In PC Magazine Guide to Connectivity, Frank J. Derfler, Jr. presents a broad survey of concepts, products and practical strategies that relate to networking personal computers. Derfler writes primarily to those who must evaluate, select, install and maintain some type of PC network. Although experienced network managers will find the material fairly basic, individuals just beginning the process of learning about networks will find this book invaluable. The content of the book is up-to-date, authoritative and clearly written. This book is not just about networks in the technical sense of the word, but about connectivity. Before plunging into networks, Derfler explains options that can be used to accomplish the sharing of computer resources that are less expensive and less complicated than a full-blown network. In many cases the need to share a printer or disk storage can be achieved through simple products such as printer-sharing devices, data switches, or "zero-slot LANs." These "zero-slot LANs" consist of cables that connect two or more computer's existing serial or parallel ports, and have software that allow these computers to use each other's disk drives or printers. Other alternatives to the traditional network, according to Derfler, might include a multiuser DOS system, where several basic microcomputer terminals attach to a larger, more powerful multiprocessing server.
The middle portion of the book presents the strategies and products available for implementing PC networks. Derfler first talks about the various cabling types, topologies, network adapters, protocols, standards, and general terminology involved in networks. The discussion continues with a presentation of the specific products currently available, ranging from the higher-priced, high-performance options such as Novell Netware to more modest products such as Artisoft's LANtastic.
The final section deals with more complex issues related to PC networking. Subjects covered here include network management, network-based workgroup software products and electronic mail packages. The last two chapters discuss connecting PC systems with mainframe systems and the various ways to interconnect networks or to expand networks across broad geographical distances.
Overall, I found this book to be an accurate and reliable account of the products and options currently available to network managers. Derfler draws heavily from the results of the product evaluations performed by PC Magazine's PC LAN testing labs which he directs. Derfler also authors the "Connectivity" column in PC Magazine and has written extensively on PC networking topics. The main shortcoming of this book in regards to readers of CD-ROM Professional lies in its lack of attention to CD-ROM networking. The only treatment of CD-ROM in the book comes in the discussion of LANtastic's ability to define CD-ROM drives as any other networked disk drive. There is no general discussion of the specific issues involved in networked CD-ROM or of the major products on the market relevant to CD-ROM networking. The book is an excellent resource for the general PC networking, and is very much suitable for learning about the options for setting up a PC network. But for information about adding CD-ROM access to such a network, readers will need to pursue other sources.
(3 disks)Marshall Breeding, Library Systems Office, Vanderbilt University, Nashville TN.
To order contact Ziff-Davis. ISBN 1-56276-00107. Softcover. $39.95. Includes two 5 1/4" floppy disks.