Dictionary of PC Hardware
and Data Communications
Terms
 
By Mitchell Shnier
1st Edition April 1996
532 pages, $19.95
 
 
 
 
The Dictionary of PC Hardware and Data Communications Terms covers terms in two of the most volatile and interesting areas of computer development: personal computers and networks. It provides up-to-date information about everything from a common item like "batteries" to an obscure font technology called "Speedo."
 
The book's strength is that it is comprehensive. The author has combed the Internet and other online services to find the latest and most vexing acronyms and terms. Each entry has three sections. First, it lists the acronym; then the expansion of that acronym; and third, the definition of it.
 
In a way, it's inaccurate to call this a dictionary because it provides long and useful descriptions of the complex terms in these two computer areas. For example, the description of PGP (Pretty Good Privacy), a popular data encryption protocol, covers three and one-half pages. The entry for PowerPC contains a table listing the clock speed, number of transistors, width in bits, cache in kilobytes, and pins of each PowerPC processor currently in use.
 
The author has carefully cross-referenced the terms as well (to other sections of the book, and to ftp and www sites on the Internet).
 
O'Reilly's new Dictionary of PC Hardware and Data Communications Terms is now freely available on the World Wide Web. Web content providers can link to definitions in the online version of this book. The terms are updated frequently to provide immediate access to new definitions. By linking your documents to these terms over the World
Wide Web, you can avoid having to update your own documents' definitions.
532 pages, $19.95


Encyclopedia of Graphics
File Formats
 
The Complete Reference on CD-ROM
with Links to Internet Resources
 
By James D. Murray & William vanRyper
2nd Edition May 1996
 
1154 pages, $79.95 Includes CD-ROM
 
 
 
O'Reilly's new edition of the Encyclopedia of Graphics File Formats is a wonderfully diverse kind of product -- it's a book, a CD-ROM, and a World Wide Web product, all in one. You'll find printed information in convenient book form. You'll be able to access text files, images, and code locally on the CD-ROM provided with the book. And you'll be able to link automatically from the product to the O'Reilly GFF Web Center -- and from there to the larger world of the Internet -- for even more complete (and up-to-date) information about graphics file formats.
 
What's in this product -- and why does its book/CD-ROM/online format work so well as a means of presenting information?
 
It's all about graphics file formats. As any graphics programmer or illustrator knows, there are many different file formats used for storing graphics data -- data such as vector graphics, ray tracing, black-and-white photographs, truecolor images, animation data, motion video, and multimedia data. The Encyclopedia of Graphics File Formats is the definitive reference to all of these formats -- from major, standardized formats, like GIF, TIFF, TGA, and BMP,
to newer or specialized formats, like PNG, SPIFF, SGI YAODL, and Facesaver. The first edition of the book has already become a classic for programmers on all platforms -- Windows, MS-DOS, OS/2, the Macintosh, UNIX, and others.
 
What type of information is available in the book and through its online links?
 
Whether you are a graphics programmer who needs to know the precise contents of every bit in a file, a graphics illustrator who needs to know how to convert a file from one format to another, or anyone else who needs to deal with the low-level technical details of graphics files, this product is for you. For each of more than 100 formats, the product provides quick summary information -- How many colors are supported by the format? What type of compression does it use? What's the maximum image size? What's the platform, the numerical format, and the supporting applications? It also provides extensive text detailing how graphics files are constructed in a particular format.
 
In addition to describing the details of the file formats, the Encyclopedia of Graphics File Formats contains a good deal of general graphics information, including:
 
A detailed discussion of graphics concepts and programming, covering such topics as palettes, color (its perception, conversion, and quantization), and the various types of graphics file formats (e.g., vector, bitmap, metafile, scene description, animation, multimedia, 3D, font, audio, virtual reality modeling language [VRML], and page description language [PDL]).
 
Detailed descriptions of different methods of compressing graphics data (e.g., run-length encoding, LZW, CCITT, JPEG, JBIG, ART, fractal).
 
Discussions of ways of converting from one type of file format to another.
 
Information on emerging graphics initiatives, including JPEG (an image data compression standard of particular interest in multimedia technology) and MPEG (a set of digital and audio compression standards for sound and motion picture data).
 
The second edition of the book contains hundreds of pages of new content. For example, you'll find:
 
Articles on additional graphics file formats not covered in the first edition, like PNG (Portable Network Graphics), SPIFF (Still Picture Interchange File Format), DPX (SMTPE Digital Picture Exchange), SAF (Standard Archive Format), and 3DS (3D Studio).
 
Descriptions of new data compression methods -- extensions to JPEG compression, and the new JBIG, ART, and fractal compression methods.
 
New sections on encrypting graphics files, detecting viruses in graphics files, dealing with corrupt graphics files, and writing your own file formats and file format specs.
 
A discussion of the Unisys patent claim on the LZW compression method -- and its impact on your use of GIF files and software.
 
A new appendix on dealing with graphics files on the Internet and the World Wide Web -- how to download and convert files, how to post information, how to handle the mechanics of FTP, Web servers, news groups, and more.
 
What will you find on the multiplatform CD-ROM included with the book?
 
First, you'll find file format specifications, a wonderful collection of resources that are often hard to locate and obtain -- in many cases, they have never before been available outside the organizations that developed them. We've assembled original file format specification documents from such vendors as Adobe, Aldus, Apple, IBM, Microsoft, and Silicon Graphics.
 
Second, we've chosen the best of the free software and shareware -- for Windows, MS-DOS, OS/2, Macintosh, and UNIX platforms -- that will let you convert, view, compress, and manipulate graphics files and images.
 
Third, we've included a variety of test graphics images to help you test software, convert formats, compare color depth and file size, and figure out what format is right for your application.
 
Fourth, on the CD-ROM we've retrofitted the entire contents of the book for display on the Internet's World Wide Web.
 
Finally, we've provided tools and links that allow you to access the material efficiently and to keep up to date. Using the Enhanced Mosaic browser (also included), you can browse the book's contents online, look up the details of a file format, access graphics manipulation and display software quickly, and (if you have an Internet connection) link to our Web home page on the Internet where we maintain an online update service.
 
The new EGFF is a product that will never go out of date because O'Reilly is making a commitment to support it online. At the O'Reilly GFF Web Center, you'll find a roadmap to other resources of interest to graphics programmers and designers, maintained by author James Murray. You'll be able to get information on new file formats, updated versions of vendors' graphics file format specifications and software packages, find out about new online archives of graphics images and other data, and learn what's new in the graphics world.
 
Of course, you'll still get the printed book -- after all, a book is still the most portable resource around -- to take on the train, carry to class, or keep in your library at home or at work.
 
Who needs this book?
 
The first edition of the book was aimed mainly at graphics programmers. With this second edition, we've provided content and tools that will make this product an invaluable resource for graphics illustrators and designers as well. Unlike graphics programmers, these users don't need to know the details of how GIF, TIFF, and PNG files are constructed. However, they do need to make the right choices about which formats can be converted to the formats they or their customers need, which support the color depth they want, and which compress fastest.
 
Whatever your graphics needs, you'll find the new Encyclopedia of Graphics File Formats an invaluable aid -- packed with information, constantly up-to-date, and fun to use. We're excited about the information and the tools we've been able to collect, and we look forward to sharing the fruits of our labors with you.
 
Technical requirements for the product: a CD-ROM drive; a PC running Microsoft Windows 3.1, 95, or NT; and a Macintosh workstation, or a UNIX workstation supported by Spyglass Enhanced Mosaic. A 256-color monitor is highly recommended.
1154 pages, $79.95 Includes CD-ROM