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How Free Will Works
How Free Will Works
by Dovid Lieberman
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.99
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent self-help guide, November 23, 2015
This review is from: How Free Will Works (Hardcover)
Most physicists are more than happy to speak about time, but will avoid at all costs defining just what time is. Anyone who thinks they can define what time truly is, likely doesn’t know what it means. In How Free Will Works, The Blueprints to Take Charge of Your Life, Health, and Happiness, author Dr. Dovid Lieberman avoids for the most part one of the thorniest questions that has vexed philosophers for millennia, does free will exist?

Lieberman avoids the existential and philosophical questions around free will, and leaves it as a given that it does; even though many medieval Jewish philosophers struggled with the question. He does though loosely define what it is, and describes free will as the moral essence of a choice. With that, it’s important to note that this is a self-help book, not a philosophical work.

The author is a psychologist and deals with the topic of free will more in the realm of achieving ones true goals, without getting into the deeper philosophical questions and the book reads more like a Tony Robbins title.

Lieberman makes the point early in the book that emotional instability is fundamentally a lack of clarify, the degree to which the ego infects a person. The rest of the book is an attempt to gain that clarity by utilizing a person’s inner autonomy to rise above the ego and achieve what it is in life they truly want.

The book quotes liberally from traditional Jewish sources in addition to modern science. Much of the book is spent showing how happiness and other goals in life are in our hands. To which Lieberman will often show how the words of the Jewish sages are in consonance with modern scientific and psychological findings.

One example the book provides is that current findings show what the Jewish sages knew long ago, that circumstances do not relate to life satisfaction. Rather subjective feelings do; and subjective feelings are a direct reflection of our choices, and not conditions.

Much of the book is built around a quote Lieberman uses from Robert Louis Stevenson that “everybody, sooner or later, sits down to a banquet of consequences.” The key point: use your free will to control those consequences.

Anxiety plays a major role in the book and Lieberman provides many examples of how to use ones choice of happiness to rise above the anxiety. This is crucial as those with anxiety and low self-esteem often find their bad choices in life fosters a download spiral.

Lieberman is a big fan of general science and quantum physics, and quotes from quantum physicists and research extensively. The book uses quantum mechanics as a launching point for the topics of multiple realities. Only when the person uses their free choice; or in the language of quantum mechanics, observes their state, can the multiple realities fuse into an outcome.

Occasionally Lieberman gets his facts around science wrong though. In chapter 21, he writes that a valid random number generator is impossible to create. The reality is that services such as RANDOM.ORG offers true random numbers; creating them via the randomness which comes from atmospheric noise.

In chapter 36, the author notes that noted mathematician Georg Cantor died in a mental institution. Cantor worked on infinity of infinities and on the notion of infinities, a topic to which the Talmud notes is beyond the human realm. Lieberman tries to connect Cantor’s mental issues with that and the fact that he died in a mental institution. Albeit the fact that Cantor had long suffered from depression, which was likely manifestations of a bipolar disorder; long before he started his work on infinite sets.

With that, Lieberman has written an enjoyable book that will be a value to anyone looking to improve their lot. The book covers a number of core areas on the topics of personal choice and their interaction with divine providence. Lieberman deals with issues such as mazal (luck), self-esteem, destiny, prayer, anxiety, faith and trust, will power, and much more.

Those who suffer from serious mental issues would do better to see a professional such as Dr. Lieberman. But for those looking to increase their lot in life, gain a great degree of happiness and self-fulfillment, How Free Will Works, The Blueprints to Take Charge of Your Life, Health, and Happiness is a good book in which to assist in that journey.

Gersonides: Judaism within the Limits of Reason (Littman Library of Jewish Civilization)
Gersonides: Judaism within the Limits of Reason (Littman Library of Jewish Civilization)
by Seymour Feldman
Edition: Paperback
Price: $27.95
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive look at one of the most formidable Jewish philosophers, November 6, 2015
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The last decade has seen a significant number of books written with the goal of attempting to reconcile contemporary science and the Torah. This is far from a new phenomenon and it in fact goes back to medieval times. Perhaps its greatest proponent was Gersonides (1288-1344), also known as Ralbag (Rabbi Levi ben Gershon).

In Gersonides: Judaism within the Limits of Reason (Littman 978-1906764784), author Seymour Feldman (former professor of philosophy at Rutgers University) has written an enticing overview of the life and thought of one of the greatest and most daring; if not most controversial medieval Jewish philosophers. Like his predecessor Maimonides, Gersonides attempted to reconcile the philosophy of Aristotle with traditional Jewish thought.

In truth, I think it’s unfair to use the term controversial, as often is done when referring to the views of Gersonides, as the term carries with it negative connotations. While his philosophical views may be in the minority, and not universally accepted; as one of the greatest philosophers of his time, his views must be considered.

But unlike Maimonides, Gersonides wrote very few letters and as such, details of his life are scant. Besides a very brief bibliographical overview, Feldman spends all his efforts understanding the man and his worldview.

Feldman writes that unlike many modern scientists or philosophers who either scorn religion or compartmentalize it; Gersonides did not see any fundamental discrepancy between the pursuit of truth via reason, and its attainment through divine revelation. Understanding that there has to be but one divine truth, Gersonides felt it was an imperative that reason and divine revelation must be able to be harmonized.

Reason was something Gersonides took quite seriously. In fact, he saw reason and logic as a divine gift. With that, he felt it was essential that God had to be, and must be understood within the limits of reason.

Tertullian's notion that credo quia absurdum (I believe because it is absurd) would be an anathema to Gersonides. As a polymath in addition to being an accomplished astronomer, Feldman writes that the study of astronomy and other natural sciences according to Gersonides, were fundamental and prerequisite requirement for the ascent to metaphysics. The reason for this was that Gersonides felt that the whole of nature, even our own bodies, displays the handiwork of the Lord.

In a dense 10 chapters, the book provides the reader with a detailed summary of Gersonides’ worldview in areas such as the Bible, creation, Divine knowledge and omnipotence, prophecy and more.

Gersonides has a number of contentious opinions, and none of it greater than his approach to divine omniscience. Most Jewish philosophers felt that there was complete divine omniscience, of which human free will was simply a perplexing part of. Gersonides took the radical approach and felt that while God knows in advance what choices are available to a person; God in fact does not know what choice the individual will ultimately take.

Gersonides methodology was in part to try to reconcile Aristotle with traditional Jewish philosophy. On this topic, Feldman spends a chapter and writes in detail how Gersonides was almost universally rejected for this approach as detailed in his magnum opus on philosophy Milhamot Ha-Shem (The War of the Lord). One of his opponents mocked it by calling it “Wars against the Lord”. Such mocking was grievous, given the six questions Gersonides was dealing with are fundamental to Judaism; and relevant to this very day.

The book also discusses other non-traditional approaches Gersonides had, including minimizing the notion of miracles, and the approach that a person’s soul is not immortal, rather it’s their intellect that is.

Gersonides didn’t create a formal system of thought, such as Maimonides did in Moreh Nevukhim (The Guide for the Perplexed). And like Maimonides, there are many ways to interpret Gersonides, to which Feldman provides a superb overview of all of Gersonides core ideas.

Feldman shows how many of Gersonides’ doctrines were not traditional. Not being bothered by that, Gersonides never shied away from drawing the logical conclusion from what he considered to be the true philosophical premise.

As interesting as he is provocative, Gersonides: Judaism within the Limits of Reason provides the reader with a comprehensive look at one of the most formidable Jewish philosophers.

The Network Security Test Lab: A Step-by-Step Guide
The Network Security Test Lab: A Step-by-Step Guide
by Michael Gregg
Edition: Paperback
Price: $44.81
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great resource in which to build and develop their information security skills, November 2, 2015
It wasn’t that long ago that building a full network security test lab was a highly expensive endeavor. In The Network Security Test Lab: A Step-by-Step Guide, author Michael Gregg has written a helpful hands-on guide to provide the reader with an economical method to do that. The book is a step-by-step guide on how to create a security network lab, and how to use some of the most popular security and hacking tools.

The book is a straightforward guide that will help the reader in their quest to master the art of effective use of security and hacking tools. The reader that can put in the time and plow through the slightly over 400 pages will certainly come out with a strong understanding of how to run the most common set of popular security tools.

The book is written for the reader on the budget. In the introduction, Gregg writes how one can easily find inexpensive networking equipment at budget prices on eBay. While brand new hardware devices can cost in the thousands; one can find Cisco Catalyst switches, and Nokia IP and Check Point firewalls for under $50. Combined with his emphasis on open source software and tools, this is a most practical reference for those looking to increase their security skills without breaking the bank.

The book is meant for the reader with a strong technical background looking to gain experience with network security and related security tools. Other similar books will often waste paper and the reader’s time by devoting the first 50 to 100 pages with unwanted introductory text. This book hits the ground running and by page 100, the reader is already analyzing network packets with Wireshark.

The following are the books 11 chapters, which cover the entire range of network security and tools:

1. Building a Hardware and Software Test Platform
2. Passive Information Gathering
3. Analyzing Network Traffic
4. Detecting Live Systems and Analyzing Results
5. Enumerating Systems
6. Automating Encryption and Tunneling Techniques
7. Automated Attack and Penetration Tools
8. Securing Wireless Systems
9. An Introduction to Malware
10. Detecting Intrusions and Analyzing Malware
11. Forensic Detection

The book provides a good balance of coverage between Windows and Linux, and details the use of the many tools for each operating system. Each chapter ends with a series of exercises which can be used to help the reader put the information covered into practice. Those looking to gain experience on a wide variety of tools will enjoy the book. It covers a wide-range of tools and utilities.

Network Security Test Lab: is in the same genre as books such as Hacking Exposed 7: Network Security Secrets and Solutions. The difference is that Hacking Exposed focuses more on the tools, while this book shows the reader how to build a lab to mimic a real world environment. In addition, this book focuses a bit more on using a holistic approach to creating a secure network, as opposed to just hacking in.

In the effort to make the test lab as inexpensive to build as possible, the book places on emphasis on using virtualization. The book focuses on using the VMware Player; a free virtualization software toolkit for Linux and Windows.

The book covers a huge amount of information and tools. If the reader puts in the time and completes everything, they will have a thorough knowledge of most of the key concepts in network security.

The book is a straightforward read for the serious reader. Those willing to put in the effort and the time, to learn through the various tools will find The Network Security Test Lab: A Step-by-Step Guide a great resource in which to build and develop their information security skills.

Cloud Data Centers and Cost Modeling: A Complete Guide To Planning, Designing and Building a Cloud Data Center
Cloud Data Centers and Cost Modeling: A Complete Guide To Planning, Designing and Building a Cloud Data Center
by Rajkumar Buyya
Edition: Paperback
Price: $86.02
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Definitive reference for data center design, October 21, 2015
Building a large enterprise data center is a mammoth task with myriad details. In an encyclopedic work, Cloud Data Centers and Cost Modeling: A Complete Guide To Planning, Designing and Building a Cloud Data Center, (Morgan Kaufmann ISBN 978-0128014134), authors Caesar Wu and Rajkumar Buyya have written an extremely detailed and comprehensive guide on how to effectively build a cloud data center.

The books nearly 800 pages cover all core aspects of data center design and planning. Key areas include space calculations, virtualization, power management, heating and cooling, and much more. The authors focus on not just the materials and infrastructure of a data center, but the many costs also.

The cost aspect plays a prominent part in the book, as many people have a somewhat naïve notion that the cloud is free. While there may be many free cloud services, once one gets into the enterprise realm of cloud computing, it is anything but free. The authors show how to make educated decisions when building out a cloud data center.

The authors take the pragmatic approach that just as a large building requires significant engineering, design, requirements and more; so too does a large enterprise data center. With that, the authors leave have detailed every aspect of data center design.

The authors make extensive use of various formulas to ensure that the design meets the expected result. This includes a significant amount of pages dedicated to cost models to ensure that the design does not break the bank. By using the many analytical tools suggested in the book, the data center designer will have a highly effective cost framework for strategic decision making.

For those looking for a reference to guide them through every aspect of a cloud data center design, Cloud Data Centers and Cost Modeling is without a doubt the best reference available.

Judaism Alive: Using the Torah to Unlock Your Life's Potential
Judaism Alive: Using the Torah to Unlock Your Life's Potential
by Rabbi Shlomo Einhorn
Edition: Paperback
Price: $18.00
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb guide that provides spiritual insights and awareness, October 11, 2015
In 1965, Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik wrote The Lonely Man of Faith, and used Hegel, Kierkegaard, Kant and other philosophers as a springboard for his discussion of the vibrancy and relevancy of religion and faith in the modern era.

Half a century later, Rabbi Shlomo Einhorn takes a similar approach, albeit with a very different set of characters. In Judaism Alive: Using the Torah to Unlock Your Life's Potential, he takes a New-Age approach to the topic in this most enjoyable work.

For those unfamiliar with Rabbi Einhorn, Rabbi Steven Weil, senior managing director of the Orthodox Union, called him “the top young Orthodox rabbi in all of North America.” Einhorn is a with-it author, and is not your mother’s Rabbi; this is not your mother’s book. For the seeker that wants ancient answers couched in a more modern context, this is a book that will likely quench part of that spiritual thirst.

In the preface, Einhorn asks what it means to start “living” and to live a full life. He answers that it means that every day is filled with a sense of purpose. In the book, he gathers insights from various Biblical, Rabbinic, and Hasidic sources, and combines them with the likes of Tony Robbins, Deepak Chopra and many other contemporary sources. His goal is to show the relevancy of ancient Jewish sources, in order to give the reader a guide to a more fulfilled life.

Einhorn is definitely an out-of-the-box type of person, as is reflected in the book. He weaves the thoughts of Marianne Williamson into the same paragraph as a contemporary Hasidic master. He does this throughout the book, and provides myriad insights into who a person is, and what they can be.

It’s important to note that while Einhorn frequently cites pop references, be it lyrics from Queen or a passage from Amadeus; his out-of-the-box approach firmly remains within the framework of traditional Judaism, never straying from the basic tenets of Jewish thought and law.

The books three chapters focus on life lessons from Abraham, Joseph and Moses. In each chapter, he shares life lessons from these Biblical characters, and writes how their struggles and life challenges are similar to those that we face today. Einhorn writes of the manner in which they dealt with their challenges, and how by utilizing a similar approach, we can deal with our unique sets of challenges. The outcome of this is that we can indeed live a more meaningful life.

Einhorn is a big fan of Tony Robbins and quotes him often in the book. Robbins’ approach is to help people be more productive and successful. Einhorn takes that approach, but adds a spirituality and Jewish soul to it.

However, Einhorn’s penchant for New Age insights doesn’t always work. He describes a seminar which purports to show the power of the mind by the fact that controlling the mind allows one to walk on fire; the mundane reality about fire walking is that it is not really that difficult to do, and has clear physical explanations.

Wikipedia notes that some of the reasons are due to the fact that water has a very high specific heat capacity, whereas embers have a very low one. Therefore, the foot's temperature tends to change less than the coal's. Water also has a high thermal conductivity and the rich blood flow in the foot will carry away the heat and spread it. On the other hand, embers have a poor thermal conductivity, so the hotter body consists only of the parts of the embers which are close to the foot. Finally, firewalkers do not spend very much time on the embers, and they keep moving.

The good news is that the other insights Einhorn shares are to the point and accurate. He’s a person who has his hands on the pulse of society and his listeners, and is able to provide them with a fulfilling message. For those looking for an engaging and topical voice, and one that awakens you, rather than puts you into a sermon-based slumber, Einhorn provides a just that.

Soloveitchik wrote The Lonely Man of Faith to be a universal guide to people of all faiths. In Judaism Alive: Using the Torah to Unlock Your Life's Potential, Shlomo Einhorn takes a similar approach and has written a guide that will provide insight and awareness to all. Spiritual growth is about getting to the next step. And this book details the steps in which to start getting there.

Network Attacks and Exploitation: A Framework
Network Attacks and Exploitation: A Framework
by Matthew Monte
Edition: Paperback
Price: $30.78
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great high-level roadmap to build effective security into networks, October 2, 2015
The phrase think like a hacker is bandied about incessantly. For most people, they can’t think like a hacker any more than they could think like a podiatrist or a CPA.

With that, in Network Attacks and Exploitation: A Framework, author Matthew Monte has written a great guide that while it won’t help you think like a hacker; it will provide you with the knowledge of how to secure your network, such that hackers will hopefully find an easier playground.

Monte takes a holistic approach and integrates a number of strategies to incorporate both an information security offensive and defensive approach to create a secure network.

The book starts off with an introduction to computer network exploitation (CNE). Monte writes that CNE is simply the latest reincarnation of espionage. As more and more of the worlds political, economic and military information is being stored on networks, and these are often insecure networks; a framework for organizing and analyzing CNE becomes necessary to national and corporate security interests.

Monte is a fan of military theorist Carl von Clausewitz and quotes him a number of times in the book. An interesting point he makes in reference to creating a secure network, based on von Clausewitz, is that in theory, defending should be easier than attacking. The reason being that the defense has the negative objective to maintain the status quo. While the offense must effect some whence while being resisted. But in the digital world, attackers working on the offense, nearly always have the upper hand, since they have more knowledge and tools to use against insecurely designed networks.

Creating a secure and resilient network is something that takes time, as the book notes. Monte’s main approach to build security in by creating an offensive strategy. Far too many organizations just want to buy hardware and software, without knowing what they are securing their network against. He writes that crafting an offensive strategy requires asking the right questions, and then proceeds to list about 50 essential questions. Answering these questions and customizing the response are fundamental to building a secure network.

Those looking to understand how they can create a high-level roadmap to build effective security into their networks will find Network Attacks and Exploitation: A Framework a helpful resource. At 170 pages, it’s not a comprehensive guide to designing secure network. But for those looking for a great introduction to the topic, it’s an essential one.

Augmented Reality Law, Privacy, and Ethics: Law, Society, and Emerging AR Technologies
Augmented Reality Law, Privacy, and Ethics: Law, Society, and Emerging AR Technologies
by Brian D. Wassom
Edition: Paperback
Price: $41.42
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great resource on what AR means to society, individual & the law, September 19, 2015
The legal field is forever catching up to advances in technology. Once of the many examples is the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which only went into effect in 1998. About 7 years after the creation of the World Wide Web.

In ‘Augmented Reality Law, Privacy, and Ethics: Law, Society, and Emerging AR Technologies’, author, attorney and AR expert Brian Wassom provides a forward thinking approach to how law and augmented reality (AR) work. The topic is near and dear to Wassom, as he heads up the Augmented Legality blog, which focuses on social media law and other new and emerging forms of expression, such as AR. Wassom brings an experts approach to the topic to every page in this fascinating and easily readable book.

AR is defined as a live direct or indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented or supplemented by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data. It is related to a more general concept called mediated reality, in which a view of reality is modified possibly even diminished rather than augmented by a computer. As a result, the technology functions by enhancing one’s current perception of reality. By contrast, virtual reality replaces the real world with a simulated one.

AR like other emerging and new technologies offer myriad benefits. Wassom details those, in addition to the many legal and privacy issues that go along with them. AR has a dark side to it, which the book details.

The implications of AR are huge, and the book takes a look at the social, legal, and ethical issues surrounding AR technology. AR has entered most people’s lives, whether they know it or not, and whether they want it or not; via the preponderance of smartphones and integrated internet-ready devices.

While the book has a legal angle, it is written for a broad audience, not just attorneys or legal professionals

The book covers the entire range of AR topics from the legal side (intellectual property, criminal law, litigation procedures, and more), and the issues of AR and society, including politics, privacy, personal ethics and more.

The issues of AR in our lives are huge and the implications significant. For anyone who wants to get a handle on what AR means to society and the individual, and its impact on the law,’ Augmented Reality Law, Privacy, and Ethics’ is a great resource.

The Torah Encyclopedia of the Animal Kingdom
The Torah Encyclopedia of the Animal Kingdom
by Natan Slifkin
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $49.95
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and enjoyable work that lends itself to readers of many levels, September 8, 2015
Once while she was visiting suburban New Jersey, I saw a very young girl from the concrete jungle of Manhattan who saw a darting cat, and thought it was a deer. Many New Yorkers, like those who dwell in large cities far removed from wild animal life, are often oblivious to the inhabitants of the animal world.

In The Torah Encyclopedia of the Animal Kingdom, Rabbi Natan Slifkin has written a masterful work that identifies all of the animals mentioned in Tanach. After reading this volume, one would not mistake a gazelle for a deer or an onager for a donkey, let alone a cat for a deer.

The mention of animals in Tanach is pervasive. So pervasive that the reader who is not savvy to these nuances may not appreciate the sheer numbers of animals mentioned. As an aside, which book of the Tanach make the most extensive use of animals? Slifkin answers that it’s the book of Job.

In this first volume, Slifkin lists all of the wild animals mentioned in Tanach, Talmud and Midrash. Each chapter starts off by defining just what the animal is. He then lists relevant quotes about the animal from its Judaic sources, and then discusses how the animal is identified, and its name in various languages. As to animal naming, Slifkin references numerous sources, including such scholars as Saadia Gaon and Yonah ibn Janach, both of whom make heavy use of Arabic to define the animal. Each chapter also details the symbolism of each animal.

Each chapter provides a detailed analysis of the identities of these animals. Slifkin uses classical Jewish texts for their Biblical identification, and then maps them to their current zoology identity. More often than not, they meet. When there is a conflict, there are a number of proposed solutions. The book also shows many instances where ancient Rabbinic understanding of the animal world is perfectly in sync with current scientific and veterinary understanding.

The book starts with an overview of the role of animals in scripture, Talmud and Midrash. It then details the classification of animals.

In the chapter on the classification of animals, Slifkin notes that the Torah’s system of animal classification is very different from modern zoology. The former is known as a folk taxonomy and the latter a scientific taxonomy. Scientific taxonomies are not absolute defined groups. Rather they are a system meant to categorize. While there are significant differences between the two taxonomies, Slifkin astutely notes that each taxonomy serves a different purpose, and contradictions between the two are not necessarily significant.

The remainder of the book focuses on the various animals and is broken up into sections on predators (lion, bear, leopard, cheetah, wolf, hyena, fox, jackal, caracal, mongoose and badger), kosher wild animals (gazelle, deer, ibex, oryx, hartebeest, aurochs, wild sheep, giraffe) and other wild animals (hyrax, hare, wild boar, onager, hippopotamus, elephant, monkey, porcupine, and otter).

Slifkin notes that for various reasons, identifying the animals of the Torah is not an easy task. One reason is that Biblical Hebrew has not been a spoken language for thousands of years. These ambiguities of language and the struggles to identify these animals (often thousands of miles away from those who are trying to do the identification) have vexed scholars for thousands of years. Adding to the ambiguity is that Modern Hebrew usage of these animals’ names are often different from their Biblical meanings. For this reason, the Modern Hebrew meaning is often not the same.

What difference does it make if, for example, a person thinks that the tzvi is a gazelle, deer, ibex or antelope? The answers are manifold, Slifkin writes. One is that every animal is mentioned in the Torah for a specific reason and purpose. Those reasons can be negated if one makes a mistake regarding the very identity of that animal.

The book cites hundreds of reference, from a wide variety of sources. But while the book has an index of citations from Scripture and Talmud, it lacks an index to the hundreds of citations it uses from Midrash, which is a significant lack.

One of the most mysterious animals discussed in the Talmud is the koy. While Slifkin notes that the koy has been a favorite topic of Rabbinic discussion for many centuries, he spends a very brief five paragraphs discussing this enigmatic animal. Such an animal, whatever it may be, would warrant greater discussion.

In The Iranian Talmud: Reading the Bavli in Its Sasanian Context, Dr. Shai Secunda writes that to understand many aspects of the Babylonian Talmud, once must understand the Sasanian culture where it was developed. Similarly, if one is to read about the akko, ankakta, bardelas and hundreds of other animals mentioned in Tanach and Talmud, they need to understand both their definition and context. Slifkin’s book provides this background.

The Torah Encyclopedia of the Animal Kingdom is a fascinating and enjoyable work that lends itself to readers of many levels. Slifkin has done a remarkable job of detailing the many wild animals in Judaic sources. By understanding these marvelous animals and the wonders of their very existence, the animal kingdom is living testimony to the glory of its Creator.

Introduction to Social Media Investigation: A Hands-on Approach
Introduction to Social Media Investigation: A Hands-on Approach
by Jennifer Golbeck
Edition: Paperback
Price: $59.95
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hndy guide in which to investigative work, August 27, 2015
Had you Googled social media investigation a decade ago, you would have gotten a handful of responses. Today, it has become a key part of law enforcement, family law and more.

Social media played predominantly in the terrible murder last week of journalists Alison Parker and Adam Ward. Law enforcement poured over the social media profiles of the perpetrator.

In Introduction to Social Media Investigation (Syngress 978-0128016565), author Jennifer Golbeck PhD has written a guide that shows how you can use the most popular social media channels as part of an investigation.

While there are thousands of social media channels, the book focuses on the largest of them, namely: Facebook, Twitter, FourSquare, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google+, Tumblr, Instagram and YouTube. For each of the channels, Golbeck provides a number of case studies and real world examples of how to perform an investigation.

The book provides a basic approach to gleaning information from each of these channels. For most investigators, the reconnaissance work will not be so difficult given the amount of information people share on social media sites.

The book is an introduction, and the author herself notes that most of the investigation stories detailed in the book are relatively simple. Namely that the target uses social media and the investigator collects the information. If it’s a popular site like Facebook or Twitter, and the person being investigated is somewhat chatty (which is often the case on these channels), the investigators job is not that difficult.

But many investigations are much more complex and will require a deeper and more thorough approach. The book touches on that, but is primarily based on the more simple investigations. There are other tools that can be used in an investigation, such as reverse image searches, Social Searcher and more.

Those looking for an introductory text on the topic, such as information security professionals, those in law enforcement, investigative journalists and more will find Introduction to Social Media Investigation a handy guide in which to start their investigative word.

The Code Book: The Science of Secrecy from Ancient Egypt to Quantum Cryptography
The Code Book: The Science of Secrecy from Ancient Egypt to Quantum Cryptography
by Simon Singh
Edition: Paperback
Price: $10.51
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating book on the often hush-hush world of the science of secrecy., August 19, 2015
It’s not clear who first uttered the quip: Of course I can keep a secret. It's the people I tell it to that can't. But what’s clear is that there are plenty of times when it’s a matter of life and death to ensure that secrets remain undisclosed.

In The Code Book: The Science of Secrecy from Ancient Egypt to Quantum Cryptography, author Simon Singh reveals the often hush-hush world of the science of secrecy.

How powerful are these cryptography tools? Until about only a decade ago, the U.S. Department of Commerce categorized strong cryptographic tools the same way it did F-15s and M-16s (more about that in Chapter 7).

Singh is a particle physicist who understands the science well and, more importantly in the case of this book, knows how to explain those details quite well.

Sit back and be enthralled by the fascinating world of cloak-and-dagger spies, and how without strong cryptography, we wouldn’t have online banking, Amazon Prime, and other things that make life meaningful.

For anyone who ever had to study for the CISSP certification examination, the cryptography domain was almost always the hardest and most intimidating of the ten exam domains. While the ISC2 recently retired the cryptography domain and put it under Security Engineering, any topic with obscure terms such as hash function, public key cryptosystem, side-channel attacks and the like will certainly be intimidating.

In The Code Book: The Science of Secrecy from Ancient Egypt to Quantum Cryptography, while not a comprehensive overview of cryptography, this masterful book by Simon Singh is a history of encryption, with a focus on the 16th century to the end of the 20th century. As a history book, Singh strikes a good balance between writing about the history, and providing a good technical and mathematical overview of the topic of cryptography

With a Ph.D. in physics, Singh follows in the footsteps of fellow physicist, Richard Feynman, who was a great explainer. Feynman noted that if a specific topic couldn’t be explained in a freshman lecture, it was not yet fully understood. In the book, Singh spends about 400 pages on this freshman lecture. It’s worth noting that a number of freshman university courses use this book as a reference; it’s that good.

I first became acquainted with Singh when he gave a most entertaining keynote at an information security conference about a decade ago, where he dispelled the claim that Stairway to Heaven contained subliminal satanic messages.

Classic cryptography goes back thousands of years. While the book provides details into cryptography from the times of the Bible, Caesar and more; its focus is predominantly on the modern era, starting with the cryptography used by Mary, Queen of Scots in the mid-1500s, up to the topic of quantum cryptography.

The book covers a wide range of topics, from both a historical and technology perspective. Singh takes a broad approach to the topic and doesn’t focus entirely on ciphers and algorithms, rather he brings historical stories like the Rosetta stone, Man in the Iron Mask, Manhattan Project, Navajo Code Talkers and much more.

While encryption and cryptography have their roots in the world of mathematics and number theory, the book often places a focus on the human elements. While many cryptosystems work perfectly in the pristine environs of a lab, they will fail miserably when incorrectly implemented. Singh gives numerous examples, from Mary, Queen of Scotts to the German Enigma cipher machine, where the human element leads to extreme failures.

A number of the eight chapters start with a story, which Singh then uses as a lead to provide the underlying details of a specific aspect of security and cryptography.

For the story of Mary, Queen of Scots in Chapter 1, the message is that the underlying cipher needs to be reasonably impenetrable. In Chapter 4 on cracking the Enigma machine, the message is that even the strongest of cryptography devices finds its kryptonite if its users don’t follow the directions.

Chapter 5 on Language Barrier is perhaps the most fascinating chapter in the book. Singh details the story of how the U.S. used Navajo Indians and their obscure language as a means of ensuring the Japanese would have a much harder time deciphering the messages. By the time the war ended, the Japanese were never able to read a single message when Navajo was used.

The chapter also details the story of the Rosetta stone. While not a cryptographic issue in the common sense, hieroglyphics had been indecipherable for thousands of years. Singh writes how common wisdom at the time was that the Ancient Egyptian language of hieroglyphs should be treated as symbols and not letters. Singh highlights the story of how Jean-François Champollion was able to decipher the stones by using new research that the hieroglyphs were indeed letters, not symbols.

Anyone involved with cryptography knows terms such as Diffie–Hellman and RSA on a first-name basis. Those cryptosystems are the very backbone of today’s Internet security infrastructure. Singh does a good job of explaining how they work and what makes them secure. For RSA, it’s built on a very simple premise, that factoring the product of two huge prime numbers is difficult. While most people may be oblivious to it, much of the underlying security for online banking and the Internet is built on top of RSA.

The book closes with the next generation of secrecy, which is quantum cryptography. As a particle physicist, quantum mechanics is Singh’s bread and butter. When Singh wrote the book, quantum cryptography was not a practical technology, and that is still the case.

As a side note, if and when quantum cryptography becomes practical, it would be so powerful as to be able to break every RSA key in existence.

The Code Book was first published in 1999, around the time Windows 2000 came out. While the latter became obsolete in 2005, The Code Book is still quite germane given the value of the information in the book, which is still relevant and of interest.

For those looking for an encyclopedic reference, David Kahn’s The Codebreakers: The Comprehensive History of Secret Communication from Ancient Times to the Internet is the definitive tome on the topic.

For those looking for a more informal and selected overview of some of the core topics from the last 600 years of cryptography, this book is readable and interesting, and a perfect read for those looking for an introduction to the topic.

Those looking for a captivating and very readable book on the history of modern cryptography will find The Code Book: The Science of Secrecy from Ancient Egypt to Quantum Cryptography a valuable read, and one that is certainly worthy of being in the Cybersecurity Canon.

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