Your Internet Consultant
Author: Kevin M. Savetz
Reviewer: Phil Hughes
On the Internet there are what are called FAQs. This stands for Frequently Asked Questions, and they are posted regularly to help decrease the traffic. This book, subtitled The FAQs of Life Online, is a compilation of these FAQs put into a 550 page book.
The book gets off to a good start by presenting the introduction in a FAQ format. First question: What does FAQ mean? And the second is: Does the world need another Internet book? The answer to this second question will help you understand why Kevin wrote the book. He explains how there are a lot of new Internet books and many, if not most, try to be a 1000 page guide that tells you everything you need to know about the Internet. Then he tells you the world doesn't need another one of those books. I have to agree if, for no other reason than, you really need to learn the basics; then start exploring, rather than reading another book.
But this book is different. It really doesn't offer anything you can't get on the Internet, but it does offer it on paper. FAQs exist because this is information people need to know. Some of it is on the mechanics of using the Internet but much of it is on how to find information and what information can be found.
Some questions are answered with a specific answer, others with the illustrated use of an Internet tool to find the answer. For example, the question, “Where can I find software for my Atari computer?” is answered with the name of two Usenet newsgroups, the name of two archive sites, a gopher site and a mail server.
Chapters include “Can I Do Business on the Internet?”, “Is There Government Information Online?”, “What Do I Need to Know About Internet Culture and Lore?”, “Where Are All the Fun and Games?”, “Is This Book Worth Buying?” and “How Can I Find and Use Software (and Other Stuff)?”. The appendices include a list of “Internet Access Providers”, “Information About the Internet” and “The Internet Offline”.
Besides the normal table of contents, there is a Question Reference and an Index. This combination makes it extremely easy to locate the questions for which you are looking.
It depends on your situation. By that I mean, if you are always connected to the net and enjoy looking for everything online, you may not need this book. On the other hand, if you pay by the hour for your Internet connection or you occasionally like to find something on paper first, this book is a great resource.
For example, I read the book so I could write the review on an airplane between Washington State and Washington, DC. Clearly the $25 cover price of the book was a lot lower than the cost of plugging my laptop computer into the AirPhone, at multi-dollars per minute, in order to look up information on the Internet.
The biggest downside of the book is the fact that information continually changes on the Internet. This means that some of the information is out of date the day the book is printed. However, there is enough stable information that the book will offer lots of answers a year or two after it is printed.
Phil Hughes is the publisher of Linux Journal.