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REVIEW: "Understanding Modern Telecommunications and the Informa

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  • Rob Slade, doting grandpa of Ryan and Tr
    BKUMTAIS.RVW 20000308 Understanding Modern Telecommunications and the Information Superhighway , Nellist/Gilbert, 0-89006-322-2, U$49.00 %A John G.
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 2, 2000
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      BKUMTAIS.RVW 20000308

      "Understanding Modern Telecommunications and the Information
      Superhighway", Nellist/Gilbert, 0-89006-322-2, U$49.00
      %A John G. Nellist
      %A Elliott M. Gilbert
      %C 685 Canton St., Norwood, MA 02062
      %D 1999
      %G 0-89006-322-2
      %I Artech House/Horizon
      %O U$49.00 800-225-9977 fax: 617-769-6334 artech@...
      %P 285 p.
      %T "Understanding Modern Telecommunications and the Information
      Superhighway"

      I suppose I should have been warned by the fact that the title of the
      book uses the dread "Information Superhighway" cliche. The
      introduction implies that this text is aimed at a general audience, so
      one assumes that the authors think they are going to be educating the
      public in regard to modern telecommunications. However, it is obvious
      that they have only skimmed the surface of what is available. The
      first chapter starts out with a quote from one Charles Duell,
      Commissioner of the US Office of Patents in 1899, urging that the
      office be abolished since "[e]verything that can be invented, has been
      invented." I imagine that this quote, and those that begin the other
      chapters, were taken from a list that has circulated widely on the
      Internet: they all seem to be there. However, if the authors had done
      a little more research they would have found that the original piece
      makes it obvious that Duell is mocking those who are making this kind
      of argument, and, in fact, is taking the contrary position. This same
      level of research appears to be maintained throughout the work.

      Chapter one is a brief history of modern telecommunications, or, at
      least, that part of it which happened in the US. Random and
      disorganized topics to do with computers and the Internet fill chapter
      two. An equally mixed grab bag of telecom services is in chapter
      three. Fibre and switching optics are touched on in chapter four, but
      very poorly. Chapter five seems to be only a set of maps of undersea
      cables. Satellites are covered in chapter six, but the information is
      sometimes odd. We are told, for example, that "only six cities" in
      the world can launch satellites into geostationary orbits. Aside from
      the fact that this does not seem to make sense--I don't know of any
      city-states left, let alone those with a space program--a few pages on
      this is contradicted by a statement that a sea launch can reach GEO
      from anywhere.

      Chapter seven lists a number of options for the "last mile" of
      connection to the home, along with mentions of some services. There
      is a rough outline of telephone network operations and the major
      corporations in chapter eight, along with five paragraphs on the
      Internet. Chapter nine gives us such information about wireless
      technology as the "fact" that "TDMA [Time Division Multiple Access] is
      a derivative of GSM [Global System for Mobile Communications]."
      Looking to the future, chapter ten recapitulates much of what the book
      has already said. Then chapter eleven does it again in a different
      format.

      I would be remiss if I did not mention that the illustrations in this
      volume are more than normally pointless. Examples are the sample Web
      page with nothing on it, and five pictures of TVs with nothing on
      them. The text is almost equally informative, comprised of the banal
      mixed with the erroneous. I really can't see who would need this
      book.

      copyright Robert M. Slade, 2000 BKUMTAIS.RVW 20000308

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