Review: Match Up

Match UpMatch Up by Lee Child
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I had only read a couple of these authors and I am always on the lookout for new books to read so this was a great way of trialing them out. The unique idea of blending characters from different authors together in multiple short stories was intriguing and worked really well. None of the tales felt awkwardly written. Each story was different and engrossing – the only sad thing is that they are short stories and I often wondered what would happen next! Highly recommended – especially if you’ve read at least one of the authors and want to see one of the characters in a completely different scenario.
Netgalley was kind enough to give me an ARC for this book but it would definitely be a book I would get for myself.

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Review: Very Serious Haiku from a Very Serious Dog

Downward Dog: Very Serious Haiku from a Very Serious DogDownward Dog: Very Serious Haiku from a Very Serious Dog by Samm Hodges
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Some funny haiku
make an entertaining read
No photos used though.

A very quick, cute read. As a fan of the tv series, I hope this book isn’t a spoiler of what is to come in the episodes as there is an unexpected and (initially) sad event in the book but keep reading!
I was initially expecting photos to be used in the book but instead there are cute pictures (which is probably just as well considering some of the subject matter!). But this combined with just a few words on the simple pages along with a read that takes less than 5 minutes, does make me wonder what the value for money is in the book.

Thanks to NetGalley for the Advanced Review Copy for this book.

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The Silent Corner – Book Review

The Silent CornerThe Silent Corner by Dean Koontz
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

As usual, a great book from Dean Koontz. However this was pretty different to his usual stuff.
Similar in style to a Jason Bourne movie, this action packed thriller is the first book in a new series about the wife of an ex military person who kills himself in mysterious circumstances and her endeavours to find out why.
This book ended pretty suddenly to my surprise – a kindle version doesn’t have that clue that you are getting to the end like a paper book would – but I was pleased to see the next few chapters continue the story….but why.do.I.have.to.wait………
Needless to say I enjoyed this book and recommend it.

This book took a while to read due a hectic lifestyle but normally this would be read nonstop in a couple of days.

Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC of this book and the opportunity to review and recommend.

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Book Review – The Art of Invisibility by Kevin Mitnik

The Art of Invisibility: The World’s Most Famous Hacker Teaches You How to Be Safe in the Age of Big Brother and Big Data by Kevin Mitnick
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A cautionary tale of just how visible you are on the internet and in todays connected society.

First off I am fully aware of the irony of posting a review of this book online on Goodreads, my blog and Facebook after reading a book on how to be invisible on the internet…..

This was a an entertaining read and although I work in the IT field, there were still some security facts in the book that I was not aware so I learnt a fair amount. There are also some useful references for security tools that I had not been previously aware of (although I’m not a security professional).

Despite the above, the book isn’t too technical to make the non IT person bored but it may well make them paranoid! There is a huge emphasis on becoming invisible in the book through extreme measures such as paying a complete strange to buy some gift cards at a store that doesn’t have cameras in the store OR on the way to the store, then using that to buy bitcoins – twice to ensure they are completely laundered and then using those new coins to purchase various items. Not something that the average person in the street is likely to ever do ……and I must admit I do wonder if someone needs to go to all that trouble, would they be reading this book?

There are useful hints and tips about using secure messaging, email etc that can be used by everyone just to keep their internet usage secure which are not too extreme for the day to day consumer.

But for the ultra paranoid/nefarious, this book will either help you solve some of your issues or make you even more paranoid as it brings up points you hadn’t thought of before….

Thanks to Netgalley for the opportunity to read and review this book.

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Book Review: The Secret Language of Dogs

Image of front cover of The Secret Language of Dogs
Front cover of book

I grew up in a non dog (or even pet) owning household but loved dogs that came into my life through various means and our 110lb Doberman/Lab mix was so awesome. He was very easy to understand – feed me, pet me, “Hey – I was sleeping there” and “Welcome home Dad – here’s your giraffe” were all phrases that were very obvious to us.   Our new dog, Lola, or “Princess Fluffy Pants”, is not so clear as to what she wants so I hoped that this book would give me some insight into her brain.

At (allegedly) 2 years old, she is still very much a puppy and as a rescue dog has some very strange reactions to us.  Most of this is due to her separation anxiety – when we come home, she runs around the house like a lunatic for several minutes, she barks at people who come into the house and is very protective but when we are out and about she has no problems with strangers.

Getting the opportunity to read and review the Secret Language of Dogs was great timing.
The book is full of really cute pictures of dogs so it feels like you are reading a Pinterest or Instragram feed with a small bit of dog behavioural knowledge thrown in. There was a fair amount of information as to why the dogs do the strangest things, but not a lot of guidance on how to counteract that kind of behaviour. I would imagine that most people (including me) who read this book are looking for advice on how to change the dogs reactions to certain things – coming home, the postman or why does she still continue to pee in that corner after I’ve just taken her outside?
Unfortunately the book seems to be pretty light on actionable tips and I am still wondering why she is doing that and how to overcome those strange reactions. Our biggest challenge with Lola is her separation anxiety and the book didn’t really give many practical tips on dealing with this. We know we should try to slowly increase the time we spend apart from her, but as we have full time jobs it’s not like we can go from 1 hour apart to 2, to 3 to 4 etc. Strangely enough she is ok a lot of the time, but occasionally lapses into bouts of severe anxiety which results in “accidents” in the house

All in all, a quick, beautiful read and good for leaving out on the coffee table or in a veterinary waiting room, but more detailed information needs to be provided to make the book really useful.

*I received a complimentary copy of The Secret Language of Dogs from Blogging For Books for my honest review.

Lola our chabrador lying on a very orange couch
How can you resist this cute face?

Book Review: The Tunnels – Escapes under Berlin Wall.

When I was a kid, I enjoyed the exciting tales of tunnels and escapes from prisons such as Colditz and as a young kid, that was basically all they were – thrilling tales of adventures and escapes. So naturally, a book about the Berlin Wall and the escapes (mainly) underneath it was going to be intriguing reading. I can clearly remember the night that it was announced that the wall was coming down and free movement was now available so although the ending of the book was not a surprise, it was still going to be an interesting read.

The Tunnels by Greg Mitchell front cover Greg Mitchell writes a very detailed and exciting book that gives details on several escape methods used to leave East Germany, not just tunnels although they are the primary focus. The depths that the diggers went to,their heroism and the risks that the escapees took deserves a wider audience and this book provides a very detailed account of what happened.

Apparently both NBC and CBS were trying to capture exclusive footage of tunnel escapes for their network and some of the book details the political twists and turns as the producers and networks attempt to get the films released despite the protestation of various governments who feared the political fallout and risks during this cold-war era. It was pretty scary to see just how close the US was to war with Russia in the cold-war era and how big of an impact the Berlin escapes were having.

The pictures included in the middle of the book give an additional indication of what happened under the streets of Berlin. I had not heard details of the escapes or seen pictures of the Berlin Wall so this book also provided a detailed history lesson from this era.

I thoroughly enjoyed the book and got a new appreciation for what happened back during those years and an appreciation for the freedom of movement that we currently enjoy. Highly recommended.

As a follow up to the book, I will be watching the NBC video, East Germans escape through tunnel that will provide an extra insight into the situation. I would recommend that you read the book before watching the film though.

A special thanks to Blogging for Books for the review copy of this book.

Zero Downtime Migration seminar in Cincinnati tomorrow

I’m currently reading The Network Migration Workbook: Zero Downtime Migration Strategies for Windows Networks as can be seen on my Goodreads shelf. So far it’s been very useful and there have already been lots of tips that would save our company time (and therefore) money in doing migrations. Even if we didn’t go down this particular route for migrations, the tips applied would be very beneficial for other types of migrations, especially when it comes to planning and quoting for the migration itself. The only hard bit is to get the customer to agree to the restrictions in the plan – it is vital to quote for *only* the migration – everything else results in another helpdesk ticket, project or work order.

I’ve been reading the book for a couple of hours straight through – I’ve resisted the lure of jumping to the checklists – and still have some way to go, which is why I’ve not posted a review of the book yet – but so far I’m definitely recommending it – but note that some significant time needs to be invested for each person in the migration project from the sales person, to the project manager to the team lead down to the tech doing the work. In some companies this could be one person – in our company it’s probably three people.

Anyway, the point of this blog post was to mention that the author is going to be at An Introduction to Zero Downtime Migrations – and More in Cincinnati tomorrow (Saturday) for an all day training event which I am attending. It was worth the cheap admission to get an in person overview of the book and also some tips and previews of the other books he has written – I’m particularly intrigued by the Network Documentation book as this is something that is typically hard/time consuming to do yet so valuable when troubleshooting customer networks (and is NEVER provided by the client).  If you’re going to this training day, be sure to say Hi.

If you want to browse Karl’s store then you can click on my affiliate link or click through directly to the books from the links above (not affiliate linked). Currently the cheapest place to buy the book is either used from Amazon or new from the Good Little Books store. It did amuse me to see that someone has the Zero Downtime book listed for $1165 and a used version for $564 which is crazy when the book brand new is currently $250 (will be $300)

GoodReads.com

my Goodreads shelves Goodreads.com looks like a good tracking site of what books have been read or you wish to read. You can create multiple shelves that books can be stored on, for example Sci-Fi, Reading and Read for a Terry Pratchett book. It looks books up pretty well by author or title but it had a couple of issues trying to match an ISBN number that I got from one of my books, but typing the title in worked fine (probably a different edition). It has a widget plugin for wordpress and an image or flash plugin for other blogging sites and a facebook application too. I’m using the image plugin to the left here as flash is annoying – especially if you use flashblock like me. By filling in more details about your location it will show you information about other groups in your area and also links to upcoming for book events – there is one author appearing in downtown Columbus soon.
There is an option to import books using a text file using ISBN numbers – I’m not sure how well that would integrate with a cuecat but I would imagine that people with a cuecat have already scanned their books into a database already.
Naturally RSS feeds abound for various types of book categories such as the books I am reading, that are on my shelves, authors etc.
If you give it a try, my username is Absoblogginlutely.

Electronic Discovery for Dummies review

I just finished the free Electronic Discovery for Dummies booklet that Mike McBride blogged about. It didn’t take long to read as it was 42 pages but it was quite interesting. Like Mike’s review I found the book easy to read and a good start for IT Managers or someone who may need to talk to a CEO to explain implications of IT practises. In my case it will be useful to explain the implications of mail (and data) archiving policies. Several questions have arisen lately about archiving and deleting mail to reduce the load on the mail servers. Some of the reasons for doing this is cost, but then recovering all the data from all of the backup tapes could prove far more costly. However, having a short retention time for backups seems to be acceptable as long as the company has a strict policy for this and that it is adhered to.
I’m not sure what happens or if it is possible to have different retention schemes for different users (or management levels) but I do know that whatever solution is used, the ability to stop deleting things according to the policy must be possible in the case of an ediscovery request.
I passed the book along to one of our sales people as it is a good, quick primer and should really be required minimum reading for any tech dealing with backups, restoration and deletion of software.

Published in a book

Ages ago I wrote a feature on how to backup a cpanel account. Just recently one of my clients purchased a dedicated server that uses cpanel as the website hosting manager. I purchased cpanelAric’s cpanel userguide and tutorial book to assist with learning some of the more obscure features and functions and as I was reading through the book I got to page 93 – and my site is quoted as a way to backup the system – how cool is that!
Naturally I now have to go back and make sure that the script still works and make any changes necessary.