Questions Frequently Asked About Rob Slade's Innumerable Book Reviews
- OK, since I am now getting not only questions about the reviews every day, but
multiple copies of the *same* questions, I suppose it is time for:
Questions Frequently Asked About Rob Slade's Innumerable Book Reviews--Now
Questions and answers
1) How do you find time to read all those books?
Darned if I know. I've always read a lot, and quickly. No, I don't do speed reading:
I find that I can't use those techniques. I read while waiting, I read while traveling:
sometimes I just read. I read and review as much as I can spare time for. Those
who have followed the series of reviews will notice that sometimes I produce more
than others: a lot depends on what else I have to do at the time. Yes, I do read all
of the books: every page (although, I admit, sometimes not every word).
2) Do you have an archive of the reviews?
Yes, two, in fact. The "base" URLs are http://victoria.tc.ca/techrev, courtesy of
the Victoria, BC, Canada TelecommunityNet (aka VTN), and
http://sun.soci.niu.edu/~rslade, courtesy of Northern Illinois University (former
home of the Computer Underground Digest and aka NIU). All the various pages
and files are in those directories, so you can construct a full URL by simply
appending the filename. Also, all files are mirrored at both sites. For example, a
reference in one review, like "(cf.BKVR.RVW)," would mean that the filename
(converted to lower case) could be appended to the base addresses, and you would
find that both http://victoria.tc.ca/techrev/bkvr.rvw and
http://sun.soci.niu.edu/~rslade/bkvr.rvw point to actual reviews. (If you use only
the base URLs, you will find an index file that points you at some of the major
For those looking for the reviews, probably the most useful addresses will be
http://sun.soci.niu.edu/~rslade/mnbk.htm; the top level of the topical menus of
book reviews (security is not the only topic); and
http://sun.soci.niu.edu/~rslade/review.htm; the main index to all reviews. Due to
increasing numbers of questions, I guess I will be maintaining this FAQ at
3) Where can I find the reviews?
All kinds of places, apparently. There are, of course, the archives above, and the
various topically related lists and groups to which I post messages. Others archive
various subsets of the reviews to different sites, reprint the reviews in college or
user group newsletters, and repost the reviews to other mailing lists. If you want to
get on a mailing list for all the reviews, I have created a mailing list at Yahoo
Groups. You can subscribe by sending an email message to techbooks-
email@example.com, or visiting the Web site at
http://groups.yahoo.com/list/techbooks/, where you can also find an archive of the
more recent reviews.
4) Don't you like *any* books?
OK, I'm a cruel reviewer. But fair!
But, yes, I do like some. In the absence of a "Rob's Picks" page (which I may get
around to some time) the closest alternative is probably the page of references by
the CISSP domains, at http://victoria.tc.ca/techrev/mnbksccd.htm or
5) Why don't you rate the books you review?
Generally, the people who ask this question want me to assign a single numeric
value, preferably on a scale of 1-5, to every book.
Books are a little bit more complex than that. They are good or bad for different
reasons for different groups. A book for a novice is useless to an expert. A book
for an expert is useless to a novice. So I try to state who I would recommend the
book to, and why. I think it's a bit more reasonable than just giving each book a
If I'd wanted to do that, I could have skipped writing the reviews entirely. It'd sure
save time. (See question 1 :-)
However, a partial answer, for those who want a quick fix, is to look at the main
review index. (See question 2 :-) I try to give a summary of my reaction to the
book, in not more than one sentence.
6) Where can I find your reviews of all the CISSP guides?
See http://victoria.tc.ca/techrev/mnbkscci.htm or
7) What's all that stuff at the beginning?
I was asked by the moderators of one newsgroup to use the standard UNIX addlib
format for publication information. It seemed to be a good set of data, so I
continued. The basic information is:
%A Author's name (use a separate %A line for each)
%C City (place of publication)
%D Date of publication
%E Editor (of book or series)
%G Government order number (use this for ISBN)
%I Issuer (publisher's name and imprint)
%O Comments/etc. (use for format/price, ordering info)
(also the links for purchase at online bookstores. Yes, I do
get a commission: see question 8.)
%P Page number(s) (use for page count)
%T Title of article or book
For more information, see the man page for the UNIX "refer" command.
8) How much money can you make reviewing books?
I find it quite bizarre that almost everyone seems to assume that a) I buy all these
books, or b) I get paid for doing these reviews. I get the books free from
publishers. (See question 9.) I don't get paid for doing the reviews. Occasionally I
use these reviews as the basis for review columns or "best of" articles for
magazines, and get a few bucks. If people "click-through" the links on the reviews
and buy books, I get a commission. (Eventually my account may build up to
enough money that they'll actually send me a cheque.) I even get a bit of a tax
break by getting a "gift in kind" tax receipt when all these dead trees go to the
library. But this isn't exactly a business.
Of course, if any large corporation was interested in sponsoring the reviews ... :-)
9) How can I get started reviewing books?
In the immortal words of the advertising campaign, just do it. Grab some books,
and review them. Post the reviews. Once you have built a body of work, you can
start asking publishers for copies of books, especially if you have proven you are
serious by sending them copies of the drafts of your reviews. (Before you post
them on the net.)
You don't even have to buy a ton of books to get started. Review the ones you've
already got. If you use them, presumably you know why. If you want to review
new ones, try the library. (If you live in Vancouver, the Vancouver Public Library
has lots of recent technical books :-)
Of course, why would you want to? (See question 8.)
10) Where can I find books on (topic)?
Go to the main review index at http://victoria.tc.ca/techrev/review.htm or
http://sun.soci.niu.edu/~rslade/review.htm. Use the search function on your
browser (Ctrl-F for most Windows stuff, "/" for Lynx, etc). Search for terms you
think would be in the title or the topic of the book. (For privacy you might want
to search on "privacy," "private," or "confidential.") When you find a likely title,
there will be a link to the review itself.
rslade@... rslade@... slade@... p1@...
"If you do buy a computer, don't turn it on." - Richards' 2nd Law
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