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REVIEW: "McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Networking and Telecommunications", Tom Sheldon

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  • Rob, grandpa of Ryan, Trevor, Devon & Ha
    BKMHENNT.RVW 20010725 McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Networking and Telecommunications , Tom Sheldon, 2001, 0-07-212005-3, U$69.99/UK#51.99 %A Tom Sheldon
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 2, 2001
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      BKMHENNT.RVW 20010725

      "McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Networking and Telecommunications", Tom
      Sheldon, 2001, 0-07-212005-3, U$69.99/UK#51.99
      %A Tom Sheldon http://www.linktionary.com tsheldon@...
      %C 300 Water Street, Whitby, Ontario L1N 9B6
      %D 2001
      %G 0-07-212005-3
      %I McGraw-Hill Ryerson/Osborne
      %O U$69.99/UK#51.99 905-430-5000 +1-800-565-5758 fax: 905-430-5020
      %P 1447 p. + CD-ROM
      %T "McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Networking and Telecommunications"

      This is a worthy reference. The listings cover the topic, and the
      descriptions are reliable. If explanations are not always of
      specialist level, that is only to be expected. This is an
      encyclopedia, not a specialty tome.

      No bias is detectable either for or against any particular vendor or
      operating system culture (with the possible exception of frequent
      citations to the Google search site). A number of specific products
      and companies are listed (or discussed in related entries), but the
      items included are important, and it would be difficult to identify
      any left out that should have been incorporated.

      The explanations are clear, easily understandable without a
      significant technical background, and concentrate on fundamental
      concepts. Related entries are listed, sometimes quite extensively,
      although there is no indication (such as the use of italics or a
      special typeface) when a term used in one listing is defined
      elsewhere. The writing itself is easy to follow, and there is enough
      humour to lighten the reading load without detracting from the issues
      under discussion.

      The material is not deep, in most cases. There is, for example, a
      gloss over the creation of MS-DOS outside of Microsoft, as well as the
      origins of SGML (Standard Generalized Markup Language) in the earlier
      GML (Generalized Markup Language). In the latter case, this
      simplification means that the importance of function, in generalized
      markup, is submerged in the discussion of formatting. However, an
      encyclopedia, and a networking encyclopedia, at that, is usually seen
      as giving a "once over lightly" precis of a subject, so a lack of
      profundity is not to be disparaged.

      A fairly important aspect of the work is the inclusion of Internet and
      Web references for further research. Of course, many books nowadays
      contain Web references, but Sheldon has included some very important
      and valuable resources. There are also a substantial number of
      citations, frequently half a dozen or more in a single article. In
      many books, this many URLs (Uniform Resource Locators, page 1293)
      would indicate an attempt to pad material without doing research, but
      the listings in this work were obviously chosen with care. Most point
      to established organizations, increasing the probability that the URLs
      will still be good by the time the book makes it into print. There
      are also frequent directions to the Linktionary site, which also acts
      as an update reference. (Unfortunately, as of this writing, the site
      is not fully available. When the site is complete, considerable
      material that was excised from the print version will be added back.)

      I could quibble about certain items, but the points would be petty.
      In common with most technical security people I would object to the
      assertion that an attacker is "commonly called a hacker." In fact,
      the entry on page 84 uses the phrase twice in one paragraph. But when
      you start complaining about that level of detail, you know that there
      isn't much to criticize. (The article on "Hacking and Hackers" gives
      more balance, in any case.)

      The entry for virus is short, but at least doesn't make any serious
      errors. And, in a general text, that appears to be quite an
      accomplishment.

      The end pages of the book contain praise from an extensive fan club.
      Overall, this acclaim is justified. The book is a very useful
      resource, suitable for any level. The novice will find introductions
      to a variety of topics, with basic but reliable explanations. The
      professional will find starting points and further resources for a
      variety of technologies that may lie outside their area of particular
      expertise. The material is quite up to date: surprisingly so, given
      the scope of the work. The similarly sized, CD-ROMed, and priced
      "Microsoft Encyclopedia of Networking" (cf. BKMSENNT.RVW) does not
      compare in range of topics, quality of research, or depth of coverage:
      Sheldon wins on all counts. I have no reservations about recommending
      this work as a useful communications reference.

      copyright Robert M. Slade, 2001 BKMHENNT.RVW 20010725


      ====================== (quote inserted randomly by Pegasus Mailer)
      rslade@... rslade@... slade@... p1@...
      A new idea is delicate. It can be killed by a sneer or a yawn; it
      can be stabbed to death by a quip, and worried to death by a
      frown on the right man's brow. - Charlie Brower
      http://victoria.tc.ca/techrev or http://sun.soci.niu.edu/~rslade
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