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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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Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Dog Ear Publishing, LLC (August 15, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1457505606
  • ISBN-13: 978-1457505607
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.3 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,266,585 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Wi-Fi was a huge success. But knowing how the story ends doesn't take away any of the wonder and enjoyment of reading a first-hand account of how it all came to be...and thanks to Hills and his team at Carnegie Mellon, we have a technology that...we don't really have to think much about. - James Floyd Kelly, Wired.com

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

"After bringing modern communications to Alaska's Native villages,
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

Alex Hills conceived and built the world's first large Wi-Fi network at Carnegie Mellon University, where he is Distinguished Service Professor of Engineering and Public Policy. And Dr. Hills is well known in Alaska for his role in developing the state's broadcast and telecommunications systems. He worked in the 1970s and 1980s to build public radio stations across Alaska and to develop the state's telecommunications networks so that even small villages could receive radio, television and telephone service. An inventor with thirteen patents, he is a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, and he was Alaska's 2007 Engineer of the Year.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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See all 26 customer reviews
I read Alex Hills' "Wi-Fi and the Bad Boys of Radio" in one sitting.
Carmen
The book is engaging as a story, but also presents enough of the concepts of radio transmission to make it understandable to a reader with a non-technical background.
Rob - engineer/professor from Alaska
The book is a wonderful MUST READ and what really struck me is how artfully focused it is.
John Lee

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Dan on November 10, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As someone who joined the Carnegie Mellon technical staff just as Alex's WiFi revolution was getting started, I found this to be a thorough and fascinating review of the trials and tribulations that pre-dated my involvement in the project. Even better than the history, though, was the storytelling. Alex has put together a compelling page-turner, with enough of a dash of tech to make the book appeal to anyone interested in WiFi and how it became the ubiquitous presence it is today.

Highly recommended!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
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. As a young man, he took a radio job in remote Kotzebue, Alaska, where he honed his problem-solving skills as DJ and repairman and as an erector of a high-wind antenna, thanks to the men of Ignaluk on Little Diomede island. His skills lead him to Carnegie Mellon University where Hills begins the exciting research which eventually allows mastery of "the bad boys of radio" and the invention of WiFi as well as a CMU-patented tool known as the Rollabout which, among other things, uses "WiFi coverage...critical to improving mine safety." And what about the "bad boys"? You'll find out when you read the book.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Amazon's book description says "At 36,000 feet, Wi-Fi converts our airline seats to remote offices. It lets us read email in airports, watch video in coffee shops, and listen to music at home. Wi-Fi is everywhere. But where did it come from?"

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.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this book initially because I thought it was focused on the early days of wireless. Yes, that's included. But, what really makes this book stand out is that the author also talks about some of his experiences in the early days of radio. Working in early public radio in Alaska?! the station that would get fan mail from people in the former U.S.S.R. who were close enough to Alaska to hear the radio? Fascinating. Well, the second part of the book really gets into the history of wireless, which is also great. I guess it's just a rich, well-rounded book with lots of interesting stories! Definitely recommend.
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This is a funny very personal book about a pioneer in broadcasting and computer technology who was an early adopter in Alaska. I learned a lot about the old days from Alex's stories.
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By Cary on September 2, 2012
Format: Paperback
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 network or how it functions. Hills communicates those important details in a very engaging matter, in the context of major phases of his career. I can see sharing this with high school or college students to illustrate why learning physics is important to everyday life! Though I'm not sure I could get my high school students to read this, it certainly would be appropriate for first year college students, helping them see that engineering can be as creative and rewarding a career as physics.
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By Mrskeeter on August 23, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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. A representative of the local Apple reseller was walking around with a new Apple Powerbook and surfing the Net without wires. The new technology was called Wi-Fi. I had very little idea about who created it or how this miracle happened until I heard about this book.

In "Wi-Fi and the Bad Boys of Radio", Dr Hills presents an eloquent tale of the development of this great technology. Its a fascinating story, told in a style that is easily understood and a fun journey describing early days of radio, its limitations, and how obstacles were overcome to create the technology I'm using to send this review.

I highly recommend it!
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Format: Paperback
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. The author's very interesting articulated history of how he acquired his interests and experiences leading up to the circumstances and idea for wireless communication is easily read and explained in a non-technical manner. Anybody with even just a little curiosity of how WiFi came about will find this book enjoyable and enlightening about radio 'bad boys" and consequently how they help create WiFi that we all now enjoy. This reader has now bought four books and given to friends and family members....it's that good.
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