Review of Practical Packet Analysis: Using Wireshark to Solve Real-World Network Problems, authored by Chris Sanders

Author Chris Sanders, a security consultant and researcher, delivers an outstanding plain-language book that serves two purposes: teaching the reader about network architecture, and applying that knowledge for real-world network analysis using the open-source tool Wireshark.

I first encountered Wireshark when my job produced a need to analyze offline capture data from a vehicular data transponder.  Following that experience I had a rudimentary knowledge of Wireshark, but had no idea of the depth of tools and analysis the tool is capable of.  Chris Sanders begins the teaching process by going over network architecture and the Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) model, which I learned about in college but didn’t retain all the details.  The instruction includes real-world examples and shows how Wireshark can demonstrate some of the concepts.  As the reader progresses through the book, Sanders brings in practical examples of network analysis with Wireshark against popular services such as Twitter, Facebook, and a sports news network Web site.  Helpful chapters on wireless protocols and attacking slow network problems can be helpful for both network professionals who want to solve network issues and non-network-engineers (like me) who may want to do some basic troubleshooting in order to better know how to ask for help.

Sanders dedicates a chapter to network packet analysis for purposes of network security, going over some attack vectors and how to analyze traffic to see if victims may be on your network.

Overall this is a well-written book, and it is great that the tool of choice is open-source software that is available for many platforms.  If your job touches the area of network troubleshooting or packet analysis, this book should be on your shelf.


Cover of Practical Packet Analysis: Using Wireshark to Solve Real-World Network Problems by Chris Sanders

Review of the Motorola Droid Bionic on Verizon 4G LTE

I had an opportunity to review the Droid Bionic, my second LTE phone on Verizon.  The HTC Thunderbolt had its ups and downs that have largely been cleared up by updates, we’ll see how well Motorola’s introduction to LTE fares.  I have used the Bionic as my primary phone for a little over three weeks now.

Device Looks and Design
The Bionic is nice and light, though some of that impression may be due to my carrying the Thunderbolt with Quasimodo extended battery pack.  There are no metal parts in the battery cover, so unlike the Thunderbolt is appears all of the antenna parts are in the body of the phone.  The extended battery cover is very streamlined as well.

The two-tone look is good.  The touch-based home buttons are large, which helped me transition from the reversal of the Home and Menu buttons on the Thunderbolt.  I like them better than the Droid X buttons, which are physical buttons.

I was not looking forward to one aspect of moving from the Thunderbolt, and that was because all of my prior Motorola Android phones (except for the Devour I believe) had magnetic sensors that would trip the car or media dock apps when magents were detected at those spots.  This made carrying those phones in belt pouches a hassle because those have magnets in them.  I was relieved to find there are no magnetic reactions on the Bionic.  No more worrying about manually shutting off the screen once it pops on again passing a magnet into a case, or dealing with various dock modes and having to install apps to ignore those.

I miss the kick stand HTC builds into the Thunderbolt and the Evo.  Too bad more carries don’t include those, they come in handy sometimes.

Packaging and Activation Notes
Initial unboxing was like most of the recent Android devices… small box with power/data cable.  Activation coming from the HTC Thunderbolt was as easy as moving the SIM card over to the new phone.  Reminds me of the nice and convenient GSM days when I could easily change phones based on my mood of the day without logging on to a Web site or going through a long process to change equipment on the line.  It is a welcome feature for Verizon.

Data handoffs and seeming indecision on the part of the Bionic on whether to lock onto 3G or 4G are problematic.  I have run into a few situations where I pulled out the phone to do something and there was no data connection.  Sometimes putting the phone into airplane mode and back will get data to “wake up” but sometimes a reboot is required.  This is one of those frustrating things I hope will be solved by updates to the phone.  It seems all Android phones have a couple of infuriating bugs when released that later updates usually take care of.

My hope with the Bionic was that Moto’s LTE phone would lock and hold onto 4G signal better than the Thunderbolt, but so far mobile data performance is not noticeably better out-of-the-box than the Thunderbolt.  Even though the areas I live and work are well-covered by 4G, I still see the 3G indicator icons frequently.

Battery Life
I tried using the standard battery for a few days but was not impressed, easily getting less than a day’s use out of it.  Luckily I ordered an extended battery and performance is a little better.  Based on my normal usage patterns I can finish out usage with enough left to get me through early-morning the next day with the extended battery.  Plan to buy one unless you don’t mind plugging the phone in mid-day or top it off with a car charger while driving.

The screen looks good, though not as good as the Thunderbolt indoors.  I use my phones for ebook reading and find the screen to be adequate and easy to read.  And unlike the Thunderbolt I don’t have a hard time using the screen outdoors as long as the brightness is turned up.

An improvement over the Droid X I appreciated was discovering the Bionic will output everything through its HDMI port.  The Droid X was limited in what would be sent to the HDMI output and there were apps out there to compensate for that, but with the Bionic everything is there… the desktop, games I load, movies I play.

User Interface
Everything is snappy and fast, even after loading the apps and widgets I use.  I wish it had 7 home screens instead of just 5, I often find myself wishing I had at least one more.

Memory and Storage
One issue that causes fits is how the Bionic maps its “external” storage.  The phone’s handling of storage (onboard storage and external card storage) is nonstandard and many of my apps don’t work well because of it.  The built-in 8GB of storage is mapped to /mnt/sdcard, and the microSD card is mapped to /mnt/sdcard-ext .  This means apps that expect to save to /mnt/sdcard (what other Android devices use) are going to save to the internal storage and not the card unless the app lets you change where it stores stuff.  I’m not happy with that, as now I’ll have app data in two places and not on the one single place I want it (the microSD card).  So if you are looking around the filesystem be aware of that, as I had some initial “I just copied that over, where is it?” moments.

An example of where that affects use is my bookmarks backup app.  It is expecting to import/export my browser bookmarks to /mnt/sdcard, so I had to copy that folder into the correct sdcard spot to get it to work.  Who knows where my browser downloads will show up.

Voice Call Quality
Very good, in fact exceptional as compared to other phones I have recently used.  I can get enough volume out of the earpiece in different environmental situations.  I don’t talk much on the phone, but when I do it is nice to have a quality experience.

The Bionic’s camera is so-so… I sometimes can’t get it to focus correctly and have to re-take shots, and the time between when you tell it to take the pic and when it actually takes it is too long.  But it has served most of my needs so far.

The Bionic is easily the fastest Android phone I have used in terms of interface response.  Physical form is polished.  There will be some more interesting Android releases this Fall going into the holidays, but if you need to buy now and can put up with a few quirks and wait for required fixes via updates then I can recommend the Bionic.

Bill is a member of the Verizon Wireless Customer Council, an invitational customer focus group sponsored by Verizon Wireless.  He periodically receives devices in exchange for review and comment.

New OFX File Creator Tool – SunsetOFX

Update December 29 2017 –  SunsetOFX now supports importing Yahoo quote exports.  This isn’t as fast as the old direct downloading of quotes but it sure beats manual entry and I hope you are able to realize some time savings with this update.  The new version can be downloaded here.  To use this functionality, download an updated quotes.csv file from your Yahoo portfolio screen by clicking “Export” there.  In SunsetOFX, make sure the “Yahoo CSV” tab is selected on the left (the other option is “Manual Input”). Click the “Load Yahoo CSV” button and open the quotes.csv file you downloaded from Yahoo.  Sunset OFX will go through that file, and where it sees a ticker in the file that exists in your SunsetOFX ticker list, it will update the price and date.  A couple things to note… 1) if a ticker in the quotes.csv file is not in your SunsetOFX list, it will be ignored and will NOT be imported as a new ticker for SunsetOFX to process for Microsoft Money import, 2) as with any SunsetOFX update, I recommend you back up your tickers.xml file (from wherever you are running SunsetOFX on your PC) and your Microsoft Money data file, 3) please provide feedback if you run into issues… this is freshly-developed and I don’t know enough about the particulars of Yahoo’s CSV output to have much error-handling in place. 

Update November 2 2017 –  It appears Yahoo has discontinued the web service that SunsetOFX and Perl/Java scripting solutions depend on to download ticker quotes.  The scripting solutions may be dead in the water, but with SunsetOFX you can still manually update your quotes for importing into MS Money.  Not as easy as it was October 31, but definitely easier than one-by-one price updates within MS Money.  If other solutions develop, or if Yahoo changes their mind, I’ll update this post.

Update July 19 2016 –  I noticed when Yahoo Finance online access goes flaky while you are updating quotes, an unfriendly error message pops up.  Now you should see a note about a quote lookup not making it back and to try again. Current version is and is what you’ll get from the Downloads page.

Update March 1 2015 –  After using SunsetOFX for a couple of years for all my own quote updates for Microsoft Money, I have brought it out of beta into Version 1.n.  Thank you for all the feedback!

This post is mainly for those using python scripts and other methods to supply the sunset edition of Microsoft Money with stock quotes from Yahoo.

Lately the quotes coming down from Yahoo have contained odd numbers for prices, and invalid dates in the quotes. This prevents a valid OFX file from being created.

Inspired by , the creator of the Python script I have been using to get my stock price updates nightly, I created a Windows app that lets you establish a ticker list that you can add/delete from, as well as visually change what is being downloaded from Yahoo’s web services before the OFX file is created. That way if any stock prices are showing $554,665,321 when it should be $10.23, you’ll be able to change them without hand-editing an OFX file or manipulating Python script.

If you’d like to give it a try you can download the tool at Unzip the file to its own directory and run the program, no other installation required. Whenever you exit the app your tickers will be saved to an xml file. Also in that directory is where the OFX file the app creates will be stored, filename SunsetOFX.ofx.

When beginning to use this tool, it is highly recommended that you try it out on a copy of your MS Money data file in order to make sure it is working with your setup.

Remember, the assumptions for this app are the same as the Python script discussed here. When you add tickers, you get a choice between Stock and Fund. Make sure you specify the same thing your MS Money file is expecting. To check that within Money, right-click on a portfolio position and select “Investment Details” to see what the “Investment type” field is showing.

The .NET framework required is 3.5, which comes default with Windows 7.  The latest version is in the file linked above.

There is some support for options at this time, but quotes are not automatically downloaded.  When you create your option position in Money, use the Yahoo ticker as the position name and do not supply a ticker symbol.  In the Dummy Investments area, as with a stock or fund entry, “buy” zero contracts of it.  When updating quotes, manually fill in the latest option price and it will be included in the OFX dump.  If you run into trouble where Money option prices are not updating, look at the holding settings and copy-paste the option symbol into the Ticket field for the option in SunsetOFX.  I run into this problem myself sometimes because Money supports the old option ticker symbol system which was a shorter ticker string.  If it is truncated in Money, just paste into SunsetOFX whatever Money is showing for the ticker.


SunsetOFX Screen Capture

Review of Programming Microsoft ASP.NET 4 by Dino Esposito; Microsoft Press

Programming Microsoft ASP.NET 4 is an advanced book that gives a complete overview of the ASP.NET 4 architecture.  If you are an administrator of a business-critical Web application (or plan to be one) using the Microsoft suite of server and Web services tools, this book will provide a good and complete understanding of system internals you will need.  If you are new to the ASP.NET architecture and applications, look for something a bit more basic first.

Most of the ASP.NET books I heave read spend most of their pages teaching C#.NET and/or VB.NET is a way to spin beginners up from other languages and platforms in order to arrive at an example application that teaches the basics of how to develop a simple ASP.NET application.  This book moves the developer to the next step, which is understanding how the architecture works.  The first half of the book discusses how ASP.NET works together with IIS, in-depth ASP.NET event information, and custom server controls.  With a firm grasp of the internals, the author moves on to application infrastructure, including a nice chapter on jQuery.

The author includes an impressive chapter on application security that discusses threat vectors and what you need to know at every layer of the architecture.

Programming Microsoft ASP.NET 4 is not a beginner book for ASP.NET application developers and the author’s description of his intended audience fully discloses this… those new to ASP.NET should find a book that teaches ASP.NET basics with C# to build a simple application, then move on to this one due to its advanced topics.  The book explains these advanced topics well and I recommended it for developers responsible for ASP.NET applications.


The HTC Thunderbolt, 4G/LTE Android Smartphone on Verizon Wireless

After a long wait, Verizon’s 4G/LTE network is up and running in a few metropolitan locations (luckily mine), and a phone has finally been released that utilizes the faster data network.  The Thunderbolt, manufactured by HTC, was released for sale in March 2011 as Verizon’s first 4G phone.  I had an opportunity to use and review the phone and am delighted to pass on my experiences.

Device Design
The Thunderbolt’s rounded edges make it a pleasure to hold.  The screen is large and the overall build quality is good.  The only two deficiencies I found were 1) a tiny amount of light leaking from two points where the lower part of the screen glass meets the frame of the phone, and 2) the battery door was the toughest to open of any phone I have owned.  This is partially due to some of the antenna being built in to the battery door and I’m guessing a firm connection is required, but it is hard to believe the design calls for the battery cover to necessarily be this difficult to open.  The volume key rocker is nice and large, though this lends itself to accidental pressing when pulling the phone out of a case.  The Thunderbolt inherits the built-in kickstand from the HTC Evo, allowing the phone to be placed on a desk in either portrait or landscape mode at an angle for easy viewing.  I hope to use this feature one day for Skype or Google Talk videophone when either of those features become available.

The main selling point of the HTC Thunderbolt is it is the first phone to offer 4G data over Verizon’s LTE network.  I tested 4G on the phone itself and via WiFi hotspot mode, where one can connect a netbook, tablet or laptop wirelessly to the phone and use the 4G data connection.  Where a 4G connection was available, it was very fast.  In almost all cases it tripled my workplace’s wired connection speed and doubled my home cable modem connection.  I ran into occasional issues where the phone shows an available data connection but data is not actually working on the phone, requiring a reboot to correct.  Anticipated phone firmware updates will hopefully resolve that issue.

Battery Life
On the standard battery I get about twelve hours of battery life based on my usage level, which includes mostly WiFi data browsing (as opposed to mobile network data-based usage), up to thirty minutes of phone calls, and frequent checking of email, RSS and Twitter feeds, Facebook updates, and eBook reading.  The battery life I am seeing is not adequate for my use… I like to have a full day of battery life so I can charge overnight.  A disappointing aspect of the charging process is the existence of an old problem harking back to the HTC Incredible, termed the “battery dance” requirement to get a truly full charge.  The issue is the phone’s LED indicator will tell you the battery is fully charged if the phone is on, but if you power down the phone the indicator will turn amber and charge for another twenty or thirty minutes.  In order to get a full charge,  this deficiency forces the user to do without phone service for half an hour, as well as take the time to shut down and later reboot the phone.  The next significant upgrade in battery size (available to date) increases the size of the phone greatly, almost comically.  But if you can get used to the new larger form factor of the phone, the larger battery will get you more than a day’s use.

Pre-loaded Applications
The usual suspects for Android devices are all present on the Thunderbolt… Google Maps, Google Navigation, GMail, the Android Market, and other android-standard utilities and apps.  A few demo applications and games are bundled, as well as HTC-specific widgets and applications.  I wouldn’t mind the “bloatware” if they came with options to fully uninstall them.  An example is a demo of a golf game that only lets you play two rounds.  If you choose not to buy the app, you are forced to see it when scrolling through your phone’s applications.  Some Verizon-specific applications are also included, such as My Verizon Mobile for account access and VCAST Media Manager for downloading video clips and music.

The Thunderbolt offers a large and colorful display. The screen resolution is not as large as the Motorola Droid X, but I find the Thunderbolt’s display more pleasing to look at and read.

User Interface
HTC phones come with an Android interface overlay called HTC Sense.  Sense provides an alternative to the standard Android layout of phone shortcuts, as well as some nice clock and social networking widgets.  Seven home screens are available for your application icons and widgets.  HTC does a good job with its widgets, and I find theirs more useful than Motorola’s.  The interface is snappy and I rarely encounter lag or stuttering while switching between home screens and loading applications.

Verizon includes a 32GB memory card in the phone, which will hold many videos, pictures and music files.  I never managed to fill the Droid X’s 16GB card, so 32GB should be adequate for a while.  For internal memory, after all of my regular apps are installed I have over 300MB available after a clean bootup.  This beats the 200MB typically available to me on the Droid X.

Voice Calling Quality
Voice calls were clear on my end.  Reviews from people on the other end of the calls were mixed, with some saying a slight garbling was present in of the connection.  This can happen with any connection and generally the feedback was good.

The camera app easily allows switching from video to still pictures, for both the front and rear cameras.  The phone does not have a dedicated camera button, which means you will need to burn a home screen icon slot for the camera app if you want quick access to your camera.  The camera app itself supports face recognition and other extras.  The snapshot process is very quick and I am pleased with the quality of the pictures from the 8MP rear camera.  HTC includes some interesting visual effects for picture taking, including depth-of-field options, distortion, and the usual inclusions of grayscale and sepia.

The Thunderbolt compares well to other smartphones available.  Once data connectivity quirks are corrected through software updates, the Thunderbolt will likely be the phone with the fastest wireless data connection money can buy.  Its rounded edges and high data speeds give it an edge over the Motorola Droid X, making up for the lower screen resolution.

The large screen and high speed make it a compelling alternative to tablets, which are very large and not as portable in “real world” settings as advertised.  When getting an Android device I’d recommend getting as powerful a device as possible so more future versions of Android will work on it, so Thunderbolt is a good candidate.  Devices like Thunderbolt and DroidX are more like mini-tablets and offer the best of a combined larger-than-typical interface experience and phone portability.

The Thunderbolt will be my main phone to use until something with even better specs is released for 4G… the speeds I’m seeing will make me hesitant to look back at those crusty old 3G devices.  The 4G/LTE network is new, so be prepared to experience occasional growing pains.

Bill is a member of the Verizon Wireless Customer Council, an invitational customer focus group sponsored by Verizon Wireless.  He is periodically invited to review devices for comment.

Review of SQL Pocket Guide (3rd edition), authored by by Jonathan Gennick

SQL Pocket Guide is a very sensible deskside reference for developers and database administrators. If you are experienced in Structured Query Language (SQL) and can use occasional refreshers on commands and syntax, this is the perfect helper book for you.

Reading the SQL Pocket Guide from front to back is a little bit like reading the phone book, but I did so anyway. I have been using SQL for many years but managed to learn a number of new things from the Guide.  SQL Pocket Guide is organized logically, and the SQL statement examples in each command entry are very helpful and clearly laid out.

I liked this guide for its inclusion of the particulars for the most popular database management systems. This makes the SQL Pocket Guide universally helpful without being too generic to be useful for specific needs. If you develop apps against multiple vendors’ databases you will appreciate the specific vendor command implementation details, as the author has done that homework for you.

SQL Pocket Guide is a very handy reference, and having already implemented optimizations to my embedded SQL app code I can highly recommend it.

SQL Pocket guide cover image

Review of Head First Python, authored by Paul Barry

Head First Python is an excellent intro to the language.  The book’s teaching method keeps the pages turning, and by the end you will have built apps on three platforms (PC, Android, Web).  You will also have good familiarity with Python’s bundled editor and command interface.

I was pleased with the inclusion of Android interface coverage and Google App Engine (GAE). I had not yet deployed a project on GAE and that experience added value to the book. The example projects were good enough for instructional purposes, though after a couple of chapters on the same project I found myself losing interest… luckily the author changes the sample project a few times.  The exercises had a varied style to them, which helped maintain interest.  Some of the exercises are straight coding to solve a problem, but others present some code and have you piece code blocks together from a pool of provided code lines.

The teaching method used aids retention… before I completed the book I ran into a need to modify a python program that pulled stock quotes from Yahoo in order to help Microsoft Money update quotes following Microsoft’s sunsetting of the product, and I had learned enough to diagnose and fix the issue.

Many language tutorial books are hard to read from cover to cover and maintain interest and attention… I didn’t have that problem with Head First Python and was able to read the whole book easily. Anyone needing an intro to Python should consider this book.

Head First Python cover

Thoughts of Knight Kiplinger’s Feb 2011 Column

This post responds to Knight Kiplinger’s piece titled “401(k)s for Everyone” found in the February 2011 issue of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance Magazine and online here.

Knight Kiplinger discusses making the 401(k) mandatory in order to give a firm nudge to employees into saving something for retirement.  The ends are noble… it is clear that financial education in the United States is awful and mistrust of the financial industry runs high.  Too often people are skeptical of bankers and other financial institutions, and skepticism leads to delaying important actions one should take as soon as they enter the workforce.

His piece outlines his arguments for making 401(k) availability mandatory, and additionally argues that employee participation should be mandatory.  But some of these proposals are not consistent with good financial planning practices.

  1. Make all employers provide a 401(k) plan – he gets no argument from me here.  401(k) plans allow a worker to contribute much more to retirement than IRA options, up to $16,500 per year as of 2011 for those under 50 as opposed to $5,000 per year (tack on an extra $1,000 catch-up contribution for older savers for IRAs, $5,500 more for 401(k) contributors).  There is no question that those with access to 401(k) options should be using them.  And depending on your income level you can do both.
  2. Require workers to contribute 3% of earnings, automatically rising with age to 6% or more – This suggestion surprised me.  Why?  Isn’t saving more as you earn more a good thing?  Yes, but it runs contrary to what you should be doing.  At any age, you should be saving as much up to the limit as you can possibly afford if you have not yet met your retirement savings goals.  But the best time to do that is when you enter the workforce.  At a 7% market return rate (slightly lowballing for the history of the markets, even including the late 2000’s) you double your money every ten years.  Every dollar invested at age 22 has the potential to be close to sixteen dollars when the money can be withdrawn without penalty at 59 1/2 years.  Did you know that someone investing $5,000 per year at 7% return from age 22 until they turn 31 and stopping will have more money saved when they turn 64 than someone starting to invest $5,000 per year at age 32 until age 64?  Early is the key, not later.  Those investing early should not be required to invest more as they get older, they can start to spend a little then or establish an early-retirement portfolio. Forcing an older saver into higher pre-tax retirement contributions may not be in their best financial interest.
  3. Default investment choice would be a “life cycle” asset allocation – This is another problem.  Life cycle funds, commonly called “target date funds,” allocate your money in percentages of stocks, bonds and cash based on the year you plan to retire.  These plans may sound good because they take a lot of decision-making away from the saver.  They are better than nothing, but they are doing a disservice.  At this moment in 2011 interest rates are beginning to come off of years-long lows, generational lows.  The absolute WRONG time to buy into bond mutual funds is when rates are rising.  The fund will generate a bond interest yield but the underlying bonds in the fund decrease in face value as interest rates rise.  You may get 5% yield on a bond fund portfolio but lose that much or more in the per-share value of the fund.  If you are close to retirement age, better to establish a CD ladder or a ladder of short-term bonds so the declining-prices bonds get recycled quicker.  But the target date funds ignore that, robotically moving you into a higher bond position than may be smart.  They also ignore how much money in other assets you may have, or worse keep your portfolio too conservative if you haven’t saved anything, taking you from nothing to a little more than nothing instead of taking on some risk to catch up on time lost.
  4. All Company-matched funds would be fully vested immediately – This is a good idea, but I fear companies will game that requirement, dropping wages to compensate.  In many 401(k) plans your company will kick in an amount, say dollar-for-dollar up to three percent.  This is great for the investor and is free money… you can contribute 6% of your salary for a 9% overall contribution which offsets a lot of risk in a portfolio when you are already 50% ahead!  But most companies employ a vesting schedule. For example if you leave the company in two years but your company’s policy says you are not fully vested until three years, the company may claw back their kick-in amount when you leave.  I don’t think two or three-year 100% vesting schedules are unreasonable as they provide incentive for workers to stay with a company and decrease turnover, which in turn decreases corporate costs and maybe they can match more money.  But requiring immediate vesting will be made up somewhere, probably in compensation.
  5. Early withdrawals not allowed except for cases of permanent disability – no argument there.  This money is for the future you, not the “now” you.
  6. 401(k) payouts would be annuity-style, not allowing lump-sum – The saver has spent her entire life for this, why limit the money she can take out?  If the saver has been smart enough to save for forty years, she isn’t going to suddenly withdraw it all and go to Vegas with it.  Personally I’d like the choice to take a portion of that and buy a nicer house far away from where I am now, living off the rest.  I didn’t save all that money just to have it metered out at some arbitrary percentage someone else came up with.  Knight suggests the remainder go to one’s estate, but that money is for me and me alone if I want it that way.

If I had a magic wand I’d have the country focus more on making financial education a core part of our nation’s curriculum, to the degree that planning for one’s retirement in the 20’s is as obvious as needing to put on a seat belt. And like it or not, we all contribute to a retirement plan already called Social Security through payroll taxes. It was never meant to be a retirement plan and it is entirely insufficient as one one its own, but it exists and we all pay into it. Let that continue to be the fallback for those who refuse to save for retirement. It is better in my view to go for the gold instead of the bronze, educating our people on good financial practices instead of forcing some not-so-sensible requirements on them.

Upcoming Reviews

I have just joined the O’Reilly Blogger Review Program and will be posting reviews here.  First up is an introductory book on Python.

You’ll also see reviews here of whatever devices I get to check out as a member of the Verizon Wireless Customer Council, a small user focus group of about thirty VZW customers that is sent devices to provide feedback.  Thus far over the past three years we have reviewed twenty devices, ranging from the now-crusty LG Chocolate, through a number of feature phones, Blackberry devices and Android devices.  I look forward to passing on feedback here.

Finally I plan to use this space to give thoughts on another love, which is the investment world.  I often see articles and have ideas that I need a forum to pass on and this one is as good as any.