What is an Internet-Enhanced Book?

While this book offers a concise description of building and maintaining an Internet information server, it cannot hope to stay current for long, given the speed at which the Internet is evolving. Having a CD-ROM stuck in the back helps because it provides more information than in the book, but it too becomes dated quickly. "Internet-enhanced" means, in effect, that I use the Internet as a book supplement, which can be updated continuously and available to you long after the book has been published. The following diagram indicates how this works.



An Internet-Enhanced Book

This book contains a concise summary of lasting information covering why to establish an information server and how to establish and maintain that server. It contains many pointers - that is, hypertext links (also called hyperlinks, or just links for short) in the form of Uniform Resource Locators (URL's) - to additional sources of information and to software that you will need. Those pointers are available on an Internet server at the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC), a national laboratory for computational science and engineering. This serves two purposes.

First, it is easy to find these pointers without typing them each time you wish to visit a site. All you have to do is remember, or add to the hotlist of your favorite Web browser, a single pointer:

http://www.sdsc.edu/pb/Cookbook/UNIX

From there you can locate the pointer you need. If you do not have Web access, but do have ftp access, you can download all or portions of this information from ftp://ftp.sdsc.edu/pub/Cookbook/UNIX , so at least it is easy to retrieve pointers to software or information that is ftp accessible.

Second, and most important, this list of pointers on the SDSC server can be kept current! Thus, while a pointer in this book is considered the best reference at the time of writing, it may not be the best reference at the time of reading. However, the current reference is available to you simply by connecting to the SDSC server. This is important, since Internet technology is changing faster than the time it takes to provide new editions of a book. With the use of a information server current information can be constantly provided as a supplement.

As you read the book, you will frequently see the following symbol, . The symbol is a reminder that up-to-date information can be found on the server and perhaps should be consulted.

Finding current information using the server is easy. The server provides several "views" that you can use. One view is simply the table of contents. By clicking on the section that corresponds to the one you are reading in the book, you will get a list of pointers to current information. Another view is the global recipe, which I introduce in Chapter One, and which gives an overview of the steps you will go through in establishing an information server. Another traditional view is the index. The corresponding electronic view is to search by keyword.

Why don't I put the whole book online and update that? Maybe this will work for future generations, but for now many folks, myself included, like the feel of a book in our hands and are comfortable navigating that medium. If you are reading this in the bookstore, or from someone else's copy, at this point you may be thinking: Why buy the book? I'll just jot down the pointer shown above and read what is on the Web site. You are welcome to do that, of course. However, I think the combination of book and Internet server will provide the most useful and usable information.

You may also be thinking: How will he keep all the pointers to pertinent information and software current? In part, the answer is that I will not be keeping it current, you will. There is a Reader's Corner accessible on the server for you to report pointers to sites that you think should be included in the Cookbook. I will frequently review these suggestions and, if appropriate, add them first to the server, and later to future editions of this book.

Getting the reader involved in the material they are reading, to the point where they begin to make contributions of their own, seems to me a very good use of the Internet. The Internet has provided a communication channel between reader and author to enhance the quality and longevity of the book. In other words, the book is "Internet-enhanced."