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Andrew Glassner's Other Notebook
Author: Andrew Glassner
Publisher: A.K. Peters Ltd
ISBN: 1-56881-171-3
Purchasing: [Amazon.Com] - RRP US$45.00
Reviewed: 8th September 2002

Front Cover Shot:

Overview

This book is, as the sub-title suggests, a 'recreation' book - it's for those computer-graphics enthusiasts who want to read around their subject. It's the kind of book that can teach you a lot without actually intending to - it's not aimed at a particular computer system, programming language or hardware configuration or even a particular area of computer graphics.

This is the sort of book you'll read through and it may give you that alternative way of looking at certain types of problems or giving you a couple of new avenues to explore that you hadn't considered before.

Re-Printed, only better.

Andrew Glassner is a veteran of the computer graphics industry, he's been around for quite a while and got quite a good reputation for himself.

Almost all of the content in this short book (252 pages) has already been published under 'Andrew Glassner's Notebook' in the magazine IEEE Computer Graphics & Applications - the major differences is that each chapter has been put together better and with comments and errata included. 'Notes' that might have spanned 3 issues of the magazine have been put together as one chapter, with no obvious breaks.

For those of you familiar with the IEEE Computer Graphics & Applications magazine (the first time I'd heard of it was when reading this book) the chapters are based on his columns published between May 1999 and November 2001. If you happen to read the magazine and have kept them somewhere then you'll be able to find the majority of the work presented in this book already - apart from one bonus chapter on shape synthesizers.

Not for the feint-hearted

This book is strictly a fun book, for your reading enjoyment only (as opposed to searching for, and learning, technical information). But that doesn't mean it has to be light reading - some of the topics here, and the depth Andrew Glassner goes to makes for quite complex reading. A good example is the chapter on Quantum Computers - admittedly, by it's very nature is a weird and complicated subject, but try to read it at anytime of day (especially at 3:30am, when I got home from work) and you'd really better be paying attention. For this reason, the collected works presented here sustain more reading than you might expect .

The chapter on Quantum Computing is quite a bit more dense and hard to read than the rest of the book, but to follow Glassner's musing it is necessary to get your head around the logic/theory used. However, chances are that if you're a computer graphics enthusiast you'll be more than qualified to keep up!

But still an entertaining and easy read

The book, as Glassner puts it in the first sentence of the preface: "This book is about having fun with computer graphics". This statement remains true for the majority of the book, obviously some parts will appeal more to other people, but in general if you find something that grabs your attention it is a pleasure to read through it. I personally liked the chapters on Celtic knot-work and soap bubbles.

The writing style used is generally informal (except when it's necessary to explain things with mathematics) and is very much in the style of the author writing how he might talk to you about this subject.

The other great thing about this book is the way it's presented on each page - every page is adorned with lots of colorful diagrams and photos - not something you usually find with computer books, the best you can usually hope for is a set of color plates in the middle of the book. This very visual approach to presenting his notes emphasizes the informal and friendly writing style.

In Conclusion

On the face of things, this book doesn't set out to teach you an area of computer graphics, like the majority of related books do. Instead it will teach you by presenting new ideas and thoughts on existing ones - a completely subtle way of learning. Alternatively, you can read this book with no intention of learning any particular skills and just enjoy reading about some of the more obscure and interesting areas of the computer graphics field.

Good Things Bad Things
A different book to that usually published about the computer graphics field Much of the content has already been published.
Informative text with an easy to read writing style. Can make for particularly dense and complex reading
Can give you new ways of looking at common problems. A little bit expensive despite all the improvements, its mostly old-material re- printed.
Sustains more reading than most books. given its size  
Excellent presentation, the colorful layout makes it much more enjoyable to read.  

 

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