New: Book Report: TCP/IP Illustrated

Network programming today... gee, I just call into some standard library, say, "I want the webpage at" and it's there. It's almost that easy. You kids today, you don't know how easy you got it. Back in the day, things were different. Back at Geoworks, I documented our network interface, which was sockets. Sockets, darn it. Sockets, these virtual streams of numbers going out (and/or coming in) over the net. You couldn't just ask for a web page. Nooo, you had to carve the HTTP request out yourself. Heck, this was before we had HTTP, before we had the web. (There were these things called Gopher and Archie and Veronica, but nobody could figure out how to use them.) That was the hell of it: it was hard to program for the network, and there was not yet anything on the network worth getting. Except maybe you had two or three friends with internet accounts who might want to send you mail. But someone else had already written the email program. So there was no point writing a networking program to fetch your mail. There was no point in writing a networking program at all, except just to see it done. It was rough, I tell you. Uphill both ways. But it could have been rougher. At least I was using sockets. Someone else had already set up the TCP and IP crap. Someone else had already done all of the really low-level stuff, the stuff below the sockets.

Sorry, I was lost in a reverie. What? Oh, right, the book report. A book about the really low-level stuff and some of the merely kinda low-level stuff. The book, the book, I did not read the book.

In a discussion about great technical writing, someone mentioned this book, TCP/IP Illustrated. So I checked it out of the library and started reading. I think I made a mistake when I did that. This book does seem good, but I don't think it's meant to be read cover-to-cover. I think you're supposed to flip to the section describing the protocol you want to learn, and just read that section. Nothing wrong with that--but I was hoping for an interesting book to read cover-to-cover.

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Posted 2008-08-14