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richhillkc
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« on: December 21, 2004, 02:50:09 PM »

I was recently tasked with creating a wireless network in our test lab.  I managed to stumble through and ended up creating a very secure wireless network.  However, throughout the process, I kept finding myself wishing I had more information on the technology.  Not knowing the vocabulary made the process harder than necessary and I ended up with a lot of "what" and "why" questions that needed to be answered.  Wireless networking is a growing market, and Cisco even recently added Enterprise Wireless Mobility to their new CCIE blueprint, so I figured I had better get it into my repertoire pronto.  To begin filling in those gaps, I picked up Wireless Networks First-Step (ISBN 1-58720-111-9) from Cisco Press.

The book itself is a bit light, at only 200 pages, and is divided into 8 short chapters.  The author, Jim Geier, attempts to introduce the material without getting overly technical.  He doesn't make this a riveting read, by any stretch, and will probably lose most CIO types by the middle of the second chapter.  The book claims to be for everyone interested in wireless networking, but I don't see it working for anyone above the "manager of engineers" level.  This is primarily due to the presence of the unavoidable chapter on radio frequencies and modulation.  I found it very interesting, but I know that the average non-technical manager is going to glaze right over and shut down.  The chapters on the individual technologies (PAN, LAN, MAN, WAN) are interesting.  I'd like to have seen a lot more material on Wireless LANs, since that is the area most engineers are going to actually deal with in their own networks.  The final chapter, covering wireless security, is probably the best in the entire book.  It answered many of the questions I had about the various security protocols I was implementing.  For instance, I knew WEP was weak, but didn‘«÷t know why precisely.  The security chapter really brought the reasoning home.

My overall feeling on this book is that it is a little light to be list priced at $29.95.  The sister books in the series are all around 400 pages for this price.  Maybe the newness of the technology makes this book so light, or perhaps the mission can be accomplished in 200 pages, but you shouldn't charge the same for half the material.  I felt that the author offered all the necessary information about wireless technologies, but virtually none about the actual implementation of those technologies.  Perhaps that is where the other 200 pages went.  I also would have like to have seen more references to other sources of information on these wireless technologies.  The aim of these first-step books should be to whet your appetite for more, and this book doesn't really do that.

I give this book a score of 3 pings on my 5 ping rating scale.  I'd give it 4 if it was $19.95.
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