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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Strictly for non-geeks!
I have been using the internet now for the past decade. Rarely a day passes without my spending time on it. I bank on it, shop on it, research on it, download all sorts of stuff from it, watch films on it, catch TV shows on it, etc., etc. And an increasing number of people each year make use of it for an increasing number of personal reasons yet, if they are anything...
Published on 22 May 2012 by G. Wylie

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A tangled web
Oh, what a tangled worldwide web Blum weaves. And he's not even practising to deceive. He's merely spinning out the story of all the travelling and interviewing he did for this book. Unfortunately, information on what he actually found out from the network engineers at the Internet exchanges he visited is thin on the ground (and underground and undersea and in the...
Published on 17 Sep 2012 by Sophie Newton


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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Strictly for non-geeks!, 22 May 2012
By 
G. Wylie "george11171" (Scottish Highlands) - See all my reviews
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I have been using the internet now for the past decade. Rarely a day passes without my spending time on it. I bank on it, shop on it, research on it, download all sorts of stuff from it, watch films on it, catch TV shows on it, etc., etc. And an increasing number of people each year make use of it for an increasing number of personal reasons yet, if they are anything like myself, they do not have a clue as to how it really works.

After managing to get to grips with the basics of using it, I did try to learn something of its nature. Apart from finding out that it seemed to have been created for the purpose of providing some for of basic communication in the event of a nuclear war, I found most of the information available a bit beyond me. Blum's book has been a godsend! Using straighforward language, it has proved most helpful in broadening my understanding of the mechanics of the World Wide Web. It has helped explain how I can, almost seamlessly, shop on-line in the Far East, the USA, Australia, Canada and most parts of Europe and have my shopping delivered sometimes faster than I can be achieved in the UK.

If, like me, you would like to dip a little bit deeper into the fascinating mysteries of the internet I would highly recommend 'Tubes'.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Everything You Wanted To Know About The INTERNET But Didn't Know To Ask!, 31 Oct 2012
I was strolling through my local independent bookstore when I came across this title. I actually had to read the sub-title ("A Journey To The Center Of The Internet") because, at first I said to myself, "Tubes...who would write a book about Tubes"? Then the proverbial light came on. I was actually looking for a book with a different take on the Internet, a legal one in my case. So, I bought it and settled in at home with a hopeful mindset. I wasn't disappointed.

The book takes you on a brief history of the beginnings on the "physical" Internet, all the while weaving in a number of interesting anecdotes. From Al Gore and the "Information Superhighway" right through the "Cloud", this book separates the "real" Internet from the "pretenders". The author, Andrew Blum, writes about Architecture, infrastructure and technology for many publications, including the New Yorker, The New York Times, Slate and Popular Science. He is also a correspondent for Wired and a contributing editor to Metropolis. As an avid reader of Wired, if you enjoy the magazine, you'll enjoy this book. Without giving away too much, I was immediately amused by something the author and I had in common. SQUIRRELS had chewed through our 'cable' connections to the Internet. In my case it merely initiated a repair call to Comcast. In Mr. Blum's case, it was thought-provoking enough that it prompted him to write a book!

Tubes is a quick read and an interesting blend of technology with a sprinkling of travelogue. You'll go on a brief tour around the globe to many of the Internet's largest data centers, a view not generally accessible to mere mortals. All-in-all it is well worth the time. I guarantee you'll never look at the Internet the same way again.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Geeks delight !!, 8 Dec 2012
By 
Machinehead (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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Yes, I admit it, I am a total geek and this sort of thing delights me ! It is a thorough exploration of how the internet developed and it's infrastructure. If like me the new reader had no real awareness of just how the internet exists this will be a revelation. I had a notion of how it worked but Tubes showed me otherwise ! I'm now actually quite thrilled by thinking of how all my web activity is conveyed and routed around the globe. Your view of the internet will be forever changed and you will truly appreciate the magnitude of it's significance after reading Tubes.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A tangled web, 17 Sep 2012
Oh, what a tangled worldwide web Blum weaves. And he's not even practising to deceive. He's merely spinning out the story of all the travelling and interviewing he did for this book. Unfortunately, information on what he actually found out from the network engineers at the Internet exchanges he visited is thin on the ground (and underground and undersea and in the ceiling).

Here is a book about the physical connections and the geography of the Internet with no diagrams, no maps, and no photos. Anyone who is going to try to make this subject comprehensible using only words had better use very concrete language. But Blum often uses abstract language. The net result is that I couldn't visualise what he was talking about and got bored. There are occasional nuggets of information, but I had to resort to skimming whole sections and only slowing down when my nugget detector was set off. However, if you want to know what colour shirts the network engineers wear and what they have for lunch, this is the place to come.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Unimpressive, 14 Nov 2012
By 
Amazon Customer "MjD" (Edinburgh, Scotland. { Kobe, Japan. Saipan. Alabama.}) - See all my reviews
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I've been slogging through this book for a while and it's been a slog. The premise was promising - to discover how the internet really works & is hooked together. However, overall it's all rather dull and not particularly enlightening. Andrew Blum is a proficient writer, it just this book wasn't as interesting as it looked from the premise.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Tubes: down the tubes, 24 Sep 2012
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When I purchased the book I mistakenly thought that it was popular science, written with technical detail and explanation of the different aspects of the internet. Disappointingly it is merely a diary of the author's visit to a few different locations around the world in researching the book. I'm not the slightest bit interested in descriptions of the people or locations he meets in his travels. I was hoping for a good popular science book. This isn't.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Behind The Scenes At The Black Box, 9 July 2012
By 
D. Brothwood (Cheshire) - See all my reviews
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Tubes is an interesting and not too geeky read if you are curious to know a little bit more about the infrastructure behind the internet, the network, the servers, the fibres, the routers, the undersea cables and the data centres.

Andrew Blum does quite a good job attempting to explain what happens behind the scenes at the internet, he takes the reader on a journey describing various key internet locations across the world and describes the equipment housed within them and also introduces some of the people working in those locations.

Although the book does give a better idea how everything physically fits together it doesn't really explain how all that data enters the tubes and gets to where its meant to go without getting mixed up with everyone else's data.

The problem for me was I had already seen the internet episode of the television series The IT Crowd and therefore already knew all about the internet, about how it weighs nothing and that it is a small black box with a single red LED flashing on its top.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Intangible made flesh, 30 May 2012
By 
Mr. M. A. Reed (Argleton, GB) - See all my reviews
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As the old adage went, some people just don't know what the Internet is - "A series of Tubes", indeed, Although, without thinking about it, the Internet is just there. It has transformed our world in terms of communication, placing the a vast amount of information ; mostly harmless, of course - at our fingertips. In fact, the major giants of the Internet, Amazon,m Google, and so forth, are starting to change the way we think. Who needs to remember how to do something technical : JGI, Just Google It, and it is there for you. But increasingly, and unthinkingly, the Internet is a series of tubes : a form of information plumbing where individual ideas and mass communication flows like water.

In this fascinating tale, Andrew Blum takes the Internet for what it is, and unravels it - from the blinking box in your kitchen to the vast server farms in industrial estates in anonymous American towns that process 10,000 pictures a second. Chew that one over. Half a million naked women is not even one minute, in one cable. The fact is, even though the Internet appears on your screen as some form of magic, it is a physical, improvised structure that connects Chicago to Cardiff, Inverness to Idaho to India, Brisbane to Birmingham to Bali. When Blum takes us to the remote, and unsung terminus points on the coast where the huge offshore cables that sit thousands of feet at the ocean floor, quietly feeding us all the final episodes of some mega soap, the idle chitchat of the internet takes a tangible quality. All this information, and this review itself, exists under your feet right now, and like plumbing, water, gas cables, and the electricity conduit, are now largely invisible and unconsidered around us, molecules of air and water flowing around us. Like radio waves. This is the concept Blum successfully realises, to make the Internet a real, tangible thing and not even an abstract concept that sits nebulously in the back of our minds. If the internet is something you use, this will change how you see it forever.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The 'nuts and bolts'of the internet, 28 May 2012
By 
Brian R. Martin (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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Most individual users of the internet interact with it via search engines and social media websites, i.e. what is usually referred to as the `world-wide web'. Indeed many (erroneously) use the two descriptions synonymously, and so some readers may be surprised that the phrase `world-wide web' does not appear in the index, or indeed anywhere in the book. This is because the book is only about the `nuts and bolts' of the internet, or more accurately the wires and electronic devices, that enable information to be sent efficiently between sender and receiver.

It is a fascinating story that starts in 1969 with the installation of a device that enabled communications to be made between to two academic campuses in California. From that small, but groundbreaking, experiment has grown the present situation where the globe is spanned by vast numbers of networks of optical fibre cables, including many under the seas and oceans, so that just about all countries in the world are connected. Blum examines the history of this development, which is sometimes surprisingly determined by the routes of earlier copper telegraphic cables. He watches cable layers at work using existing ducts under the streets of Manhattan, witnesses the dragging ashore of an undersea cable in Portugal, and visits several data exchange buildings, sometimes located in fairly unexpected places, where networks interact. Unfortunately, the working interiors of these building are, for good reasons, often similar, a mass of cables and electronic boxes, and so there is inevitably quite a lot of repetition. The author gives a good general overview of how things have evolved, but is less successful at explaining how the equipment, particularly the ubiquitous routers actually do their vital job. Indeed there is very little attempt to do so.

The exchange centres `merely' redirect data, but the actual data are stored in data centres, vast memory banks of information, often located in cold places and where electricity costs are low, reflecting the fact that their major cost is power to cool energy-hungry electronics. Towards the end of the book, Blum tries to visit some data centres, but is firmly rebuffed by Google, although Facebook is far more open, so this part of the book is less satisfactory than the earlier chapters.

Overall, I found the book a little disappointing. While what it describes is well done, I would have preferred it to be broader in its scope. Thus, the material on data exchanges could be reduced by removing repetitions; the material on the data centres expanded; and something included on the foundation of the worldwide web by Berners-Lee and others.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Viewing the physical internet, 28 July 2012
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An interesting book and on a topic not much reported. It does provide some information on how the superhighway appears in physical form although precious little detail on what actually happens in the rows of cabinets it often describes. Clearly the author doesn't feel equal to the task of doing more than providing a description of his travel and viewing of a few important internet sites.
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Tubes: Behind the Scenes at the Internet
Tubes: Behind the Scenes at the Internet by Andrew Blum (Paperback - 7 Mar 2013)
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