The Story of Ping

I loved this book when I was a kid. I used to read it to my little brother over and over.

Prehnite pointed out this review on Amazon. Be sure to look for the second one.

(Since so many people had trouble with catching on with where the review I was talking about was, I'm swiping it and posting it here, too.)

by Marjorie
, Kurt

List Price: $14.99

4806 of 4919 people found the following review helpful:

5 of 5 stars
Ping! I love that duck!, January 25, 2000

Reviewer: A reader from El Segundo

PING! The magic duck!

Using deft allegory, the authors have provided an insightful and intuitive
explanation of one of Unix's most venerable networking utilities. Even more
stunning is that they were clearly working with a very early beta of the
program, as their book first appeared in 1933, years (decades!) before the
operating system and network infrastructure were finalized.

The book describes networking in terms even a child could understand,
choosing to anthropomorphize the underlying packet structure. The ping packet is
described as a duck, who, with other packets (more ducks), spends a certain
period of time on the host machine (the wise-eyed boat). At the same time each
day (I suspect this is scheduled under cron), the little packets (ducks) exit
the host (boat) by way of a bridge (a bridge). From the bridge, the packets
travel onto the internet (here embodied by the Yangtze River).

The title character -- er, packet, is called Ping. Ping meanders around the
river before being received by another host (another boat). He spends a brief
time on the other boat, but eventually returns to his original host machine (the
wise-eyed boat) somewhat the worse for wear.

If you need a good, high-level overview of the ping utility, this is the
book. I can't recommend it for most managers, as the technical aspects may be
too overwhelming and the basic concepts too daunting.

Problems With This Book

As good as it is, The Story About Ping is not without its faults. There is no
index, and though the ping(8) man pages cover the command line options well
enough, some review of them seems to be in order. Likewise, in a book solely
about Ping, I would have expected a more detailed overview of the ICMP packet

But even with these problems, The Story About Ping has earned a place on my
bookshelf, right between Stevens' Advanced Programming in the Unix Environment,
and my dog-eared copy of Dante's seminal work on MS Windows, Inferno. Who can
read that passage on the Windows API ("Obscure, profound it was, and
nebulous, So that by fixing on its depths my sight -- Nothing whatever I
discerned therein."), without shaking their head with deep understanding.
But I digress.

No comments: