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Book Review - Absolute Beginner's Guide to Wi-Fi Wireless

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Tom Bair
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Joined: 10 Aug 2002
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Location: Portland, Oregon USA


PostPosted: Tue Jan 25, 2005 7:13 am    Post subject: Book Review - Absolute Beginner's Guide to Wi-Fi Wireless Reply with quote

Absolute Beginner's Guide to Wi-Fi Wireless Networking
Author(s): Harold Davis
Publisher: QUE www.quepublishing.com
Date Published: April 2004
Book Specifications: Softcover,298 pages
Category: Wireless Networking
Publisher's Suggested User Level:Beginner
Reviewer's Recommended User Level:Beginner
Suggested Publisher Price: $18.95 US / $26.95 CDN / L13.99 Net UK
ISBN: 0-7897-3115-0

Blurb from back cover:

Absolute Beginner's Guide to Wi-Fi Wireless Networking teaches you how to quickly get up to speed so you can surf at local hotspots, or while on the road. This book gives you the practical information you need to buy the right equipment, get your equipment working perfectly, and get the best deal with Wi-Fi providers. You will also learn how to set up a Wi-Fi network, avoid pitfalls, and save time and money so that you can easily set up a wireless network in your home or office. Rid yourself forever of that nasty mess of tangled wires running everywhere using Wi-Fi!


Having run a peer-to-peer network at home using a 5-port hub and lots of CAT5 wire, I've been itching to switch over to a wireless network now that they have become affordable for the home user. Yet there just wasn't enough time to research and analyze what would be needed to switch over to wireless.

This reviewer was aware of several features of wireless networking. There was also an awareness of a few liabilities involved as well, such as 'war-driving'. This awareness was gained through contacts at work, and fellow computer geeks. However, I still did not consider myself proficient enough to set up a home wireless network.

After having read Absolute Beginner's Guide to Wi-Fi Wireless Networking, I have gained a newfound sense of confidence which will be used to set up and troubleshoot an Ad-Hoc Wi-Fi network. The book is truly that good at discussing issues and explaining Wi-Fi topography.

Review Comments

Part I starts out explaining what Wi-Fi is. Not only are the wireless spectrums discussed, but also the 802.11 Standard and its variations. For those familiar with LANs and WANs, the discussion on transmission speeds will assist in understanding just how fast Wi-Fi can communicate.

Another important section of Part I is the breakdown of Home and SOHO networks. Here it is explained what makes up different networks, such as hubs, switches, routers, etc.. It is important for one to understand how a wireless network operates before one goes about trying to build a wireless network. The author does an excellent job in explaining the ins and outs of Wi-Fi to the true beginner.

Part II covers setting up your PC for Wi-Fi. Installation procedures on both Macintosh and Windows computers are covered here. You'll also learn about handheld computers as well.

The section most enjoyable was "Transmitting Photos with Wi-Fi". Being a Digital Photo Hobbyist, I was overjoyed to read about streaming video and framing pictures with Wi-Fi. I enjoy placing wireless cams around the outside of the house so I may stay aware of what's going on outside my house while I'm inside. My wife calls it paranoia, I call it being security-conscious.

You will learn how to select the right Wi-Fi card for your needs. The author is adept at explaining the differences between the various cards available. He also covers how to install these cards into your PC.

Using a USB Wi-Fi adapter is also covered in this section of the book, but I skipped this. I just cannot see anyone wishing to install a super-fast wireless network and then create a choke-point by using USB.

Part III no doubt will prove to be the most popular section of this book since it deals with going mobile with Wi-Fi. You are advised on the needed tools to become a Road Warrior. Advice is given on loading software before you start out on your venture, and what constitutes the best hardware to use.

Topics covered are such as 'Where Can You Wi-Fi?', 'Where is Wi-Fi Likely to Be?', and 'Tricks and Techniques', among others. I'm certain this portion of the book will appeal to a great many readers.

Part IV was the most heavily read section of the book by myself. It goes into actually creating the wireless network and troubleshooting it. I was torn between using an Access Point or just relying on the strength of the antennas of my Wi-Fi cards. After reading through this section a few times, and researching prices of Aps (Access Point), I decided to use one in my wireless network. The money I saved on selecting which type and brand of AP based on advice from this book would have paid for the book itself twice over.

After you have set up your wireless network, you can refer to the book for advice if you are finding dead spots in your coverage range. Many people don't have high speed Internet access for their location, and must depend on dial-up 56K via a phone line. The book covers the use of an AP with a modem built in which you configure with your ISP's information. Thus you can take that laptop of yours outside and surf the web while laying in the hammock.

Part V wraps up the book by instructing you in securing your Wi-Fi PC and Network. Security is fast becoming the most important issue of wireless networks today. Unlike in times past where 'war-driving' was a fun way to get free access to the Internet, today we have less than honest people out and about. They are attempting to break into a wireless network to steal data to assist in a range of crimes including fraud and identity theft.

Harold Davis covers all the bases from physical lockdown, file sharing issues, using a VPN (Virtual Private Network), right up to the steps you should take to protect your Wi-Fi network.

Style and Detail

The Contents at a Glance is well organized and useful when needing to reference a particular chapter. It is followed by the Table of Contents which goes into deeper details of the books contents.

The author gives a great many web addresses to further assist the education of the reader. I was happy to see a different font used to denote the URLs. Having checked roughly sixty percent of the URLs given, I was pleased to see that all of them connected.

Sidebars are used to denote TIPS, CAUTIONS, and NOTES. I generally find these to be distracting myself. I'd prefer the information be included in the text of the book. Unlike most other books though, these sidebars are not overly used by the author. I consider this a good thing.

You'll find plenty of pictures, figures, diagrams, and drawings in the book. They are well placed within the text, and are all grayscale so as not to distract the reader from the text.

Considering how quickly PC technology grows, the book is very much up-to-date on the topics covered. The author's style of writing tends to make you comfortable with the subject. He takes you through the jungle of Wi-Fi knowledge one step at a time, thus proving the book's value to even the most extreme beginner among us.


As the title indicates, this book is directed at the beginner. The intent of Mr. Davis is not only to educate the reader in the many aspects of wireless networking, but to also assist one in setting up a wi-fi network of their own. This is done splendidly throughout the chapters of the book.

Once you have read this book, you will be armed with enough knowledge of Wi-Fi to advance your education via the Internet. You will be aware of just what keywords to search for to obtain more advanced discussions on many topics covered by this book.

I find that this book does a wonderful job in getting the reader started in setting up, maintaining, and troubleshooting a wireless network. Harold Davis not only leaves the reader with the ability to understand Wi-Fi, but having a thirst to want to learn more!

This book receives an honored SFDC Rating of 9/10.

--Tom Bair
Security-Forums Dot Com

Keywords:QUE, Wi-Fi, networking, pcwriter, Tom Bair, Harold Davis, Guide, wireless

This review is copyright 2004 by the author and Security-Forums Dot Com, and may not be reproduced in any form in any media without the express permission of the author, or Security-Forums Dot Com.
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