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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Where Wizards Stay Up Late: The Origins Of The Internet
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Authors: Katie Hafner
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Add Hafner & Lyon to Levy and Stolle as chroniclers of IS ag

We all lived through the Beatles, Jefferson Airplane and the Vietnam War. But what was happening in the new agency called Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA)? And how did they ever come up with this thing called the Internet? This is an important book from a historigraphical perspective. It tells he story of the people who conceived of, and started a network of computers talking to each other. Needless to say, it was not without struggle and frustration. But the level of precision which they demanded assured a lasting legacy. Besides describing the beginnings of the Internet, the authors describe decisions that went into molding early services, Telnet, FTP and E-Mail. Hafner & Lyon have guarenteed themselves a place on the shelf along side Steven Levy (Hackers) and Clifford Stolle (The Cuckoo's Egg). Carl Dolmetsch / Newport News, VA carld@visi.net

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: HTML for the World Wide Web with XHTML and CSS: Visual QuickStart Guide, Fifth Edition
Publisher: Peachpit Press
Authors: Elizabeth Castro
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
Excellent at what it does...

When a girl at work asked me what book she should get on HTML I had no hesitation in suggesting this fine book. It takes as its basis the assumption that the reader has basic computer skills, has used and understands the web, and can follow basic instructions. From there it builds chapter by chapter until the user has the skills to design a basic website from hand without needing to rely upon buggy WYSIWYG programs.The only downside is that it is starting to show its age. It talks about, and shows examples in Netscape 4 and IE 4, we are of course up to version 6 of both. Although it is still a valid book, I would suggest any new designer follow it up with some books on CSS/DHTML - such as the Visual Quickstart Guide to both - and also start to investigate XHTML, the next generation. The way designers are building sites is shifting rapidily and hopefully a newer version of this book will take that in to account.Still there is no better book to start with...

Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: The Art of Deception: Controlling the Human Element of Security
Publisher: Wiley
Authors: Kevin D. Mitnick, William L. Simon, Steve Wozniak
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Better Than I Expected

I will not get into the irrelevant debate (pro or con) about Kevin Mitnick's personality. What matters is this: Social engineering, the art of talking yourself into places you don't belong, is one of the largest, and most poorly understood, security exposures that most organizations face.
This book provides excellent insight into how the process works, what elements the social engineer relies on for success, and what you can do to make the social engineer's job more difficult. In order to fight this threat, you have to understand it. The book's approach is to present a long series of "fictional" (sometimes very thinly disguised) episodes, with some commentary and analysis. This structure, essentially a string of stories, can make the book seem rambling and unstructured at times.
Some of the stories may seem unsophisticated, glaringly obvious, common sense. Two things to keep in mind: (1) the reader has the advantage of knowing that a scam is being perpetrated, and (2) obvious or not, this stuff does work! Could it work on your organization? How sure are you?
Management wants to believe that security is a product, sold in a shrink-wrapped box, that you can install and then "be secure". The security industry wants to sell you those products.
The real truth is that security is hard work, it's never done, and it has much more to do with people than with the latest whiz-bang technology. Not a popular truth, but still true.
If you're not familiar with the ins and outs of social engineering, this book will help you figure out what it's all about. If you are already familiar with the concept, you'll still find value here -- something you'd never thought of before, or at least some new stories to help you convince management that this stuff matters. The story that sticks in my mind is the one involving a site using hardware "smart card" access tokens. Very good security, right? Well, the intruder gets in anyway....
I rate this book 4.5 stars, rounding up to 5.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Code Complete
Publisher: Microsoft Press
Authors: Steve McConnell
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Reputation alone should convince you

When I first heard about it, I wondered how a book on software engineering published in 1993, prehistoric by information technology years, could have such good reviews. I mean the bulk of these examples were written in Pascal or Fortran and Visual Basic, my main development tool, wasn't even available yet. Why should a hardcore VB programmer get this book?
I forced myself to get it because I think it's important to read the "classics" and because I was almost curious as to how it could get such great reviews. I haven't regretted it. There is such a diverse presentation of coding techniques and suggestions that it doesn't matter if it's in C, Basic, Pascal or Fortran. While I usually get a programming book that applies to one specific language, program or topic, this book is language independent. Perhaps that's why almost everyone unanimously agrees that this book is still extremely useful.
I would agree that this book would be considered most useful for new programmers, but I guarantee that any programmer or software engineer can learn something new from this book. There are too many good suggestions and principles contained within not to. Pick it up and see what everyone's STILL raving about 8+ years later.