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%% Usenet Review:  The Amiga Guru Book                     By Heiko Rath %%
%%                                                    (hr@brewhr.swb.de) %%
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PRODUCT NAME

        The Amiga Guru Book - a reference manual

        [MODERATOR'S NOTE:  This is a serious review, but beware of
        subtle jokes...!  - Dan :-)]


BRIEF DESCRIPTION

        The Amiga Guru Book is a book about the Amiga and its operating
system.  It offers fundamental knowledge of the Amiga system and covers such
areas as: guidelines for proper multitasking programming, ANSI C, Aztec C
and SAS/C, debugging techniques, AmigaDOS, the file systems, the format of
load and object modules, process creation, CLI and user shells, handlers and
packets (more than complete list of packets), and many other areas.  There
are many useful bits and pieces about the OS that you'd have a hard time
finding anywhere else.


AUTHOR/COMPANY INFORMATION

        Author:         Ralph Babel
        ISBN:           no ISBN number
        Guru-No.:       8703 8001  C7E4 D9E4

        Available at:

          Buchhaus Gonski                 Buchhandlung Bouvier
          Neumarkt 18a                    Am Hof 32
          D-50667 Koeln                   D-53113 Bonn
          Germany                         Germany
          Vox: +49 (221) 20909-72/76      Vox: +49 (228) 72901-69
          Fax: +49 (221) 20909-59         Fax: +49 (228) 72901-78

          Hirsch & Wolf OHG               Mainhattan-Data
          Mittelstrasse 33                Schoenbornring 14
          D-56564 Neuwied                 D-63263 Neu-Isenburg
          Germany                         Germany
          Vox: +49 (2631) 8399-0          Vox: +49 (6102) 588-1
          Fax: +49 (2631) 8399-31         Fax: +49 (6102) 51525
          (Mastercard/Eurocard/VISA)      (Mastercard/Eurocard/VISA/AE)

          DTM-Computersysteme             Unlimited GmbH
          Dreiherrenstein 6a              Kehrstrasse 23
          65207 Wiesbaden                 65207 Wiesbaden
          Germany                         Germany
          Vox: +49 (6127) 4064            Vox: +49 (6127) 66555
          Fax: +49 (6127) 66276           Fax: +49 (6127) 66636
          (Mastercard/Eurocard)


LIST PRICE

        The recommended price ("Unverbindliche Preisempfehlung") is
DM 79,- in Germany, which would convert to about $47 (US).


SPECIAL HARDWARE AND SOFTWARE REQUIREMENTS

        HARDWARE

                No special hardware required.
                Compatible with all Amigas.

        SOFTWARE

                Knowledge of English.


COPY PROTECTION

        Excessive manual-word-lookup copy protection.  Every time you use
the book, you CONSTANTLY have to look up words and whole sentences in the
manual.  The word lookup scheme is ingenious:  while using the product, you
don't normally notice that you're looking up the phrases! ;-)


MACHINES USED FOR TESTING

        Amiga 1000
        Amiga 3000/25


COMPONENTS SUPPLIED IN PACKAGE

        - The Amiga Guru Book (W6.7" x H9"   x D1.5")
                              (W17cm x H23cm x D3.7cm)
                              (about 1.2 kg)
        - 736 pages
        - coated cover
        - comes with its own documentation :-)


REVIEW


        After having bought "Das Amiga-Guru-Buch" several years ago by
the same author, I immediately went out and obtained the "Amiga Guru
Book" when I heard that Ralph Babel had finished it.

        The Amiga Guru Book is the successor to "Das Amiga-Guru-Buch" and
contains pretty much all of the original information (updated) and quite a
bit of new stuff.  Every chapter starts with a few quotes related to the
topic at hand.  For example, here is one of the quotes for the chapter "Legal
Alien:  AmigaDOS, the Englishman in the System":

        "BRAIN-DAMAGED. adjective.  Obviously wrong; extremely poorly
           designed; {cretinous}; {demented}.  There is an implication
           that the person responsible must have suffered brain damage,
           because he should have known better.  Calling something
           brain-damaged is really extreme. The word implies that the
           thing is completely unusable, and that its failure to work is
           due to poor design, not accident."

           -- Guy L. Steele Jr. et al., The Hacker's Dictionary

and another one for the chapter "Hooking in at Boot Time":

        "ColdCapture and CoolCapture vector operation will change because
        ExecBase can be in fast memory (the result of this is to raise the
        temperature of ColdCapture about 60 degrees)."

           -- Bryce Nesbitt, Compatibility Risks for 1.4 and Beyond

        The book can be used as a tutorial on programming the Amiga, but it
is also very useful as a reference manual.  The index looks like a VERY big
hash table. ;-)

        Throughout the book, you'll find quite a few assembly-language and
SAS/C listings to further the enlightment of the reader on a specific topic.
The code examples range from short fragments to complete working programs
(for example, the complete source code for a user shell). It would have been
a nice idea to offer a disk with all the sources to accompany the book; but
then again, the listings are meant to clarify certain subjects.  Therefore
this isn't a big problem.

        Among the many useful bits and pieces that you'll have a hard time
finding anywhere else are Amiga-specific information about the 68040;
compiler internals; system start-up procedures and different types of
reset-resident programs; CON custom-screen magic; user shells; FFS data
structures; and background information about BCPL, Tripos, and the Global
Vector.

        The chapters on dos.library and DOS packets cover these subjects
much more in depth than anything else I've seen so far. The Guru Book
clarifies several ommisions and errors of the AmigaDOS Manual in regard to
dos.library, autodocs, packets and FFS data structures.  Included also is
information about DOS data structures and the program/process start-up
environment.

        Here are the contents of the book:

        I Programming

          1 Data Types
          2 Programming Guidelines
          3 Assembly-Language Programming
          4 Programming in C
          5 SAS/C
          6 Reference Charts for SAS/C and Aztec C
          7 amiga.lib
          8 Terminal Debugging

        II System Internals

          9 Low-Level Hard- and Software Architecture
         10 Hooking in at Boot Time
         11 Alerts, Gurus, and Traps

        III AmigaDOS

         12 Legal Alien: AmigaDOS, the Englishman in the System
         13 The Console Handler
         14 The Command Line Interface
         15 The AmigaDOS Filesystem
         16 BCPL and the Global Vector
         17 DOS Functions
         18 AmigaDOS Error Codes
         19 AmigaDOS Data Structures
         20 Forms of Program Execution
         21 Packets and Handlers
         22 The Format of Load and Object Modules

        Appendices

         About Listings
         Glossary
         Bibliography
         Index


DOCUMENTATION

        The Guru Book's documentation is excellent.  It comes with a 31-page
index, so it's very easy to find a particular subject.  Obviously, the TeX
typesetting system was used in preparing the book and it really shows.
There's just one description of the quality:  excellent.


LIKES AND DISLIKES

        There are lots of fun quotes, sideblows (many more than in its
predecessor) and interesting footnotes.  Ralph Babel reused some of the best
quotes from "Das Amiga-Guru-Buch".

        The book cover is now fully Style-Guide-compliant and displays a
normal 2.x window border and guru.

        The book is neither Zorro I/II or III compatible, and it doesn't fit
into the video slot nor the 3.5" and 5.1/4" bays of any Amiga.

        The book's resolution cannot be duplicated by any normal graphics
adapter for the Amiga.  At 1270 dpi it has an approximate resolution of 8509
* 11430 pixel.  The display is rock steady and non-interlaced.  All this is
monochrome, though.

        It is not hard disk-installable.

        Making a backup copy for safety reasons is a LOT of work.


COMPARISON TO OTHER SIMILAR PRODUCTS

        It completely replaces the Bantam AmigaDOS manual (though it doesn't
include the bugs... therefore if you liked them, you'll have to fall back on
Bantam).

        It is more fun than the Amiga ROM Kernel and Hardware Reference
manuals and has a better form factor.


BUGS

        Immediately upon receiving the book I sprayed it with insecticide,
so I'm pretty sure that there are no bugs left... at least none alive.


VENDOR SUPPORT

        Ralph Babel can be found on several groups on USEnet, where he's
known and feared for his short/precise/crisp answers/flames.


WARRANTY

        There's a pretty impressive disclaimer in the book that disclaims
all shapes/colours.  I didn't read it completely though, as reading Lawyer
Talk always gives me headaches (although you can find a joke in anything, if
you look hard enough).


CONCLUSIONS

        The Amiga Guru Book ranges somewhere between a specialized book and
light literature.  It is excellently researched, pleases the eye, and
contains numerous hints, tips, tricks, and knowledge nowhere else to be
found.  It is a must for every serious (and especially for the not quite so
serious) Amiga programmer.

        Don't walk, RUN out to your nearest book store and buy it.  Better
buy three copies:  one to use as a mousepad, one to keep the door closed,
and one to put under your pillow. ;-)


COPYRIGHT NOTICE

        All the typos above are mine, all mine. You can't have them, so
nyha, nyha ;-)

             Copyright 1993 Heiko Rath.  All rights reserved.
                        Reprinted with permission.