November 2023

Book Review: Confident Cyber Security

I received my Masters in Cyber Security in 2020 and am currently taking a refresher class at Harvard to try and see what area I’d most like to focus on for potential jobs in the future, so I always enjoy reading whatever I can about cyber security.  I found this book to touch on many, many, different topics and give you a really good overview for a starting off point if you’re just starting to get curious about cyber security and what all it entails.  It features some real-world examples which I always enjoy reading the most (unless they’re about Taylor Swift, ick) and gives you a little bit about a lotta things! If you already know a lot about cyber security, then this book can be a nice refresher (and probably has some examples you didn’t see before) but if you’re new to cyber security and are trying to find out if it might be a fit for you – then I definitely think reading this book would be beneficial.

I received a free e-copy of this book from NetGalley in order to write this review. I was not otherwise compensated.

About the Book

The world is more digitally connected than ever before and, with this connectivity, comes vulnerability. This book will equip you with all the skills and insights you need to understand cyber security and kickstart a prosperous career.

Confident Cyber Security is here to help. From the human side to the technical and physical implications, this book takes you through the fundamentals: how to keep secrets safe, how to stop people being manipulated and how to protect people, businesses and countries from those who wish to do harm.

Featuring real-world case studies including Disney, the NHS, Taylor Swift and Frank Abagnale, this book is packed with clear explanations, sound advice and practical exercises to help you understand and apply the principles of cyber security. This new edition covers increasingly important topics such as deepfakes, AI and blockchain technology.

About the Confident series…
From coding and data science to cloud and cyber security, the Confident books are perfect for building your technical knowledge and enhancing your professional career.

PodMeetsWorld Boston

Friday night PodMeetsWorld took their live show to the Boch Theater in Boston, MA. I once again played front row roulette, and won (despite having to buy the tickets during a meeting I was presenting and speaking on – mad skillz) and then had to figure out how I was going to navigate to Boston solo.  I ended up needing 1 more Marriott night to keep status, so I booked a room outside the city and ubered in which worked out quite well!

I arrived just before 6:30 when the lobby doors were set to open.  At 7 the theater doors opened and it was at this point I realized something was not right with my new leg brace, but couldn’t exactly take it off to figure out what was going on.  I made it to my front row seat despite every walk way in the old theater being pitched a bit too steep of an incline for me.

At about 7:40, Rider came out on stage dressed in Too Much Shirts and read a poem about the show that also had a bit about Boston in it as well. Then Rider, Danielle and Will made their way to the stage. They said that they wanted us to pretend like it was the 90s, did a couple of poses for us to take photos of and then asked for us to put our phones away for the rest of the show so that things would not be ruined for those who have not seen the show yet.

That being said – I will now recap from what I remember from the show so if you’re thinking about going to a show and don’t want potential content to be ruined (I’m not sure what exactly they do the same in each city) then you’re probably going to want to X out of this review now.

The first part of the show was just the 3 of them on stage.  Will told a story about his childhood in MA and how he tried to jump off a rock and broke his leg and ended up in a cast up to his nipples at 4 years old for several weeks.  Rider said that the stairwells in the theater reminded him of the theater that he had done Les Mis at and ended up having a memory resurface about the time he broke his arm and then also went into a story about how he was in the theater during an earthquake and the stairs moved from the building as he was on them trying to get outside and how his Dad had his firetruck come to make sure he was OK since it was before cellphones.  Danielle told a story about how she broke her pinky and didn’t go see a doctor for a few weeks and then had to have surgery and how the doctor told her if in the next few hours her pinky drooped, to let him know.  Turns out it did droop and the doctor was 3 beers deep when she texted him and she got responses like “oh no” and “shit” from him and ended up recently having surgery to correct the damage the first surgery had done (and NOT by the same doctor!).

Then they brought out special guests – Alaina and Ash from the Morbid Podcast. I believe these girls are from MA but I was not familiar with their podcast (I am going o have to check it out now) and they played a game called ‘Canon’ with Will, Danielle and Rider where they gave each of them a character that disappeared from the show and they had to come up with a back story for them.  Will had Wendy, Rider had Eddie and Danielle had Nebula.  I don’t remember all the details of what they said, but their stories were absolutely hilarious and they tried to intertwine them all as well and Alaina and Ash gave their thoughts as well.

The next part was that they needed a Corey, so each of them chose 1 person from the audience and gave them a line to audition with. A man named Silk Johnson won the part and they did a scene where Corey was going to marry Topanga. Eric was officiating the wedding, but something in his pocket started buzzing and he had no idea what it was, but when he answered there were girls on the line so he ran off – leading to DANNY MCNULTY coming out to finish officiating and pronouncing them Mr and Mrs Baboon.  The place went NUTS and it seemed like Danielle had tears in her eyes to the reception he received.

Danny joined the 3 for the next segment, which was audience Q&A.  There were a lot of fun questions, some deep ones as well and they even had Danny do a ‘Canon’ on what happened with Harley while he was away. (Reform school until something happened with TK, but he knows now bullying was wrong and got to give back as the janitor at Abigail Adams High on Girl Meets World)  Danny also gave a shout out to all the veterans and we gave a special round of applause to Will’s Dad who was in the audience.

In between segments they played some videos – one was of the guys doing their BSB routine which was hilarious and I’m so glad I got to see if after they had been talking about it on the pod so often as well as a blooper real from a later season that Will had found.

The last segment was the costume contest and they had one of Topanga’s bridesmaids, Topanga and Corey getting married, a duck, a lobster, celery, plays with chipmunks, Lauren and then chants started coming “BAL-CON-Y BAL-CON-Y” and they couldn’t quite figure out what was happening and then it turned into “ROLLS ROLLS ROLLS” and 2 people dressed as Corey and Shawn from “They want you to take the rolls!” came on stage, took over, and did the entire scene.  At this point the cast had totally lost control of the evening and had to declare them winners.  They really underestimated the intenseness of a Boston crowd lol (Although Will did say he knew people from CT were there because he saw our horse and buggies parked outside!)

To end the night, there was a video message from Mr Feeny.  Then we were told if we had a M&G to sit and hang tight for a bit.  I could see everyone hanging out off to the side of the stage, including Will’s Dad.  Jensen came out and told us the cast was having a bite to eat and then we’d go up the aisle of the theater and to the right to meet them before heading out.  I had been hoping I’d be back to the hotel by 11, but didn’t anticipate how long we’d have to wait for the M&G. (I was glad that they let us sit and I did try to take off my brace and fix it, but wasn’t able to at the time – I did fix it when I got back to the hotel though!)

Finally, it was my turn to meet the cast. It was quick, but we had a nice chat about my NSYNC Care Bears shirt and New Haven pizza. (They like it, I don’t, but Danielle said we could still be friends lol)  After I headed outside and Uber prices were soaring but Lyft was giving me a promo, so I used them to get back to the hotel and made it before turning into a pumpkin at 11:40pm.

Overall it was a lot for me to get out and do this in a big city and all alone.  I decided to not bring my walker as I’ve been using it as a crutch (that terminology is weird in this situation…) and just used my cane.  I did quite well – especially since when I was checking into the hotel and trying to get dinner there were THREE teenage boys sports teams in the lobby not knowing what to do with themselves and just creating an obstacle course for me.  I have a lot of work still to do on myself, but this was a big step in the right direction.

It also sounds like they’ll be back at 90s Con in CT and hopefully doing a show here as well!

Book Review: Passport To Spy

I’ve had Passport to Spy in my reading queue for several months, but it took me a while to actually get in to the headspace of where I wanted to read again (totally a me problem and nothing to do with the book).  Once I did dive into the story, I had trouble putting it down.  Kat Lawson was a investigative reporter and lost her job and ended up finding a new job as a spy for the FBI working undercover as a journalist.  Everyone in Germany thinks that she is on assignment to cover the holidays in Germany but she’s actually trying to find out about some stolen art.  While things start off smoothly, people start catching on that Kat might not be who she says she is and the story really starts to unfold.  I don’t want to give too much away but if you’re into murder mystery, spies and art heists, then you’ll probably enjoy Passport to Spy.

After finishing the book I found out that this is actually the 2nd book in the Kat Lawson series, but I was able to read it as a standalone and didn’t feel like I was missing out on any of the story having not read the first.  It also is kind of sort of based on a true situation, which the author explains at the end of the book.

I received a free e-copy of this book from NetGalley in order to write this review. I was not otherwise compensated.

About the Book

After losing her job as an investigative reporter for The Phoenix Gazette, Kat Lawson has a new gig. The FBI has asked her to work undercover as a reporter for Travel International to cover Munich, Germany’s festive holiday scene—an excuse to get close to Hans von Hausmann, a very charismatic and popular museum curator suspected of hiding a cache of stolen masterpieces believed to be part of the World’s Largest Art Heist. The job comes with lots of perks: airfare, travel expenses, the opportunity to see the world…and for a seasoned reporter like Kat, nothing she can’t handle. But, when a trusted source is found dead, Kat realizes the tables have been turned. Armed with evidence that will expose a cache of artwork stolen from museums and the homes of wealthy Jews during the 2nd World War, Kat must find a way to avoid being caught by the German Polizie, who have enough evidence to charge her with murder, and those who want her dead to keep their hidden treasures forever secret. The hunter has become the hunted; now, Kat has a target on her back.

Hanson in Escanaba, MI

Back in May Hanson announced what ended up being their last shows of the year in Escanaba/Harris, MI in the upper peninsula.  We bought tickets and booked our flights. The airport there is tiny and there are only 2 flights in and out each day. Delta couldn’t get their act together and here’s what happened from the emails I saved (and who knows if I actually saved all of them)

May 17:
Hartford (9:35am) Detroit (11:29am)
Escanaba (4:00pm) Minneapolis (7:55pm)

May 24:
Hartford (6:00am) Detroit (8:54am) Minneapolis (1:45pm)  
Escanaba (4:00pm) Minneapolis (7:55pm)

May 24: (I made this change to not have so many flights)
Hartford (9:42am) Detroit (1:55pm)
Escanaba (4:00pm) Minneapolis (7:55pm)

July 3:
Hartford (9:42am) Detroit (2:37pm) 
Escanaba (4:00pm) Minneapolis (7:55pm)

August 28:
Hartford (6:00am) Minneapolis (10:25am) 
Escanaba (1:31pm) Minneapolis (8:00pm) 

September 23:
Hartford (6:00am) Minneapolis (10:01am) 
Escanaba (1:08pm) Minneapolis (8:20pm) 

September 30:
Hartford (6:00am) Minneapolis (8:50am)
Escanaba (11:52am) Minneapolis (12:47pm) Atlanta (9:40pm)

September 30: (I made the change to not have so many flights)
Hartford (6:00am) Minneapolis (8:50am)
Escanaba (6:01pm) Detroit (9:55pm) 

In the end, that September 30th email & update stuck, but I did get a couple more emails from Delta confirming it with what appears to be all the same info. (Maybe flight numbers changed?)  Of course, I bought a ticket to see David Cook the night before when I thought I had a 9am flight, but a 6am flight meant I had to miss out on the show.  Fortunately I was able to sell my ticket and meet and greet to a woman who really seemed to appreciate me helping her out, so that helped lessen the blow a bit. (She sent me her M&G photo with a “thanks so much!” message the next day and it melted my cold, dark heart.)

Based on the August changes,  I had been totally willing to wait the 8 hours in MSP if I needed to (I have friends there, they could have taken me and brought me back later!) but Delta was treating it as if it was 2 separate flights and not connected and I wasn’t sure what kind of issues that might cause or if it really would be as simple as just checking in 2 different times.  When I contacted them via the chat they told me that it was either the extra Atlanta layover (please, no!) or going to Detroit instead.  As we were trying to get that all settled… Pet Assistance joined the conversation? They asked if I’d be traveling with a dog, cat or bird.  Just get me to Escanaba and back, I’m not bringing a pet!

When I left my house there was dew/frost on the ground. I also almost hit a buck on the parkway on the way to the airport.  That’s one way to wake you up at 2:45am!  When I got to the airport, I added the plane tickets to my Google Wallet.  Then somehow it became a ticket from MSP to ESC (what I needed) and another one from MSP to LAS VEGAS?  Delta, what are you DOING?  Fortunately my app had the correct tickets in there and I made it to MSP without any issues.  I had about an hour layover in MSP on the way there and made it to the connection despite having to go through nearly all the gates to get there. I had a cart get me to the end of A but had to walk the last 9 gates myself.  I found my 3 friends waiting for me at the gate and then we needed to get defrosted before taking off.  Our luggage didn’t fit in the overhead bins and there were about 10 people on the flight so the flight attendant ended up just strapping it into the seat across the aisle from me.  Our casino shuttle driver was waiting for us when we got there and took us to the casino.  We couldn’t check in until 12:30 so we hung in the lobby, got our rooms and went to check things out and eat. Then we waited for 2 more friends to show up on the later flight. We had a free night and just hung out and explored the hotel.  I ended up doing a pull tab card from the gift shop that cost $1 and won $5. That was all the gambling I did all weekend.   I also apparently offended a local when I said “there IS stuff to do here!” when spotting the kiosk of local brochures. She said “of course there is, you’re not in the middle of nowhere”  except once I grabbed a few brochures that interested me, they were 2, 2.5 and 3 hours away.  I’m not sure that counts as “here” and yes, we are in the middle of nowhere.
The next day, 2 more friends were coming.  We had discussed getting pasties which is a hand pie that is commonly found in the upper peninsula.  I had checked Door Dash and Uber Eats but there was not ONE restaurant on there. (Not just pasty places, nothing at all!) And to uber from the casino back to Escanaba was $22 one way.  Fortunately one of our friends mentioned it to the shuttle driver and he took a detour to Gram’s (which is supposed to be one of the best spots) and she was able to pick some up for us to try.  I got a beef with potato and even a while after they were purchased they were still warm and perfect for lunch!  For dinner we did a nice outing to the steak house that was on the top floor of the casino.  At some point, I got an email from Delta wishing me a happy birthday and offering me a $25 eCredit.  Delta, what is going on over there? My birthday was in July!
Then it was time for show #1!  I had fully expected that we’d end up getting some combination of the 35 songs that they just had done at Disney and for this setlist, I was mostly right.  My friends however were not happy with me because they had said they didn’t want to hear “I’ve Got Soul” and I had said since it was done at Disney it was bound to happen and they ended up opening the set with it, which made me laugh. But hey, let’s get it out of the way early! This setlist was pretty typical and what I was expecting.  What I was not expecting was for security to just be done doing their job during MMMBop and allowing everyone to rush the stage.  They had taken my walker away and I was happily sitting in my chair so I opted to not have my friends help me get up there because walking with just the cane while a sea of people were coming at me didn’t seem safe.  Turns out sitting in the chair wasn’t too safe either. I ended up with 3 men standing on top of me (actually ON TOP OF my feet) and then almost got run over by a wheelchair who decided to back up right on top of me.  I kind of expected this might have happened at the encore, but I missed out on the last 3 songs of the set *and* the encore.

After the show we hung out in the hotel since the 8 of us wouldn’t fit comfortably in either of our hotel rooms. We did a snack run to the gift shop in the hotel, which somehow was incredibly cheap and had some pickle flavored chips and “Yooper Bars” which were just chocolate bars with the upper peninsula on them. (I stuck with my baked lays and cream and dr pepper soda)

The next morning we had a late breakfast and just hung around doing more nothing. My friend did contact the GM of the theater and was told I could keep the walker with me for the 2nd show so I was already feeling a bit better about how it would go since I’d be able to have a bit of a barricade around myself.  Isaac had posted on instagram they’d be mixing the setlist up, which we did figure would happen to some extent – and we thought they might go all out being the last show of the year, but also didn’t want to get our hopes up.  When we finished eating a late lunch/early dinner we heard Hanson doing soundcheck of With a Little Help From My Friends and we hoped they weren’t just teasing us.  Some other fans nearby informed us that World Goes Around was sound checked earlier and the day before.  Then they went into Give a Little and I Don’t Want To Go Home but we still weren’t sure if they had plans to put all those songs in the setlist or not.

When they started the show, they mixed it up by starting with Fired Up but then did 2 repeats – A Minute Without You and Thinking ‘Bout Somethin’ so I wasn’t really sure where we were headed. But from there things went off the rails, in the best way possible. Instead of an acoustic set we got a solo from each brother and all the sound checked songs made the cut.  In the end we had 44 songs over 2 nights and 39 of them were unique – and I had thought they’d be pulling from 35 that were rehearsed!  Except now that we know they are capable of doing such a massive shake up and not at a members only event, the bar has been raised!

After the show we got a boozy ice cream drink and hung out for the time change. On top of the daylight saving time confusion, the casino was situated right smack in the middle of the Eastern and Central time zones. The airport was in Eastern and the hotel operates in Eastern so I had forced my phone to not auto update. For some who didn’t make that change, depending on where they were in the casino, the time would change back and forth. We made it to 2nd 1am but didn’t last much longer than that – and the delirious giggles had hit most of us at one point or another.

Sunday all my friends were on the MSP flight and I was alone on the DTW flight so I stayed in the room as long as I could before check out, took myself to breakfast at the restaurant in the casino and then hung out in the lobby watching videos until my 3:30 shuttle.

The Escanaba airport was so tiny, yet has 5 TSA agents for our flight. We ended up having to board the plane using the stairs which did not go very well for me (I’m ok, just a skinned knee) but it was smooth sailing and no flight issues. If Delta wants to just keep up with the drama before the actual travel days, I’ll take it!

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