Simon Guerrero (firstname.lastname@example.org) from Stone, Staffordshire UK ,
Learn about clusters without falling asleep
About a month ago I started work on a project running on a small cluster and
involving the Oracle 8 Parallel Server at a low level (writing the Distributed
Lock Manager support libraries for a certain OS). At this point, I'd never used
(or even seen!) a clustered system, and I knew nothing about clusters at all.
Then a colleague loaned me the first edition of Dr Pfister's book. Unwilling
to be over-eager to learn anything out of 'paid' time, I opened the book with
some trepidation, expecting to find the usual dessicated prose and tons of
TLAs. What a pleasant surprise! From the 'legal stuff' at the front of the book
('a kind of garlic'), right through to the bibliography ('I found this paper
almost unreadable'), the author understands the need of the reader to remain
conscious through what is potentially the dullest of subjects and emerge,
slightly surprised ('Did I actually enjoy that?') at the other end. Thousands
of college lecturers have a lot to learn from this man!
The second edition of the book is more a re-write than an update, and just as
packed with anecdotes, humour (right down to pseudo-Paul Simon lyrics - people
were hanged for less in the Wild West), and at the same time, probably the most
thorough explanations of the why/how/when/wheres of clustering you will find in
any book. As the quote on the back says 'This book is what would happen if
Scott Adams wrote a book on parallel computers'... Full marks!