19 April 1997
HOW INTRANETS WORK,
Preston Gralla, Illus. Mina Reimer (Ziff DavisPress ISBN 1562764411;paperback 206p), 1996.
It's easy to use a LAN ... when there's an administrator to tutor you. It's easy to understand networking ... when your network support desk has time to talk to you. It's easy to get onto the Internet ... when your ISP has a tech support line with plenty of patience. All this inter-connectivity is happening faster than the average user can assimilate. How does it all happen?
You might think networking is only for geeky techie types. Guess again. This book is an excellent primer for the networking dilettante.
Preston Gralla'stext is easy to absorb, and Mina Reimer'switty illustrations reinforce the concepts. Together, the authors take you by the hand and gently explain things like "How does a TCP/IP really work?" and "What does a proxy server do?" The pages that explain the OSI Model(a reference standard for computer communications) are particularly clever, using characters to represent the various "layers" of protocol interaction. No other book I've read explains the OSI Model so clearly.
I particularly appreciated the organization. Introductory pages cover the topic of each section (including Building Blocks, Security, and Intranet Applications), then each chapter begins with a couple of hundred words about the topic. Following the textual material are graphical pages which further depict the concepts, with brief text bullets for explanation. The illustrations are wittily intuitive, and common elements are carried over throughout the book. Essentially, you could read one or the other segment of each chapter (text introduction or illustration), and get the full benefit of the book. My only complaint was the lack of a common glossary. An index at the end proved helpful for quick lookups.
Do the inner workings of e-mail, videoconferencing, workgroup document management and static IP routing ... how shall we say, "intimidate" you? This is the book for you.
Preston Gralladoes an admirable job of covering all the material, and handling it all in manageable chunks. The network cable coming out of the back of your computer will look less alien, and those pesky error messages won't seem so puzzling. An added bonus: familiarity with the concepts covered in HOW INTRANETS WORK can help ingratiate you to your network support desk.
-- D.B. Spalding
D.B. Spalding is a cross-media “infopreneur”: columnist, reviewer, producer, consultant and online content developer. He writes frequently about music, film, computing and the mass- and multimedia. Many of his articles can be found on the World Wide Web at http://www.korova.com.
Buy this book from Amazon.com