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Book Review: Latest Two Books By Peter Loshin

samzenpus posted 1 year,21 days | from the read-all-about-it dept.

Books 28

benrothke writes "Of the books that author Pete Loshin has written in the past, a number of them are completely comprised of public domain information that he gathered. Titles such as Big book of Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) RFCs, Big Book of IPsec RFCs, Big Book of Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) RFCs, and others, are simply bound copies of publicly available information. In two of his latest books, Practical Anonymity: Hiding in Plain Sight Online and Simple Steps to Data Encryption: A Practical Guide to Secure Computing, Loshin doesn't do the wholesale cut and paste like he did from the RFC books, but on the other side, doesn't offer much added information than the reader can get online." Read below for the rest of Ben's review.The software tools detailed in the books are open source tools; and the open source community has done a fantastic job of not only making the software free, but creating documentation that is also free and rivals commercial technical guides.

Practical Anonymity is basically an overview of the basics of Tor. The truth is that all that it takes to use Tor is to download it and then click on Start Tor Browser. For those that want to read the manuals, the Tor documentation repository has detailed information that includes everything a user needs to know about using the product. The Tor site has numerous manuals, FAQ's and more. There is likely enough information there for about 98% of Tor and potential Tor users.

At 130 pages, the book is useful for those that want a hard copy to read on a bus or plane and for whatever reason, don't want to print out the references from the Tor site. Loshin does a decent job of presenting the topic, including why Tor is important, and who it could most benefit.

Tor was first released in 2002. But since it became known that the NSA was viewing data, Tor usage has doubled, as detailed in a recent Washington Post article.

One of the main drawbacks of Tor, as the book notes in chapter 2 (and also detailed in the Tor FAQ) is that Tor is slow; really slow. The FAQ notes that here are many reasons why the Tor network is currently slow. It is first off important to know that Tor is never going to be extremely fast. All Tor traffic is bouncing through volunteers computers in various parts of the world, and bottlenecks and network latency will always be present. The current Tor network is small compared to the number of people trying to use it, and Tor cant always handle file-sharing traffic load.

The book also spends a large amount of space detailing Tails, which is a Linux distro that can booted as a CD or on a USB. The benefit of Tails is that no trace of it will be left on the host it was run off of.

Like Tor, the Tails documentation repository has a large set of documents and FAQs covering all areas of the product. For those on a budget, this site has everything that they need to know about using Tails.

Practical Anonymity: Hiding in Plain Sight Online is a decent start for those who want to be more anonymous. It is far from a comprehensive guide, as using Tor is just the beginning to start being anonymous, but far from the only resource or method.

In Simple Steps to Data Encryption: A Practical Guide to Secure Computing, Loshin attempts to provide an overview of why you need encryption, and how to use it. The book barely succeeds at doing that, but there are certainly other titles that do it either more articulately or at least without charging for it. In addition, the book seems like it was rushed to print, and could have used a better technical editor.

In fact, the book starts with an overview of how to use GnuPG (Gnu Privacy Guard). And like Tor, there are numerous free references at the GnuPG documentation site that provide many useful references.

At $60 for the pair, the books provide little added value to the free online documentation. For those that want a bound hard copy of a book, these two titles may suit them. For other who want to save trees and their money, and get the same and improved information direct from the source, the respective documentation sites are but a click away.

Reviewed by Ben Rothke

You can purchase Simple Steps to Data Encryption: A Practical Guide to Secure Computing and Practical Anonymity: Hiding in Plain Sight Online from amazon.com. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews (sci-fi included) -- to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.

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28 comments

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Boooring! (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 days | (#44994357)

- Ethanol-fueled

Re:Boooring! (0)

i kan reed (749298) | 1 year,21 days | (#44994391)

That's essentially what the review said, if you bothered to read it. Just a dry republication of RFCs with no interesting information added.

Re:Boooring! (1)

Steve_Ussler (2941703) | 1 year,21 days | (#44994827)

I don’t think he said its boring. Rather that you can use the Tor documentation set for free.

Says you (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 days | (#44995877)

I'm going with Party Animal!!! I can't believe this domain [peter-losh...r-hire.com] is free! Well not for long...

No value-added (3, Informative)

Freshly Exhumed (105597) | 1 year,21 days | (#44994427)

Ben Rothke nails it: "Loshin doesn't do the wholesale cut and paste like he did from the RFC books, but on the other side, doesn't offer much added information than the reader can get online." So, no particular value-added in Loshin's books. Well said.

Negative Review (2)

nullchar (446050) | 1 year,21 days | (#44994477)

It's nice to see a negative review here, and not gushing enthusiasm or downplayed mediocrity.

Re:Negative Review (1)

Minwee (522556) | 1 year,21 days | (#44994833)

So this time, someone other than Peter Loshin paid for the review.

Re:Negative Review (1)

Steve_Ussler (2941703) | 1 year,21 days | (#44996125)

Why would someone pay for a negative review? If they wouldwouldn’t the review then push a alternative title?

Re:Negative Review (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 days | (#44995193)

Usually if a review is negative, it's not worth writing the review at all. There's limited space for reviews, so save the attention for books that are good.

Re:Negative Review (1)

Steve_Ussler (2941703) | 1 year,21 days | (#44996113)

::There's limited space for reviews Who said that? I am sure slashdot will run as many reviews as readers can submit.

Re:Negative Review (1)

nullchar (446050) | 1 year,20 days | (#45005779)

When reading product (and book) reviews, I read all of the 1-2 star reviews first. I sense more honesty in criticism than praise.

Re:Negative Review (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 days | (#44997999)

This is Ben Rothke building the Ben Rothke brand. On the other 19 reviews he wrote for Dice^H^H^H^HSlashdot, he was shilling for someone's product: Wow, here's the ONE BOOK you need in order the MAXIMIZE your impact at meetings! Give me an f------- break.

Here Ben is saying, look I can go negative too.

Re:Negative Review (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,20 days | (#45000665)

Is this is his bitter and angry older brother? :)

You sound like you have a huge amount of rage, anger, and all that stuff shrinks make a lot of $$$ off of.

Pfft. Security books. (1)

TheSkepticalOptimist (898384) | 1 year,21 days | (#44994619)

We all know the NSA is publishing these books so we build back-doors into our products without even realizing it.

Re:Pfft. Security books. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 days | (#44994851)

They've built it into the hardware. There's a watermark in the paper that subliminally makes you... uhh... do stuff... You know?

The NSA are baaaaad, mm-kaay?

Bring back Packt!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 days | (#44994645)

Is there a book by Packt Publishing that covers the same topic?

This is NOT "Peter Lotion" Totally different! (2, Funny)

erroneus (253617) | 1 year,21 days | (#44994785)

Just saying... kay?

Big Book of Lightweight Directory Access Protocol? (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | 1 year,21 days | (#44994845)

If the book is simultaneously big and lightweight, does that mean that the material is less dense than in the case of other books?

composed of, or comprise, but not comprised of (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 days | (#44994885)

I excuse this usage generally, and I realize grammar is hardly something to pick on in slashdot summaries, but please, this is the lede of a freaking book review!

"Comprise" does not mean the same thing as "compose"; it's almost the literal opposite. The phrasing "comprised of" is generally not valid for this reason.

Please either use "are completely composed of public domain information", or "completely comprise public domain imformation".

Re:composed of, or comprise, but not comprised of (1)

Steve_Ussler (2941703) | 1 year,21 days | (#44995081)

Your are correct, but first off, this is Slashdot. Also, this is a common mistake, everyone makes. Grammar purists like yourself, while commendable, need to adjust to the Twitter world of bad grammar :)

Re:composed of, or comprise, but not comprised of (1)

CRCulver (715279) | 1 year,21 days | (#44995125)

Your battle is already lost, my friend. It's OK to be a grammar purist when a mistake is limited to one person's writing, but the confusion of "comprise" and "compose" has so thoroughly permeated the English-speaking world that one has to accept that usage has changed. I wouldn't be surprised if the latest update to the Oxford English Dictionary reflects this.

Re:composed of, or comprise, but not comprised of (1)

Steve_Ussler (2941703) | 1 year,21 days | (#44995217)

Good point. Another way to put it: lost cause.

Re:composed of, or comprise, but not comprised of (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 days | (#44995399)

Of course! I accept that language changes. However, if you use it wrong, my opinion of your education/vocabulary/writing has been lowered anyway. Particularly for this one -- I don't know why, but it bugs me more than other errors; maybe it just saddens me that no one anywhere appears to know what the word 'comprise' actually means. It's not like "beg", where "beg the question" relies on an arcane definition no longer in common use. Still, I generally leave it alone and silently die a little inside.

On the other hand, part of me hopes we can start a grassroots campaign, correcting every single usage on every single website until correct usage re-enters the national consciousness. I realize slashdot doesn't have editors, and so it's futile to attempt to make it a correction; that's not what this was intended to be. In this case, the topic at hand was already in the area of writing, so it leems less out of place to give the author fair warning that their possible attempt to sound more intelligent by (mis)using the word "comprise" -- particularly where a more direct word (compose) would have been not just fine, but more correct -- has had the opposite effect to at least some portion of the population.

Re:composed of, or comprise, but not comprised of (1)

benrothke (2577567) | 1 year,21 days | (#44996993)

Thank you. I stand corrected.

I am using Tor to post this... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 days | (#44998665)

Very cool tool!!!

I love anonymity!!!

Re:I am using Tor to post this... (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,20 days | (#44999843)

Yeah, but you haven't really understood the purpose of anonymous posting yet, which is to troll and insult people! You fat stupid asshole!

Re:I am using Tor to post this... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,20 days | (#45000673)

Looks like the master has responded!

We bow down to you in honour!

Tor does not provide bulletproof online anonymity (1)

Steve_Ussler (2941703) | 1 year,20 days | (#45008327)

Tor does not provide bulletproof online anonymity The Onion Router can obscure your online presence, but don't count on it to completely cover your tracks or hide your identity online. http://blogs.csoonline.com/network-security/2778/tor-does-not-provide-bulletproof-online-anonymity [csoonline.com]
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