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Wi-Fi and the Bad Boys of Radio: Dawn of a Wireless Technology Paperback – August 15, 2011
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Dr. Hills has now written a book, Wi-Fi and the Bad Boys of Radio, that supplies an engaging look at a key moment..in the history of wireless..there's a little technology here, but that's delightfully mixed with personal anecdotes, an interesting cast of characters, and, again, some history we really don't want to lose.-Craig Mathias,Network World
This fascinating and little known story is the subject of a new book, Wi-Fi and the Bad Boys of Radio...it's the account of how Hills, with the help of his team and overseas colleagues, overcame major obstacles to create the world's first wireless campus at CMU, an unfathomable idea in 1993. - Deb Smit, Innovation
This fine book, the memoir of a pioneer in the development of Wi-Fi, will interest a wide variety of readers, technogeeks...and anyone in search of a good read. Alex Hills...writes beautifully, with an appealing style of clarity and authority. He is also humble, eschewing the title of inventor of Wi-Fi that some have given him.--Bill Klykylo, CQ
In the mid-1990s Alex Hills built a huge wireless network at Carnegie Mellon University that became the prototype for modern Wi-Fi networks--a story he tells in his book Wi-Fi and the Bad Boys of Radio. - David Pogue, Scientific American
From the Inside Flap
Dr. Alex Hills continued on to make great contributions in the
world of wireless technology. Dr. Hills is a fine writer and teacher,
so I have no doubt that his book will be both fascinating and entertaining."
-- Walter J. Hickel, (1919-2010),
former United States Secretary of Interior
"I know of no one so capable of telling the Wi-Fi story and explaining
so clearly how the technology works. Alex Hills is certain to
capture the public imagination with this new book."
-- Jim Geier, Principal Consultant, Wireless-Nets, Ltd. and Wi-Fi author
"Alex Hills has contributed to the developing world and to developing
advanced wireless technology at one of the world's most techsavvy
universities. Working on both frontiers, Dr. Hills pioneered
wireless Internet and launched a revolution in the way the world
communicates. His story of how we "cut the cord" begins in a place
where there were no cords to begin with -- remote Alaska."
-- Mead Treadwell, Lieutenant Governor of Alaska and
former Chair, United States Arctic Research Commission
"Being from Alaska, I am aware of the great contributions Dr Alex
Hills made to my state in building its communication systems.
Later, I discovered the importance of his Wi-Fi work through an
article about him in The Economist. Alex's work has raised the
quality of a lot of people's lives, including mine."
-- Steve Cowper, former Governor of Alaska
More About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
Like Alex Hills I too was a "ham" radio operator in high school and experienced the vagaries of radio signals. In the late 1950's we experienced exceptional sun spot activity which I was told made for some very interesting DXing (ham lingo for signals that went a long distance around the earth). Just as Hills tells us in his book, I remember this time as phenomenal for being able to connect with other ham operators around the world. I also remember the "bad boys" aspect of the hobby with noise and interference that came and went as I listened to my short wave receiver. I also remember that in the city where I grew up we had an AM broadcast station, WKBW, which was reported to reach all the way to the tip of Florida and out into the Caribbean at times, yet I could not receive AM stations from other places much closer. Surely this thing called radio was strange.
I was late to the business of wireless networking at my home and only in recent months installed a wireless access point - after pulling wires for hundreds of feet from one end of the house to the other over the past fifteen years. It is possible, but a very time consuming and frustrating task. Fast forward to today and I step out of my office and see a plastic cylinder about ten inches in diameter and three inches high with blinking LED's, and there is one about every hundred feet down the hall - wireless has taken over my building here at the University of Minnesota.Read more ›
One review is entitled "This is how WiFi happened..."
Sounds tempting, but if you want the answer to these issues this is not the right book. However, it is a good book about the author's career excitement with wireless technology in both a rural area and an urban university as well as in amateur radio.
But the Wi-Fi part is really about how the author engineered the first wide area Wi-Fi system (named Andrew) at the Carnegie Mellon University campus. The author did not develop Wi-Fi and does not claim he did so. This book references The Innovation Journey of Wi-Fi: The Road to Global Success by Wolter Lemstra, Vic Hayes, and John Groenewegen in which Prof. Hills is credited for his innovations in the engineering of wide area networks. If you want a duller description but more detailed description of where Wi-Fi came from and its adoption, go to the Lemstra, Hayes & Groenewegen book.
But this book is a lot more readable and is quite interesting about what it actually discusses. Unfortunately the back cover information, Amazon description, and some of the reviews are misleading about what exactly is covered.
Along with some good old-fashioned human interest story telling, the path he describes is in mostly reader-friendly technical terms. The author details a good bit of the basic science, engineering, and natural obstacles (hence, the "Bad Boys") around radio transmission and reception.
But the story eventually centers in on events in Pittsburgh (at Carnegie Mellon University to be specific) where the author leads a crack team of engineers and technicians as they are determined to harness the power of wireless transmission (and tame the "Bad Boys") to create the first high-speed wireless network.
An enjoyable and educational gift for nerds, wanna-be geeks, weekend techs, and just plain folks curious enough to want to know more about radio and, more specifically, Wi-Fi and its beginnings. It also depicts a wonderful success story, namely in how a project proceeds from vision to final product thru knowledge, people power, determination, and hard work.
Alex gives you a good view of how things are developed. I like the descriptions of university life and interactions with companies. He talks about what makes the process work - the people that drive it because they get excited about seeing their ideas become real.
Alex's ham radio stories were great. I connected with them because as a kid, I built a ham radio receiver and listened to those guys clicking out Morse code - but voice was a lot more understandable to me. My uncle was a ham before WWII and I had played with his gear up in my grandmother's attic. When Alex described the difference between a key and a bug - I was right there with him.
I'm sending a copy to my uncle who now lives in England and, at age 90, still has a 'wireless' rig that he uses to chat with other hams.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It's more a personal story about how the author went from ham radio to working with wi-fi - I was hoping for something more technical. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Mick Gob
An easy read full of information in a very easy to understand form. You don't realize how much information you are learning in this story like lesson. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Rhowyn
Alex Hills created a new model for adventurers. As a boy in 1958, he conquered International Morse Code to communicate worldwide as a ham radio operator. Read morePublished 17 months ago by Nancy E. Brown
I bought this book initially because I thought it was focused on the early days of wireless. Yes, that's included. Read morePublished on November 30, 2012 by A. F.
This is a funny very personal book about a pioneer in broadcasting and computer technology who was an early adopter in Alaska. Read morePublished on November 15, 2012 by Jo
As a former high school physics teacher, I found this review to be both engaging and informative. I've used Wi-Fi for years, but never thought about what it takes to set up a... Read morePublished on September 2, 2012 by Cary
Way back in the late 1990's, I remember going to a spring Home Show in a small midwestern community. There I was exposed to a new and amazing technology. Read morePublished on August 23, 2012 by Mrskeeter
For a user and enjoyer of this now taken for granted modern daily part of American society, the opportunity to learn how it came about is what intrigued me to read this book. Read morePublished on June 27, 2012 by LaMarr Anderson
Dr. Hills brings to life what could be a dry subject for non-engineering types in a compelling story that capitalizes on his interests in ham radio from boyhood. Read morePublished on January 15, 2012 by AlaskaJudith