Books, books...

What's on in Cybersapce ...for a brief moment in time, anyway!

Connecting to the Internetconcise and to the point ...

Netguide: What’s on in Cyberspace

This book makes a slight diversion from the usual ‘Yellow pages’ style of publication that has become common. One the pages are not yellow, and secondly it does not cover just the Internet, but all of Cyberspace. It covers a wide range of service providers including the Internet, but also Compuserve, America on-line, GEnie BIX and common-or-garden Bulletin board Services (BBS). The book is a tie-in with the NetGuide online service provider, and even comes with 15 hours free connect time to their service, though the long distance call to the states to get your ‘free’ might break the piggy bank! Despite this tie in this is a fairly non-partisan affair, with all the service providers taking advertising space.

The ‘Meat’ of the book is the listings section. It groups items into 12 sections: Arts & Entertainment, Computers & Software, Telecommunications & Electronics, Nations Cultures and Religions, Business & Finance, Games Sports and the Outdoors, Mind & Body, Home Hobbies & Shopping, Lifestyles Leisure and Travel, Public affairs Politics & the Media, Nature Science & Technology, and Schools Reference & Higher Learning. Each entry contains simple to understand references to the service provider, the required commands, and what facilities the service offers.

The listing section is prefaced by a section containing 27 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) such as “how do I start?” or “Okay, I need to telnet. Explain step by step what I have to do”. It explains these in chatty and easy-to-read style. The appendices contains the ubiquitous list of Internet service providers, glossary and BBS list, though only for North American based services.

The problem with this book is that it will bring home to you very quickly the truth that most Cyberspace Surfers have known for a long time, one on-line connection account is not enough. I have been searching for a particular service on the Internet for weeks without success, thanks to NetGuide I now know that the service I have been searching for is actually on Compuserve!

This is a fairly typical book of its type, though one of the better ones that I have seen. You would have to be a real cyberfreak to need more than one publication of this type, but this one is worth considering if you don’t already have one of the competing yellow variety.

Peter Rutten, Albert F. Bayers III and Kelly Maloni. Random House Electronic Publishing, 356 pgs

Price: £18.00 (US $19 Grrr...)

ISBN 0-679-75106-8

Star rating: ****

Connecting to the Internet: An O’Reilly Buyer’s Guide

This slim book is rather different from the current rash of Internet books that seem to rely on either sheer volume (‘Everything you ever wanted to know...), self-deprecation (‘Pratts guides...’) or techie jargon-fests (‘bibles’) full of Masonic Unix mantras. No, the scope of this book is much simpler, to give practical steps to prepare users for connection to the internet. You will not find a great deal of jargon here, I think TCP/IP is mentioned once! The whole purpose of this guide is to give the non-hobbyist the vocabulary that they will need to have an intelligent conversation with the service providers when formulating and specifying their requirements. It does this in a very straight-forward relaxed style with easy to good use of diagrams and metaphors, and very succinctly too. In only 78 pages it describes how Internet works (6 pages!), How modem speed and backbone configuration effect end to end performance over the net, some ideas on what you are likely to do on the internet. This is followed by sections on how to choose a service provider and how to choose dedicated or dial-up connections to the internet. Each chapter has a checklist of items that need to be considered, questions that need to be asked, and, where appropriate, comparison charts: so that different service providers can be compared on price or service basis.

The second half of the book, more than half of it, is various listings of internet service providers and a glossary. Like most books of this ilk, this section has a strong US bias, though Pipex and Demon do get a mention in the international providers section.

This book is ideal for the analyst or project manager who has just been told by the boss to “find out all about this internet thingy and report back”. It gives practical steps to enable non-comms and non-Unix experts to make suitable enquiries and produce sensible suggestions.

Price : £11.95

Published by O’Reilly

ISBN 1-56592-061-9

Star rating: ***

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