Multimedia & Communications Technology

Article excerpt

* Heath, Steve (1996). Multimedia & Communications Technology. Oxford, U.K.: Focal Press, 314 pp. Paperback, $47.95.

In his preface, Heath says: "The material in this book is derived from my participation within the Motorola-BT [British Telecom] joint development of the Qorus video conference system." To be honest, the book reads like lightly edited notes from this project.

This British publication appears "compressed." Heath overuses abbreviationscompressed words. He mentions ADPCM, BAS, CCIR, DCT, FIFO, GSM, H.221, ISDN, JPEG, MCIDRV, NDIS, OCE, PABX, QPSK, RLE, SCART, TAPI, VRAM, and more. Yet, many are not defined by name or function. For example, Heath discusses "RLL and Huffman encoding" for digital audio. However, "Huffman encoding" is not explained and "RLL" is neither explained nor spelled out.

Here and there, Heath mentions how discrete technologies are converging to accommodate multimedia applications. But this book focuses on technical incompatibilities and resolving them.

The design of the book, particularly the figures and tables, presents another challenge to the reader. In many cases, the text makes no reference to tables. Rows and columns are labeled ambiguously, when labeled at all. In short, only a technology expert would understand them.

There's a full-page table titled "Quantisation error data for different bit rates." After deliberate examination of the table to discover, for example, that an analog value of 0.608761429 has an error of 0. …