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REVIEW: "Microsoft Encyclopedia of Networking", Mitch Tulloch

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  • Rob, grandpa of Ryan, Trevor, Devon & Ha
    BKMSENNT.RVW 20010723 Microsoft Encyclopedia of Networking , Mitch Tulloch, 2000, 0-7356-0573-4, U$79.99/C$115.99/UK#51.99 %A Mitch Tulloch info@mtit.com
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 24, 2001
    • 0 Attachment
      BKMSENNT.RVW 20010723

      "Microsoft Encyclopedia of Networking", Mitch Tulloch, 2000,
      0-7356-0573-4, U$79.99/C$115.99/UK#51.99
      %A Mitch Tulloch info@... www.mtit.com
      %C 1 Microsoft Way, Redmond, WA 98052-6399
      %D 2000
      %G 0-7356-0573-4
      %I Microsoft Press
      %O U$79.99/C$115.99/UK#51.99 800-6777377 www.microsoft.com/mspress
      %P 1470 p. + CD-ROM
      %T "Microsoft Encyclopedia of Networking"

      The scope of the encyclopedia is stated to cover networking concepts,
      the Internet, and Microsoft products. The primary audience is novices
      pursuing the MCSE (Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer) designation.

      The Microsoft orientation and bias is evident from the very first
      page. The redirection (>) and pipe (|) symbols are defined only in
      terms of MS-DOS and Windows, with no mention that they originated in
      UNIX, "access control" (a generic security term) is defined in terms
      of Windows NT and 2000, and clustering (invented by Digital Equipment
      Corporation and used much more extensively in VAX and Linux systems
      than it ever has been in Microsoft products) is defined in terms of a
      Windows NT product. Impersonation is defined only in terms of
      assisting Win NT and 2K client/server communication, which is
      startling in view of the importance of impersonation as a security
      exploit.

      A number of entries have little apparent function. There are, for
      example, fifteen listings for variant flavours of Ethernet, and these
      items seem to describe only different vendor products. In addition,
      there is a great deal of repetition, fluff, and padding in the
      writing. The text often says the same thing over again in a slightly
      different way, but this neither develops the topic, nor really assists
      the novice user in understanding complex subjects.

      Basic networking concepts are covered and, generally, the material is
      reasonable, if uninspired. However, a number of the fundamental ideas
      are covered in such a way that the newcomer will not gain a full
      understanding of the idea. In many cases it is difficult to say that
      the explanation is in error, but the abstraction could certainly have
      been presented in a better way. "Bursty" traffic, for example, is
      described in terms of transferring video files, and any self-
      respecting MPEG is going to be big enough to occupy a pipeline with
      less capacity than an OC-192 for longer than a mere "burst."

      While many entries are longer than the paragraph or two one might
      expect from a dictionary, the content doesn't deliver much more
      information. Frame relay, for example, is described in terms of
      packet switching, but there is nothing to say what differentiates the
      two technologies.

      Having written books myself, I can sympathize with some errors, like
      the statement that a 56-bit key "allows for approximately 7.2 x 1016
      possible keys." (The real number would be closer to 10 to the 16th
      power.) Then there are the statements that "28 = 256" and "216 =
      65,536." Again, the error in typesetting is fairly obvious.

      There are also surprisingly few cross-references in the listings.
      This contributes to the difficulty novice users might have with the
      book. The lack of references is the more unexpected when you note
      that entries that would clarify articles do exist, in most cases: they
      simply aren't mentioned where they are needed.

      As one has come to expect from a Microsoft product, security and
      privacy concerns are downplayed at every turn. The best possible
      construction is put on issues such as Authenticode and cookies.
      Again, while the descriptions are not necessarily erroneous, counter-
      examples are easily generated. A cookie, for example, cannot give out
      your email address, as the book says. Unless, that is, you have input
      your email address to a Website, and the site has stored the
      information in a cookie. This is a fairly common occurrence.

      The entry for virus is pretty appalling. It averages slightly more
      than one error per sentence for a page and a half, starting with the
      assertion that a virus is "[a]ny piece of code that is deliberately
      written to cause damage or annoyance to computer users on a network."

      (Why is a Canadian giving the French sole credit for the development
      of X.25?)

      Would this book help someone study for the MCSE? Probably. One of
      the major difficulties in writing the exam is clearing your mind of
      how things work in the real world, and sticking to the Microsoft
      terminological party line. Would it help anyone else? Possibly, but
      there are many other, much better works: more complete, readable, and
      reliable. The "Microsoft Press Computer Dictionary" (cf.
      BKMSCMDC.RVW) is much better: a fairly solid reference over a wide
      range of issues. It is unlikely that anyone with more than a passing
      acquaintance with networking will find much of value in this
      encyclopedia.

      copyright Robert M. Slade, 2001 BKMSENNT.RVW 20010723


      ====================== (quote inserted randomly by Pegasus Mailer)
      rslade@... rslade@... slade@... p1@...
      I finally realized why Windows is truly multitasking. I find
      myself keeping some secondary task (like ... mail) handy so I can
      make good use of the time I spend waiting for Windows.'n -Steve Edelson
      http://victoria.tc.ca/techrev or http://sun.soci.niu.edu/~rslade
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