Review by Gabor Szabo, October 2002
When I received the leadership of the Israel.pm Perl Mongers group I
also received a couple of books. There was one about Windows NT Logons,
one abut IMAP, The User Friendly book and even some about Perl.
The previous group leader received these books from O'Reilly in the hope that he and others in his group will write reviews about the books but AFAIK no review surfaced yet.
So now as I'd like to encourage others in our group to write reviews I guess I should show some good example. All this was about 10 days before one of our meetings so I had to do it quickly.
After going over the titles it was easy to decide which book to pick.
I have looked at User Friendly comic strips earlier but I did not have the patience to read them on-line or to follow them on a daily basis. Having a book is so much different.
This way you get a huge dose of it at once. You can read it at once though other reviews suggest you should read it slowly. I guess it is up to you. (Does TIMTOWTDI apply here ?)
Anyway I wanted to give a 5-minute review of the book and I hope that from now on every meeting we have we'll have one 5-minute review of the book.
I had no idea what really to talk, I thought saying things about the cartoon is silly but I got the impression that most of the people had no clue what User Friendly is and were surprised to see a cartoon in our library. So a few words about the characters needed.
User Friendly is a commic strip by Illiad that has started some time in 1997 and was describing the way of life of ISPs (Internet Service Providers), support team, system administrators and the like. It has a strong affiliation with the Open Source community and sees Microsoft and similar companies as the enemy.
There is also this techies versus marketing type people in the book. Guess about whom are the jokes.
This book is a thriller at Columbia Internet - the ISP. You have every ingreedients. Murder, love, rescue operation, Dust puppy.
Some of the text is written in the jargon of the community and some of the English is not that easy to understand for someone who does not live in it. Nevertheless you'll probably understand most of it.
You can get a taste of it by looking at userfriendly.org or you can even see all the earlier parts in the archive there but who wants to sit in front of the computer all the time ?
So I think it is worth to buy the book if only for the relaxation of your eyes.
I am not the marketing type but still I though I should write the usual hype so think about it this way. The book costs only US $12.95 !!
There are about 120 pages in the book so it is only 10c/page !
Going even further you can see that there is an average of 9.3 pictures per page. That means you get the book for only 1c/picture !!
That's about the level I can get in marketing. In order to balance it here are some scientific methods to compare this book with another one in our library:
People say that a picture is worth 1000 words. There are 120 pages, about 9.3 pictures per page so they are worth 9.3*1000*120 = 1_116_000 words in the book.
Compare that to this other book I have received: "Windows NT Logons". It has about 15 words a line, aprox. 40 lines a page and has 210 pages.
That is 15*40*210 = 126_000 words.
So User Friendly has nearly 10 times more words in it !
For a fraction of the cost....
Other books from the same author:
Evil Geniuses in a Nutshell April 2000
The Root of All Evil August 2001
P.S. - So this should be the minimum level of a book review. It won't be difficult for others to write better reviews. :-)
Another review with some discussion can be found on Slashdot .
Review by Offer Kaye, November 2002
When I first sat down and opened "User Friendly the comic strip", by Illiad, I
was skeptical. What could a comic strip aimed mainly (it seemed to me) at ISP
workers, mean to someone who was not?
Could I relate or would the jokes be flat and boring?
To my surprise and joy, User Friendly turned out to be even better than I had hoped. A single comic strip tells a very short story. Several comic strips can expand on that story and make it into something better. But an entire book on the same comic strip does something wonderful- it fills out the story, turns what might have been a short and indecipherable joke into a cast of characters you can relate to, a story you can understand, and an experience to be cherished.
I wish I could tell you I had a favorite joke or character (well, okay, the Dust Puppy is *way* cool, but I liked The Chief too, so it's a close call). They are all pretty good, and I can guarantee that the jokes will have you ROTFLOL after a few pages. If, that is, you understood what I just wrote.
You see, there is a little catch- you have to be "in the know", at least a little bit, in order to understand what the jokes are all about. This is, after all, a comic book aimed mainly at the geek crowd, so someone who does not understand the terminology used or has never helped a truly clueless user will have trouble understanding or relating to some of the jokes.
That aside, if you are from the field of computers, I promise you hours of fun, even if you don't grok Quake :-)
In short, I warmly recommended this book.
Another review with some discussion can be found on Slashdot.