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Keywords: LAN, wireless network, ethernet network
Title: Home Networking : A Visual Do-It-Yourself Guide
Author: Brian Underdahl
Publisher: Cisco Press
Verdict: Designed for the networking newbie using Windows
This guide to home networking is designed for the technically na´ve Windows user looking to build a basic network to share files, printers and an internet connection. It assumes no previous knowledge, indeed it assumes minimal technical knowledge altogether, not just when it comes to networking. As such the book proceeds very slowly, giving very high-level explanations of the technology before moving on to step-by-step instructions. There are illustrations aplenty, with many screen-shots to steady the nerves of even the most cautious reader.
The book is organised into three parts. The first is a very basic introduction to what a local area network is, including discussion of wired versus wireless and a run-down on the hardware components: NICs, hubs, routers etc. Part two looks at building your network, from choosing the network type to buying the hardware to getting it all installed to some basic configuration. To get an idea of the level that this is pitched at, there are even illustrations to show you how to install an ethernet card into a PC (complete with pictures to show you how to take a slot out of the back of a machine for a PCI card).
The final part of the book looks at security, sharing resources (i.e. setting up network shares etc), and additional enhancements, such as adding web cams, gaming options etc.
If you're not part of the target readership (that is you already know about networks and PCs, or you don't use Windows), then there's not really much here for you. If you do fit the profile there are some things to be aware of. Firstly the book is heavily slanted towards Windows XP, though to be fair Windows 2000 and 98/Me are also covered to some extent. Secondly the hardware recommendations are exclusively for Linksys kit (this is a book published by Cisco Press after all). So, while you'll learn about hubs, switches, routers and so on, all the examples in the book are for Linksys equipment only. That's not to say that the book will be useless if you buy equipment from other manufacturers; the configuration screens shown in the text won't apply but the information required (IP addresses, net masks and so on), are common enough to apply everywhere.
So, if you are a Windows user looking to build a network but don't know where to start, then this might be useful, particularly if you plan on buying Linksys equipment. For everybody else the recommendation is to take a good look before deciding if you'll get any value from this.