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[techbooks] REVIEW: "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Networking", Bill Wagner/

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  • Rob Slade, doting grandpa of Ryan and Tr
    BKCIGNTW.RVW 990211 The Complete Idiot s Guide to Networking , Bill Wagner/Chris Negus, 1999, 0-7897-1802-2, U$16.99/C$24.95/UK#15.49 %A Bill Wagner
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 24, 1999
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      BKCIGNTW.RVW 990211

      "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Networking", Bill Wagner/Chris Negus,
      1999, 0-7897-1802-2, U$16.99/C$24.95/UK#15.49
      %A Bill Wagner bwagner@...
      %A Chris Negus chris.negus@...
      %C 201 W. 103rd Street, Indianapolis, IN 46290
      %D 1999
      %G 0-7897-1802-2
      %I Macmillan Computer Publishing (MCP)
      %O U$16.99/C$24.95/UK#15.49 800-858-7674 317-581-3743 info@...
      %P 334 p.
      %S Complete Idiot's Guide
      %T "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Networking, Second Edition"

      A guide to networking is a rather ambitious project. It's kind of
      like a guide to life, being the technical equivalent to the universe
      and everything. A forgiving reviewer would therefore tolerate gaps in
      coverage, on the basis that the task is impossible. Regular readers
      will have noticed that I expect authors to deliver what they promise.

      Part one purports to give us a definition of a network, plus a reason
      for having one. While chapter one presents a lot of types of networks
      (LANs, CANs, MANs, WANs, and the Internet), essentially both chapters
      in this section suggest a number of possible uses without getting much
      beyond "these computers talk to each other" in terms of explanation.

      Part two looks at basic concepts in networking. Chapter three does a
      very tolerable job of looking at the difference between peer-to-peer
      and client/server networking. The explanation of topologies is not
      handled as well, mixing basic types and hybrids. On the other hand,
      the technical differences between topologies is probably not apparent
      to naive users. However, the comparison table has some problems and
      errors in it as well. If, though, the audience is that basic, then
      the discussion of architectures in chapter five is pretty meaningless.
      (On the other hand, if the audience is more advanced, the discussion
      is insufficient.) Lots of hardware gets thrown around, but without
      real discussion of the implications, in chapter six. Chapter seven's
      brief look at network operating systems is terse, in some places
      misleading, and definitely slanted in favour of Microsoft.

      Part three discusses connection and configuration. Chapter eight does
      suggest a few questions to ask when planning, but does so in a very
      disorganized manner. The advice on buying equipment in chapter nine
      is alternately banal and questionable. Some of the dialogue boxes for
      network configuration are listed in chapter ten.

      Part four overviews maintenance and administration. Chapter eleven
      presents a few administrative NT dialogue boxes and UNIX commands.
      There is a bit of generic discussion of backup options in chapter
      twelve. Is the choice of chapter thirteen for a grab bag of security
      speculation with far too little solid advice intentionally ironic, or
      just fortuitous? Chapter fourteen's troubleshooting advice is way
      beyond the material in the rest of the book, relying on sophisticated
      protocol analyzers and expensive commercial tools. Random bits from a
      book on upgrading your PCs constitute chapter fifteen, and the same is
      true for telecommuting in sixteen.

      Part five looks at the Internet. There are some basic concepts in
      chapter seventeen, and a chat about email in eighteen.

      For those who are completely new to networking, the text is quite
      readable, and presents some very simple ideas and terminology well.
      However, that is all it does. A great many very important concepts
      are completely missed, and such a vast area of topics are never
      discussed that the reader may merely be left with enough information
      to be a danger to him or herself. Those setting up the simplest and
      most basic of small office networks will need system specific
      instructions, and those looking at larger projects will need greater
      understanding than this book provides.

      copyright Robert M. Slade, 1999 BKCIGNTW.RVW 990211

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