My first noncurricular writing was a short science fiction story I wrote after having been inspired by my third-grade teacher's reading aloud to my class. The book he read to us was The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis. So, I owe a thank you to Mr. Dennis Streich, my third-grade teacher, for giving me a respect for the social and educational importance of the medium of books. While I can't blame any of my bad writing habits on these two gentlemen, I can certainly credit them with helping to cultivate my love of the written wordeven when it's about a geeky subject like VoIP.
More recently, my reading and writing have been of an entirely different sortthe vocational sort . When I worked for J. Walter Thompson in Detroit, I was flipped a copy of O'Reilly Media's epic masterpiece sendmail by one of the guys I worked with. This book was a godsend. If anybody could translate a deadly topic like sendmail configuration into terms I could understand, it was Bryan Costales and Eric Allman, the authors of that highly important book. The accessibility and organic approach of sendmail were common to most O'Reilly books, I later noticed. Whether it was Practical PostgreSQL or RealBASIC: The Definitive Guide , I had an easier time learning from these "animal books" than I had from others.
When given the opportunity to write about Voice over IP for O'Reilly, it was an easy decision. I had just completed the first phase of an ambitious telephony conversion on a large construction contractor's network, and I was looking for standards-advocating documentation to help me architect the next phase. The problem was, all the decision-making intelligence for my project was provided by the VoIP equipment vendors and their salespeopleCisco, Avaya, Nortel, Mitel, NEC, and so on. Cisco was bashing Avaya, and Avaya was bashing Nortel, ad nauseum. I was looking for the neutral, standards-respecting VoIP authority in book form, and I couldn't find it. So I decided to write it myself , more or less as an exercise to aid my project. Fortunately, Tim O'Reilly and Mike Loukides, the editor of this book, thought it would be a good book to publish.
I learned a lot about VoIP while writing this book, and I hope it engages you in the subject as much as the writing process engaged me in it. VoIP is a technology family that I feel very passionately about. It has the legitimate potential to truly revolutionize distance communication. VoIP is an expression of the Internet's promise of allowing better, faster, more accurate communication between people, and it's a culturally impactful next step for the international telephone system. In other words, Voice over IP is important . It is becoming a sustaining technology due to the growing adoption of enthusiastic implementers such as you and I. My sincerest hope is that this book provides you with an arsenal of fair, even-handed technical information and advice that will help you succeed in building your VoIP systems.
Switching to VoIP was made possible only with the efforts of quite a few contributors, from editorial supervision to illustrators to technical reviewers. In particular, Mike Loukides, this book's editor, kept me focused like a laser on the things that mattered and steered me away from the things that didn't (such as my original proposal for a detailed description of the telegraph). Interestingsure. But not at all useful. The technical reviewers who participated were outstanding as well. Every one of them a master of gracious criticism, the review team improved this book immensely, fixing my technical faux pas, and offering ideas I hadn't even thought of. The review team included these immensely talented networking pros: Bernard Hayes, Ryan Courtnage, Jason Becker, Rich Adamson, Jim Van Meggelen, Jason Gintert, Jared Smith, and Todd Nathan.
A number of corporate associates afforded me excellent feedback or material support while I wrote the book, including Greg Boehnlein of N2Net Inc., Paul Mitnick of TEC Communications, Inc., Jeff Fanelli of Network General, David Zupan of Visium, Inc., Mark Spencer and Malcolm Davenport of Digium, Inc., Benjamin Kowarsch of Sunrise Telephone Systems of Tokyo, Duane Leinninger of QuickenLoans.com, Dr. Gina Leinninger, John Huang of Grandstream Networks, Brian and Phaedrah Downey of the Linux Fix, Robyn Roberts and Jonathan Varman of Avaya Corp., Kevin Young of Polycom Corp., Kelly Larabee representing Skype Technologies S.A., Len Fernandes respresenting the SOYO Group, Inc., Chris Liu of VoicePulse, Inc., Dave Karpaty of Tiger Direct B2B, Ryan Courtnage and Jason Becker of Coalescent Systems, and Doug Fraim representing Zoom Electronics. Of particular importance was the input of Jason Gintert at Fidelity Access Networks, whose company is on the front line of hosted PBX and data connectivity services. Jason helped me stamp out some " prose bugs ."
My son Jacob, daughter Madelyn, and wife Kelly were all instrumental participants in the process, too. Our family's switch to VoIP occurred at the beginning of the writing process, and observing our domestic use of the technology on a day-to-day basis was interesting in the least.