The Book of Wireless

Reviewed by Major Keary

Wireless networking has come a long way since the Wireless Ethernet Compatibility Alliance (WECA) introduced (c. 1999) the 'WiFi' logo as a certification that a wireless networking device (such as an access point, or network card) was fully compliant with the IEEE 802.11b standard. Wireless networking now encompasses a wide—and still growing—range of technologies and devices.

If you want a guide to the present state of wireless networking The Book of Wireless 2nd Edition by John Ross is highly recommended (the first edition was entitled The Book of Wi-Fi).

Readers are not assumed to have any particular technical knowledge other than to be computer literate. The content is comprehensive and written in plain language, maintaining a conversational style without patronising the reader. In short, you won't be left sinking in a morass of technical detail, or splashing about in the wading pool; the balance—like Goldilocks' porridge and bed—is just right.

The text is well-supported by helpful graphics and screen shots, and good use is made of side notes to draw attention to potential problems and add emphasis to significant issues. The object is to enable "you � how to choose the best wireless data service for your particular needs, how to set up your computer for wireless, and how to design and install your own wireless network". Other related topics, such as VoIP, are also included. Of special note is that the book deals separately with each of the Linux, Unix, Mac, and MS Windows operating systems.

The opening chapters provide an introduction to networking, wireless networking, and Wi-Fi; for those new to wireless technology in the context of communicating between computers (and like devices) it is an excellent coverage of the subject and an interesting read. Anyone preparing a presentation on wireless networking should find this part a useful source. Chapters then deal with: hardware needed for Wi-Fi; managing Wi-Fi connections; Wi-Fi for Windows; Wi-Fi for Linux/Unix; Wi-Fi for Mac; installing and configuring access points; long range point-to-point links; connecting to an existing Wi-Fi network; wireless network security; alternatives to Wi-Fi (wireless broadband data); smartphones and PDAs; virtual private networks; and using broadband for VoIP. A final chapter, Tips and Troubleshooting, is a useful collection of advice and solutions.

A remarkably lucid and detailed guide that maintains a focus on practical aspects of wireless networking in a small (home and small office) environment, and especially for laptop users.

John Ross: The Book of Wireless 2/e
ISBN 978-1-59327-169-5
Published by No Starch Press, 326 pp., RRP AU$49.95 incl. GST

If your bookshop doesn't have this title it can be obtained from Woodslane, the Australian distributor, www.woodslane.com.


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