Fun-Day Friday – Book Review – Networking for Systems Administrators chapter 0

The lack of votes has been heard, tallied, and respected.  The winner is “book reviews” each Friday for a while.  I decided to do a chapter by chapter review, though I may include multiple chapters in any given review as we move along.

Our first book will be “Netowrking for Systems Administrators” by (surprise) Michael W. Lucas.

Since this book has a “Chapter 0,” we’ll just cover it, today.

This chapter is an introduction chapter, which addresses whom the book is for (systems administrators, DBAs, web administrators, developers, and other computing professionals.)  It also includes a note to network administrators to explain what will and will not be covered, since the size of the book is limited.

After the niceties are covered, he defines what he means by “server” versus “network device.”  The distinctions are important for the argumentative people that look for ways to nitpick.

Next, he covers a slew of basic network troubleshooting and analysis tools that are common across multiple operating systems to ensure that the reader can go ahead and get comfortable with looking for and trying out these tools if they aren’t already somewhat familiar with them.

Tools that range from basic “host,” “nslookup,” and “netstat” commands to advanced “tcpdump,” and “wireshark” commands are listed for the user to learn.

Finally, he does his best to give a very brief overview of how the remaining chapters break down.  There are two groups of chapters mentioned.  Chapters 1 through 6 cover technologies that systems administrators really should know.  Chapters 7 through 12 cover inspecting network information passively as well as actively probing the network for troubleshooting and analysis.

Lucas’ calculated humor is definitely present, and my initial take on the book (I’ve read the whole thing, just reviewing on chapter today) is that every IT professional should own a copy of this book.

Fun-Day Friday – Book Review and Recap of Week One of NaNoWriMo

So, before I get to the book review, I wanted to recap that November is National Novel Writing Month. I’ve written three full days thus far, and the word count comes out to:
Day 1 – 1804
Day 2 – 1924
Day 3 – 1683

Remember that the average minimum for each day is 1667 words, so I’m ahead of the curve, so far. Hopefully, I can keep up the momentum.

As for the book review, it’s really a set-of-books review. Last time I did one of these, I mentioned the Montague Portal series. I’ve read the rest of the books in the series, and I wanted to share my thoughts on them.

All of these books except the first one (already reviewed) follow a single person named Aidan Redding. She is a security officer for Montague Corporation, and she gets progressively better at her job as the stories progress.

In “Sticky Supersaturation” the premise is that the universe is a two dimensional space, so the laws of physics make everything sticky to the touch, tastes are bland, and so on. The lab gets overrun by some horny chipmunks that devour antimatter, and it all goes downhill from there. The antics are memorable, and the story takes a couple of twists before Redding saves the day. Again, my only complaint is that it was too short.

In “Forever Falls” the universe is literally on a cliff face with a never ending waterfall. Redding investigates the death of one of the researchers, ends up in some sky diving death defying situations, fights to survive, and gets her suspect in the end. Mostly because the suspect believed she was dead, and couldn’t handle himself when she showed up to announce his part in the murder. She only lost part of a hand for her efforts, though she also got a bit wind burned. This one is longer, labeled a “novella” and is almost just the right length for these kinds of stories.

In “Hydrogen Sleets” the universe is just like our own. The laws of physics are the same. The problem is, it’s right at the beginning of its birth, so most of the universe is composed of free floating hydrogen that hasn’t decided to form stars or other matter, yet. A space station is built for the research, and she gets a try at a political stint. As a liaison officer, she has to deal with both her boss from Montague, and the civilian Congolese workers on board. Politics play a big role in some of the tensions, but she manages to navigate her way through the issues without too much trouble. I mean, what’s a damaged hand (again) and almost getting crushed by super gravity, plus a nice jagged jab in the side among friends? Yeah, it went something like that. She gets sent back for medical leave (again) at the end, but gets compliments and reprimands in spades for her efforts. This was labeled a novel, and while short for one, it was pretty much the perfect length.

I hope more Montague Portal stories are forthcoming, because the concept is divine. I highly recommend all of these if you haven’t read them yet. I wonder if it would be too difficult to develop a tabletop RPG around the series. Hmm. Food for thought.

Fun-Day Friday – Book Review – No More Lonesome Blue Rings

No More Lonesome Blue Rings – Book Review

If you haven’t figure it out by now, I’m a huge fan of Michael W. Lucas as a tech writer. The thing is, he also writes fiction, and his fiction (so far) is just as amazing. I’ve purchased and read both books currently available in the Immortal Clay series (Immortal Clay, and Kipuka Blues.) These two books are an excellent length for a short novel, and the premise of their story is engaging. I will probably do a review on each or both at some point in the future.

However, today I am going to review a very short book entitled “No More Lonesome Blue Rings.” This book is in a collection of books called the “Montague Portal” series. I’ve been sitting on the fence about snagging these books, because I am currently in the middle of a rather large tome from another author. That said, I receive this book as part of my “thank you” package for sponsoring the PAM Mastery book at the level it needed to be sponsored (in my humble opinion.) I’ve been asking him off and on randomly for a few years now to write that book, so as soon as I saw the sponsorship go live, I pulled the trigger on it with much gratitude and enthusiasm. Apparently, I “oversponsored” in Mr. Lucas’ opinion, so he sent me some extra books when the print copy became available. “No More Lonesome Blue Rings” was among the books received.

I was surprised at how short some of these books were, so I set aside my current reading project, (“”) and did some research on what the reading order should be for the Montague Portal series. Since this was the first one listed, it’s the first one I read. It took me an evening.

The book only has 58 printed pages, but the story moves at a pace that makes it hard to put down. The main character, Sherry, has a genetic disease that causes deteriorated nervous system function. The Montague Corporation has found a way to open portals to alternate universes, and among those is one where the disease is “paused” while visiting it. Sherry has been sent there to help manage her condition. The book is written in a perspective that mostly focuses on her internal dialogue. She is very coherent and intelligent, but she can’t communicate or move around well due to her condition. All of the patients diagnosed with various diseases wear a colored band to indicate which disease group they belong to. All of them wear a red band, except Sherry. Her’s is blue. This partially explains the title of the book.

Without giving away the details (because the story is so short, I don’t want to ruin it for anyone,) the general gist is that she ends up on an adventure to save herself and her best friend from an attack by the local inhabitants, ends up surviving her encounter, and manages to improve her situation with the Montague Corporation overseers without losing her humanity.

The only complaint I have is that the story was too short. I love the premise of the Montague Corporation Portals to other Universes, because the possibilities for different stories is endless, but everything gets tied together neatly in the end.

I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the series, (“Sticky Supersaturation.”) I anticipate that all of the books in this series will be well worth the read, but I recommend this book on its own merits, even if it is a touch short.

5 out of 5 stars for content and premise.