I recently built a new home and made it my mission to finally set up a Windows XP home network so that all the computers in my house could share an Internet connection, as well as files such as photos and music. My indispensable resource for doing so was Cisco Press's new illustrated guide Home Networking Simplified, written by Jim Doherty and Neil Anderson.

The book is a four-color, user-friendly reference book targeted at first-time networkers. I really appreciated the book's extremely graphical approach, with scads of screenshots and diagrams for easy understanding.

I'm now the proud "systems administrator" of a home network that was surprisingly easy to set up, thanks to the straightforward, step-by-step instruction of this book. My family can now share the Internet through our own logon profiles, and I can prevent my kids from accessing inappropriate Web content. We can toss entertainment media back and forth, and we've set up private, separate email accounts.

One of the cool aspects of the book is that it provides advice from the Geek Squad, a group of on-call professionals offering scintillating tricks and tips throughout the book. It all adds up to a fun read that happens to be quite educational.

Home Networking Simplified was the shove I needed to embark on the home-networking challenge. All this time, I thought it was too complicated a task to take on, but now I'm amazed I didn't dive into it sooner.