Writing update: done with one book!

Somehow, I’ve ended up in the position of working on four different book projects at the same time, including two that I’m writing. It makes my brain hurt sometimes, but it’s proceeding reasonably smoothly. The exciting update is that Shell Script Hacks, a book full of quite cool Unix command shell scripts (programs), is now in clean-up mode as I turned in the final chapter this week. A big relief. Left on my plate now is


my Solaris for Dummies title.


SfD is going slowly, mostly because I’m finding Solaris a frustrating experience with its lack of the latest wave of additions to the Unix operating system, mostly via the Free Software Foundation and open source movement in general. For example, it’s the only Unix I know that doesn’t support date +%s to get the epoch date, and many other basic functions. Solaris 9 is the first Sun operating system that moves beyond their ridiculously antiquated Common Desktop Environment too, with a ‘beta’ integration of the fabulous GNOME as an alternative graphical environment.


What’s fun is that I do have a lot of computing horsepower in my office right now, with my Mac OS X server, my Windows XP / Red Hat Linux dual boot PC, a Sun Blade100, an Apple TiBook laptop and a loaner Tadpole SPARC laptop. I could probably be my own SETI@Home team!


The other book projects are tech editing and revising out-of-date material, which is quite challenging. Writers gain a certain voice, a certain approach to explaining material, and I have certainly succumbed to this myself, so the task of updating and revising chapters written by other authors of varying skill levels is surprisingly hard. I’m working on a 250+ page appendix on JavaScript objects (really!) and my greatest urge is to trash it and rewrite it more coherently as (I’m guessing) a 100 page appendix that would not only contain the same information in a much better form, but would be immensely more understandable. But … when you’re paid to revise and spend X hours, it’s bad karma and a poor business decision to instead write from scratch and spend X**2 hours, without a bump in the fee.


So anyway, for those of you that are interested in my upcoming books, you now know two of the titles in the pipeline. The Shell Script book should be published and available within 90 days or so, and, according to Amazon.com, the Solaris title should be release in mid-May.

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