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[techbooks] REVIEW: "McGraw-Hill Illustrated Telecom Dictionary", Jade Clayt

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  • Rob Slade, doting grandpa of Ryan and Tr
    BKILTLDC.RVW 991213 McGraw-Hill Illustrated Telecom Dictionary , Jade Clayton, 1998, 0-07-012063-3, U$29.95 %A Jade Clayton %C 300 Water Street, Whitby,
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 7, 2000
      BKILTLDC.RVW 991213

      "McGraw-Hill Illustrated Telecom Dictionary", Jade Clayton, 1998,
      0-07-012063-3, U$29.95
      %A Jade Clayton
      %C 300 Water Street, Whitby, Ontario L1N 9B6
      %D 1998
      %G 0-07-012063-3
      %I McGraw-Hill Ryerson/Osborne
      %O U$29.95 905-430-5000 800-565-5758 fax: 905-430-5020
      %P 501 p.
      %T "McGraw-Hill Illustrated Telecom Dictionary"

      This isn't really a telecom dictionary. It's more of a telco
      dictionary. If you want to find out about the inner workings of your
      local telephone company, such as what type of bolts they use to fasten
      wires to telephone poles, then this is the book for you. With over
      300 images, you can find out all about strand clamps, body belts, mast
      clamps, pole attachments, line wrenches, guy hooks, crimp tools, and
      climbing spurs.

      OK, it does get a little bit more technical than that. And, of
      course, for those who don't get to spend their time stringing cable
      it's interesting to see something about the hardware. But this
      certainly cannot be considered an indispensible reference.

      A specialized dictionary is not going to present the variety of
      definitions of a term that Oxford does, but a number of the entries in
      this text are extremely limited. Baffle refers only to speaker cones,
      and ablation simply mentions burning CD-ROMs: both terms have other
      uses in telecommunications alone. Some listings are so limited as to
      be useless, such as the entry for BASIC. A number of definitions use
      specialized terms, like bel and stinger, which are, themselves, not
      defined in the book. Which brings up another point: I was surprised
      at the number of fairly closely related telecom terms (like bel) that
      did not appear anywhere in the work.

      ("Anywhere" is the most appropriate word to use. A significant number
      of entries are out of any kind of order that I can determine. In some
      cases one might think that some specialized sorting is being used, but
      for the most part it just seems that the ordering was done manually,
      and not very well.)

      The reason that I say this is not a telecom dictionary is that telecom
      usually deals with the more modern technical aspects of telephony, and
      generally includes data communications as well. On the surface, this
      book does cover those topics, but, upon examination, this is where the
      text really falls down. Obviously Clayton is not at all comfortable
      with computers and that level of technology: the definition of terms
      like machine language is completely wrong. Well, not completely. The
      author appears to have obtained some kind of instruction in computers,
      but has seriously misunderstood. The discussion of error checking is
      very confusing, and what I can understand of it is incorrect. A
      number of ASCII (American Standard Code for Information Interchange)
      characters are defined in the book, but all of the binary and
      hexadecimal representations are wrong because the author does not
      understand the difference between most significant bits and least
      significant bits (both terms being included in the listings). When we
      get down to OC levels, the listings for OC-3, OC-12, OC-48, and OC-192
      are *all* defined as being three times the bandwidth of a DS-3 line.

      The inclusion of illustrations could be an asset to a dictionary. In
      this case, though, the clearest pictures are, again, those of cabling
      hardware. Images of racks full of electronic equipment really don't
      explain anything. As for the simpler devices, there is no particular
      difference between the picture of the gender changer and the picture
      of the null modem adapter, and certainly nothing that would explain
      what they do.

      Overall, if your specific interest is in the phone company, this might
      have what you want. It could be particularly suitable for telcos to
      issue to new employees. For the rest of the telecom community,
      though, there are other, better, sources, such as Newton's (cf.
      BKNTTLDC.RVW), Petersen's (cf. BKDTTLDC.RVW), and even the US federal
      government's (cf. BKGLTLTM.RVW).

      copyright Robert M. Slade, 1999 BKILTLDC.RVW 991213

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