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Book Review: Webster’s New World Telecom Dictionary by Ray Horak

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The world of telecommunications has changed over the last 20 years, and has changed dramatically. The speed in which it has changed has become difficult for even the most resolute and technically astute to keep up with. Copper wires have turned to glass fibers, the volume of data traffic exceeds voice traffic, and even data is no longer restricted to the computer; it can now be video, voice, or image data.

Ray Horak, an independent consultant who has written more than 100 articles, technical white papers, case studies, and solution briefs has spent over a year putting together a very comprehensive telecommunications dictionary of more than 7,500 terms that are critical to understanding voice, data, video, and multimedia communications systems. It covers network technologies, applications, and regulations.

Because of the bluring of lines between telecommunications and computer technologies, Webster's New World Telecom Dictionary is effectively just as useful for those in the computer information systems as it is to the telecommunications industry. It contains networking terms such as DHCP, DNS, and TCP/IP. It contains security terms such as spoofing, phishing, and pharming, as well as the more traditional terms relating to telecommunications like DSL, VoIP, and SONET.

While, by definition — pardon the pun — Webster's New World Telecom Dictionary is a technical book focused toward professionals yet written in a plain-English style that anyone can understand. Many of the entries are encyclopedic in that they not only define the item, but also expand on the issues entailed, including the technical aspects. There is a little humor thrown in, Ray Horak style. In addition, the reference is very logically formatted and made easy-to-use.

According to Horak, he worked painstakingly to make certain that every one of the 7500 definitions are "relevant, accurate, and unbiased," and that you can regard the "definitions in this book as gospel." "I assure you, he claimed, "that you  can take every one of them to the courthouse and swear to their truth."

I found a lot to like about Webster's New World Telecom Dictionary. First, it is indeed very easy to read, and contains a lot of detail, as well as good cross referencing in the entries where needed. Second, it provides good illustrations and diagrams that get the point across. Finally, while touted as a dictionary, it feels more like an encyclopedia in that it does not have that dry dictionary form — but rather a more inviting feel that makes you want to come explore. Whether you are a telecom or IT professional, do your self a favor and get Webster's New World Telecom Dictionary as it is highly recommended.

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About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.