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The ACCU passes on review copies of computer books to its members for them to review. The result is a large, high quality collection of book reviews by programmers, for programmers. Currently there are 1918 reviews in the database and more every month.
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Title:
Build Your Own Home Network
Author:
Ron Gilster&Diane_McMichael Gilster
ISBN:
0 07 212466 0
Publisher:
McGraw-Hill
Pages:
112pp
Price:
$24.99
Reviewer:
Francis Glassborow
Subject:
internals and hardware
Appeared in:
12-5
As I write this review I sit in my office where most of my private LAN is located. My specialist games machine is idling away playing one of my Country&Western CDs. My laptop is currently acting as a portal to the Internet. A Linux machine provides general Internet services to the rest of the LAN (the reason that the laptop is actually handling the Internet connection at the moment is that I have just changed to a NTL connection which is free but need the family Linux expert to rewrite the script for that machine). Another machine handles my scanner, printer and bulk storage devices. My wife's machine is elsewhere in the house and I have a network access point in my meeting room downstairs.

Of course, I have no need for such a large peer-peer LAN. However it provides a degree of redundancy and makes it easy to backup work to second or third machines, just in case.

Increasingly my clients have installed LANs as they have come to realise that they are probably the best use they can make of superseded machines. My nephews have a LAN that allows them to play network games, as well as jointly access the Internet over a single connection.

How is this personal information relevant to this book? Only in that it highlights the increasing degree to which individuals are networking machines, or will wish they could. The actual hardware cost is very small. You can get perfectly respectable network cards for a few pounds (and I mean a few pounds). Windows 9x has everything else you need for setting up a peer-peer network. It gets more complicated when it comes to using mixed systems - though I would strongly encourage people to considerhaving a Linux box as their connection to the web, with a proper firewall.

If you know someone who wants to try networking machines at home this book will help them. I am assuming that most readers of C Vu know enough to manage without books like this one. I would not recommend that a small company try it themselves. I have seen too many unexpected problems to advise anyone to put their business at risk by a DIY attempt at networking. It may be more expensive, but get yourself a competent technical expert, one who starts by taking a complete disk image from all the machines involved. Anyone who starts networking business machines without such a backup better carry some pretty substantial professional insurance (they won't, because those too stupid to take elementary precautions are also too stupid to insure against the consequences).

In summary, this is a simple, well-written and well-informed book suitable for competent readers who are not experts in computer hardware. If you are able to open up a machine and insert a new card, and can manage the vagaries of MS OSs then this book will meet your needs if you want to try setting up a home LAN.