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More Books ... WIFI!

Rob Flickenger, Building Wireless Community Networks, 2nd Ed, O'Reilly

There are a lot of people out there these days who see wireless networking as another step of general information enfranchisement. Taken to it's furthest conclusion, it could be a whole alternate Net except for the problem of the short-range nature of WLAN. Even so, in densely populated countries, the ground will be covered easily enough and then you just need a few links to span oceans and ... heh, well, you can play that game. Add voiceoverIP (VoIP) and you have some serious trouble for telcos owning landlines and mobile networks. An 802.11g mobile? Not next week perhaps but it doesn't take much to write some software for a pocket PC to do the whole thing, even if right now it would be more useful for outgoing calls as if the unit was always on, it wouldn't be on for that long.

For people playing with this technology now there is a wealth of information around provided by people who have been immersed in it for a while. One such is Rob Flickenger and in this book he shows us all the aspects of putting together a community network. This isn't a detailed reference for the 802.11 protocol. There are other, somewhat thicker, books for that. Instead we are taken through various aspects of wireless community making - standards, hardware, layout, access points, long-range, security, making aerials.

The whole thing is easy to read as well with diagrams and pictures where needed. If you're absolutely starting from scratch in knowledge and equipment, and need to delve into some of the sub-headings in real depth then you'll most likely need to supplement this book but there is an awful lot of information on the web, and this book will help organize your thoughts.

Go build a network!

Rob Flickenger, Wireless Hacks, O'Reilly

This is a very useful companion to Rob Fleckenger's other book on community networks. It is more broadly based, taking in such things as bluetooth and allowing your cellphone to do interesting things like control XMMS. There are a number of things related to Mac hardware too, such as turning a Mac Airport into a (simple) Linux router. Along the way you'll find out that an Airport is roughly the equivalent of a 486 with 4Meg RAM.

The hacks are split into logical sections such as monitoring and security and, in the usual format for this series of books, there are different hacks presented... which makes it quite good for random access reading. Whether you actually like that format or not is over to you. The index is very comprehensive however so if you're looking for something in particular, the chances are good that you'll be able to find it that way. The O'Reilly Website

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