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How the Internet works

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The Internet does many wondrous things, but an alarming number of them remain "black boxes" whose interior workings are a mystery. In How the Internet Works, Preston Gralla shows how information gets from here to there on the world's biggest computer network. With assistance from illustrators Sarah Ishidi, Mina Reimer, and Stephen Adams, Gralla presents a series of full-color spreads, each of which picks apart some aspect of Internet technology. You'll find explanations of Uniform Resource Locators (URLs), Web browsers, electronic mail, Web search engines, multimedia, and more. There's a spread that shows how bulk e-mailers (known as spammers) extract addresses from newsgroups and send advertisements to them. There's also an excellent graphical depiction of how the infamous Melissa trojan horse wreaked havoc among Microsoft Outlook users in early 1999. Some of the explanations are weaker than others. While Gralla gives a lot of details about how Internet telephony works, his explanation of PointCast consists of, to paraphrase, "You install the special client software, which communicates with the special server software and presents news to you." It's more of a definition than an explanation. The book is split about evenly between simple definition entries and detailed, commendable how-it-works entries. There's no glossary per se, but the index is good. --David Wall Topics covered: Internet architecture, addressing, domain names, routers, connectivity, e-mail, newsgroups, Web browsers, push technologies, and Internet safety and security.

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