When does a computer book really become outdated

As one of those who are considered a Grey Beard (Oddly if I let my beard grow in it is red while my hair is grey or white). I am at the point in my career where it is time to clear out your book shelf. Over the 30+ years in this field I have a ton (maybe a few tons) of books of various aspects of the Computer world. In my present job at $WORK I am on a team with young an upcoming admins and I see them getting by with lean documentation and almost non existent reference material. Maybe it is the sign of the times but some of them don’t even have a Kindle, iPad or Nexus where they could hold tons of reference materials. I know it is available on-line but what do you do if you ¬†are in a NOC with the network down and no cell coverage or what if it is a sunny day and there aren’t any clouds.


Funny but that Sunny day just happened to me the other day when I tried to go to Google Docs to pull up a small spreadsheet and got the answer from Google “The server is having issues try later.” Ach! But I digress.

As I try to clean up my desk and trim down so when I finally say “I have had it! Where is my fishing pole, I am out!” I don’t need to back up a “Pack Rat” box and have to lug a ton of crap out the door I find very good reference books that have helped me over the years. But when I look at the copyright date I am shocked to find out they are over 10 years old. In a world of technology that is changing as fast or faster than the weather are they still relevant.

The two I just uncovered (my job doesn’t require me to look at these) is The Ethernet Management Guide 3rd Edition and Maximum Security: A Hacker’s Guide to Protecting Your Internet Site and Network. The first is from 1995 and the latter is from 2000-2001. Are they relevant to today’s environment?

To me I would say yes to a newcomer in this field. Granted there is newer technology but isn’t the only difference that the speed is higher and the manufacturing specs for cable is stricter to enable these higher speeds. It is still Ethernet. As for the Security book I think it is a way to look at how hacks were done at that time. In my world (I work in Education) we deal with young kids that are possibly trying old hacks to see what they can get in to so the book would be relevant.

But what do you do with these books. It is a shame to just toss them aside. My last ditch effort is to try and get them in the hands of our younger admins here to see if they want them. If they don’t I guess I will try to locate a local Used Book store that will put them on their shelf for some future budding Sysadmin that is looking for some “Old Time” knowledge.