- Series: Hacks
- Paperback: 432 pages
- Publisher: O'Reilly Media (August 6, 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 059600687X
- ISBN-13: 978-0596006877
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 11 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,075,374 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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About the Author
Paul Mutton is a PhD student at the University of Kent in the UK, frantically trying to finish off his thesis at the same time as writing this book. He previously graduated with first class honors in Computer Science, winning the IEE Institution Prize for being the best overall student in his department. He uses IRC to collaborate with researchers in other countries and to talk to people in his office when they have their headphones on. In his remaining spare time, he uses his Sun Certified Java Programmer skills to develop all sorts of open source software on his personal web site (http://www.jibble.org). Some of his research has culminated in the creation of the popular PieSpy application (http://www.jibble.org/piespy/), which infers and visualizes social networks on IRC, and even appeared on slashdot once. He can normally be found jibbling around in #jibble and #irchacks on the freenode IRC network with the nickname Jibbler, or Paul on smaller networks.
Top customer reviews
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Numerous of his hacks revolve around managing an IRC channel. Problems of success, really. As IRC usage soared, what were once small communities of shared interests and values now often have to contend with others with different values. Channel operators may want to check out what Mutton offers.
Perhaps the most intriguing hack concerns finding social networks from many channels. Neat possibilities. Social networks are quite hot these days, though no one has yet found a viable business model centred on them.
Many who are new to IRC may feel the same way, and often those accustomed to the medium are less than accomodating of newbies. Fortunately O'Reilly's IRC Hacks comes to the rescue. O'Reilly uses the term "hacks" here in the positive sense of a clever way to use a particular technology, or an elegant way to solve a certain problem.
The first couple of chapters constitute an introduction to IRC. Various IRC clients for Windows, Linux, and Max OS X are covered, along with ways to enhance these clients. That might be enough for many users of IRC, but to be true to its title, the book proceeds to describe several frameworks you can use to write your own IRC bots in Java, Perl, and Python. No less than 7 chapters follow outlining a wide variety of different bots that can be used to enhance your IRC experience.
The remaining chapters give an in-depth look at the IRC protocol, describe ways in which you can connect to IRC via "other" means (such as from a mobile phone), and also provide coverage on setting up your own IRC server.
Overall IRC Hacks is very informational, and a good introduction to IRC. Perhaps one of its greatest strengths is the large number of "starting points" it provides to allow you to do just about anything with IRC. One complaint I have about the book is that in the chapters offering samples of bots you can write, the vast majority of them are written in Java. I would like to have seen more Perl in the mix. It's there to some extent in the beginning chapters, but Java examples dominate the latter part of the book.
This particular book is interesting in that it is suitable for both the beginning and sophisticated user. It starts with getting an IRC client, using it, modifying it - in general getting the most out of it. Then it goes on to writing IRC bots using Perl, Java and Python along with canned libraries that simplify the writing of autonomous agents.
100 Industrial-Strength Tips & Tools
By Paul Mutton
First Edition July 2004
432 pages, $24.95
I found this book to be fairly interesting and somewhat useful. Being quite familiar with IRC already, some of the introductory material was information that I already knew, but I did learn a few things about the more technical aspects of the IRC protocol and IRC servers/networks. Much of this book has to do with writing and using IRC channel "bots", which I think most casual IRC users would not be all that interested in.
The first four chapters introduce what IRC is, and how to connect to an IRC network and begin chatting with others. Various IRC client applications are described, including the most popular ones for Linux, Mac, and Windows. Other topics here include how to register your nickname, configuring your client, how to join servers/channels, and some nice customizations to add functionality and enjoyment to your use of IRC. I would think that these first chapters would be very useful to a newcomer to IRC, and allow them to get up and running quickly.
Chapter 5 introduces the concepts of "bots", and how to write your own bots in various languages, including Perl, Python, and Java. Some of it is fairly technical, and may appeal mostly to programmers and more serious IRC "hackers". Also mentioned is the idea of bot "ethics" and the policies that many IRC networks have regarding their use.
The next several chapters (6 - 12) provide numerous ideas and examples of making and using your own bots. IRC bots can perform many functions, some of which can be very useful, and others that have primarily an entertainment value. Much of the content of these chapters is actual code examples for many different types of bots, including Logging, Social, Search & Query, Announcement, Network and Channel Management, and Fun bots.
Chapters 13 - 15 go a little further into the technical side of how the IRC protocol works, encryption, web access to IRC, and even how to run your own IRC server. Many readers will find these subjects more complex than they care to get involved in.
Overall, I think this book is best suited to IRC users who are somewhat more than beginners, and are fairly technically oriented. I was surprised by the large amount of bot programming examples, which actually make up the majority of the book. I am not sure there will be that many users who really want to code their own bot. The first few chapters are helpful for IRC beginners, although there are probably better books for that purpose. I did get some ideas for modifying an existing bot, which I presently use occasionally in our LUG's IRC channel for entertainment (trivia contests). All in all, this title is best suited for more experienced users who may enjoy programming and "hacking" around with IRC bots.