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Designing Software for the Mobile Context: A Practitioner’s Guide (Computer Communications and Networks)

Roman Longoria (Ed.), Springer-Verlag, 2004, $69.95,
ISBN: 1852337850

Mobile technology is changing the way people and corporations communicate with each other. This technology is now used to talk, obtain information, play games, and for a host of other reasons. The smallness of mobile devices presents a unique set of problems that are not present in the desktop or laptop environment. In mobile devices, buttons and styluses play a major role, but input processes are slow. The small amount of information that can be displayed, and the slow speed at which the user can get it, can also be quite annoying. Commands can be given orally, but this technology is not yet mature. In short, the user interface is the main concern in mobile devices. This book addresses this issue.

The editor has produced a slim volume of six chapters. He asked several experts currently involved in the development of mobile devices each to contribute a chapter. The authors were asked to write an introduction to the technology they use, describe their development activities in the form of a case study of the application, and discuss the lessons drawn. The result is a book that provides a nice snapshot of the industry.

The authors discuss a range of topics, including GSM (global system for mobile communications) and CDMA (code division multiple access) technologies, the mobile application environment, J2ME (Java 2 Mobile Edition), speech recognition technologies, and multimodal applications. One of the book’s highlights is chapter 6, which presents a long detailed discussion of a user interface design by Aaron Marcus and Associates for Samsung mobile telephones and PDAs.

The book is well produced, including illustrations. It is not a how-to book, but gives enough information for managers (sometimes even designers) to understand the technology and the demands of mobile technology applications. Even though each chapter is written by a different expert, the book is cohesive. I recommend it to anybody who needs to know the applications of mobile technology. —Arun Ektare

Network Security Architectures

Sean Convery, Cisco Press, 2004, $55.00,
ISBN: 158705115X

This work meets a unique challenge: to teach the design of secure network architecture by focusing only on the required essentials, in a straightforward and easy-to-follow manner. While reading the part of this book where basic security building blocks and their functionality are introduced, I could not stop thinking of an analogy to first graders using Lego pieces to realize complex buildings. The pedagogical and editorial quality of the book is remarkable.

Network Security Architectures is structured into four major logical sections. In the first section, the reader is introduced to the general security landscape and to the importance of security as an integrated system, reaching beyond simple network security technologies, security protocols, authentication, authorization, and accounting.

The next two parts examine the issue of designing secure networks and templates for secure networks. The design of secure networks is closely based on device hardening, which is addressed in chapter 6. This chapter is the core of the book, looking at security policies and router/switch-specific security configuration.

The last part of the book covers a topic that is often neglected by books on network security: how to manage a network in a secure way—using SNMP (simple network management protocol) version 3 and HTTPS (hypertext transfer protocol over secure sockets layer)—in complex multisite networks. The book offers practical advice and will serve as a reference for any network manager.

Although the author is affiliated with Cisco, the book is not limited to Cisco technologies. Some of the illustrations—ACLs (access control lists) and VLAN configurations—are Cisco-specific, but the high-level concepts presented are suitable for any network device. In several places, the author is critical of some Cisco security approaches (and shows it in humorous style).

The author follows a logical path and uses a writing style that is easy to understand. The target audience is varied, ranging from network/system managers, IT managers, and business managers to security-interested lay readers. —Radu State

Reprinted from Computing Reviews, © 2004 ACM,


Originally published in Queue vol. 3, no. 1
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