Book Review: Fancy Bear Goes Phishing

Fancy Bear Goes Phishing is about the Dark History of the Information Age and tells it by documenting 5 extraordinary hacks.  Since hacking and cybersecurity are of interest to me, I was excited to read about these hacks.  Some of which were eve before my time – starting with a grad student who accidentally crashed the internet creating one of the first worm viruses.  Also interesting was how things got names – viruses, worms, Fancy Bear, etc. All of which is documented in this book.

I was also quite pleased with myself after reading about a hack to T-Mobile that ended up getting Paris Hilton’s data that my website is now better secured than T-Mobile’s was at the time and how easy it was for anyone to get into their database and get the user data stored there. (I’m assuming they know a lot more now than they did in 2005 or thereabouts when the hack was.)

This book is written by a Yale University professor and he has a class at Yale that goes through some of this information as well ( think they’ll let me take it?) and while it is long and there’s a decent amount of tech jargon I didn’t feel lost at all when reading it and found it really broke things down in an interesting and informative way.

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

About the Book

An entertaining account of the philosophy and technology of hacking—and why we all need to understand it.

It’s a signal paradox of our times that we live in an information society but do not know how it works. And without understanding how our information is stored, used, and protected, we are vulnerable to having it exploited. In Fancy Bear Goes Phishing, Scott J. Shapiro draws on his popular Yale University class about hacking to expose the secrets of the digital age. With lucidity and wit, he establishes that cybercrime has less to do with defective programming than with the faulty wiring of our psyches and society. And because hacking is a human-interest story, he tells the fascinating tales of perpetrators, including Robert Morris Jr., the graduate student who accidentally crashed the internet in the 1980s, and the Bulgarian “Dark Avenger,” who invented the first mutating computer-virus engine. We also meet a sixteen-year-old from South Boston who took control of Paris Hilton’s cell phone, the Russian intelligence officers who sought to take control of a US election, and others.

In telling their stories, Shapiro exposes the hackers’ tool kits and gives fresh answers to vital questions: Why is the internet so vulnerable? What can we do in response? Combining the philosophical adventure of Gödel, Escher, Bach with dramatic true-crime narrative, the result is a lively and original account of the future of hacking, espionage, and war, and of how to live in an era of cybercrime.

Book Review: The Secret To Getting Along

The Secret To Getting Along (And Why It’s Easier Than You Think) breaks down relationships with others into 3 steps to life-changing conflict resolution. While the book makes it seem pretty easy, I’m not sure it’s quite as easy as they make it seem, but there are definitely a lot of  techniques in how to approach those in your life you are having conflict with to resolve things in a healthy way and not in such a way that the conflict doesn’t end up resolved and the relationship is broken.  I am trying to think positively though and have been working on some of the suggested techniques with practice exercises that were provided in the book.  We’ll see how it goes…

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

About the Book

It is possible to get along better, with 3 simple steps for conflict resolution!

Conflict is everywhere—in our homes, at work, on our social media feeds. But conflict isn’t inherently bad… in fact, it’s a normal and healthy part of human relationships. In The Secret to Getting Along (And Why it’s Easier Than You Think!), attorney Gabrielle Hartley brings more than two decades of divorce mediation experience to helping you learn how to resolve conflict in ways that strengthen your relationships, reflect your values, and lead to positive outcomes for everyone involved. This practical and accessible guide to everyday conflict resolution will help you:

  • Reframe your approach to conflict
  • Harness the power of storytelling
  • Identify three simple steps to resolve any conflict or disagreement in your life
  • Practice the suggested techniques through written and verbal exercises
  • And more!

Whether you’re fighting with your partner about housework, struggling to set boundaries with a difficult family member, or dealing with a toxic coworker, The Secret to Getting Along (And Why It’s Easier Than You Think!) is your best resource for navigating difficult conversations and situations—and finding the solutions that will help you create a peaceful, happy life.

Ruben and Clay Twenty Tour

Lately I have been trying to avoid shows that don’t fall during the weekend because it can be difficult to make work with my work schedule, however when the chance to see Ruben Studdard and Clay Aiken from American Idol Season 2 on a Monday night arose, I took it.  As luck would have it, work was pretty hectic and I had to actually go into the office for most of the morning but we ended up making it to the show with time to spare to grab some dinner (at the appropriately named El Idolo).

The show ended up being the most fun I’ve had at a show maybe all year so far! They did a lot of the song that they had sung on the show and talked about some of their experiences while on the show and pointed out that Julia DeMato who was also in the top with them and from CT was in attendance.  (And Clay commented that the seats they got her were not so great and told her she could move up closer if she wanted as there were some open seats up front)

The best surprise of the night was when Ruben was making fun of Clay’s dancing (mimicking a woman in the crowd) and had him sing wake me up before you go go as that is the song his dancing is best suited for, which ended up going into a boyband medley!

Even though the show seemed to be quite scripted and teleprompters were in use, it was so much fun and I am glad that I was able to make it work.  I just wish that trying to find the setlist the next day didn’t result in the death of my computer (which is part of the reason why this ended up being so late and so short)

Clay Aiken Setlist Wall Street Theater, Norwalk, CT, USA 2023, Twenty

Book Review: Baseball Field Guide

The Baseball Field Guide, 4th Edition, helps you learn about “every inch of the baseball (from the core to the stitches!)”.  As the introduction says, the basic rules are second nature to those who watch the sport regularly (me) but the official rules can be surprisingly complex. Which is true. Every now and then some weird situation comes up and you kind of wish you had a rule guide in your back pocket – and now you can!  I liked how this book has the rules broken down and there’s also graphics and images to help you understand what’s going on.  With several new rules coming to MLB this season, now that I have this field guide available to me I’ll hopefully be a bit less confused while I root on my Mets!

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

A great overview for novices and a precise reference guide for hard-core fans!

Admit it: Even if you’re a die-hard fan of our national pastime, sometimes an umpire’s call can be baffling. And for newer fans, Major League Baseball’s nuanced rules—developed and revised over many decades—can be downright perplexing.

Now updated throughout with the latest changes, including specifications about the universal designated hitter and limits on defensive shifts, the Baseball Field Guide lays out every rule in plain English. You’ll learn to answer all these questions and more:

  • Do you know the twenty-two ways a pitcher can be charged with a balk?
  • Can you list all seven ways a batter can safely get to first base?
  • Obstruction or interference—who’s at fault when things get rough?
  • What are the rules that apply before and after a game?
  • What happens when spectators are the ones who misbehave?
  • How well do you understand the infamous Infield Fly Rule (and why does it exist)?

This is the clearest explanation anywhere of the rules of baseball. Designed for quick and intuitive searches, this entertaining reference will help you understand every aspect of the game and add to your enjoyment of the sport.

Book Review: The Only and Only Ruby

The One and Only Ruby is the sequel to the One and Only Ivan – which was recently made into a fun movie! As well as a sequel to The One and Only Bob.  I used to read Katherine Applegate’s teen books when I was a  teen, I guess I am regressing as this one is more geared towards the younger crowd, but since I enjoyed Ivan I had to see what ended up happening with Ruby…

Ruby is a young elephant with a secret.  She has started being called “Tusky” by her family because her tusks are coming in – but she hates her tusks.  Ruby is no longer living at the mall, but she is still with her Uncle Ivan at the Zoo.  She ends up telling the story of when she was born and growing up in Africa.

This was a really sweet story about how you can’t stop yourself from growing up, but it’s ok to think about the past and the loved ones you’ve lost along the way as well, as they helped you to get there.

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

About the Book

From beloved powerhouse author Katherine Applegate comes The One and Only Ruby, starring the adorable baby elephant from the Newbery Medal-winning modern classic The One and Only Ivan and its bestselling sequel, The One and Only Bob.

Ruby’s story picks up a few months after the events of The One and Only Bob. Now living in a wildlife sanctuary, Ruby’s caretaker from the elephant orphanage in Africa where she grew up is visiting. Seeing him again brings back a flood of memories both happy and sad of her life before the circus, and she recounts the time she spent in the African savannah to Ivan and Bob.

In the timeless way that only Katherine Applegate could craft, this highly anticipated novel in verse is the perfect mix of heartfelt and humorous, poignant and sweet. Artist Patricia Castelao returns to the world of Ivan and his friends with gorgeous black-and-white interior illustrations to complete the story.

The One and Only Ruby features first-person narrative; author’s use of literary devices (personification, imagery); and story elements (plot, character development, perspective).

This highly anticipated middle grade novel is an excellent choice for tween readers in grades 5 to 8, for independent reading, homeschooling, and sharing in the classroom.

Don’t miss the film adaptation of The One and Only Ivan, now streaming on Disney+!

Book Review: The Future of Rock and Roll

The Future of Rock & Roll talks about the evolution of radio station 97X WOXY – which at its inception was the sixth modern rock station in the United States, based in Ohio.  The station tried to buck the trends and be independent – which at first meant avoiding repetition and playing new and more things unlike other stations (it seems like not much has changed since late 80s!).  It was very interesting to read how the media changed and how this station changed with it – even having a streaming option for their broadcasts in the early ’00s when that was relatively unheard of.  Unfortunately, the changes ended up being too much for WOXY to keep up with and they are no longer.

But definitely made me think what independence is and what it means to me.

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


About the Book

In 1983, an Ohio radio station called WOXY launched a sonic disruption to both corporate rock and to its conservative home region, programming an omnivorous range of genres and artists while being staunchly committed to local independent art and media. In the 1990s, as alternative rock went mainstream and radio grew increasingly homogeneous, WOXY gained international renown as one of Rolling Stone‘s “Last Great Independent Radio” stations. The station projected a philosophy that prioritized such independence—the idea that truly progressive, transgressive, futuristic disruptions of the status quo were possible only when practiced with and for other people.

In The Future of Rock and Roll, philosopher Robin James uses WOXY’s story to argue against a corporate vision of independence—in which everyone fends for themselves—and in favor of an alternative way of thinking and relating to one another that disrupts norms but is nevertheless supported by communities. Against the standard retelling of the history of “modern rock,” James looks to the local scenes that made true independence possible by freeing individual artists from the whims of the boardroom. This philosophy of community-rooted independence offers both a counternarrative to the orthodox history of indie rock and an alternative worldview to that of the current corporate mainstream.

Robin James is a writer, editor, and philosopher. She is author of four books including Resilience & Melancholy and The Sonic Episteme.

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