Book Review: Network Know-How (Win a Copy!)
Most people think of computer networks as something that IT guys and the Geek Squad are best equipped to deal with. But did you know that any home with more than one computer or wireless device can benefit from knowing network basics? This essential guide for the accidental admin can keep your home and office efficient – and can save you money over hiring a professional.
I knew I was going to like this book, when it opened with a quote from Henry David Thoreau: “We are in great haste to construct a magnetic telegraph from Maine to Texas: but Maine and Texas, it may be, have nothing important to communicate.” How true, and how fitting.
John Ross has experience with both the wired and wireless networks of such companies as Motorola and AT&T, and yet he is exquisite at making networking knowledge something that even the simplest home office can easily apply. His advice is presented with clear language and effective graphics in this easy read from No Starch Press (the guys who brought us How to Be a Geek Goddess.) You’ll know right away if the book is for you: Did you plan on never needing to run a computer network, but have suddenly found yourself with more than one computer in your home or office?
The applications for the information are endless. Here are some examples of households that could use Network Know-How:
- Homeschoolers with more than one computer in their classroom. (Even two kids with separate PC’s will benefit from the file sharing applications.)
- Road warriors who are tired of the syncing process between their laptop and desktop.
- Anyone interested in home automation (the control of several appliances and electronics from one or more master remotes. Security systems and home entertainment centers are common candidates.)
- The thousands of us who have dealt (unsuccessfully) with a finicky router or other wireless device
The book starts out with some basic theory, which is surprisingly helpful when starting your home network. (When you can understand how your machines can work together, it makes for a much simpler application.) It continues with detailed directions on how to set up and configure all of your devices (shared printers, for example). It concludes with a complete troubleshooting guide (which alone is worth the price of the book.)
After reading Network Know-How, I’ve come to two conclusions:
- Networking is going to be a reality for almost every home. If you don’t know how to do it, you should learn. (And save yourself the cost of having a professional bill you by the hour.)
- I really shouldn’t have thrown out that Linksys router that was acting up. I now know the problem (and could have saved $60 by reading this first.)
While we would all like to think that setting up a wireless or wired network is as easy as “plugging it in,” you can get much more from your computer and peripherals by understanding all the options for the most efficient system. This guide can, at the very minimum, help you install a router without the often buggy software setup that many routers come with. With more involved applications, it can give you ultimate freedom (and security) with a well-designed and extensive home network.
Want to give it a read? No Starch Press has 4 new copies of Network Know-How: An Essential Guide for the Accidental Admin to send to a few lucky Wise Bread readers. To enter the giveaway, post a comment below by March 31st, 2009. U.S. and Canada only. Must be 18 or older to enter.
Wise Bread will not sell or use your email address for any purpose other than to contact the winner.