THE MAGAZINE

New in Plaintext

By Peter Piazza

Wireless networks are not just for roaming executives who need to check their e-mail. In his book Wireless Networks first-step, Jim Geier enumerates the myriad ways in which companies are employing this technology.

For example, manufacturing and retail companies are using these networks for inventory control. Healthcare organizations are using them in hospitals to reach doctors and to instantly update patient records, and utilities are using them to facilitate meter reading and system monitoring.

If there's not a wireless network in your organization now, there will likely be one soon. That means you've got to know the basics.

This book is a good place to start. Geier, a consultant and author who is a member of the Wi-Fi Alliance and has served as chairman of the IEEE International Conference on Wireless LAN Implementation, aims the book not at technical staff but at managers. He lays out technical terms and illustrates them with easy-to-understand explanations that are backed up by clear graphics, charts, and photos.

No book about wireless networks can be devoid of confusing acronyms and jargon, but Geier does a good job of explaining technical terms and putting them into perspective. For example, the term 10Base-T is defined using terms that most security professionals will be comfortable with; this wireless distribution system employs a Cat 5 cable with "RJ-45 connectors that are a little larger than the common RJ-11 telephone connector" used in the United States.

After explaining basic wireless concepts and architectures, the book delves into the different types of wireless networks: personal-area networks, local-area networks, metropolitan-area networks, and wide-area networks.

A final chapter looks at security problems and solutions. Chapter summaries and review questions help to focus the material for the reader, and the glossary explains key terms simply.

The book is published by Cisco Press and is available from online retailers for $20.

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