[techbooks] REVIEW: "Data and Telecommunications Dictionary", Julie K. Peter
- BKDTTLDC.RVW 990326
"Data and Telecommunications Dictionary", Julie K. Petersen, 1999,
%A Julie K. Petersen abiogen@...
%C 823 Debra St, Livermore, CA 94550
%I CRC Press/Auerbach Publications
%O U$49.95 +1-800-950-1216 auerbach@... orders@...
%P 820 p.
%T "Data and Telecommunications Dictionary"
Whichever other communications dictionary you have, you can make room
for this one. In fact, it is so distinctive as to make comparison
with other glossaries very difficult.
Like Weik (cf. BKCMSTDC.RVW) and Shnier (cf. BKCMPDCT.RVW), a number
of the entries are more encyclopedic than simply defining. The
subject range is quite broad. Many fields of communications are
covered, but there is also ample coverage of the computer domain and
of scientific realms touching (sometimes quite tangentially) on
communications. The strongest emphasis in this work is the historical
background, giving information on a great deal of early development,
as well as quick biographies of pioneers in the area.
It is difficult to determine an area of professional specialization in
this work. Telephony and radio get good overviews, but more in past
development. Current technologies are not examined in great depth,
although history is. A number of popular historical myths are
corrected, although there are some assertions with which I'm not quite
comfortable, and for which I would have liked to see specific
Slang is included. At times this may lead to some dispute over the
definitions which are, after all, rather informal. For example,
cheapernet is defined as any inexpensive LAN technology, while I
always heard it used referring specifically to the thinner (RG-58 and
RG-62) version of coaxial cable that became popular for Ethernet (and,
for a brief time, ARCnet). (And "spam" makes no mention of Vikings.)
I was delighted at the number of entries for Canadian technology and
inventors. (Not surprised, of course, but delighted.)
The entries for "top level" national Internet domains seem to be a bit
of a waste of space, especially since the domains are listed in
Not all of the explanations are functionally complete. For example,
Daniel Bernoulli is described as having done work with fluid dynamics,
and Bernoulli's Theorem mentions the constant sum of the pressure
head, velocity head, and height. The Bernoulli box is described as
using technology pioneered by Bernoulli, but this material does not
explain the use of a high speed air jet which maintains an air gap
while keeping it vanishingly small. Since Bernoulli's bio also
mentions electronics, some readers could be forgiven for assuming that
this was his contribution to the Bernoulli drive, rather than the same
principle that keeps planes in the air.
I noted a slight, but general, weakness in regard to the UNIX
operating system, and systems derived from it. (UNIX has, of course,
a great many connections to modern networking, and particularly the
Internet, so there are a number of related entries.) Explanations are
not necessarily incorrect, but are often clumsy, in a manner very
similar to those given by people not quite familiar with the
Virus is not defined: it isn't even included. The cookie monster
program is characterized as a virus, when the program described was a
completely non-reproducing prank which had to be initiated by a
colleague (generally while you left the terminal unattended but logged
on). (There was a Spanish "cookie" [galleta] virus, but it ran on
MS-DOS rather than VMS.) A trojan horse is described only as a
password collector. Worm is defined only as the Internet Worm, which
is defined as a virus, and refers one to virus. Which is not defined
Errors, additions, and corrections will be noted at
CRC Press is not exactly common on bookstore shelves (and this cover
isn't snappy), which is a great pity, because this book is written at
the right level, and with the right scope, for the home market. Get
this as a present for your favorite techie, and I can pretty much
guarantee that they will not be disappointed. Old ham operators and
telephone workers will be ecstatic. Professionals may or may not find
it useful in their work, but they will most certainly find it
fascinating reading, with a great many historical points and canned
biographies. Despite the gaps, I hope a bunch of you buy it, because
I am dying to see what the author can do with good sales and some
feedback on topics to include.
copyright Robert M. Slade, 1999 BKDTTLDC.RVW 990326
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