably get a thousand concepts from just reading HOWTOs and grepping for that phrase. Those are the parts where the medium-level people (most of the population) are stuck.

    • > How about a case study book?

      Well, I know it's sun/solaris specific, but their Sun Blueprints line is rather nice. They're short, they go over some of the basics, and the break it down to 2 or 3 case studies using some of the top solutions for the given problem.

      I have the one on Enterprise backup, and while it's not something that I'd give to someone who wanted to understand a specific product, it's great when you're doing product analysis.

      In the line, there are "Datacenter Layout", "Enterprise Backup", "Boot disk layout", "Designing Enterprise Solutions with Sun Cluster 3.0", etc etc.


      Some sample chapters are online as well.
  • by javajawa ( 126489 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2002 @04:13PM (#2963147) Homepage
    Dead Tree books. Possibly in smaller volumes, at reasonable prices. I'm getting annoyed at having to shell out $50 for a book every week, for a huge linux bible sized book. I want smaller books in tighter topics. One of the reasons I've always liked the animal covers; they're small, to the topic, and inexpensive.

    I'd also like to see more in the way of method books, rather than subject books. ie, something that teaches how to program rather than how to program in a specific language. possibly case books, that show how to get around certain problems. I'd like to see books less revolved around programs, and more to the topic of methods and strategies. It might not require a person to buy a new $50 book every week for every different program, but it will make a better book.
  • by greygent ( 523713 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2002 @04:14PM (#2963158) Homepage
    Ebooks suck, I do not like them, especially when I'm working on a downed server and have 4's open, and I have to find a spot for Acrobat to fit.

    I'd like to see:

    - More books with the flexible bindings (ala Oreilly). Books that don't lay flat suck.

    - More "Cookbook" style books, as long as they are truly thorough and diverse (see Perl Cookbook for a good example).

    Essentially, system engineers like to see short code snippets of how to accomplish odd tasks in a quick, easy manner. Again, when stuff's broken, or data needs to be pulled pronto, I'm not going to wade through man pages, etc.

    - I don't favor the Nutshell style books, they're usually poorly organized and don't comprise enough of the "right" information.

    - More quality assurance. Too many books these days are rushed out to market way too quickly. I'd rather buy a book that's good quality, rather than "quickest out". Most of us customers read reviews to get an idea of what books to buy on a particular subject. Keep that in mind.

    - Topics I'd like to see? more advanced-level BSD stuff, more kernel hacking stuff, LDAP, you can never have too many Perl books. Think about stuff your target audience would love to see. Oreilly is great for doing this, see: "CGI Programming with Perl", "Perl for System Administration", etc
  • by InterruptDescriptorT ( 531083 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2002 @04:39PM (#2963369) Homepage
    Let me explain what I mean. I'd love to see a book on 3D game programming they way it ought to be done--by talented, dedicated, game developers at actual game development companies, not hacks who've been doing it for a while in the basement who believe they have enough skills to write a book on it.

    Tradeoffs, design choices, speed enhancements, math optimizations, etc., that sort of thing. A book where the writer sits in with a game development team on a project and shows the code along with the thought process behind the code itself. Giving formulas for physics equations is great, but showing how developers in the real world use them and how they use them to animate their objects would be even better.
  • by acet ( 159342 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2002 @04:57PM (#2963530) Homepage
    I'd very much like to see...

    Unix Hackers Guide to Mac OS X

    Written for the experienced Unix user who is unfamiliar with the mac life. Various topics might include things like:
    - How the Aqua configuration dialogs interface with basic system configuration files.
    - Where configuration information is stored.
    - Where to find mounted volumes in the filesystem.
    - Command line alternatives to GUI-level actions (specifically configuration type things, not just file manipulation)
    - use of the 'defaults' command
    - enabling the root account
    - "Where is gcc/cc?!"
    - How network interfaces are managed (including how this interracts with the 'Locations' dialog and autoconfigure functions. What process mantains this? (i'm still looking for an answer to this one))
    - Modifying bootup scripts in a 'safe' way that will survive an OS update.

    There are countless other possible topics. Basically everything the experienced unix hacker needs to know in order to quickly become comfortable with Mac OS X.

  • History (Score:4, Interesting)

    by donglekey ( 124433 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2002 @05:02PM (#2963576) Homepage
    I think that the Histroy of computing is one of the coolest subjects out there. I wish that more books would be written on the history of computing, and the history of different fields of computing because it really is so facinating. The more technical the better, because it is interesting the techniques that are laughable and the techniques that we still use.

    Books on genuises are cool. I did an essay once, and it was facinating. The public thinks that genuises are born with some 'gift' (thanks Good Will Hunting, thanks A Beautiful Mind). The truth is that most genuises have a very interesting history of focus, drive, and luck. I would love to spend a few hours reading about Bill Joy, what an ass kicker.
  • by gte910h ( 239582 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2002 @05:04PM (#2963599) Homepage
    Think Like a Programmer: Wrapping your mind around code and other computer conundrums
    This book teaches a non-programmer with no experience what sorts of questions to think in terms of when trying to write software. It shows how to think of things in a modular, abstracted way. It also shows how to make simple data structures. I am imagine it as a companion to a nutshell book for a intro CS course or a person trying to learn on their own.

    Concise Sexy C
    A book that impresses tons of C idioms that make code smaller, simpler to read, self-documenting, and usually faster. From ugly to elegant. Gives good questions to ask yourself to pare down code to a more simple, elegant form.

    Developing Beauty-Sense
    How to gain the experiences necessary in a craft to tell what's "beautiful" in that sphere of creation. How to watch a pratictioner of the field to tell what is beautiful in your design and what is an ugly hack. That is the stage where you know that you really have a skill down to the point where you are respectable, or at least on the road to being so. This book could be on a paticular skill, or general. Either way I would kill for it.

    Coding Standards: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly
    Have you ever spent days going through "updating code documention" after a project because there was too much to change while you went along? Have you ever just plain ignored the standard becuase it didn't tell anyone anything important? Have you ever seen standards where there were often 3 times as many MANDATED boilerplate lines of comments above functions as there were lines of code in the function? Have you ever seen standards for Java and C++ written by C programmers with no understanding of OO principles? This book is for you. It goes over what adds to programmer productivity and what takes away. It shows how to write tools to make documentation of functions and classes painless. It shows how to use existing tools like "indent" to also help documentation efforts. There are special sections near the end that have full bodied examples of good, bad and ugly coding standards from the real world. In these sections there is commentary about why these standards are bad or good, and what goals they are trying to accomplish. Bomus material on explaining the implications of a coding standard to your boss.

  • by avdi ( 66548 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2002 @05:07PM (#2963625) Homepage
    Debian's got a lot of (nifty) quirks, few of which are well-documented. Many tasks are automated by Debian-specific tools; but good luck discovering those tools on your own. Many configuration files have been modularized or otherwise tweaked as compared to their Red Hat counterparts. It would be nice to have a system admin book that focused on the Debian Way of doing things.
  • by Laplace ( 143876 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2002 @05:08PM (#2963627)
    I'm talking about a book that takes you through the fundamentals of running a huge software project. Reasonable examples on how to use autoconf and automake. Descriptions of how to set up a CVS repository. How to get the most of out the gcc compiler. How to handle templates. There are plenty of books on how to program, and plenty on high level software management, but very few on using modern gnu tools to get the job done. That is what I want to see.
  • by jaffray ( 6665 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2002 @06:02PM (#2963990)
    I'd like to see a book about using OCaml, or Lisp, or Scheme, or some other functional language with a free implementation, to address real-world programming problems. (OCaml would be nice; it's widely recognized as a great language, but there's no English-language text.)

    While the audience may be limited, I think there's a screaming need for such a book within that audience; almost all existing FP texts are way off in theory-land, and most predate the huge boom of the web, which is a natural environment for functional languages.

    An added benefit for a publisher is that this particular technology landscape changes slowly, so the book will have a long shelf life, and is at no risk of being obsolete before it's released.
    • I'd like to add to that:

      I don't just want to know how to program with functional languages in the real world. I'd like to be able to link C/C++ code with functional code. I've discovered that functional languages are great for the things imperative languages are terrible for, and vice versa.

      If I could link the two together, I might actually succeed in being able to use the Right tools for the Job.
  • by Kaa ( 21510 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2002 @06:14PM (#2964066) Homepage
    What I'd like is a series of books about computer languages that do not try to teach me programming and do not assume I am a moron. Oh yes, and are not bulky references to every single function call possible.

    When I pick a new language (especially if it's just YAPL -- Yet Another Procedural Language -- of the C/C++/Perl/Java/etc. variety) I don't want to wade through pages and pages explaing basics of syntax -- I can pick it up quicky on my own. I also don't want to have if..then..else construct explained to me for the nth time, unless there is something fancy about it.

    What I want is a conscise explanation of the mode of thinking that the language was designed to go with. I want to know which idioms people who write in that language use, and why *this* way of doing things is cooler/neater/a win. I want to get a feel for the language.

    For example, in Perl the camel book, besides reference stuff, provides a lot of advice and examples of Ways Things Are Usually Done In Perl, along with explanations or at least hints why this is generally accepted to be The Right Thing. The camel book (and writings by Larry Wall in general) provide a wonderful feel for the flavor of Perl and why it's not just interpreted C with a loose syntax (we'll leave the fine distinction between Perl and line noise for another time).

    I've been looking for a similar book about Java with utter lack of success. Either it's introduction to programming for novices, or a libraries' reference guide. The closest I've found was a book by Bruce Eckel -- Thinking in Java, I think it was called -- but even that wasn't all that good.

    Lisp people understand perfectly that thinking while coding in Lisp is radically different from thinking while coding in C/C++/etc. I want these differences in thinking, in flavor, in idiom, to be shown to me for many different languages, starting from Java and Python and Eiffel, and ending with Haskell and Oberon and Intercal.
  • by TheInternet ( 35082 ) on Thursday February 07, 2002 @01:46AM (#2965841) Homepage Journal
    I swear, the technical publishing community must assume that programmers were born with C++ knowledge, because every book in creation assumes that one has that.

    Two decades ago, computer user and programmer were pretty much synonmous. But today, things are different. Believe it or not, there are a lot newbies that are just now getting interested in software development after being computer users for quite a while. Looking for a book on Java programming that assumes no programming experience? You can probably find it, but it's not exactly easy.

    Want a book to learn Mac OS X Cocoa programming? You better hope you have C++ or Java experience, otherwise you're simply out of luck. There are no entry-level Cocoa books. Same for WebObjects. Developers themselves aren't at all concerned about this, of course. They expect everyone to follow the same path they did.

    Believe it or not, a lot of people do not want to read a *full* book before even cracking the book actually pertains to Mac OS X development. Additionally, not everyone is interested in become career software developers. They may just want to try it out as a hobby first. I hear from all sorts of people that just got Mac OS X and want to learn how to use those free development tools that Apple provides. There's no well-suited path for that. Why should you have to learn all sorts of general C theory when all you want to do is learn the stuff that pertains to Mac OS X development? This turns potential developers off, which is sad.

    The Visual QuickStart series by Peachpit Press [] is the only series that I have seen that is consistently good at addressing this problem. As far as I can tell, the series is rapidly expanding.

    Here's a crazy idea: how about a book that teaches you Java or C with the intention of writing Mac OS X apps? How about a Java servlet book that doesn't assume you're transitioning from C++? How about making this books readible and more practical than theory-oriented?

    Lower the barrier to entry.

    - Scott

Don't tell me how hard you work. Tell me how much you get done. -- James J. Ling