Book Review of “The Khazar Codex”

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“The Khazar Codex” eBook was published in 2015 and was written by Graham Fulbright. This is Mr. Fulbright’s second novel.

I obtained a galley of this novel for review through https://www.netgalley.com. I would categorize this novel as ‘PG’ as there are instances of Violence and Mature Language. This Fiction Thriller novel is set in contemporary London, England.

A small group of men who are advocating for the sake of the homeless take over a London theater and keep an handful of hostages, including the Prime Minister’s teenage son. The hostages,  while not in agreement with the methods, are sympathetic to the cause of the homeless. The hostages are well treated and are left more or less to freely roam the theater. Police and authorities are kept at bay by the threat of automatic weapons and explosives.

The hostages stumble upon a hidden vault in the basement of an adjoining building. Inside they find a cache of artwork and artifacts, most likely stolen. The art is established at stolen and valuable. A chest found in a display case contains a secret compartment with a modern cypher lock. The hostages set about to break the code securing the compartment. Ultimately, ancient scrolls are uncovered that will shake the foundation of Jewish, Muslim and the Christian faiths.

I almost called a “Rule of 50” on this novel. The novel started out slowly, glacially slowly particularly the first chapter. It did finally pick up some once I was about 15% into the novel, though in hindsight I think I should have pulled the plug. The overall plot was interesting, though I felt it just took forever (and at slightly over 24 hours spent reading the novel it was) to finished the 626 pages. I would also only marginally call it a Thriller.

I found that the story bogged down repeatedly with philosophizing, particularly about religion. There was also a hint at the beginning of the novel about some paranormal events experienced by what would become two of the hostages. But those events did not really matter any in the story.

I like a good, long story, but I think that in this case the novel would have been better if 200+ pages would had been edited into the bit-bucket. I give this novel a 3 out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com).

The Apple TV Continues to Evolve

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The Apple TV just keeps getting better, at least for 2nd and 3rd
generation unit owners. In early June Apple added the National
Geographic channel to the Apple TV. Some of the content is free,
while on-demand content requires authentication through your cable provider. The channel includes streaming content from National Geographic, as well as on-demand viewing of program episodes. Both National Geographic and Nat Geo Wild programming is available on the new channel. Available programming categories include: Adventure, Animals, History, People, Science, Technology and Travel among others.

In other news, Apple has confirmed that the Apple TV will be at the
center of it’s home automation effort with HomeKit. With HomeKit you will be able to control any HomeKit-enabled device from any
manufacturer. Support for HomeKit was added into version 7.0 of the Apple TV (3rd generation only) software. Devices are then remotely controlled with your iOS device running the HomeKit App. To put HomeKit to use in your home you will need an Apple TV (or third party hub), an iOS device with 8.1 or later installed and of course HomeKit compatible devices. Apps or Siri can then be used on the iOS device to control HomeKit compatible devices. Apple is maintaining a list of devices compatible with HomeKit here. More
about the Apple TV’s role with HomeKit is expected from Apple’s WWDC 2015 which opens Tomorrow.

It had been speculated that a new, updated Apple TV would be
announced at WWDC, though now the rumors are saying that it is being delayed. While I am looking forward to the updated unit, I am glad that I purchased a 3rd generation Apple TV a couple of months ago at the reduced $69 price. We are finding that the access it provides to photos, home videos and movies stored on my Mac Mini is well worth the cost.

Showtime will join HBO in July with a $11/month service that circumvents cable. This will enable more users to be “cord cutters” and do away with Cable. Even without the anticipated digital programming service for the Apple TV that will hopefully be
announced in detail soon, the Apple TV has made significant
improvements in market share this year, growing from 5% in Q4 2014 to 10%  in Q1 2015 according to the Adobe Digital Index.

Read how to get started with Apple TV and links to other Apple TV
related articles

Book Review of “Eeny Meeny”

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“Eeny Meeny” eBook was published in 2015 (June) and was written by M. J. Arlidge. He has published three novels in the ‘Helen Grace’ Mystery Thriller series. This is the first in that series.

I obtained a galley of this novel for review through https://www.netgalley.com. I would categorize this novel as ‘R’ as there are instances of Violence, Mature Language and Mature Situations. This Mystery Thriller novel is set in and around London in contemporary times.

The primary character is Helen Grace, a Detective Inspector. She is assigned an odd case where a pair are abducted, imprisoned, then left to starve until one breaks down and either commits murder or suicide. Soon she and her team discover that this is not an isolated incident – they have stumbled upon a serial killer. Grace soon learns that the victims are not simply random pairs, but are linked to her in some way.

Little progress is being made with the investigation as the killer is very careful. A pair of the police team following a lead are trapped and become the killers latest victims. It then becomes a race Grace and her team to find the trapped officers before one of them dies.

I enjoyed the 6.5 hours I spent with the novel. It seemed a little rough around the edges, but it was a good read. There was suspense and mystery, with no clear idea of which characters would survive the book unharmed. The plot had a few twists and turns which added to the enjoyment. I would certainly read the other novels in the series. I give this novel a 4 out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com).

Book Review of “Trident Code”

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“Trident Code” eBook was published in 2015 (May) and was written by Thomas Waite (http://thomaswaite.com). This is Mr. Waite’s third novel, and the second of his ‘Lana Elkins’ thrillers.

I obtained a galley of this novel for review through https://www.netgalley.com. I would categorize this novel as ‘PG’ as there are some instances of Violence, Mature Language and Mature Situations. This Thriller novel is set in contemporary times, mostly in the US around Washington D.C.

The primary character is Lana Elkins, formerly with the NSA, now heading up her own cybersecurity firm that contracts to various government intelligence agencies. Hackers take control of a US missile submarine and threaten the world with destruction if nations claiming resources in the arctic do not withdraw. A Russian hacker is orchestrating the attacks, planning for Russia to be the winner with access to arctic resources when all is said and done.

The 6.5 hours I spent with the novel were enjoyable, but I felt there was something ‘off’ with it. There was not a lot of physical action, but there was intrigue and suspense. I give this novel a 4.5 (rounded up to a 5) out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com).

Is Your New Car at Risk?

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I was listening to one of the recent episodes of the ‘Security Now‘ podcast where they explained the recent explosion of problems experienced by those who have autos with ‘keyless entry’ (Read the transcript or listen to the audio file of episode #508 which you can find here). Now this DOES NOT apply to those autos with remote openers, just those that are keyless – that is, with the key fob in your pocket/purse you can walk up to the car and the doors automatically unlock. Then you simply press a start button on the console once seated inside.

There is easily available hardware (According to the podcast, available from eBay for as little as $17) that allows the signals between the auto and key fob to be intercepted. In general, the keyless system relies on proximity between the key fob and auto for the auto to unlock the doors and allow the vehicle to be started. What this cheap hardware does is to capture the signals, then retransmit them.

So with this hardware you might be sitting in your home or visiting a coffee shop while thieves approach from outside, intercepting the signals and fooling your vehicle into sensing that the key fob is close enough to unlock the doors. They can then quickly open up the car like the own it and remove anything of value, or even just get in and drive it away.

If you have a vehicle with keyless entry, or know of someone that does, the podcast on this security vulnerability would well be worth your time.


See my other Cyber Security articles