[techbooks] REVIEW: "User Friendly", J. D. Frazer
- BKUSRFRN.RVW 991008
"User Friendly", J. D. Frazer, 1999, 1-56592-673-0, U$12.95/C$18.95
%A J. D. Frazer www.userfriendly.org illiad@...
%C 103 Morris Street, Suite A, Sebastopol, CA 95472
%I O'Reilly & Associates, Inc.
%O U$12.95/C$18.95 707-829-0515 fax: 707-829-0104 nuts@...
%P 122 p.
%T "User Friendly - The Comic Strip"
In the beginning was "Bloom County." I don't know about absolute
beginnings, or first appearances, but "Bloom County" had a computer as
a character, and it was, at the very least, thoughtful and insightful.
Now, sadly, we have it no more. More recently we've had a nine year
old hacker in "Foxtrot," but that is, well, slightly less thoughtful.
Then we had Rich Tennant's computer series. They were pretty good,
although after a while you started to notice that the captions tended
to change on recycled illustrations. Then, of course, we had
"Dilbert." "Dilbert" is lots of fun, but Adams is, after all, an MBA,
and not a real engineer. He knows the milieu, but not the tech.
It started slow. At first I could only get it through one lone
computer sales rag. Then it became the only reason to buy Canada's
"National Post" newspaper. Now we have an anthology from O'Reilly.
Now we have Erwin the AI. And Dust Puppy (the, er, Dust Puppy). And
the whole gang at Columbia Internet. And we have a cartoonist who
really does know the computer from the inside. This is the real
stuff. These are the in-jokes. Even the cover of this book lampoons
not only computer workstations, surrounded by stacks of printout
(boxed and unboxed), pizza cartons, and computer books, but the very
publisher that printed the book, with its ubiquitous Nutshell series.
We have the technical support staffer, sent to re-education because he
has been contaminated by Microsoft. (In the "P. Norton Clinic.") We
have cola by intravenous. (And junk food by the ton.) Fear of Macs.
(Fear of females.) Eric Raymond. Richard Stallman. Toxic
consultants. Clueless marketeers.
OK, the artwork isn't great. Pretty stiff, for the most part. In
fact, I have a vague suspicion that a bunch of templates have been
stored and are dropped into scenes in a paint program. (I'm sure all
the geeks out there would agree that this is a very efficient way to
do things.) There is a rather heavy dependence upon TV. And you
don't get a zinger every day. But when it's on, it's dead on.
Get it, geeks. This is our cartoon.
copyright Robert M. Slade, 1999 BKUSRFRN.RVW 991008
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