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Category: General

Cracking Codes with Python

Cracking Codes with Python: An Introduction to Building and Breaking Ciphers has two goals. The book aims to teach the novice how to program in Python while also providing a good foundation in ciphers, encryption, and cryptography. There is nothing in the book that will help the reader replace the excellent open source implementations currently available. That is not the goal. Rather, the reader has a chance to learn the foundations underlying classic and modern attempts to secure communication between parties. The classics are all here, from simple reverse cipher and transposition all the way through to one-time pad ciphers and…

I wrote this in 1985

I am a technical writer. That is what I do for my day job. It is what I sometimes do for fun. Until recently, I did not realize that I have been doing this in some way since 1985. This was a school project I created when I was a fifteen-year-old high school freshman and found in a box in my mom’s house during a recent visit. It was originally accompanied by a balsa wood and paper scale aircraft model, which I built and which was created half covered and half exposed to show the airplane’s frame. This is not…

Article on Opensource.com

An article I wrote has just been posted on Opensource.com: How the Grateful Dead were a precursor to Creative Commons licensing.

Attacking Network Protocols

I am always trying to expand the boundaries of my knowledge. While I have a basic understanding of networking and a high-level understanding of security issues, I have never studied or read up on the specifics of packet sniffing or other network traffic security topics. This book changed that. Attacking Network Protocols: A Hacker’s Guide to Capture, Analysis, and Exploitation takes a network attacker’s perspective while probing topics related to data and system vulnerability over a network. The author, James Forshaw, takes an approach similar to the perspective taken by penetration testers (pen testers), the so-called white hat security people who…

Learn Java the Easy Way

This is an enjoyable introduction to programming in Java by an author I have enjoyed in the past. Learn Java the Easy Way: A Hands-On Introduction to Programming was written by Dr. Bryson Payne. I previously reviewed his book Teach Your Kids to Code, which is Python-based. Learn Java the Easy Way covers all the topics one would expect, from development IDEs (it focuses heavily on Eclipse and Android Studio, which are both reasonable, solid choices) to debugging. In between, the reader receives clear explanations of how to perform calculations, manipulate text strings, use conditions and loops, create functions, along with…

A Practical Guide to Linux Commands, Editors, and Shell Programming, Fourth Edition

I was the sole editor and contributor of new content for A Practical Guide to Linux Commands, Editors, and Shell Programming, Fourth Edition. I want to note that I feel I am standing on the shoulder of a giant as the previous author, Mark Sobell, has been incredibly helpful in the hand off of the book. Mark is retiring and leaving behind a great foundation for me.

Then She was Born

Eleven Nobel Peace Prize laureates. The Dalai Lama. Pope Francis. These are just some of many who support an initiative to #HelpAfricanAlbinos. In many countries, people with albinism are discriminated against, harassed, and persecuted. There is too little understanding and too much false information. Then She was Born is an attempt to spread awareness of the problem using a fictional account of a girl, Adimu, who is born in a village. We see her struggle for survival against powerful superstition and tradition. Using information taken from the accounts of many African albinos, the story is gripping, moving, and also a call…

Manga Art

Illustrators generally get paid to work on projects. This means taking someone else’s vision, story, or text and bringing it to life in pictures. Doing so requires special talent as the illustrator must listen to and absorb someone else’s ideas before creating their accompanying artwork. Mark Crilley is a talented and experienced illustrator who got the chance to find out what would happen if he pitched a book that contained illustrations that didn’t follow a specific theme, a book about illustrations without being a how-to book, a book about the art. We all benefit because Watson-Guptill Publications accepted that proposal.…

Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery

I enjoy graphic adaptations of classic novels and short stories. Admittedly, sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t. This is an instance of the adaptation working, very well. Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery”: The authorized Graphic Adaptation is a lovely and perfectly horrifying adaptation of the 1948 short story. The book was scripted and illustrated by Jackson’s grandson, Miles Hyman. Hyman does an excellent job of staying true to the original feel of the story with haunting, deep images that evoke genuine emotion. The words on each page are sparse, letting the artwork communicate much of the story. This is a wonderful…

Fewer Reviews from Me

Amazon has banned incentivized reviews, meaning it is now prohibited to post a review of a product that you received for free or that you received payment for writing. I’ve seen this coming and I agree with it in principle. From a practical standpoint, it won’t affect me greatly as my review queue is down to only one book and I’ve not been requesting nor receiving books to review for a while. I will continue to review stuff I buy, both here and on Amazon, when I find something really exciting. I may still review free books on this blog,…