Computer Desktop Encyclopedia (9th Edition)

If you're in the market for a hard copy reference for computer terms, the Computer Desktop Encyclopedia presents a good package.

As well as the book you get a CD "with expanded definitions and illustrations. Combined, the CD and book offer over 15,000 terms and explanations. Entries on the CD have the advantage of hyperlinking to related terms.

Freedman's approach is to present the fundamental terms - the technology that affects all computer users - simply, while more specialised topics are covered in a more technical way. So the section on viruses is more straightforward, for example, than the definition of SS7 (Signalling System 7) a protocol used on public switched telephone systems. In terms of illustration, black and white diagrams and pictures accompany some entries.

The book has touches that add humanity to what could be pretty bland content. Freedman has been in the industry for around 20 years, so he has seen a lot of the ups and downs - as well as the hype. Along with the sprinkling of Freedman's own anecdotes, the mini histories of major companies will be useful in giving students an idea of how the major players started.

At around $90, the encyclopedia may be a little pricey for the average enthusiast, but for students and technicians it would be an authoritative resource.

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Deanne McIntosh

PC World
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