Wireless is, as the authors of this book state from the first paragraph, everywhere these days. It’s incorporated not only your computer but in your phone, printer, and other devices that are close to your heart. If you’re sick of tripping on the cables lying around in your home, or of the fact that the portable computer is not so portable after all, because “the Internet cable doesn’t reach the couch”, then the idea of a wireless network has crossed your mind a few times. This book was written with the purpose of teaching you, the computer user, not the computer scientist, to install and smartly use a wireless network. Let’s see if the purpose is achieved and if you will be able to do it with the sole help of this book, without calling “the friend that knows about computers” (I know you have one, we all have).
How the book is structured
The book contains 20 chapters, which are grouped in five parts. The first part provides basic background information on wireless, the second is called “Making plans” and it focuses, you guessed right, on planning your wireless network and choosing the elements you want to include in it. The third and the fourth part contain the bulk of the information you’re looking for, as they teach you how to install and how to use the wireless network. The final part of the book is a collection of “tens”. If you don’t know what that is, be patient, I’ll explain it later in the review. Even if, at a first glance, you’re tempted to go straight to part 3 and skip the introduction and planning, I advise you to do so only if you really know what you’re doing, otherwise you’ll end up having the computer-all-knowing friend on speed-dial.
What you learn from this book
As the title clearly states, this is a book for …err entry-level users, to put it kindly. However, it’s not only for people that never used wireless, it’s also for the ones that used it solely for Internet connection. This teaches you how to include other elements in your network and make the best of it. If you start from scratch, you might want to pay attention to the first part, “Wireless Networking Fundamentals”. Here you will find not only background information, but also the networking terms you need to know. Also, you’ll get introduced to the devices that you’ll have to use.
The book offers pictures and drawings, to show you what everything looks like and what goes where, in an attempt to make this unfriendly subject comprehensible. Attention is very important at this point, so you can’t just browse through the information, practice your diagonal reading skills and expect to understand everything. Once you got the idea of wireless, the book takes you to the planning stage. Reading this will help you decide what to include in the wireless network, select the right technology and also plan your budget. Moving forward, we get to the main part: “Installing a Wireless Network”. After a whole chapter focused on planning, this one starts with…more planning! If you suddenly realize that you’re half way through the book and you haven’t done anything to set up the network, keep your blood pressure down. As tedious as this is, it’s also necessary. In the third part, the “what to do, how to do it” starts. You’ll learn how to install a wireless access point in Windows, how to set up a Wireless Network (there are different chapters for Windows and Mac users) and how to secure your home network. In the chapter dedicated to security, the author starts from the premise that if you’re not worried about the security of the network you don’t know the risks. So first, you’ll learn to be afraid and then to solve the issue. Part four of this book is focused on using the wireless network that (hopefully) you’ve managed to install. For Windows 7 users, there’s a special section on “Getting to Know the Windows 7 Network and Sharing Center”. As you read through the section, you find out how to make the best of your wireless network, by adding up game consoles, printers, and other devices. We get to the final part of the book, that “Part of Tens” I was talking about. Here we have four top-ten lists that might come in handy. There are ten frequently asked questions, ten ways of troubleshooting wireless devices, ten devices to connect to your wireless and, in case you still have unanswered questions or you discover a new passion for wireless networks, ten sources for more information. The book focuses on the newer versions of Windows, mainly Windows 7 and Windows Vista, but also explains all the steps for the Windows XP users. Each operating system is discussed separately in the chapter about setting up the network. This might come in handy for the users who switched from Windows XP to Windows Vista/7 recently and are still a bit confused about the settings in the new interface.
Is the information comprehensible?
The authors try their best to make it so. They structure the information well enough and avoid the specialized language as much as possible, but this book is not simplistic. If you’re new to wireless technology, then the beginning is likely to set you off. However, with a bit of patience, almost anyone can set up a wireless network using this guide. The good part for entry-level users is that the book sets a clear limit between what you really need to know and what you can skip. It gives tips, tells you when something is really important and when to pay close attention, but also marks what is advanced technical information.
I don’t know about your grandmothers, but mine would read the book, get the main idea of it (along with a major headache) and keep the cables. It’s not that the book is too complicated, but the abundance of new terms would make her cringe. However, the book is too simple to recommend for geeks. Who is it for, then? It’s for the entry-level user that wants to learn about wireless technology and is willing to spend some time studying the subject. With a little attention, almost anyone can learn how to do it without extra help.