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Keywords: Home networks, wireless, wifi, Linksys
Title: Home Networking Simplified
Authors: Jim Doherty and Neil Anderson
Publisher: Cisco Press
Verdict: Recommended for the Windows user wanting to build or maintain a Linksys-based network
Installing and maintaining a home network is never a one-off task. Those two PCs strapped together with a bit of cable? They'll want to share a broadband connection. Or they'll want to be joined by a couple more machines in other parts of the house. And they great new printer? Hey, all the machines want to print to it. And where does wireless fit into all these wires? Home networks, just like grown up networks, tend to grow, mutate and become increasingly complex. If you're tech-savvy and can speak IP like a native, that's fine, if you're not and all you know about is what you see when you boot into Windows then you're in for a rough ride. Hence the need for books like 'Home Networking Simplified'.
To begin with there are two important things to point out about this book. First that this is aimed at Windows users. It's not really designed for Linux, OS X or other operating system. This is a book that's firmly focused on how to build your network if you're using Windows (covering XP, 2000 and 98 to some extent). Secondly this is a book that focuses on Linksys hardware (remember that Linksys is owned by Cisco, who publish this book). Given that there's a good deal of hands-on activity described in this book then the use the reader will get from it will depend very much on how much Linksys kit they are using. If you've got a mainly Linksys hardware with some other stuff thrown in then it's probably fine. If, on the other hand, you don't have any Linksys kit at all then you'll find yourself skipping page after page of detailed instructions.
With those caveats in mind, if you're building or maintaining a Windows-based network with plenty of Linksys hardware then this might be the book you're looking for. It's big, well-designed, well-illustrated and well written. While it doesn't assume that the reader is a computer guru, neither does it assume that the reader is a moron. The tone of the book is pitched well, and there's a focus on explaining concepts in easy to understand terms, as well as providing step-by-step instructions where necessary.
The range of material covered is very good for the vast majority of home networks. It covers the basics of combining wired and wireless machines, of sharing internet connections and printers, of setting up shared drives, security, email, multimedia sharing and so on. There's even coverage of internet telephony, online gaming and networked entertainment centres. It's a wide range of concerns and technologies, but the book is clearly designed to be used as your network, and your knowledge, expands.
An existing Cisco Press book, Home Networking : A Visual Do-It-Yourself Guide, covers a lot of the same ground. However this book has slightly more technical information, provides a greater level of conceptual information and is therefore recommended to those readers who want more than a set of step-by-step guides.