Book Review — EFFICIENT WAYS TO USE THE INTERNET SECURELY: Protect Your Digital Assets, Privacy and Online Transactions

EFFICIENT WAYS TO USE THE INTERNET SECURELY: Protect Your Digital Assets, Privacy and Online Transactions (Digital Concerns Book 2) by [Millery, Mark]

Computer security is an evolving science.  It has come a long way from merely not sharing floppy disks with free games, however,  those wishing to gain access to your computer use the same concept of free stuff. From “click bait” mixed into news stories to pop up ads, the internet is filled with traps and pitfalls.   Millery guides the reader to the safe use of the internet.

The book design is compartmentalized into different sections that can stand alone almost like individual lessons.  This also presents the repeating of critical points from other sections when reading from beginning to end.  The key points repetition is also useful in instilling them in the reader’s online habits.  Even the most careful internet user can experience malicious intrusions.  A few years ago I purchased a new computer, and within days I found I could not change the default search engine from SafeSearch.  While this might just seem like an annoyance all the information I typed into the browser was recorded and furthermore, any of my searches would bring up ads and present sites that were not the ones I was looking for. It was influencing or directing my browsing.

Most readers will also remember the Nigerian Prince emails promising to send you a fortune if you give your banking information.  Other scams like emails from “PayPal” asked to confirm your login and password to an email address ending in gmail.com or yahoo.com. Internet scams and identity theft are growing more complex and easier to fall for as we rush through our daily lives.  Millery gives the reader smart and up to date advice on keeping safe online.  From technical protection to just hints on being smarter and more vigilant online one can remain safe when ordering products (releasing personal and credit card information) or just surfing the net.  We tend to forget just how much we depend on the internet in our daily lives from email, directions, messengers, social media, and online payments.  Many of us live constantly connected to the internet in one way or another with our phones, tablets, and PCs, and we can grow complacent concerning security.  Millery presents an easy to understand guide to keeping one and one’s information safe without becoming an advertisement for any one security product.

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Updated Book Review — Che: A Graphic Biography

Che, thug or hero? Many in the West are quick to say, thug. Che was a true believer in liberating the underclass and freeing the countries from economic domination. He was critical of the Soviet’s system of privilege and critical of those in post-revolutionary Cuba. As far as being a thug he was quite tame compared to the US supported dictators Somoza, Duvalier, Trujillo, and later Pinochet and Duarte. Support for Somoza loyalists brought more violence in Nicaragua but was supported by the US as of being of the same blood of our founding fathers –the Contras. The United States has a long history of promoting dictatorships instead of democracy.

Che watched the overthrow of the legally and freely elected government of Arbenz in Guatemala. The US supported the overthrow and even participated in it. What good is a northern neighbor who speaks of democracy, but overthrows it at the same time? He had good reason not to trust the US.

Great book, balanced, and enlightening.

Addendum to the Graphic Biography:  

I have just received the graphic biography edition of this book illustrated Jose Hernandez from Penguin-Random House.  As much enthusiasm I had for the original text biography,  I found it difficult to imagine that an illustrated biography would improve on the original, but it has.  The illustrations add even deeper feeling to Anderson’s book. Che is seen as a person and not just a symbol or mythical historical being.  He was a man who saw a better world, but many in the West saw him as the enemy. This is quite possibly the best use of the “graphic novel” concept as an educational tool.

Revolution, however, possessed Che.  He lived and breathed it.  He worked untiringly to bring a sense of justice to the oppressed.  He differed from many in that he was not power hungry.  Brutality came from seeing those who lost their commitment or in frustration at those just hoping someone else would free them.  He was driven and expected those with him to be equally driven. For those who expect a “graphic novel” style biography to lose it depth and detail, they will be sorely disappointed.  This edition is a welcomed addition and will perhaps bring more people into the discussion on the real Che and his role in history and not just the myths around him.  He was much more than a thug or a face on a t-shirt; he was a force for change and also very much so human.

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Book Review — The Warramunga’s Aftermath of War

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Greg Kater’s second book Warramunga in the series does not disappoint. For those seeking a realistic 1940s Action- Adventure novel, this is it. The story reads like a period movie filled with thrills and characters the reader will want to know. Jamie and Jacko are home from the war and working for the Australian Commonwealth Investigative Service. The war’s end, however, does not mean peace and quiet for those who have survived. There are still war crimes to prosecute, and as Jamie and Jacko discover there, others are willing to take advantage of the chaos that war has brought. Jamie, Jacko and their new allies discover an international child kidnapping/pedophile ring and seek to put a stop to it. Offsetting this appalling crime, Kater manages to capture the setting of and culture of the Philippines in an exceptional way. Very well written to the point that one would think Kater was a first-hand witness to the events.

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Book Review — The World’s Best Whiskies

Whisky is a simple drink made of grain, yeast, and water, and is effectively distilled beer.

The World’s Best Whiskies does not disappoint. The richly illustrated volume of everything whiskey covers the history of the drink and the various grains that give each brand and region its own taste. The myth that whiskey must be drunk neat is dismissed; a little water opens it up and there are recipes for cocktails. Drinks as simple as a proper “Old Fashioned” to the complex “In The Shadows” are covered. All of this is a prelude to the heart of the book — 750 different whiskeys from around the world. Most readers will be familiar with the American and Canadian large-scale distilleries as well as a few from Scotland and Ireland. But most don’t know Japan is a growing whiskey market with its own distilleries and quality products. Taiwan and India have recently made their mark on the whiskey world too. Several distilleries are given special coverage with separate articles. Whiskey’s growing popularity is well documented, illustrated, and reviewed in this connoisseur’s tome.  Highly recommended to the whiskey beginner and experienced aficionado.

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Book Review — The Guilt We Carry

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The Guilt We Carry is a novel centering on all American girl Alice O’Farrell. Alice is the star of her swim team and driven to succeed. She seeks and is given responsibility at home. At fifteen her parents allow her to babysit her brother. It goes well, and she watches him again, however, in an almost impossible chain of events, her brother dies under her watch. Alice is unable to face her parents and shortly afterward runs away. She is drawn into a world where she lives day to day at the bottom rungs of society. She avoids drugs and prostitution but turns to alcohol and bartending in strip clubs. At fifteen, Alice avoids most of the snags that people hiding fall victim to. She has no drivers license or credit cards and can become virtually invisible to society.

Almost six years later, Alice is betrayed by her latest employer and is on the run again. Unfortunately, there is a pile of bodies left behind, and Alice is now hunted by drug dealers with a fresh trail. Her escape will create a reluctant friendship and rekindle an old one. She will learn about guilt and guilt others carry. The darker elements of the story seem very deep, but there is a glimmer of hope and freedom. Alice must want it and find her way past the quick fixes that treat the symptoms rather than address the cure.

The characters are well developed and provide a variety of personas. Several carry their own type of guilt as most people do. The settings vary from urban Harrisburg to rural North Carolina and bring with its own set of challenges and prejudices. There are no easy answers and redemption takes extreme effort.  Although the story is dark at many times, the reader is spared from gratuitous violence, but not immune from the reality of the situation.  A well written and detailed novel about overcoming one’s past and present.

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Book Review — Three Fifths

A recovering alcoholic, Johnny, saves a homeless alcoholic, Nicholas, from a beating and arrest over a shoplifting incident in a grocery store. Seeing more in the man than merely a drifter, John takes him in and listens to his story. What happens next is an examination of self, others, and real friendship. The title itself is not only a list of items shoplifted but also recalls a more historical sense of bondage. The novella reads almost like a flashback confession on a police drama. The author includes more details that would usually appear in a simple recollection and manages to describe a crime that was committed out of compassion. The story carries several morals and complexities that may take more than a simple reading to find.

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Book Review — The Ploughmen

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A young deputy’s and an old killer’s story run in parallel in this Montana set modern western. The deputy, Valentine Millimaki, is committed to his job and searching for missing people in the wilderness. He and his German Shepard have been on a rather depressing streak with most of the searches ending up in recovery rather than rescue. His relationship with his wife is also in a downward spiral. He is befriended by a recently arrested multiple killer, John Gload and is tasked with escorting him to trial and night shifts at the jail babysitting the prisoners. The two spend many nights talking through the prison bars and both struggle with insomnia. The two are polar opposites — good and very evil, yet they form an awkward relationship. Chapters drift back and forth from the past to the present, and more detail is presented on each character. What would seem to be a very dark novel in a harsh climate is redeemed by the author’s language. Zupan uses his words to bring light on an otherwise dark story. Even Gload, who would be dismissed as unworthy of any consideration as a human being may not be likable, but he becomes understandable. An excellent book where noir meets literature.

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