ASSOCIATES (vol. 3, no. 3, March 1997) - associates.ucr.edu
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_PC ROADKILL_ Michael Hyman IDG Books Worldwide, Inc. 1995 ISBN:1-56884-348-9 $19.95 Reviewed by Bob Farnsworth Senior Library technical Assistant University of North Florida email@example.com Uh-oh! With a title like _PC Roadkill_, and with a subtitle of "Twisted Tales from Silicon valley", you might think this volume is a mad jump over a cliff at the side of the Information Superhighway. Fear not! In reality, this book is a "light-hearted look at the culture that brought forth the Information Age". If you're getting just a little weary of the many wonderful - but wordy - books about computers, this may be the one you'll really enjoy. The author, Michael Hyman, works at a major software company and has written either other computer books. His style is that of a tour guide who is truly hoping to interest visitors in his area of expertise. And if you have a lot of fun - and some laughs - along the line, then all the better. You're also going to be learning some interesting facts that you can use to impress your computer guru friends. Just three examples from the "Did you know?" section: Did you know "Steve Jobs was a primal scream instructor" or that "dBase was originally created to track horse races" or that some "Apple III users had to drop the CPU on the floor to make the chips seat in the sockets and work"? Yes, this is a fun book - and one that can prompt some interesting discussions, even if you're not experienced with all the nuances of the Computer Age. Throughout the many chapters, Hyman gives us history, trivia, wild illustrations, and solid facts. All are served up in a very readable format, and there are a lot of "zingers" you can use to impress others with your computer knowledge. Just think how you'll wow the coffee group when you tell them that the "Macintosh development team regarded itself as a rebel group - and flew a Jolly Roger flag outside of its building". Or.."Metaware is said to hold opening prayers before its meetings, and ships books from the New Testament with their products". And you can dazzle your library colleagues by mentioning the "Easter Eggs" that are in a lot of software products! "Easter Egg" is "another term for the hidden credit screen that lists the developers who worked on the program. When a special set of undocumented keystrokes or actions occurs, lo and behold, up come their names!" You're even given some examples to show off with. There's a lot of computer history in the book as well. And illustrations abound. For example, there's a copy of the original Microsoft ad which was set up in a fashion similar to a comic strip. Speaking of history, a few more giggles. Did you know that the first run of the Borland Database Engine went out with 'Reeference' Manuals instead of Reference Manuals? You can imagine the comments about what the prrofreading team was reading! Or "Robert Noyce was one of the founders of Intel, and he became extremely wealthy as a result of his efforts. He allegedly once stood in a long line at his bank and, when he got to the teller, calmly withdrew $1.3 million from his account so that he could buy a Lear jet". Yes, there are many facts and foibles that we haven't been told about in our readings about computers. And Michael Hyman lets us see them from his vantage point as an insider in the industry. So if you find that you're suffering brain overload from too many dull computer facts, this book is strongly recommended to help you put back some of the enjoyment in your work with the "smart machines".