What I’m reading…

Happy New Year, blog readers. Here's hoping 2008 is going to be good to you!

It's already looking pretty good for me. A copy of Networking with Microsoft Windows Vista (Author: Paul McFedries, Publisher: QUE) arrived this week and I've been enjoying it. It's a decent book to keep on hand for training security technicians who need to learn the basics of networking and configuring Windows Vista computers.

Networking with Microsoft Windows Vista, by Paul McFedriesThe education in McFedries' book covers hardware basics likes NICs, network-attached storage, and switches/routers, and provides equal time to "soft" issues like MAC address configurations and wireless 802.11 standards. The first two or three chapters could be a standalone, tidy resource to bring your team up to speed on networking basics. As a bonus, there's a glossary in the back that's great for team members who don't know their NAS from their NAT.

Because the intended readers is likely a home user who has never built a small computer network before (and sometimes it is as if the author is writing for people who have never used a PC before!), there are sections on using Windows Vista to set up basic websites and FTP sites. You can probably skip those, and you can also skip the chapter on using your Vista computer as an entertainment media hub. The book includes some guides to configuring and purchasing networking hardware, however these are again aimed at the home office type of user.

In summary: the book is a decent starting point to educate yourself and others about networking; but don't send anyone out into the field until they've mastered a lot more than could ever be covered in this book.

One caveat: Despite the extreme beginner "angle" that this text sometimes chooses, there are things to learn here. Personally, I was interested in the author's note that the IEEE is already working on a standard for 100 gigabit networking, and while Gigabit networks are becoming the de facto choice, the 10 gigabit (10GBase-T) systems are already outstarting to get a little bit of a draw despite their expense.

Final call: One thumb up (for most security pros who already have at least some understanding of networks), but two thumbs up if you have a staff member who needs to know the real basics of networking PCs and ethernet-connected devices.