Author: Uyless Black
Publisher: Sams, 2009
Aimed at: Aspiring network engineers
Cons: Neither practical nor theoretical
Reviewed by: Mike James
Although Teach Yourself Networking in 24 hours has the air of a very practical book written by a networking expert it really doesn't live up to the promise. In fact it is reminiscent of a style of networking book common a few years ago where authors worked their way tediously though the specifications and standards without ever really touching a real network - in those days the excuse was probably that networks were rare and the author had probably only encountered one example. Today networks are everywhere and there are lots of real practical concerns that this book simply doesn't seem to be aware of. It is as if it has been written by a visitor from another planet, not quite in touch with the custom and practice of networking as the natives do it.
The book starts out with basic networks concepts but focuses on such things as the difference between local and wide area networks, topologies, network operation systems, OSI model, binary numbers, what is a computer and so on. It's as if an old fashioned networking book has been used as the basis plus some trendy stuff to bring it up-to-date, which as this is a Fourth Edition is probably the explanation. However much of the trendy stuff just isn't well done. For example, the section on WiFi discusses the various modulation modes used which is interesting from a radio enthusiast's point of view but hardly important to an end user. If the book was an encyclopaedic or academic tract then it might be relevant but it in a 24 hour course it simply fills some space.
Moving on to a section titled "Don't Overlook 802.11n" you come across
"…For testing and research purposes for this book, I purchased an IEEE 802.11n-compliant router (as advertised in the router vendor's literature). I discovered that the machine didn’t yet support this Wi-Fi specification. The technical "help desk" informed me the company had experienced some problems with 802.11n. I suggested that it might consider having the technical teams occasionally meet with the marketing department…"
If this strikes you as a very unworldly or inexperienced sort of comment then I would agree and the book is full of similar material. A few seconds searching the web for pre-n Wifi routers or "machines" would have provided enough information to prepare even the beginner for the possibility that one manufacturer's implementation might not work with another's.
This isn't a good book and it isn't suitable for a beginner who might spend ages learning a lot of irrelevant stuff only to find that very little helps with the real world problem of networking.