[techbooks] REVIEW: "Dictionary of Multimedia and Internet Applications", Fr
- BKDCMMIA.RVW 990415
"Dictionary of Multimedia and Internet Applications", Francis Botto,
%A Francis Botto
%C 5353 Dundas Street West, 4th Floor, Etobicoke, ON M9B 6H8
%I John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
%O 416-236-4433 fax: 416-236-4448 rlangloi@...
%P 362 p.
%T "Dictionary of Multimedia and Internet Applications"
It might be thought that the title is just an attempt to jump on the
latest bandwagon. However, the material does seem to concentrate on
terms related to network based multimedia applications and standards.
On the other hand, I had a full page of error notes before I got out
of the "A"s. Frankly, the cover's insistence on "total accuracy" is a
bit misplaced, since the best you can say about some of the material
in the book is that it isn't verifiably wrong, mostly because of the
difficulty in determining just exactly what the passage is supposed to
mean. Your humble reviewer, world's worst copy editor that he is,
even found some typos.
Caxton invented the printing press? Vannevar Bush helped found the
Many entries have bits and pieces of relevant information, but are not
really complete. "Absolute addressing" speaks only of CD-ROM
blocking, there is no entry for the associated concept of relative
addressing, and the definition for "address" itself is rather
confusing in its jumps from topic to topic. Under 2B+D, the D (data)
channel seems to be identified as the ISDN link, while "ISDN" itself
starts with a BRI (Basic Rate Interface) of two 64 kbps B channels
(ignoring the North American standard and the D channel) and then,
without transition, talking about the full T-1 PRI (Primary Rate
Interface) bandwidth. "BRI" is defined (somewhat, but not entirely,
better) but there is no listing for PRI. There is an entry for "Java
Unicode" (which talks about it being "used exclusively by Windows NT
at the system level"), but not Unicode itself.
Some inclusions are bizarre and rather pointless. There is an entry
for "15 in," citing it as a "standard display size." "1000" tells us
that it is "The number of bits transferred in one second, using the
unit Kbps." Another listing reads, in its entirety, "AAAS (American
Association for the Advancement of Sciences) An American organization
dedicated to the sciences."
The material is extremely biased in favour of Microsoft. "Cabbing"
gets a listing (compression into .CAB files), but not archiving or
compressing. There is, for crying out loud, an entry for "ActiveX
security!" (Of course, it isn't very long.) For those in the know it
is fairly obvious, but the definition of "Active Desktop" never
mentions Microsoft at all, making it seem to be an accepted standard.
"ActiveX" is defined as a reincarnation of OCX, while "OCX" is stated
to be a forerunner of ActiveX. There is more detail on ActiveX,
mostly a list of pedestrian guidelines for developing ActiveX
Some definitions, while not exactly wrong, seem to miss the essential
point. For example, the entry for "Architecture" seems to imply that
two of the most important considerations are whether multimedia
functionality is built in and how big the internal cache is. Others
use terms in ways that simply do not make sense in the context of the
technology under discussion. "Bookmark" ignores its use as a personal
directory of Web pages in Netscape. In talking about cryptography, we
are told, of the mathematical underpinnings of public key encryption,
that it is "achieved through a one-way function which describes the
difficulty of determining input values when given a result."
Certainly all of those concepts belong in cryptology, but the sentence
itself does not use them properly.
The standard mistakes are all there, such as crediting Grace Hopper
with the invention of the term "bug." (Hopper herself only said it
was the first *recorded* case of an *actual* bug being found as a
cause.) Moore's Law initially stated that the number of components
would double every eighteen months, and has subsequently been updated
to nine months. It never stood at one year. (And "a single silicon"
The listing for viruses starts out well by mentioning propagation, but
then degenerates. "Known viruses are said to be `in the wild'."
(Many known viruses have never been `in the wild'.) "Michelangelo
[...] alters the size of the DOS COMMAND.COM file." (Michelangelo is
a boot sector infector.) "[V]iruses may be removed from a system or
DSM ..." (DSM apparently means disk: digital storage media.) Email
attachments are apparently "removable media."
It is refreshing to see, for once, a work that is not specifically
US-centric. It is disappointing to note that authors outside of the
States can be every bit as provincial as the worst of their American
References to outside sources are few: so few that the author can't
seem to keep to a consistent format. URLs (Uniform Resource Locators)
are included in such a manner as to be confused with internal links to
other terms in the dictionary. Book citations are in a wide variety
of formats, and even different typefaces. (Of those few texts that
are mentioned, an astonishing number seem to be written by one
While quite up to date, in some areas, the material in this text is
neither complete enough, nor reliable enough, to recommend as a sole
source. Despite its age, Stevens' "Quick Reference to Computer
Graphics Terms" (cf. BKQRFGRP.RVW) remains a much more useful guide if
you want to know about multimedia.
copyright Robert M. Slade, 1999 BKDCMMIA.RVW 990415
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