Publisher: Osborne/McGraw Hill
David Strom knows technology. He was founding editor
of Network Computing magazine and has been writing about
computers and networking in publications such as Windows Sources,
Byte, Network World, CNET and others for a long time. He also
puts out a regular, free e-mail newsletter called Web
Informant covering networking, the Web and more.
Having received Web Informant for years now - since the
days he tried to put it out with "push" client software
- I was excited to see his take on the world of home networks
in the Home
Networking Survival Guide. For anyone breaking into the
world of routing DSL connections, sharing files and printers,
and worried about how to protect against hackers, this is a great
Just don't expect to get step-by-step instructions to hold your
hand through the process. Such guides are next to impossible due
to the fact that copy is written months before the publication
date, and any specific products covered could (and probably should)
have been be replaced; the companies who make the products could
be gone, and so on. There's a little disconcerting information
here, including the mention of the MaxGate UGate 3200-P router
(the parent company has gone belly up). Coverage of Windows XP
is minimal, and being for newbies/consumers, Linux is no where
to be found (except for a brief suggestion that those familiar
with the OS could set up a Linux firewall to help restrict Web
access, though there's no explanation how to do so).
The book is organized in a ground up format, starting with wiring,
then moving to basic file and printer sharing, and the issues
of Internet connection sharing with the emphasis on using hardware
"frhubs" (see below) over Windows built in ICS. Background
information comes in small bits - details are best found elsewhere
-- on doing such things as tracerts or IP routing. Strom moves
quickly on to security and tracking your family's use of the network.
Being written for the consumer (i.e., the "dummies"
or "idiots" guide audience), the book is filled with
little asides and tips and many a footnote (some of which, I must
say in the interest of full disclosure, mention PracticallyNetworked).
Most are useful and handy, but if there's anything that bugged
me throughout the book it was Strom's constant use of the term
"frhubs" to describe firewall/router/hub combination
devices. The industry is packed with enough confusing terms without
adding a new one to the mix, and a sidebar better explaining the
differences between routers, hubs, switches, firewalls, et al.
would have been welcome.
The book is rounded out with appendices by other authors, covering
Windows networking problems you might encounter, securing yourself
against file associations that viruses can hide in (useful information
though a stretch for a networking book), and a case study on wiring
a new home for full networking in all rooms.
While the timeliness of product reviews means you'll still need
a magazine or Web site to point you to the best products available
now, Mac and Windows users just getting into networking will find
this book a good starting point for figuring out what kind of
products you need to get going.