Thursday, December 31, 2009

Canon PowerShot SX20IS 12.1MP Digital Camera with 20x Wide Angle Optical Image Stabilized Zoom and 2.5-inch Articulating LCD

The easy of use, the ability to save custom settings, the optical zoom range, the articulating LCD screen, the high definition video capability, steady shot...the macro shot...i'm running out of breath...

My point is that the features this camera has is as close as you can get to a full blown slr without having to carry multiple lenses, filters and all the other features that an slr requires to reach it's potential.

The built of the camera is totally solid. It feels sturdy. The workmanship is first class. The playback menus are truly noteworthy. Zooming and cropping your pictures is as easy as can be. The video playback menu is stellar. Most cameras its push to start playback, push to stop. The SX20IS has a full ranged menu that includes playback, pause slow mo, ffw, rew, advance to last frame, go back to first frame. It is the most extensive I have ever seen.

The price is as good as it gets. and with Amazon prime, it doesn't get any better than that. The only drawback was the lens cover. With such an outstanding product, greter care should have been placed to protect a critical element of your investment.

Bottom line, this camera is an excellent investment if you care about preserving your memories.

Under the Dome: A Novel

I think Under the Dome is one of the best books Stephen King has written since "The Stand." I loved the concept of "Under the Dome" and unlike many of the reviewers here, I loved how he drew the character of Big Jim Rennie. I know that guy. I've known quite a few Big Jim Rennies during my lifetime. In my opinion, the bad guys were characterized quite a bit better than the good guys. My biggest disappointment was with Barbie. At the beginning of the book, I thought he was going to be a fascinating hero.

Turns out, he was a bit too quiet and unassuming for my taste, which leads me to my next criticism. I like a book with a full stage of characters, but still, I need that one hero(ine) to stand out as the main character. To me, the only main character in the book was Big Jim, which I suppose is okay for the villain to claim center stage. Still, I wish that Barbie had shined just a bit more, or even Rusty (although his character just never really did it for me ..... sorry to the "real" Rusty for this comment, for I'm sure you're far more interesting. :))

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed the book. It could have and should have been a bit shorter, I think. (There were too many characters who took up pages which should have been devoted to the main cast.) Yet, it's a fascinating read, and the last three hundred pages are real page-turners.

One last word to the author: I love the fact that you can get away with so many things other authors wouldn't dare attempt, as in that intrusive narrator. I mean, how many writers can get past an editor's desk with sentences such as, "Thanks to the magic of narration...." Kudos, Mr. King. By golly, you've earned the right, and I applaud you. :)

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Learn Objective–C on the Mac (Learn Series)

I consider myself to be an intermediate to upper level programmer. My expertise has been in Java and C++, doing mostly Windows applications. I decided to try to pick up Objective-C and later iPhone programming after buying a new mac.

I absolutely loved this book.

It plays very well to the intermediate level programmers who have done a lot with object oriented programming and object oriented languages. It gives fantastic detail about the Objective-C framework and really walks you through it. I just finished this book about 30 minutes ago and already feel very empowered. I also loved that this book explains a lot of the Xcode features, as they're very helpful.

If you're a programmer looking to start out into the Mac world, I would highly recommend this as a good starting place. It's a pretty quick read and will teach you a lot.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Canon PowerShot SX20IS 12.1MP Digital Camera with 20x Wide Angle Optical Image Stabilized Zoom and 2.5-inch Articulating LCD

I received the Canon PowerShot SX20IS 12.1MP Digital Camera a few days ago. I wanted a good quality camera for all-around, basic shooting. The main features that attracted me were the wide angle/zoom lens and the video option.

I am not an expert, or even an experienced amateur. I just want to be able to point, shoot, and take decent pics and some occasional video, so I was thrilled when Canon PowerShot SX20IS 12.1MP Digital Camera arrived this week.

In my opinion, the best eye-pleasing pictures are those that show the vibrant colors and color variations - all other things being equal. I've experimented with various settings and taken the same shots with those various settings, and compared shots taken with Auto, Landscape, Portrait, etc. against the Foilage setting [SCN/Foilage], and the Foilage setting is by far the best for bringing out the colors (which it is meant to do anyway). Compared to those pics taken using the Foilage setting, the ones taken in the other settings are dull - not that they aren't decent pictures in the other settings, just compared to the Foilage pictures they are dull(er). So for basic shots, I will probably use the Foilage setting most of the time for all-around shooting - the pictures are beautiful.

One problem I expect with this, is to get to the Foilage setting, you must use the top dial set to SCN, then using the free-spinning dial on the back, select foilage. Problem is, after taking shots and letting the camera hang against your body, the free-spinning dial may be prone to be moved to select another setting...

One of the issues I do have, is not being able to choose to set the Auto-Focus frame to the center of the screen for many settings - such as Auto... I'm not crazy about the "smart focus" which chooses which subject(s) that it thinks is the main subject(s) - in my case of shooting mostly non-people so far, this "smart-focus" has been wrong. I think most of us non-pro photographers usually center our subject anyway, and even if we don't, we should still have the option of keeping the AF frame in the center...

One other thing that hasn't worked for me is connecting it to HDMI on my TV. I'm going to take it to Best Buy and try it there. If it still isn't working, I hate to send it back because it is a good camera, but I would like the HDMI feature to work to see my videos in true HD.

In summary, the wide-to-zoom feature is great, takes very good pictures (especially in Foilage), takes excellent video. The video option is excellent - you can take pics while filming, and you can simply press the video button in the back to start taking video even if you're in a picture-taking setting - very nice feature. See here for a sample of pictures taken with Canon PowerShot SX20IS 12.1MP Digital Camera.

If you're not a pro photographer and want to have a great all-around camera, this is definitely a good buy. I hope I can get my HDMI/TV feature to work so I can keep my camera...

Friday, December 18, 2009

highlights of the literary year

Start your reading: The organizers of the Tournament of Books, one of the highlights of the literary year, have for the first time announced their long list, the 50 books they are considering for their 16-book bracket in January. They have most of our favorite fiction of the year covered, with some intriguing wild cards too, but among those from our own list that didn't make the cut: Cutting for Stone, Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It, Too Much Happiness, The Magicians, Blood's a Rover, and The Vagrants.

"Read across rather than down": Milorad Pavic, the game-playing Serbian novelist best known for his first novel, Dictionary of the Khazars, died recently in Belgrade at the age of 80 (the Times obituary just appeared today). The Dictionary, you may recall, was released in "male" and "female" editions that differed by a single, hidden paragraph. Dorkily, I of course have both versions on my shelf (not that I've read either), but only now I find that Pavic himself considered that owning both was "like incest."

Room for one more Teen Wolf reference: Bill Simmons, whose Book of Basketball our own Dave Callanan pretty much single-handedly made into a #1 bestseller, gets 2,200 words in his ESPN column to run his deleted scenes from what was already the fattest sports book since, well, you know Simmons would make a joke about Wilt's little black book here... [P.S. After posting, I just ran across New York mag's roundtable on The Book of Basketball, featuring Jonathan Lethem, Sherman Alexie, FreeDarko's Bethlehem Shoals, among others, which is worth a post of its own but probably won't get one.]

Moving & shaking: An appearance on Ellen this morning raises Lewis Blackwell's lovely coffee-table book, The Life & Love of Trees, into our Top 100 and up to the top spot in today's Movers & Shakers list.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Apple iMac MB950LL/A 21.5-Inch Desktop

Apple iMac MB950LL/A 21.5-Inch DesktopI will never go back to a PC again. I love my new Mac. Its sleek and very awesome. lol. Its very fast and quiet. I love the new magic mouse. Nothing like the plan old mouse. I love everything about my computer.

At first I was afraid of buying a computer online. But I got a great deal. I didn't get charged for tax and buying on Amazon was cheaper then buying in a store. Plus I saved an extra $50 buying off of Amazon. Get product and great service!!! Once you go Mac you wont go back!!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Amazon Associates and Google Blogger Now Integrated

Today Amazon announced Amazon Associates for Blogger, a direct integration between Amazon Associates and Blogger.  This new collaboration enables Bloggers to monetize their content by adding relevant Amazon products to their blog posts without interrupting the blog editing process.  Amazon Associates for Blogger is available now at Amazon Associates who don’t have a Google Blogger account can set up a free Blogger account with their Associates ID and start earning right away.

How does it work?
The new tool allows Bloggers to add links and images to their blog posts in just 2 easy steps: 
1.Bloggers highlight the relevant text and the Amazon Product Finder will search Amazon’s millions of products and recommend the ones that are most closely associated with the text

2.Bloggers can then insert a link or image to that product which includes their Associates ID, enabling them to earn up to 15% in referral fees from Amazon e.g.
Vodafone Stakes Leadership with DRM-free, Dual-downloadable Music (Competitive Update)

Bloggers will also be able to show dynamic content in their blog sidebar using a new set of integrated Sidebar gadgets, such as gadgets for MP3 clips from the Amazon DRM-free music store, an Amazon Deals gadget, and an Amazon Search box.

Also as part of this new integration, Bloggers who don’t have a free Amazon Associates account can create one directly within Blogger so tell your friends that use Blogger how they can start earning with Amazon Associates today.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Lost Symbol - Dan Brown

I had never before read a Dan Brown book when I read the lost symbol. I had seen the Da Vinci code film and that was enough to put me off ever even picking his book up in a book shop. My boyfriend bought it for his mum and as a passing comment it said, ooh that looks interesting.

The next thing I know, its arriving on my door step! I read it in a very short space of time, due to the fact I have my nose glued between the pages, unable to put it down. Its the hardcover version and I've got a very bad back, but I still thought it was worth lugging it around in return for the chance to enter the amazing world the book offers.

I was very interested in the information it contains on the free masons and other organisation in the book. I found it very interesting and very exciting! Since reading this book i have read the Da vinci code and angels and daemons and have just started on digital fortress. I have a new found love for the writings of Dan Brown. Don't let the films put you off!

They miss out all the elegant descriptions and writings of Dan Brown and just shred the story! I definitely recommend this book!

Monday, December 07, 2009

Free Assassin's Creed II

I was maybe one of the few who loved Assassin's Creed I regardless of the repetitive nature of the game. I could spend hours just exploring the cities, admiring the architecture and pointlessly romping around. So I was concerned at the trailers for Assassin's Creed II - it looked like it might be a more regimented storyline. Would AC2 limit your ability to just goof when ever you wanted off for the benefit of a plot? Would the missions be too long and be too convoluted? Would it lose the soul of the first which was exploration first, storyline second? Thankfully all of my fears were unfounded. Assassin's Creed II is quite possibly the best sequel in any art media. They've taken the budding roots of AC1 and built a tree - not just any tree but a huge redwood full of branches and interesting knots, twists and turns. And you can explore it however and whenever you want. Missions are short and sweet and reward your character with just enough growth to make continuing with the story preferable, despite the OCD collector in me desperately trying to get out.

There's simply so much to do and see and learn about, and such a varied way to do it all. From attacking to defending, stealth-play to exploring, everything is bigger and better. Even load times are faster despite the much more massive cities on offer, and there's no more forced listening to a god-awful cutscene before you can jump-in. Plus avid in-game item collectors such as myself are in heaven - I'd say I haven't seen this much to find in a game since Donkey Kong 64. Thankfully for the most part it's not just a case of randomly stumbling on flags either; now you can buy treasure chest maps for every part of the cities which pinpoint an item's location... and yet still finding some of the chests is still a challenge.

Ubisoft have made such a vast game that there's little point in highlighting the features and fun stuff, I'm bound to leave something out. We're talking a 30+ hour single player game here folks. I applaud that duration heartily especially after washing the bitter taste of COD4:MW2's 5 hour SP campaign. So it's clearly it's hard to fault AC2 but it's not impossible... the opening sequence and build up to going back in the Animus is far, far too long and tedious and the mandatory timed missions are the bane of the game (ugh), but that doesn't mean that AC2 is not absolutely THE game of the year and the sequel of the decade.

If you were put off by the first not quite working for you then don't hesitate to get this - it completely fulfils the promises of the first game and manages surpasses them beautifully.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Free Amazon Kindle Leather Cover

I read several positive reviews about Kindle2 before I purchased it and my expectations have been exceeded. It's easy to hold, read, turn pages, make notes, access the dictionary, move between books, change type size, search using google, and look for and buy Kindle books. Downloads are almost immediate.

Free books are available at the Kindle store. Free downloads of samples of books I'm considering purchasing is a great feature. There is enough to make an informed decision to buy or not so the samples have saved me money. I highly recommend the leather case. It protects the Kindle2 and makes it easier to hold.

The search feature is very useful in locating information to help my clients. I use it when I remember reading something that is relevant and want the actual passage. My only disappointment so far is having to turn it off for take off & landing when I'm travelling so I bring articles to read when my Kindle2 isn't available.

I am pleased I decided to purchase the leather case. I'm very particular about the condition of my books so obviously I wanted to protect my Kindle. It's pleasing on the eye, is made from good quality leather and it gives you the feel of holding a book as opposed to a mini computer. It's reasonably priced and arrived much faster than I anticipated.

I'd recommend that when you purchase your new Kindle, purchase the leather protection case at the same time.

Here's a movie clip in various colours.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Make a Fortune Promoting Other People's Stuff Online: How Affiliate Marketing Can Make You Rich

One thing that makes this book different from her "Affiliate Program Handbook" is that in the digital title she does two things: it's more step by step, and she teaches you how she does her pay per click campaigns.

This book isn't so much a step by step guide as it is a blueprint. What Rosalind does is explain in great detail what affiliate marketing is, what you need to get started, and where to go to find good affiliate programs related to what you want to sell. In other words, you get an outline of the process that's involved, and the steps you need to take.

One thing I've learned over the last 7+ years that I've been in business is that most of those who are new to online business just want to jump in and start making money immediately. Usually they have some kind of bill they need to pay quickly, or they need extra money. The problem here is that although online business will get you started more quickly, it still takes a little time to start making money.

That's why Rosalind's system works so well. It helps you lay a strong foundation for affiliate business success by introducing you to the key principles and showing you how to get started. She will also introduce you to the basics of internet marketing, outline the most effective techniques, and show you how to start marketing your business once you've built your first website.

For those who are interested in getting started in affiliate marketing (it is the easiest business to start), or for those who need a good refresher course, start here. This is pretty straightforward stuff, and it will help you understand the basics pretty well.

Unlike a lot of internet marketing information out there, this is pretty hype free, and the information she offers is solid.

Make a Fortune Promoting Other People's Stuff Online: How Affiliate Marketing Can Make You Rich

Monday, November 23, 2009

The 2009 National Book Award Winners

You can follow Jeff's account of the National Book Awards gala from press row in his running comments to his post earlier tonight, but here's a quick wrapup of the winners, which include, we're thrilled to say, our own choice for the Best Book of 2009, Let the Great World Spin, Colum McCann's tender ensemble novel of New York City at the moment of Philippe Petit's tightrope walk between the Twin Towers. The #nba09 Twitter thread was very long, and the news reports of the awards are rather short so far tonight, but Jeff will be back in the daylight hours with a lengthier first-hand account of the evening.

The winners:

* Fiction: Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann
* Nonfiction: The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt by T.J. Stiles
* Poetry: Transcendental Studies: A Trilogy by Keith Waldrop
* Young People's Literature: Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice by Phillip Hoose

Also, as previously announced, Gore Vidal was honored for his Distinguished Contribution to American Letters (and apparently stole the show with his riffs on FDR and the state of modern publishing) and Dave Eggers won the 2009 Literarian Award. And the results of the public voting for the 60th anniversary Best of the National Book Awards Fiction prize were revealed, with Flannery O'Connor's Complete Stories finishing ahead of five other finalists from the original field of all 77 previous NBA fiction winners.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

CandyGirl Video: Sweet Satisfaction Jasmine Grey Special Edition

Sometimes a girl doesn't need to be over-the-top explicit - to be sexy. Sometimes a simple peek will be as sweet - as an entire view!

That's what makes these `Candy Girl' videos so satisfying. And even though I'm probably not the intended audience -- this episode is definitely my favorite.

Unlike later releases -- which focus on just one girl - this original issue offers a much wider variety of babes, situations, and types of sexual encounters to enjoy.

A lithe blonde - wearing a micro-bikini - pretends to be asleep in bed. Her tossing and turning provides us with an array of tantalizing views.

A buxom Britney Spears-style blonde relaxes on a sofa - while trying on different dental floss-sized bikinis, and sometimes hiking her t-shirt (to temptingly show us what's underneath).

A cute brunette stands, bends, sits, and walks up stairs - while letting the camera move in as closely (underneath her skirt) as it wants. Some of Candy Girl's nicest (and most original) work is their outdoor upskirt segments - where young women wear short billowy dresses (with string panties underneath) while traipsing or strolling in public - on a very windy day. (How smart is that?)

In a type of scene unique to this episode (but shouldn't be) - two young women practice kissing while clothed -- and later while almost nude and lying together on a bed. The camera lingers over every inch, and the audio nicely relays the smacking sounds of their gently parting lips.

For guys, this video will bring many (adolescent) fantasies vividly to life - using women who are obviously well past adolescence. For girls (who want to learn how to be sexy), it's sometimes fun - to see how the other-male-half lives. (It may not take as much as you'd think.) Enjoy.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Free - Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

I never bought Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. I was just not that into it when I was already dug in deep with Halo 3 and couldn't care much for any other FPS shooter for a while after that. Eventually though the game lost its appeal and I started renting video games just about every weekend between school work and other activities.

I rented COD 4 and played through the campaign. I liked it a lot and thought that the graphics were rather impressive compared to what I had seen in COD 3. I never touched the multi-player because I basically figured it would be the same as any other shooter just with modern weapons (which I got to experience in 2006 with Rainbow Six: Vegas). I knew the game was good and I very much liked the franchise, so I ended up purchasing Call of Duty: World at War last November. I didn't find anything bad about this game at all because I love World War II games. I can switch from modern or past and it doesn't matter to me. I levelled up to 10th prestige 65 and edged off of that once this past summer was over with.

The hype eventually reached out to me and brought me in, so I bought the game earlier today and played straight through the campaign. I don't like how there isn't co-op. It would truly make this game much more enjoyable when you have an experience to share with your friends. It's like sharing and living in a whole other world and being active participants in these dangerous, death-defying missions beyond most of our capabilities we find ourselves thrust into doing.

I thought the campaign trailer was stunning and it was very gripping. There are many touches to realism and well, you'd just have to play it. The ending or cliffhanger was awesome. I'll probably pre-order Modern Warfare 3 right away.

The multi-player for me wasn't that big of a jump from Call of Duty: World at War. Like I said, it's basically everything changed but the basic structure of the play style is the same. Coming from playing a World War II game with those weapons, I'm not facing much difficulty holding my own in a modern setting. The transition is very easy, almost transparent. I guess that might depend though on your ability to adapt to new environments, so it might not be. It was though for me. I'm going to say though that from all the levels I've played they were really great and I'm looking forward to playing some more tomorrow.

See the whole games here >>

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Introducing Amazon's Denim Shop with Free Shipping & Free Returns on Jeans

I love this, Amazon have just launched a new Denim Shop with free shipping and free returns on jeans. Just like all major retailers,they made it unbelievably easy to search and find an impressive lineup of premium denim brands such as 7 for All Mankind, Lucky Brand, Joe’s Jeans, plus all-American classics such as Levi’s. It’s everything customers love about jeans, now right here at

I don't know about you guys but I think this is a new direction for Amazon. In a recent move, the ...

Continue >>

Friday, November 06, 2009

Googled: The End of the World As We Know It

This book is all about Google from garage to cell phones, in chronological order, the good and the not-so good story. Perfect for a student bookworm dealing with websites, there are lessons to be learned by studying the trials, tribulations, and successes of this company. What I am into is creating successes for myself professionally. Whenever a book like this comes up in the Vine Program, I order it.

I haven't read this author's other books, but I have read studies like them. By reading books like these, and particularly books about big businesses like Google, Microsoft, or Apple, I get a bird's-eye-view of what makes failures and successes. This helps me very much in my current job dealing with customers, and management.

This book is particularly good because it starts at the beginning of Google's story, and ends now. And in this financial climate, the book takes an honest look at what could be around the bend.

I haven't read a book on Google before, so the first few chapters provided a useful history of the company and background of the founders. The author paints a picture of a somewhat arrogant persona in the engineers who believe in the art of the possible, who use a combination of their intellects and technology to pry open the covers of various industries and essentially rewire them completely. This impression is useful in conveying not only the unprecedented changes being fostered on the world by Google, but also leading in the major part of the book, assessing its impact on everybody else.

I'm a huge fan of open source, open standards, etc etc so I'll be the last one to sing the praises of Microsoft or Apple - but where we've bashed these companies to death with questions about their monopolistic ambitions, this book raises similar questions about Google. Yes, pretty much everything Google offers is free - at least for you - but 100% of the cost is being shouldered by advertisers. Is this fair? To what extent does the company have the right to kill traditional media, and is this really Google's fault at all? Is Google's approach an abuse of privacy and copyright laws or not?

The author delves into a range of different areas - some of which have been discussed in the media, and others are ambitious and thought provoking. I'd recommend this for anyone who has an interest in pop-tech or web 2.0 - while I don't necessarily agree with the authors conclusions, he raises some excellent questions.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

May Referral Payment $3,697. 78 - My Biggest Payment From Amazon

I have been making some cool cash since I changed my method of promoting my affiliate programmes. For example here's a screenshot of the amount I made in May this year. This was a few months after I followed some of the tips in this book. I have 8 blogs so that should give you an idea of the amount of effort required to keep them relevant and fresh with content. I won't be discussing what product niche these blogs target for now as I'm currently trying to build and nurture it. But I will be prepared to discuss a few of them if anyone is interested.

I must stress that this currently works for me because of the number of Twitter followers I have. The methods and tips used assumes that you already have at least 1000 Twitter followers.That way your chances of click-throughs are greater.

I would also like to point out that depending on your campaign, your earning may vary compare to mine. But one thing you should not let get in the way is doubt. If you have doubts about how much you could make and the time to put into promoting your programmes, then this is definitely not for you. So, if you are serious about making money just like the rest of us, keep reading and follow the simple steps described below.

Finally, if anyone wants the modified copy of the Python script I use for promoting mine on Twitter and other social networking sites, please leave a comment in the comments area and I will get back to you.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Altec Lansing inMotion COMPACT iM310 Portable Speakers for iPod and MP3 Players

I like this dock and use it a lot. Friends have also commented that they are impressed with the sound from such a compact unit. One of the cool features is that it runs for a very long time on 3 AA batteries, which makes it perfect for taking along on a camping or beach trip, or just out in the backyard for BBQ music. On a camping trip I don't have to worry about it running out of charge.

Just pop in a set of fresh batteries if I need to. But I don't need to do that very often because it seems to play forever on 3 batteries.

When I'm at home I keep it in the kitchen plugged into AC power. I think it sounds darn good for it's size, and I'm fairly picky about that sort of thing. I would buy it again and would recommend it to friends.

perfect product for the price . sounds awesome works with ipod. batteries last longer than most rechargeables. runs on three double a batteries and plugs into the wall. easy to use. looks like it costs hundreds but was only fifty.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The General's Book Club: What's Petraeus Reading?

I love spotting books in the background of photos, and here's today's mystery. I've spent a fair amount of time tracking the reading habits of candidate and president Obama, and we've seen some of his favorites get a boost into our top 100. But he's not the only member of the government who can sell a book. I'm not sure if General David Petraeus, the cerebral CentCom commander, has released any reading lists, but no doubt his influence (or at least his example) has helped a book like The Accidental Guerrilla, by his Australian advisor David Kilcullen, become an unlikely bestseller on Amazon.

So my question for today, based on this AFP/Getty photograph of the general at this week's Marine counterinsurgency conference, which I came across on Tom Ricks's Best Defense blog: what book does he have on the table next to him? The title clearly is "Wildcat", but I can't decipher the author name. I thought my Amazon search skills were pretty good, but I can't find a book that matches the cover. (This is the closest I came.) I'm guessing the subtitle is not "The Joe B. Hall Story."

Anybody better versed in the subject, or in data extraction, who can help me out? --Tom

Update: In the comments, Lauren solved the puzzle with better sleuthing skills than mine--thanks! And the answer is even more interesting than I'd hoped: the book is Wildcat: Irak 1991/2003 : Carnets de guerre d'un journaliste rebelle by the Belgian soldier-turned-war correspondent Yves Debay. It's not available on or, but we do have it on I'm not sure if he was reading the book or was given it at the conference, but to be reading a book by a "rebel journalist"--in the original French--certainly would be consistent with the Petraeus mystique...

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Top Tips for Protecting Your Linux Servers

Unless you have been living in a strange planet somewhere outside out universe, you will have noticed that more and more companies are now making that transition from Microsoft Windows based server to Unix/Linux platforms for various reasons ranging from cost to security concerns.

If you or your company are part of that trend, the question is how do you ensure that your setup is as secure and robust as possible? It's one thing to move to a more trusted and secure platform, it's another when it comes to keep a tight lid on it to ensure that you do not leave your system to unauthorised access from just about anyone.

In this post, I will try and list a few of the vital steps you should take to ensure that your system is not porous.
  • Make sure no one can browse the directories
  • Make sure only root has write privileges to everything, and only root has read privileges to certain config files
  • Run mod_security

One of the most important things you should decide on is what ports should be open to the outside world. For most people, the only port necessary is the default HTTP port 80. Only root should have write access to the system. It is almost impossible to find a company without database of some sort these days, so if you have one, make sure that the root account details is changed.

If you must connect remotely to your server, make sure you open SSH port 22, disable you root account on your server, create a user on your MySQL database with limited privileges and review those privileges for those not required.

As crazy as it may sound, you should not announce to the world that you run your own server on your home or office connection. You never know you might come after your setup - that's another reason why you should not run your apps on root account. It also helps if you have a dynamic IP - this way you can't be endlessly getting hammered. A simple restart gets you a new IP.

Finally, bear in mind you're opening up a can of worms as soon as you start opening anything up to external traffic. Remember what you consider an experimental server, almost like a sacrificial lamb, is also easy pickings for people looking to do bad things with your network and resources.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Programming in Objective-C 2.0

Completely unlike any other programming book I've read. I would have gotten more seriously into programming alot sooner had I read Programming in Objective-C earlier.

The Programming in Objective-C came in good time considering I was outside the UK. I have to say it suffered a bit due to it being a paperback. The binding was good and the paper quality good.

The printed material is the most important part and I have to say that right from the start, I was learning alot about the language and the introduction was so clear, I could understand on the first sitting. On getting into the next chapter and starting to learn the language itself, I was surprised to find how easy it was to get through.

You really don't need a computer in front of you to actually understand what Programming in Objective-C really is.
The best part was the Q & A section at the end of the chapter. It makes you feel that you are taking a course in the language and also helps you evaluate how much you have actually learned.

I would recommend Programming in Objective-C to anyone who wishes to learn a language for the first time.
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