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Dewi Morgan (London, UK)

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by Junko Mizuno
Edition: Paperback

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth far more than they charge., 4 Dec. 2003
About the story itself, and Junko Mizuno's artwork, I'll leave the other reviewers to speak.
I was disappointed on opening the package to see how thin the book was. "Bah," thought I, "'tis but a few pages long!"
Then I opened it. The paper is really thin, which means it's desceptively long.
The art is gorgeous, full-colour throughout.
As well as the 107-page story itself, the book contains stickers (on the last page), a form for buying models of the characters, a 6-page interview with Junko Mizuno, a 13-page short story about one of the characters, a couple of other 2-page spreads, and a few fake ads that are relevant to the story. It's FULL colour - even the inside of the front and back covers.
This is the American version of the book, printed in Canada.
Inside the back cover, it says "This American edition of Cinderalla is a new version of the work as well as a translation. In addition to reversing the artwork herself, the artist also recoloured or in some cases redrew or redesigned the artwork. Finally, the paper stock of this graphic novel was especially selected by the artist to match the color and tone schemes to create a nostalgic "American comicbook" effect."
She outdid herself. There is the occasional unavoidable lefthanded grip, where you'd have to totally change the layout to get someone to be righthanded. But other than that, it's all but impossible to tell that the book was flipped. A huge difference from the wild visual inconsistencies in Gunsmith Cats, for instance.
To be really picky, though, there's a calendar on the wall in the short story, that has the number "12" unflipped :P Yeah, I know, that's way too picky.
I cannot overstate how overjoyed I am with this purchase. It was everything I expected from Viz' preview pages, and then about five times more.

Max Payne (PC CD)
Max Payne (PC CD)

5.0 out of 5 stars Simply stunning., 18 Jan. 2002
This review is from: Max Payne (PC CD) (Video Game)
Now, I've managed, by cranking all the settings down to minimum, to run this on my p650 Dell LAPTOP. Video card is an 8M ATI Rage Mobility card - half their minimum spec.
Frame rates are nothing to write home about, graphic glitches are huge - whole rooms plunged into darkness as the textures disappear. But it runs, at well below their minimum spec.
I play really lousily with a trackpad, on the train to and from work.
But the game compensates. I can't shoot so well, but neither can the bad guys. So far, I've hardly needed to use bullet time at all, cool though it is when using a real mouse.
But enough about how well it works on a bad machine. On a top-end machine, or even my home machine with a P3, it looks completely stunning.
It's not, for my money, QUITE as good as Deus Ex. I preffer DE's gameplay. But MP is definitely the best game out since DE, and even beats Half Life.
As a gun freak, I have to say that the guns, in particular, are great. There's a little poetic license with things like reload times, but who wants to take the real amount of time to reload a 7-shot pump action anyway?
My one gripe is that I have yet to find a way to make it first-person instead of third. Maybe I should read the manual.

Logitech Cordless MouseMan Optical
Logitech Cordless MouseMan Optical

18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Had it for a while, and very impressed., 10 Oct. 2001
I swore I would never buy another moouse until one came out that was both optical and cordless. Well, it happened, so I bought it, and £50 poorer off, I wandered happily home.
I've since had exactly zero problems with it. It installs well, comes with great additional software, and caused no clashes with any of the other pointing devices I have installed (graphics tablet, trackpad, keyboard nipple, regular mouse). All worked happily together. No noticeable impact on my (rather slow) system, and seemed fine for games playing, though I suspect real hardcore gamers will stick to cabled mice for a while yet.
The battery life is staggering. I've been using it on most sensible surfaces, including fairly dark ones. I have yet to find one it will NOT work on, though I suspect that both glass and completely black surfaces will reflect too little light to be detected (well, DUH!). It's on constantly (no switch on it), and shows no signs yet of failing.
Gripes? Well, since I use it with a laptop, it would be nice if it was smaller. I suspect it's too big to be used by kids, but then, who's going to spend fifty quid on a kid's mouse anyway?
It would also be nice if it was more ambidextrously shaped. I'm left-handed, and while I'm used to using a mouse right-handed, it is nice to swap around sometimes. Having no cable should make this easier, but the shape is just WRONG: it is NOT usable lefthanded (unless you have very funnyshaped hands).
Ability to recharge would have been nice, but given the battery life, I don't think it's necessary.
So in summary: best thing since sliced bread, unless your desk is black or glassy, you are completely lefthanded, or you are a child.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 22, 2009 11:18 PM BST

Captain Corelli's Mandolin
Captain Corelli's Mandolin
by Louis de Bernieres
Edition: Hardcover

4.0 out of 5 stars I don't tend to like this kind of thing, but..., 8 Nov. 2000
I tend to go for fantasy/sci-fi, but since I used to live in Greece, I thought I might enjoy this. The descriptions of Greek life and character are spot on, the plot is enthralling, and I was pleasantly surprised how readable the book was, in a genre I tend to avoid. In the places where bad stuff happens, the book is a bit too detailled in it's gruesomness, I felt, but that was rather the point. Skimming over the bad details would not have had the same 'gritty realism' effect. But that is only a small part of the book.
In the main, until very close to the end it was a very positive book, despite the threads of hardship and unpleasantness running through, and I liked the way that it focused on a single greek village as a way of showing the changes that the war and the time since that have changed Greece completely.
Top-notch ending, but you'll get no spoilers from me.

Flatland / Sphereland (Everyday Handbook)
Flatland / Sphereland (Everyday Handbook)
by Edwin A. Abbott
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Review for computer geeks, 8 Nov. 2000
This is accepted as an essential read by all computer geeks, just like Lord of the Rings and Neuromancer and the Tao of Pooh.
It's kindof a religious work, and a mathematical treatise, and a fun story of persecution and belief. You'll find yourself wanting to write a screensaver that emulates the well-detailed life of the flatlanders.
The writing style is a bit oldfashioned, but given when it was written that's to be expected. It's startling that this is still completely current today (though perhaps the religious stuff is a bit dated, but you can ignore that, if you could ignore it in the Narnia books)...

Javascript: The Definitive Guide
Javascript: The Definitive Guide
by David Flanagan
Edition: Paperback

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good reference., 8 Nov. 2000
As usual with O'Reilly, the book does just what it says on the cover. I am not often called upon to write anything complex in Javascript: I can usually use existing code, server-side perl, or Java. But since buying this book, I found that when I have needed to do something in Javascript, the information has been here, to hand. Unfortunately, it can sometimes take a while to find if you are not used to the way objects are organised in Javascript, and indeed to the way the book is organised. I suspect if you read the whole book rather than just dipping into it as I do, you would get a whole lot more mileage out of it.

Managing NFS and NIS (Nutshell Handbook)
Managing NFS and NIS (Nutshell Handbook)
by Hal Stern
Edition: Paperback

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pretty good for general stuff, 8 Nov. 2000
Well, I found it was OK, but it didn't go into the really DEEP issues. I bought this book because I had a problem and needed some ideas to help solve it. The book did not help much. It is not a book really for people who have been sysadmins for many years, since this will all probably be second nature to you anyway.
Anything you don't normally need to do is not really covered. How do you disable NIS, or NFS? What are the file locations? what about on AIX or OSF/1? If you cannot use the standard configuration tools, what files do you need to manually edit to get it all up and working? What's the syntax?
That said, as a primer to get you up and running with NIS and NFS, it's good, and goes into some detail on related issues as well. It also looks like it'll be a useful resource for administrating them under less extreme circumstances than I've recently been experiencing.
It's also quite readable. A little dry, but you expect that in a computer book. The tone is conversational rather than tutorial, which helps.
However, the book seems to waver between being a reference and a tutorial, and is not sure which to be.
Not the most essential of my O'Reilly books, but I'll certainly be reserving it a place on my desk.

The AIX Survival Guide
The AIX Survival Guide
by A. Siegert
Edition: Paperback

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good sysadminning guide, but for normal use only., 8 Nov. 2000
This review is from: The AIX Survival Guide (Paperback)
I bought this book because I needed a reference that told me how to get a downed system back up and running. It failed.
But then, my system was VERY dead. It had no key at the front to start it up in single user mode (as this book assumes all RS6000 machines do), so I needed the keyboard combo (F5 or F6 on normal terms, 5 or 6 on dumb terminals) to boot up into single-user ("supervisory") mode instead. The book didn't give this. In fact, it doesn't seem to mention supervisory mode at all.
The book relies heavily on the admin tool SMIT, and doesn't give the commandline stuff to use when that won't work. SMIT can't be run on a dumb terminal: it needs full-screen control of the screen just to run the text menus. No mention of dumb terminals is made in the book, and there was only a passing reference to termcap.
Like all AIX books, it assumes the system was set up with the right drive partitions. It didn't mention that hd5 (/boot) is required to boot into single user mode, though it does at least explain what all the drive partitions do.
The sections on DNS, NIS and NFS are particularly abysmal, not telling you any of the system specific files used or anything, and just telling you to use SMIT. However, it gives some of the commandline utilities that run in the background there.
But if you want it for just general everyday system administration, this looks like it'd be a really good book. Readable, concise text is supported by clear diagrams throughout. I've a friend who bought "AIX Version 4: System Administration guide" (by James DeRoest), and he reckons this book is head and shoulders above that in terms of giving you decent information about how the system works (since DeRoest, for instance, doesn't even explain what hd5 is for).
So I'll be keeping this on my desk, of course. But I'll end with a quote from Aeleen Frisch's "Essential System Administration": "[A]dministrative tools are designed for routine operations under NORMAL system conditions, and this assumption is interwoven into their structure, often down to the last detail." This would have been a good point for this SMIT-heavy book to remember.

Programming Perl
Programming Perl
by Larry Wall
Edition: Paperback

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Indispensible reference., 7 Nov. 2000
This review is from: Programming Perl (Paperback)
If you want to learn perl, go buy O'Reilly's other book, "Learning Perl". I can recommend it.
If you program in perl regularly, I am sure you already have this book (else how can you have survived?), so I don't need to write this review for you.
For those who have learned perl, but feel the need for a reference on it, this is that reference.
It is well written, and I read all 600-plus pages of it from cover to cover (though not at one sitting!). This was the first time I'd found this in a computing book, and I have to say the experience converted me both to Perl and to O'Reilly.
If you are REALLY serious about perl programming, there are two other good books that fill complimentary niches: "Perl Cookbook" (solutions to common tasks in Perl), and "Advanced Perl Programming". But before you buy them, you need this book in order to be able to understand them.
The book is also an excellent insight into the eclectic mind of the author.
If I were to have a gripe about this book, it's that it has really handy one-liners scattered all over the place, but they are not collated into an accessible list anywhere, so until you get to know the book like the back of your hand, you have to flip through it, saying "I *know* I saw a really elegant way of doing that in a footnote somewhere here...".
also, a quickref card, like that in "HTML: the definitive guide" would be really handy. But then, that's what the perl 5 pocket reference is for.

Learning Perl
Learning Perl
by Randal L. Schwartz
Edition: Paperback

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another good book from O'Reilly, 7 Nov. 2000
This review is from: Learning Perl (Paperback)
O'Reilly did it again. This one sits on my bookshelf now, almost never referred to. It was handy when learning perl, but since then I have tended to use the more advanced O'Reilly perl books. I finished with this one in a few days.
After all, once you have learned a language, you do not want a tutorial in it, you want a reference.
However, I cannot fault the quality of the book for doing what it says on the front: it teaches you perl, and makes that progress about as much fun as it could be in the progress. Like Programming Perl, I found I could read this book from cover to cover, almost like a good novel (well, OK, not exactly like, but it's a lot less dry than almost any other computing text I have read).
I would not recommend buying just this book if you want to use perl regularly. Buy "Programming Perl" as well, at a minimum, since that is a more complete reference. But if all you want is an easy but thorough tutorial, you will not find a better one than this. It will get you up and running fast, and with a smile on your face.

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