Christmas is here...and so are the products! Pctyrant reviews some of this years more unusual stocking stuffers for the PC enthusiast who may already have everything. The selection process caused much debate at the Pctyrant editorial offices but we finally narrowed it down to three unique products: The much anticipated Joe Montana 49k Modem, the ground breaking Dummies for Dummies book and an amazing new programming book by Sarah Michelle Geller. Enjoy!

Dummies for Dummies
by Julie King

What? A Dummies book to help people learn how to use the Dummies books? Well, the idea's not as dumb, or at least frivolous, as you might think. The Dummies books have a unique voice and icon driven style that's built-up a loyal following over the years. Using these books has always been self-explanatory, at least that's what the creators thought. Over the years they've received a constant stream of complaints and requests for help on how to decipher the Dummies style. Heeding the call the Dummies people asked veteran Dummies book's writer Julia Adair King to tackle the redundant but apparently necessary Dummies for Dummies Book. "Having written over 20 of the Dummies books I was quite intimate with the Dummies style and worldview ... at least that's why I thought. Writing the Definitive Guide to Using the Dummies Book's required an almost reversed engineering, or say deconstruction, to figure out exactly what it was in the Dummies Books that was making it difficult for some people to understand how to use them. After all, the Dummies Books are remedial by nature and creating a training text on something that already assumes you know nothing was a real challenge. Ultimately we ended up with a book that has explanations for the explanations and another character who looks very similar to the Dummies guide character who kind of hovers above him and throws in additional explanations and comments about what the dummies guide character is already's actually quite surreal, almost parody." Perhaps, but for those loved ones that just can't seem to "get it" this book may be the missing link on the road to PC proficiency.

Dummies for Dummies
by Julie King
Publisher: IDG Books
290pages- Softcover
The definitive guide to using the Dummies Books

Joe Montana 49k External USB Modem

In a bold move to capitalize on the growing "cybersports" market 3COM shocked industry insiders with the release of its SportsHero2000 line of external modems. The first and most daring of its new line is the Joe Montana 49k Business modem which will hit the stores just in time for Christmas. We asked Daisey McMurray, Senior Team Leader for the SportsHero2000 development project on the benefits of the 49k standard."The enhanced V.49 "linebacker" data compression packs the most information possible into each transmission for added efficiency. If the line is dropped for any reason during a remote connection, the modem will automatically "rush" the last number. When you connect a "Go Niners!"sound file is triggered and plays through a small speaker in the helmet. This sound effect alone more than makes up for any "perceived" shortcomings when compared to those boring 56k modems. Consumers should not be fooled by a high number followed by the letter "k " nor underestimate the impact of style." The modem also checks the site for Niners information and updates every time you go online. It also comes with the Sports Connections CD-ROM containing a suite of software to get you up and running, including: PlayCenter software for PC to PC video game play, Jimmy the Greek v2.05 for Windows for instant odds and statistics on upcoming games, and Microsoft Internet Explorer NFL Edition Web browser... Go Niners!!

Joe Montana 49k External Modem v.90
Company: US Robotics/3com
Price: $225.00

Type: External Data Speed 49k Networkable Modem
Protocol: ITU-T v.90
Bus Type: USB

What's Hot
Helmet on top is way cool. "Go Niners!" and "Cheering" sound effects get you pumped everytime you go online.

What's Not
Near regulation size helmet may take up more room than you can afford. Niners Nelmet may look unprofessional to some clients who don't understand the technology.

Data Structures & Algorithm Analysis in Java
by Sarah Michelle Geller

Most people are surprised to find out that Sarah Michelle Geller of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" fame is also an accomplished Java programmer. Following in the footsteps of programming pioneers Ada Lovelace and Grace Hopper, Sarah is one of the best kept secrets in the programming industry. She's ghost written over 20 books on programming under various publishers and is a regular guest lecturer at MIT (albeit, under an assumed name so as not to pack the halls with screaming fans and an ogling press) This, her first book under her real name, is one of her best. Sarah goes far beyond explaining how to code algorithms and actually explains the logic behind the various data structures. One warning, though, if you're not already somewhat familiar with the subject, you won't be able to understand much of the book. I would recommend this for anyone who wants to do serious programming in Java or any other language. Pctyrant recently caught up with Sarah to get the story on the book. "I came from a poor background... my father walked out on me when I was just a child. Being naturally shy, I would hide out in my room for days. One day my mom brought home an old IBM... hardly any memory or power but I was drawn to it immediately. Before long I had mastered the basic languages and was doing some serious programming... I figured programming was my ticket out of poverty. Boy was I wrong! Through a series of freak accidents I ended up in the entertainment industry and my first book was published during my first year playing Erica Kane’s daughter, Kendall Heart, on the daytime soap "All My Children". As my profile increased, and the book went into its second printing, the publisher decided to remove my name for fear that no one would take it seriously... thus the career in ghost writing. Ironically, copies of the first 93' edition are now going for over $500 on ebay..although I doubt it's for the writing." Well-written, thorough, and ALL the source code is downloadable on Sarah's site

Data Structures & Algorithm Analysis in Java
by Sarah Michelle Geller
Publisher: MIT Press

Price: $49.99
597pages- Hardcover
Advaced level guide to Java programming( not for beginners!) Topics include d-Heaps, Binomial Heaps, NP-Completeness, Deterministic Skip Lists, and Java 1.2 connection API.

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