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clive-nospam-amazon@nsict.org (Cambridgeshire, UK)

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Security Engineering: A Guide to Building Dependable Distributed Systems (Wiley Computer Publishing)
Security Engineering: A Guide to Building Dependable Distributed Systems (Wiley Computer Publishing)
by Ross J. Anderson
Edition: Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Definitive, 23 April 2001
This book is superbly good - at once an introduction for those new to the field and an easy reference for experts. As would be expected of Ross Anderson, the book is full of well-chosen examples of real systems.
It is an important book; a lot of people should read it. There is malice in the world, and this must be taken into account when designing almost any system of any kind.
The most valuable perspective, for me, was seeing designs broken by shifting environmental assumptions. It's very educating to find that in many cases what previously looked like boneheaded stupidity was actually a valid decision that later turned sour.
As a minor caveat I did find numerous misprints in the book, some of which were material errors. Since the book is designed as an overview, the mistakes can easily be spotted once you turn to more detailed works on particular topics, however. Therefore the book is still easily worth the full five stars.


The Wrong Way Home
The Wrong Way Home
by Peter Moore
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Flawed, but good, 26 Oct 2000
This review is from: The Wrong Way Home (Paperback)
Peter Moore's style begs comparison with Bill Bryson's - if for no other reason than that Bryson has become an almost universal benchmark for travelogues. The glaring difference is that Moore goes places and does things Bryson never would. Forging visas, bluffing one's way into warzones, visiting insalubrious restaurants with obviously inedible food - these are things at which Moore excels. The places visited in this book are well-chosen, and play to Moore's strengths. I now know by proxy a lot more about a great many interesting places neither I nor any fully sane person would care to visit. Now the downside: While Moore paints a very good picture of the culture of the places he visits, I found his descriptions of scenery and architecture less involving and informative. I was also left wanting more historical context for much of what I read about - at least enough to relate the specific cultural attitudes Moore describes to my more general knowledge of history. Nonetheless, this is a good book. I enjoyed reading it, and would recommend it.


Risk
Risk
by John Adams
Edition: Paperback
Price: 31.99

19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book that must be read, 16 Oct 2000
This review is from: Risk (Paperback)
Anyone who can grasp the concepts discussed in this book should read it; it has universal relevance. Adams strips bare the very shaky assumptions upon which much risk assessment is based in the world. It was a shock to me, and I expect it will be a shock to most people. To use a cliche: This book changed my life. More accurately, it changed my world-view. If you need more convincing, take a look at the commendations on the back cover. Any book that can debunk so much of conventional doctrine on road safety, environmentalism, medicine, and so on, yet draw such acclaim from such a diverse range of specialist publications is a book to be reckoned with! As a final note, the book is really very small. However, it is brief and to-the-point; his two hundred pages are worth a thousand from most writers.


Junk Mail
Junk Mail
by Will Self
Edition: Paperback

15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Clever, funny and interesting, 16 Oct 2000
This review is from: Junk Mail (Paperback)
I admire Will Self. I sometimes imagine that, had I immersed myself in literature and drugs rather than science, I would now be able to write like he does. I suspect a lot of other people feel the same way, but the fact is none of us can, and never really even stood a chance. While not necessarily Self's best book (I prefer his fiction), it's probably the best vehicle for his intellect. He uses his broad vocabulary with spare, erudite precision - the result is easy and relaxing to read. He tackles controversial and emotionally-fraught topics - the result is thought-provoking, humane and sensible, while also being humourous and unconventional.


Riding With The King
Riding With The King
Price: 6.80

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Completely adequate, 9 Oct 2000
This review is from: Riding With The King (Audio CD)
I had hoped for a superb album, and was disappointed. The guitar work is excellent, but both the material being played and the recording quality are more run-of-the-mill. So, while it's a CD I don't regret having bought, it's not nearly as good as it might have been.


Dictionary of Languages
Dictionary of Languages
by Andrew Dalby
Edition: Hardcover

16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good for browsing, and for reference, 4 Mar 2000
While this book serves its function as a reference work admirably, providing quick access to useful information on pretty-much any language or dialect in the world, it is equally fascinating as a book to browse. The information is certainly extensive, and seems to be reliable and unbiased.
Sadly, the book is not without its faults. The typography is very poor in places - tables of correspondence between other scripts and the Roman alphabet are often misaligned so that considerable effort is required to work out what's what. The maps are extremely crude, though functional. Informative and useful though it is, this book is not a thing of beauty.
Also, the book explicitly excludes languages other than naturally-evolved spoken and written languages. This means it contains nothing on sign languages, nor on synthetic languages such as Esperanto and Lojban - omissions that are a minor shame.


Bill Gates' Personal Super Secret Private Laptop
Bill Gates' Personal Super Secret Private Laptop
by Henry Beard
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good coffee-table book, 4 Mar 2000
This book is pure visual slapstick, and to a certain extent a one-joke wonder.
The concept is that you open the book as if it were a laptop computer - each page pair depicts a screen and keyboard, showing some dubious activity.
To appreciate the humour, you need to have used Microsoft operating systems at least a little, and have some awareness of Bill Gates's various legal shenanigans. Provided you have the background, and aren't an incurable Microsoft zealot, you'll find this very funny indeed.
It can be enjoyed fully in under an hour - the sparse format inevitably puts not very much on each page pair. But once you've read and enjoyed it, leave it lying around the house and your friends can enjoy it too.


Sacred Mountains of the World
Sacred Mountains of the World
by Edwin Bernbaum
Edition: Paperback

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Spectacular and thought-provoking, 4 Mar 2000
I found this book in a local book store, and bought it for the spectacular photography it contained - itself worth the price. Once I had it at home, I was delighted to find that the text was every bit as superb as the photographs.
This is a fine book. It offers a view that is at one level shamelessly narrow in scope, covering mountains chiefly from the perspective of their spiritual significance, and spirituality solely from the perspective of the influence of landscape thereon. However, it then uses this basis to draw comparisons throughout history and across all cultures, with profound and fascinating results.
The photography is, as I mentioned, magnificent.. The book is lush with finely-reproduced prints of breathtaking sights, usually viewed in novel aspects.


Metamorphoses
Metamorphoses
Offered by EliteDigital UK
Price: 21.91

2.0 out of 5 stars Weak by Jarre's standards, 1 Mar 2000
This review is from: Metamorphoses (Audio CD)
Until now I have automatically bought any new Jarre album with considerable enthusiasm (except the somewhat suspect "remix" albums). In future, I will try to listen to his new material before buying it. It's not that this is a bad album, nor that it lacks telltale Jarresque character. However, it does feel very derivative - both of other artists, and of his own earlier work. He's running out of ideas fast, it seems. Another word of warning: Jarre albums have always been conspicuously well mixed. Metamorphoses feels over-processed. It soundstages wide, but the instruments have lost the organic, living breath they had in earlier albums. While the bass is taut and tuneful, it's mixed way too high - it has more in common with your average made-for-radio pop hit than the sensitive treatment given to his earlier works.


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