O'Reilly Pocket References
Order (or just read more about) Sendmail Pocket Reference from Amazon.com
Order (or just read more about) Perl 5 Pocket Reference from Amazon.com
These guides are misnamed: they won't fit in a shirt pocket.
They might fit in the pocket of a suit, but consider that most who
want or need these guides aren't usually found wearing such things.
They are small enough to tuck away in a briefcase, duffel bag, or
whatever it is you use to haul your stuff around in, though.
And they are handy. Sure, if I know I'm going to be grappling
with sendmail outside of my office/library, I'll bring the monster
Sendmail reference. The same is
true for for any definite Perl project or anything else. But it's
when I have to do something that I didn't expect to do that these
little guides prove their worth. Obviously they are short on
examples, curt with regard to syntax, and often very incomplete.
They serve really as nothing more than memory-joggers: if you don't
already know how something works, these usually aren't going to get
you where you want to be. But memory jogging is often just exactly
what I need, so I find these useful.
Of the three (actually, there are more titles in the same
format), the Sendmail reference has the most explanatory text,
which is good, because the cryptic nature of sendmail probably
needs more explanation than most things. It even tries to explain
rule sets and m4, or at least enough to remind you of what you are
about the numerous bugs in earlier versions. I suppose, though,
that if you don't already know that, the pocket guide isn't of much
use to you anyway, but I still wouldn't have minded seeing at least
some acknowledgent of some of the more badly broken functions.
I have the most gripes about the Perl reference. Rather than
arranging the commands alpabetically, they are grouped by function:
string functions, array functions, and so on. So, is "chop" a
string function or an array function? How about "join" or
"reverse"? Well, it seems that the author feels "chop" and "chomp"
belong to the strings section, but the other two are found under
arrays. Would you expect to find "sprintf" under one of those? It
isn't, it's under Input and Output! I don't know where "tr" is- it
isn't under String, and I can't find it anywhere else, either. In
spite of my grumbling, this still is useful, and if I don't find
something where I expect it, my second guess usually works.
These have found a home in my bag, along with various patch
CD's, Skunkware, patch cables, small tools, jumpers, power cable
extenders, spare scsi cables, led testers and the like. You never
know what you will need on site.
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