As an average technical person, I usually assume wireless is about signal propagation, noise avoidance, frequency tuning, and using the proper encryption. I make sure my antennas are pointed in a general direction and not obstructed by large objects or anything that might interfere with the signal. I know there is a wide bandwidth of frequencies and these are sliced into channels for easier usage. After reading The CCNA Wireless Official Cert Guide by David Hucaby, I realize I'm an idiot.
My prior knowledge of the radio spectrum was kindergartner level education compared to what is in this book. Mr. Hucaby is clearly an expert at both wireless engineering and writing at a level that us mortals can understand. He starts off by throwing the reader a bone by telling you that if you can pass this first couple of multiple choice questions with ease, you can skip the first two chapters. I didn't get very far into the questions before I realized that I better pay attention to this book.
The author has taken what is a complex topic that is usually watered down by so many other books on the subject, and brought it back to being a really cool topic to read about. There are critical nuggets of information tucked into every nook and cranny that the author did his best to point out tips but they still spilled over into the paragraphs. You'll need a careful eye as you read each paragraph because you never know when a golden nugget of information is lodged between the last two sentences of a rather mundane topic. I felt like it was a test to see if you really are reading his material and paying attention to what is written in the book. It's either that or I was just eager to gobble up as much information as I could.
His writing is technical, very technical, but he does a great job of showing the reader some easy ways to remember or understand the material. Engineer writers are like that. They are crafty in their knowledge but the really good writer like Mr, Huchaby, don't need to impress his readers with mounts of frivolous facts. His dialog is smooth and well delivered from a readers standpoint put he does go to sneaky lengths to see if you are reading the book to pass the certification or you are reading the book to learn far more about this massive topic. Always keep in mind that Mr. Huckaby is an engineer has written a large collection of books on highly technical matter for Cisco. Writers like himself are a rare breed, such as reading Orin Kerr on cyber law matters or Dr. Dan Geer on political motivators for security business direction. With writers in these categories, you really have to pay attention to what isn't said as much as what is said.
This book is designed to prepare you to take the CCNA Wireless 640-722 certification exam. This is a Cisco book, written to take a Cisco exam, by a Cisco author who has written several books for Cisco. But, Cisco products don't dominate the material in the book, wireless communication does. I had know for years that WiFi routers had 13 channels, those made for the U.S. anyways. I knew that some Asian countries used a thirteenth band. What I didn't know was there there are actually 14 channels in the WiFi band and these are separated by three channels each. The primary connection channels are 1,6 and 11 to minimize overlapping frequencies. If your neighbor is using the same channel as you, change your channel to one of the three mentioned above.
The book was written to cover the history behind the technology, where we are at now and what we need to look forward to in the next five minutes to five years. A lot of attention is paid in the media about new phones with new technology. The author shy’s away from political correct flavors of the day and sticks with the overall foundation of the 802.11 standard. We know the framework was built on a solid foundation by some very smart people. There is no single entity that owns global WiFi or the frequencies that data travels on. In 1998, I was in South Korea and could purchase a soda or coffee from a sidewalk dispenser using just my cell phone. My phone was roughly half the size of the phone I currently own. When I we moved back to the mainland, I was shocked at the outrageous expense we paid just to talk, never mind buying anything using cellular credits.
I bought shoes in Korea using my phone's payment system. In the U.S. Apple came out with their phone payment system that only works with Apple merchandise. That is only about fourteen years behind Samsung. All this political and business posturing is stupid and taxing the customer end. We've had the technology for almost fifteen years now. What is the hold up? Oh, yeah, big business.
Neither the books author nor myself will delve much into the realities of the cellphone business world but we are way behind the rest of the mobile world and their diverse commerce. This is a simple platform for me to review a well written no WiFi certification. You make up your own conclusion or keep your heads in the sand to let others worry about it, I mean, your future.
Each chapter offers you a “Get out of Jail free card.” If you can answer the initial questions, you can move onto the next chapter. This sounds easy enough until you get to the third or fourth pretest question. From that point forward, you realize that you don't know very much about the topic and it if you best interest to read every word of that next chapter. If there is a word or phrase you don't understand, Google it. This isn't a hand-holding session. You don't get a smiley face sticker for partial answers. You need to understand the very essence of each subject if you plan to pass the exam.
Like many exam prep books, this one comes with lots of pre-test questions and a DVD loaded with timed tests. I found myself bewildered at how much I didn't know about wireless engineering. This isn't miniscule details either. There are tons of critical information on troubleshooting, proper configuration, connectivity, regulatory requirements and common administrative tasks that I never considered before reading this book. Yes, there are specific items related to Cisco products but that is fairly limited and most of the concepts apply to almost any other brand of appliance.