The Sherlock Holmes Handbook for the Digital Age by Alan Pearce

**Received in exchange for an honest review**

The Sherlock Holmes Handbook for the Digital Age
by Alan Pearce

The Sherlock Holmes Handbook for the Digital Age

Sherlock Holmes is the greatest detective of all time. He is driven to right the wrongs of the world. It is only natural that he should turn his attention to the Internet.  “The Internet has become a sinister and dangerous place – a grotesque parody of all that it originally promised,” explains Holmes. “Open your eyes, Watson. We are living in a postmodern surveillance dystopia from which escape for all but the most skilled individuals is impossible.” Luckily, Holmes has all the right answers. This is a cyber-security and digital counter-surveillance handbook like no other. – Goodreads

Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson are iconic characters and extremely smart ones at that. They are a great team and just like TV shows such as Elementary has done, Alan Pearce has taken these two characters and put them together in a modern setting to use modern day examples of how the digital age has made us more vulnerable and teach us the tools we need to protect ourselves a little more with cybersecurity. The idea of it all is fascinating especially because security is a huge part of just being online.

Tranquil Dreams is nothing big and my Youtube channel and Twitter are far from it as well but we are all exposed to the dangers of being in the cyber world. I do recommend that you take this handbook and explore the little tips and applications and software it talks about as you can step by step. For myself, I read on the go so that proves a little more difficult. However, it proves useful and I will go back to explore all that it talks about. Not that I don’t trust Alan Pearce and his cybersecurity knowledge even when told through Sherlock Holmes to give better examples of how certain cybersecurity issues could happen, but rather, its important to research things on our own as well. Its all part of learning, at least that is what I believe.

The Sherlock Holmes Handbook for the Digital Age is a fun and quick read. Its an educational read as well as it fills up with examples shown by Sherlock Holmes as he teaches Dr. Watson through everyday examples going from one location to the next with tips and details, some of which I already knew about and others that I was surprised to learn more about. Something about setting as a real life example in places I can relate to made this educational read more tolerable and engaging and the angle it takes to teach us is a great one. Even if you don’t plan on installing and setting all the software and cybersecurity tips it talks about, there is still something to take away from this read. Although at times, it can get a little overwhelming, hence the advice above to research as you go and take this read bit by bit and see what applies to you and what doesn’t.

With that said, this topic fascinates me. In fact, I did start looking at my mobile security because I work so much on my cellphone, even if I do avoid money related transactions on it. I took a look at a few apps it suggested and things here and there. For me, this handbook does a good job of outlining what we need to know. I’m not one to pick up these handbook manual things mostly because I’m still recovering from giving up fiction literature from years of college and university. However, time and time again, I do think about this and it is very useful for everyday life whether you choose to follow everything it says or not.

There is much to review here. The Sherlock Holmes Handbook for the Digital Age is still something I need to explore to determine what can be useful for but as a quick informative read to know more about cybersecurity, I think it sets up a good stage to educate us in a fun and engaging way. There is a lot of information compacted in this quick read. As I said, it sets up a big stage to try to learn more about all these aspects, especially the software and apps and other measures it suggests, especially if cybersecurity interests you, as it does for me.

Sherlock Holmes and the Nine-Sigil Dragon by Tim Symonds

***Thanks very much to the author for reaching out to me to review his newest novel!***

Sherlock Holmes and the Nine-Sigil Dragon
By: Tim Symonds

sherlock holmes and the nine-sigil dragon

It’s the year 1906. Rumours abound that a deadly plot is hatching – not in the fog-ridden back-alleys of London’s Limehouse district or the sinister Devon moors of the Hound of the Baskervilles but in faraway Peking. Holmes’s task – discover whether such a plot exists and if so, foil it. But are the assassins targeting the young and progressive Ch’ing Emperor or his imperious aunt, the fearsome Empress Dowager Cixi? The murder of either could spark a civil war. The fate of China and the interests of Britain’s vast Empire in the Orient could be at stake. Holmes and Watson take up the mission with their customary confidence – until they find they are no longer in the familiar landscapes of Edwardian England. Instead, they tumble into the Alice In Wonderland world of the Forbidden City. – Goodreads

Sherlock Holmes is everywhere now. He has been reinterpreted for the big screen and in television, modernized to the 21st century and even so much time after still capturing the hearts of a lot of readers. It is suffice to say that Arthur Conan Doyle created a beyond iconic character and investigative team with Sherlock and Dr.Watson. I feel that I need to justify that I have ONLY read The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and none of the other stories. I just never got around to it. Especially when it also happens to be the first book review I did here and needs revision so much. To say that I know the Sherlock Holmes character well via literature is a huge stretch but I feel that most of Holmes books are rather case by case so lets just jump right in.

Tim Symonds has written a few of these Sherlock Holmes follow-up novels building his own cases. I have not read them but I do feel it incredibly coincidental that he happens to set me up with this one which is set in China back in the Empress Dowager days. Perfect setting and great use of historic characters. Empress Dowager and the emperor at the time along with her renowned and powerful eunuch and all these colorful characters in history makes for a great story. The mysteries in the Forbidden Palace however for myself was not so well concealed because I did grow up with a lot of this Chinese history material and I had suspected the who quite early in the story.

Sherlock Holmes and the Nine Sigil Dragon however does have a great writing. The more classical English is always fun to read. It is a change in pace (especially for myself) and there are much less frequently used words which may require a dictionary to grasp but the context is always on track. The writing captures what I remember Sherlock and Dr. Watson’s dynamic together. However, the pacing leaves a little to be desired. A strong start is always tricky and yet while I did enjoy the story when it picked up a few chapters in, the trip to China at the start felt a little slow. It might be the process of getting used to reading the most sophisticated writing (which is a high probability).

Going back to the characters, I feel that the need to show the interest in English and how they did speak it broken or not was a little unnecessary. The characters themselves goes without saying that we can assume who they are. Perhaps because I do speak Chinese that it became bothersome to have to read the same words in their romanized Mandarin form while also reading it with the English term. It felt a little like a Chinese lesson. However, it does come into context. Little nitpicks on my part. Also, this world is complicated. The Forbidden City and the ranks and their characters and the traditions and formalities are all depicted quite well. My suggestion to those that plan on reading this: make use of the glossary in the back because it will has a great purpose even to deeper understand what certain things mean.

In fact, even for myself, growing up outside of China, there are little details that I wasn’t aware of or just sometimes slips my mind. In those moments, when the mystery and the investigation starts going more in depth. The pieces start falling together. I always love the deciphering the case and what happens because that is when the details really come together perfectly and the author has done a great job in doing so. The mystery is fun. It uses and respects a lot of the history and the nature of these characters and the complexities behind the walls of Forbidden City and the politics of the entire situation.

Overall, Sherlock Holmes and the Nine-Sigil Dragon is a good read. It dives into Chinese history and enters into the Forbidden City, bringing to life some of the iconic historic people that actually was a big deal. The mystery itself is feasible and the writing is done very well. While, the beginning could have been paced better and there were small things in the charaterization that left a little to be desired, the story works well once it picks up and offers a great mystery to solve.

Unboxing: Nerd Block June 2015 [British Invasion]

Maybe this didn’t surprise you but it sure surprised me when I walked through the door and saw this month’s Nerd Block sitting on my counter. I knew that I didn’t order it so I went to investigate.

Apparently, I’m really stupid and didn’t realize that when you order one month, it becomes recurring charge so I ended up having a payment go through for June and not realized until I got the box.  Well, that’s also because I didn’t get a payment confirmation from Nerd Block either or delivery notice which is all feeling a little weird because then I can’t even back out or know that it was a mistake.  Still, its here and I just hope that it’ll be as fulfilling to make me not regret especially when I’ve been trying to cut expenses after vacation.

Still, British Invasion is a good theme so let’s check it out! 🙂

Nerd Block [June 2015 British Invasion]

 Mr. Bean Teddy

Nerd Block

Mr. Bean is the staple of British humor or any humor.  Other than Stephen Chow for me in Hong Kong movies that made me laugh, I remember Mr. Bean being a constant in our house when I was younger.  My parents and I would sit around watching Mr. Bean whenever it was on TV. And his Teddy? That’s awesome! Just so awesome! 🙂

Doctor Who Titan Figure

Nerd Block

Maybe I shouldn’t confess it because I’ll get a lot of crap about it.  But maybe I already did last year when I posted about Comic-con.  So…I’ve never seen any Doctor Who.  Its probably a bad thing and I should ASAP.  But, I haven’t yet.  But while that is a fact, this vinyl figure looks really awesome.  Who plays the 10th Doctor Who, BTW? Anyone can help me with that?

Monty Magnets

Nerd Block

I can’t remember seeing the entire Monty Python and the Holy Grail movie.  At least I knew what it was, right? Who doesn’t need magnets, right? 😉

Whovian Art Print

Nerd Block

Sorry for the weird background leaking into this picture, especially on the top.  I was watching a Let’s Play video on Youtube when I decided to do the unboxing and propping it up on the screen was the best way to reduce glare from the light.  As previously mentioned, I know nothing about Dr. Who but this poster/art print looks absolutely fantastic, don’t you think?

Mr. Bean Bendable

Nerd Block

So okay, I love Mr. Bean and I do love toys, except I can’t quite figure out what to do with this.   But then, I guess this one could go in the display case if it stands up on its own…I’ll have to investigate it a little further.

Bored T-Shirt

Nerd Block

The card says this is from Sherlock Holmes and that was my initial thought.  I just love the T-shirts.  This one looks awesome!!

Overall, British Invasion was pretty good.  It was very Doctor Who dominant and I’m not very familiar with it but the items for that was quite good.  Mr. Bean stuff is always great.  The T-shirt just wins it completely for me 🙂 Loving it!

Due to financial situation, I’ve made sure to stop Nerd Block for next month.  Arcade Block should be in the mail soon so more unboxing posts coming up soon 🙂 If you enjoy these posts, remember to drop by again!!

What did you think this month’s Nerd Block? Any item peak your interest?

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011)

I told you I’d be back with a real life movie! I was never a big fan of Robert Downey Jr. until I saw the first Sherlock Holmes. But, I’m a mega huge fan of Jude Law..I think I’ve probably confessed my love for him in a few reviews like The Holiday and Hugo.  I love his voice and his charm.  I don’t think that he’s in the drop dead gorgeous category but his charm gives him so much more.  I really enjoyed the first Sherlock Holmes and that one was a pleasant surprise.  It made me really excited to see the second one..so don’t ask me why it took so long to see it after its release…

sherlock holmes game of shadowsDirector: Guy Ritchie

Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, Rachel  McAdams, Noomi Rapace, Jared Harris, Stephen Fry

In this sequel to the 2009 original (I should go back and review that one), Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.)  is now linking a lot of affairs to do with a very smart and evil man called Dr. Moriarty (Jared Harris).  A professor that was revealed to him at the end of the first movie through a woman that his path crosses with a lot called Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams).  This time, Dr. John Watson (Jude Law) is getting ready to be married soon and to stop being his assistant afterwards because of the nature of danger that Holmes is involved in.  Holmes brings Watson out on his stag night and takes his brother (Stephen Fry) also and at this party, he syncs this with going to follow his clues which leads him to eventually saving Sim (Noomi Rapace), a fortune teller and learns about her and her brother’s connections to Moriarty’s plans.  This launche Holmes and Watson to go on at least one more adventure and mystery across different countries as they try to stop Moriarty’s plans from going forward.

I really love Robert Downey Jr. as Sherlock Holmes.  I’ve never had to debate whether I like him better as Sherlock or as Ironman but the different charisma he can pull off in his role is just so great. He turns into this somewhat comedic ass. He just is that way. He’s going straight up into being in a few of my favorite on screen character.  As much as I like Holmes and Robert Downing Jr.’s version of it, there is really no way I can disregard the chemistry and bromance with Jude Law as Watson.  I love Jude Law to bits (I think I said that up there) and I can’t say it enough. He’s just such an awesome man, not that I’m saying he’s handsome but rather the vibe that he gives (weird, I know).  When Watson and Sherlock are together, you can’t help but to laugh a bit at their odd interactions.  The struggling danger of a professional and personal relationship that will end when one party goes off to get married.

sherlock

Aside from this, the introduction of Stephen Fry as Holmes brother and Noomi Rapace as the fortune teller/gypsy Simka.  Stephen Fry gave some fun moments here and there and his addition contributed a bit to my enjoyment (only a bit). However, Noomi Rapace has been surprising me over and over again.  I first saw her as the boyish Lisbeth Salander in the Swedish original of The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo (or otherwise called Millenium Trilogy).  After that, I saw her in Prometheus and that really was interesting and she lead that role really well.  But now, we’re talking about her role in Sherlock Holmes and it was pretty awesome.  Her expressions and acting in general has impressed me. I really hope to see her in more flicks.

shadows sim

Another thing I look at was the villain himself, Moriarty.  Somehow I felt that the downfall was Moriarty himself, I never truly felt that anyone would be in danger.  Sure, Moriarty played a smart and intelligent man but he never made me feel like a worthy villain.  In a flick, thats based on a villain that should make you feel like he is actually threatening the movie, I wasn’t totally pleased in the domains of how evil he was or how dangerous he was.  I still enjoyed the movie but it would have really hit higher on my scale if he was better.

sherlock moriarty

All in all, I’d say this one was pretty good.  Its not as good as the first one to me.  I have to get around to reviewing that one.  What this one has for it is the odd actions of Sherlock Holmes and the amazing chemistry that he has with Watson.  Their interaction and dialogue usually was what had me focused into the movie.  At the other times, I wasn’t totally into it as much.  Even though the villain wasn’t much, there were some fun elements in this flick that makes it into an entertaining watch.

What do you think of Sherlock Holmes? How about Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law? What are your favorite films of these two?

Book Review: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

adventures sherlock holmesMy Goodreads review: Following Sherlock Holmes through a series of his investigations with Watson is really engaging. Most of them always start with some form of peculiar  detail and then turns around to change around just from the little details that he observes.  That is the charm of Sherlock Holmes and it keeps us wondering what his next step is and how each case will end.  Its a very enjoyable read. 

This is a book with 12 investigations of the adventures of Sherlock Holmes.  Dr. Watson, his trusted companion, is the narrator of each of these stories.  He documents each one through his eyes and his experience.  When Holmes exits the picture or when certain characters involved in the case leave his field of vision, we jump forward to when he witnesses some more.  This allows us a lot of mystery as we read.  We know that its the most accurate version from Watson`s mouth and this is also what pulls us in.  He puts in his initial assessment and then his discussion with Holmes who clarifies his route of action most of the time after the fact.

I never thought about this but the image of Sherlock Holmes created by Arthur Conan Doyle is compelling because of this missing detail and because its the opinion formed by Watson himself.  The missing parts of where Holmes investigates on his own is where we wonder when he comes back what crazy approach he is going to use next to track down or capture the unknown culprit red handed.  It leaves the readers wondering and often times I found myself trying to figure out what the next move was or who the next culprit was.  There was maybe 3-4 times that I figured out who was the culprit but I usually would get the twist and details of the actual story wrong.

This is also what makes Sherlock Holmes a very attractive character.  He inspects and sees the little details that we normally would not associate with how he gathers his information.  It takes a lot of general knowledge (I guess, or extensive) to be able to pull those links together from the people he observes or the evidence that he finds and inspects.

Overall, I really did find this a very fun novel to read.  I loved the character of Sherlock Holmes and will probably seek out his other novels.  I always like a good mystery and makes me guess throughout reading it.  It allows me to be involved throughout the story and that makes it very recommendable and a great Classic to me!

Agatha Christie vs. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

This question has been been a huge debate for me during the last year.  Sure sounds like I have nothing better to do, but when you have been reading as long as I have, I’m guessing Classics turn into something of a debate (once in a while).

Agatha Christie or Sir Arthur Conan Doyle?

Last year through some coincidence, I came by the idea of reading several Agatha Christie’s novels featuring the investigations of Hercule Poirot.  Agatha Christie is considered the Queen of Mystery.  Have you read any of her books? I read And Then There Were None, Murder on the Orient Express, Hercule Poirot’s Christmas and Curtain: Poirot’s Last Case.  I still have a lot of reading to do because she doesn’t only create the character of Hercule Poirot but also the character of  Miss Marple which I have yet to explore.  Her stories are pretty amazing and a lot of times, it involves some sort of sudden unexpected twists in the end.  Hercule Poirot is a quiet Belgian man who has a quick mind and investigates a lot into details.  He has this ambiguous, vague way of showing his cases.  Its been a year since my last time I picked up one of her books.  And Then There Were None is the first book I read from Agatha Christie and I believe its also one of her most popular.  This one is an independent story and frankly, it may start a bit slow but it sets up this beautiful scenario so we know our characters and the flow of events are pretty awesome because it keeps you guessing all the way.  I’ll probably go back and write a better review eventually.  So Agatha Christie is definitely the Queen of Mystery to me and I’ve only read just a bit of her long list of novels.

On the other hand, the one who is more popular is our dear Sherlock Holmes.  Who created this character? The pioneer of mysteries himself, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.  My first confession here is that I actually never finished  Hound of Baskerville. I’m currently reading The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes.  I will have a review on it when I’m done but so far, I’m about half way through the book.  I’ve read maybe about 5-6 short stories and I’m getting a jest of what his style is.  Maybe its because I’m older now so I appreciate his writing a lot more than when I first picked up Hound of Baskerville.  He has a pretty cool writing style.  Sherlock Holmes is all about the details in the case and that’s how he makes his deductions.  Its also the idea of the chemistry he has with Watson that makes the story interesting.  The stories are normally narrated by Watson’s point of view.

Point of this is that I’ve only recently dived into the world of both of these phenomenal mystery authors and I wonder what others think about them.  I subconsciously started to compare the two authors and wonder which one is more liked amongst other readers. As for me, I’m still undecided…and I’m guessing I should base my final preference after I’ve read other books.

So, Agatha Christie or Sherlock Holmes? Hercules Poirot or Sherlock Holmes?

Have you read novels from these authors?

If you have, what do you think about them? Do you prefer one over the other?

If you haven’t (and you are into reading fiction), what are you waiting for? Go and read them 🙂

Oh right, and if you have read them, suggest and recommend away! I love to expand my reading list.