The book steers away from metaphors to describe networking concepts, relying
instead on hand-drawn cartoonish diagrams to provide examples of the concepts
being explained in the text. These diagrams are attractive to look at, but often
contain dense amounts of information laid out in no particular order. The
overall effect is to give the reader no place where he or she can easily review
the concepts being explained.
The photographs used throughout the book alternate between commercial product
shots (of exclusively Linksys hardware) and 'action shots' giving examples of
various ports and procedures. The latter, and there's not really a nice way of
saying this, are terrible. The photos are non-uniform in size, colour, poorly-lit and
often blurry, giving the impression that Home Networking Simplified was rushed to press.
Fortunately, these pictures are comparatively rare in the text and are not
essential to the subject matter.
The practical how-to
sections (such as for setting up a network card) interspersed throughout the
book use an interesting format. Since Home Networking Simplified
covers the Windows 98/ME operating
systems as well as Windows 2000/XP, the authors have included a relevant
screenshot for each OS at every step of these guides. This means that
users of all operating systems get the same amount of information which is
great. It also means that the screenshots are rather small, which was
alright for us, but might be hard for readers with visual difficulties. The
step-by-step guides themselves are done well throughout the book, and necessary
details are explained.
As we stated in the introduction, some of the subject
placement in Home Networking Simplified
seems a bit strange. The most glaring example of
this is the fact that the authors make very little mention of broadband Internet
until chapter 7 of the book. Someone who knew nothing about
computers or the Internet might well get the impression that using a dial-up
modem was the only/best/easiest way to connect to the Internet by reading
through the first few chapters.