Introduction To The TCP/IP Guide
As I sit here writing this introductory material a few weeks before finishing off a multi-year project culminating in this TCP/IP Guide, I reflect on how funny life can be. Prior to a few years ago, I never really thought of myself as a writer. I have no training as an author, and my interests have always been in computers. I always assumed that I would end up in a technical job, such as computer programming or hardware design.
Perhaps ironically, then, it was my interest in personal computers that led to my writing The PC Guide in 1997. After I put the first version of that site online, I received many compliments on its usefulness. This didnt surprise me, since the material was of course designed to be useful. J What shocked me were all the comments I received about how people appreciated my writing. They said they found my material easy to understand, and some said they had even read through textbooks but never understood the concepts they explained until they encountered my site. I discovered that I perhaps I had a talent I had never before considered; more, I realized that it felt good to dissect a difficult technical subject and help people understand it.
In early 2001 I decided that I wanted to embark on a new writing project to go along with the PC materials I had written in The PC Guide. I felt then, as I do now, that the future of information technology lies not so much in bigger and faster computers, but in better ways of exchanging information between them. I wanted to know more about networking and internetworking. So, I decided to create a Networking Guide to complement my PC Guide. I thought that this would take about six months.
Remember what I said above about life being funny? J Well, as soon as I embarked on my project to create a Networking Guide, I realized that I had opened a virtual Pandoras Box. I had never realized just how large a topic networking was; there were literally hundreds of different protocols, technologies, algorithms, concepts and devices to learn about. These were all interconnected in a myriad of ways, and it was hard to explain how one protocol or technology worked without first explaining another one. The amount of complexity was amazing.
To make matters worse, I found that it was very hard to find information about networks that really explained how everything worked. This seemed like an opportunity to meI decided that since so many people felt I did a good job explaining PC technology, that I should take a crack at networking. Once I accepted that it would take more than six months, I figured I should plan on up to two years to get this writing project completed. Well... life is even funnier than I imagined. J Fast forward from early 2001 to August 2003, and I find myself at my desk, looking over my writing project. I realize that I have been at this now for two-and-a-half years, yet due to my desire to cover as much as possible, I have at least a years more work to go.
I began to feel burnt out from working on this new Networking Guide for such a long time, during which it has existed only in my mind and on my PCs hard disk drive. Even though part of me wanted to wait to finish the entire Networking Guide and publish it all at once, a larger part of me felt the need to publish at least some of what I had already written. I looked over the material I had completed, and realized that most of the TCP/IP material was done. I felt TCP/IP was a topic that was particularly important in the Internet era, and one that I could cover as a standalone Guide. A few more months work, and the TCP/IP Guide was born.
Thats the story of the creation of an improbable TCP/IP Guide by an improbable author. J You may look at the 1600-odd pages in this Guide and wonder at how this could be only a part of the document that I originally began. But that is in fact the case, and should give you an idea of just how large the complete project would have been had I waited to publish it in whole. Perfectionists should never start open-ended projects!
So, after nearly three years in all, the TCP/IP Guide is complete, and I am pretty pleased with how it came out. I feel that the breadth and depth of the coverage is unparalleled in any other single TCP/IP resource, and I have worked very hard to make my descriptions understandable and enjoyable to read. I spent many weeks designing the layout of the Guide, and many more creating and fine-tuning hundreds of examples and diagrams to help illustrate most of the technologies and concepts that underlie TCP/IP. Add to this the many benefits of electronic publication, such as a clickable table of contents, hyperlinks and a real-time search index, and I think this Guide will be of value to both beginners and advanced users alike. I hope you find it useful.
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Version 3.0 - Version Date: September 20, 2005
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