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[techbooks] REVIEW: "Telecom and Networking Glossary", Aegis

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  • Rob Slade, doting grandpa of Ryan and Tr
    BKTLNWGL.RVW 990402 Telecom and Networking Glossary , Aegis, 1999, 1-890154-09-1, U$9.95 %A Aegis %C 796 Aquidneck Avenue, Newport, RI 02842-7246 %D
    Message 1 of 1 , May 7 9:32 AM
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      BKTLNWGL.RVW 990402

      "Telecom and Networking Glossary", Aegis, 1999, 1-890154-09-1, U$9.95
      %A Aegis
      %C 796 Aquidneck Avenue, Newport, RI 02842-7246
      %D 1999
      %G 1-890154-09-1
      %I Aegis Publishing Group Ltd.
      %O U$9.95 401-849-4200 fax: 401-849-4231 aegis@...
      %P 141 p.
      %T "Telecom and Networking Glossary"

      The book is intended for non-technical newcomers to the telecom
      industry, such as new hires, managers, suppliers, vendors, policy
      makers, decision makers, investors, or anyone else. (Why all of these
      people are considered non-technical is a bit beyond me.) Neither the
      introduction nor the material itself seems to present a clear picture
      of a specific area of concentration, yet the content is too narrow to
      cover the full range of telecommunications.

      Some terms, such as "accounting rate," are quite terse and rely on
      undefined terms ("call termination charge") for full understanding.
      Others, such as "asynchronous transfer mode (ATM)," carry paragraphs
      of trivia, but do not provide the promised "big picture"
      understanding. ISDN (integrated services digital network) gets a two
      page editorial. Some are missing obvious, but perhaps non-essential
      details: why does ARDIS expand to Advanced National Radio Data

      While relatively few entries are affected, it is worth noting that
      numbers are spelled out and listed in alphabetical order, so that
      "eight hundred (800) service" appears in the "E" section. (There is
      no entry for "toll free.")

      The book contradicts itself in a number of places. Application
      program interface (API) is defined properly on page 14, but is clearly
      misused in the discussion of Internet telephony. We are told that
      X.25 "data packets vary [in size] during the course of a transmission"
      on page 16, but that "packets on an X.25 network are fixed in length"
      on page 64. (Neither of these statements is really accurate.)

      A significant number of the terms are either relatively archaic (in a
      fast moving industry) or probably outside the range of non-specialist
      experience or operation, such as AUTODIN.

      Acronyms usually are not defined, but point to the expanded phrase for
      the explanation. Not all acronyms are included, however. For
      example, synchronous digital hierarchy is listed, and the acronym SDH
      is noted for it, but there is no entry in the glossary for SDH. On
      the other hand, "MIS" is simply defined as "Abbreviation for
      management information system."

      The choice of slang terms for inclusion is odd. "Cells on wheels"
      probably won't ever be used or heard except by cellular network repair
      people. "Choppiness" is both obvious and unimportant, as is "dial-a-
      porn." The only computer or Internet related slang is "spam."

      As noted in a number of places above, definitions of computer or
      Internet terms suffer in accuracy even in comparison to the rest of
      the book. The explanation for "Universal Resource Locator" (and the
      more common expansion of URL uses "uniform") only refers to Web sites,
      whereas the really important aspect of a URL is that it presents a
      consistent addressing format for almost all Internet applications.
      (And there is no entry for "virus.")

      Even given its advantages in size and price, I find it hard to think
      of anyone who would benefit from this glossary. I remember the days
      when works of similar size and scope were handed out by the boxload as
      freebies from networking and communications companies. I don't recall
      them being either this limited, or this error prone.

      copyright Robert M. Slade, 1999 BKTLNWGL.RVW 990402

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