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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Headsup: a $5 eBook or Video from Packt Bonanza – Every title, every topic

It is back by the popular demand! Best ROI!

Any Packt ebook or video is just $5 USD, no restrictions!

Beware, the offer ends on January 6, 2015.

Happy Holidays!

I am going to stuck up and learn.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Mathematica Data Visualization by Nazmus Saquib, Packt Publishing Book Review

I love data, math, stats and I love to visualize information. But Mathematica has always been, and remains the forbidden fruit to me (due to its cost). Therefore I was very glad to agree on an opportunity to review Mathematica Data Visualization. The book stood to its promise. I liked every page of it. The is book is packed with insightful examples to producing all (or most) the most common graphs and charts a data scientist may need in ones professional life. What I actually initially expected is to read the book for a few weeks, but finished it in one evening. Pity, I could not install comparable software on my Linux laptop to try the visualizations out myself. But I was touched by the sheer visualization offerings. Mathematica seems to be the only one that offers Paired Histograms, and I wasn't expecting it to feature a full support to Geo-visualizations (maps and paths).
Nazmus is a super skilled professional, he sure brings a lot to the table, I mean to the reader of the book. I would like to have another book from him on the actual programming in Mathematica with a real project coverage.
It is a very high quality book with many reference links to other relevant literature which will enable you to expand your knowledge further. Good investment at ~ $22 in my view and it actually can be used as an evaluation to using Mathematica in your next project or research.
Again, good book, 5 out of 5.
Disclaimer: I received a free ebook version of this book for review purposes from the publisher.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Kali Linux Network Scanning Cookbook by Justin Hutchens, Packt Publishing Book Review

With the advent of the constantly connected computers (not only the Internet) the attack surface has increased immensely. At the same time the user machines became as powerful as the servers were. However, there was very little done to educate computer professionals to detect, prevent and cope intrusions or penetration attacks. Kali Linux Network Scanning Cookbook can serve very well as one to close the gap.

A little on Kali Linux: it is a specialized distribution for penetration testing and forensics purposes. It got a lot of traction lately in the penn-testing and security pros circles. As one of the less subtle features, it runs always under the super user rights and typically is installed as a VM guest OS.

Let me tell, I was shocked the book counted 450 + pages! This is how much insight and tooling actually was created to harden your computing infrastructure (jargon used by security pros, meaning making your systems less vulnerable). It is hard to imagine an average practitioner would harness each in one’s daily use, but I would to strive to. And I advocate looking in details into every applicable offering. Besides, the book uses a lot of Python code, thus the reader shall make sure one is familiar and feels comfortable performing some coding as well using basic text editors as Nano and VI. If the reader ever decides to prepare for the book I would recommend a good book on Learning Python and another from Packt on VI – Hacking VIM.

Justin being a very experienced professional delivers the material at a very detailed level, in depth, with a lot of examples and in a very digestible format. If I am not mistaken several dozens of tools are covered in his book. I think this is unprecedented!

I liked the most the chapter on TCP scanning, it was both fun and insightful. The other topic I enjoyed and trust can apply at work as a data guy is the SQL Injection with sqlmap. Fingerprinting and ghost OS detection were new to me. The familiar, but impossible to not to get in touch with tools discussed in the book are matasploit, fping and SNMPWalk. Frankly, most tools were totally new to me and I was able to gain a lot of knowledge out of this book.

I rated this book as 5 out of 5 – there seems to be nothing that can be taken out of the book nor added. A great read, highly recommend it!

Disclaimer: I was given a free electronic copy of the book by the publisher for the sole purpose of publishing a review.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Learning Java 8 By Mike Kelly, O'Reilly Media Video Review

Why I chose to learn on Java 8 is because of all the latest buzz around it. Turns out the rumours on the demise of Java have been greatly exacerbated. So Learning Java 8 could, and I trust indeed, be a very good investment into your career.

I need to start by saying I like Mike Kelly is a great lecturer. Yet Mike is what every teacher should be: have a clear, well paced voice, and deliver the material in a non-rush ahead manner.
The course the author teaches is quite basic, but you will be able to accomplish a near real life Java desktop console application. If you already have some basic knowledge on how to write in any other procedural language then you will mostly gain insight on how to utilize Eclipse to be productive coding in Java.
Some basics get repeated at times a few more times then to my liking, but repetition is a good for learning. Like I hinted, you will not learn here any CRUD database operations nor RESTFULL or Web applications are covered, but regardless, Mike teaches enough to wrestle these specifics yourself, after all since Java is very much alive there is a huge user community that is always willing to help you on forums or IRC chats.
If I were eligible to provide advice in material preparations, I would suggest to re-arrange some sections so for example the For Loops or If statements would be covered before the classes or Unit Test.
Another advice to Mike would be hinting on stopping more often allowing for exercises on my own machine.
All in all, it is great teaching material, let me stress that, to the newcomers to the Java World.
4 out of 5 is what I think it should be rated at.
Disclaimer: I received a free version of this video for review purposes as part of the O'Reilly Reader Reviewer program.

Monday, November 3, 2014

PostgreSQL: Up and Running by Regina Obe, O'Reilly Media Book Review

A Practical Guide to the Advanced Open Source Database

Like I have already mentioned in my previous blog post databases are lately in the spotlight, left and right. This was the primary reason for me to choose yet another book on databases for review*. I know that NoSQL data stores are more trendy for now, but the traditional RDBMS' would not give its sheer install base out quite easily like that yet to them. The secondary reason was, while I am a full time in SQL Server, I suspected I may be missing something by not getting familiar with what most IT pros may state competition.

Indeed, having a backdoor or more correctly a mechanism to allowing custom extensions (called add-ons from PG 9.1) to be baked into the database engine allow taking PostgreSQL to new heights without going through costly upgrades. One of the intersting ones (at least to me) is the key-value store called HStore Just for reference, starting SQL Server 2014 the In-Memory engine is part of the core database. Did I mention the RDMBS' don't give up just yet?

The book mentions so many different versions of PostgreSQL so many times at time my head was spinning trying to recall what is used in what version or different. After finished reading the book I started to suspect it would be better to for the author to concentrate on the latest version because the previous builds are so different. Overall, I fail to grasp what was the main objective of this book. The material coverage is sparse or not in depth, of course as a result the book is quite short, and you can always buy another book or solicit various forums or IRC chats.

Well, the book has answered my primary and secondary interests, and seems that I am not the biggest fan of the PostgreSQL as a database engine yet. Why? This is probably because I am too spoiled by the SQL Server install and forget way of operating. Me, as a database developer and DBA needing to restart the database after a simple security file modification or setting the memory via SHMMAX or threads for multiple backup restores make me chuckle.

However, PostgreSQL has many advantages, I admit, too. What I liked is the ability to backup a single table or have backups restorable to any version of the database engine is a big plus. Not to mention triggers on views, unlogged tables or exclusion constraints. Read the book to know a lot more.

When it comes to the book itself, Regina and Leo did a fantastic job, they know the product really well, 5 out of 5 is my mark.

*Disclaimer: I received this book for free in exchange for a review as part of the O'Reilly Reader Review Program.



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