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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Essential COM
Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional
Authors: Don Box
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Excellent book for those that have some knowledge of COM


Although this book may not be for someone brand new to COM, it is good reading for developers that have some basic knowledge of COM. Don presents the information very well. He is definitely an authority on the subject!



Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Malicious Cryptography: Exposing Cryptovirology
Publisher: Wiley
Authors: Adam Young, Moti Yung
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Heaven's dark side


This book presents an initial, interesting idea - could a computer virus be written that attacks a computer by encrypting the user's data? This could be a tool for extortion or a unique Denial of Service attack. Now this is not a new idea (eg: the KOH virus) but there is a new twist - the data is encoded with an asymmetric cipher, thus rendering it unrecoverable except to the virus writer. The authors state that such a virus has indeed been trialled in a proof-of-concept form, on a Macintosh SE30 (a nice machine to develop on, from memory) in System 6, so there's no "whoops, where's it gone?" problem. There is some detailed high level discussion of techniques and pitfalls. The authors then go on to describe how contemporary cryptographic technology may be adapted to the theft of information such as secure data and passwords. This is all done at the level of mathematical relationships - there is no viral code.

Two new words are added to the language - cryptovirology (the study of computer viruses with a cryptographic payload, usually malicious) and kleptography (the application of cryptography to data theft).

Here are a few chapter or section headings to give a taste of the themes running through this work: Through Hackers's Eyes; Cryptovirology; Deniable Password Snatching; Using Viruses to Steal Information; Computationally Secure Information Stealing; The Nature of Trojan Horses; Subliminal Channels.

The book starts with an accessible piece of fiction, but quickly progresses to the opaque style common to much academic writing in this field. The reader is well advised to brush up on matrix algebra, Jacobians and Abelian and non-Abelian groups and to have a working knowledge of computer viruses (however obtained). There are appendices intended to provide brief tutorials on computer viruses and public key cryptography. But both these very different specialised fields require far more study than any précis can provide.

While the writing is often hard going there is an enjoyable first chapter describing three incidents in the life of a virus writer (a student at a US university) as he writes and releases a virus. It provides a vicarious experience of the motivation for such activity - the mental challenge, the adrenalin rush and the exercise of secret power.

The writing, as referred to above, is uneven and there seems to be some confusion as to who the audience is for this work. Some seems to have come from one of the authors' doctoral thesis - you have been warned! It's an academic work, so academic cryptographers would be the principal readers. But since it's offered for sale to the public, one wonders who else would read it? We can rule out some groups. If you refer to yourself as "133t", then you can count yourself out, as can those wannabees who capture virus code, do a partial rewrite, add their handle, then release their "new" version. There is no rip-off virus code here. Even whoever wrote Nimda or Code Red or NetSky will find this heavy going, competent thought they are in the mysteries of mobile code and system calls. Certainly anti-virus software coders will find this of little use. If I can let my imagination run free, perhaps also the legendary Hidden Masters of cyberspace, those hackers beyond "elite" in their esoteric knowledge, who work alone, do not meet other hackers except deep behind some firewall and who are never suspected, let alone arrested, perhaps they will be inspired to even greater feats of data theft. But then we'd never know, would we?



Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Multimedia for Learning: Methods and Development (3rd Edition)
Publisher: Allyn & Bacon
Authors: Stephen M. Alessi, Stanley R. Trollip
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
The authoritative source for eLearning design


This book, now in its third edition, has been widely recognized as the authoritative text for instructional design of computer-based training and eLearning. The new edition has been expanded considerably, with information on simulation, web-based learning, and distance learning. The sound treatment of tutorial instruction remains. This is a required reference for anyone doing instructional design of eLearning.



Product: Book - Paperback
Title: C Programming Language (2nd Edition)
Publisher: Prentice Hall PTR
Authors: Brian W. Kernighan, Dennis Ritchie, Dennis M. Ritchie
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Simply the best


This is the best book available for C. It covers the ANSI C 1989 standard. I consider it to be comprehensible to intermediate level C programmers, so my opinion is that if you want to understand completely what you read you must have some C background. Of course if you have that background, read the book and see the Light.