Book briefs

A summary of recent books Computerworld has reviewed.

Stealing the Network: How to Own the Box by Jeff Moss et al (Syngress, $135)

A horror novel in 10 chapters, in which a group of the world's hackerati sketch out -- fictionally, of course -- just how they might go about cracking into your system. Because the cracks are written as if they are really happening, with pages of worrying detail, it's just all too scary. Want to know how to store an exploit in a printer's flash memory? Come right in. Those not steeped in the arcane language of the black hat may find it reads as though interspersed with passages of Estonian. But those who are charged with protecting systems should read this book, even at such an outrageous price for a paperback. Not only will you understand more of the how, but much more of the why -- the excitement of the chase is palpable.

Balancing Acts: More than 250 Guiltfree, Creative Ideas to Blend your Work and Your Life by Barbara Glanz (Dearborn, $37.95)

Barbara Glanz has six books to her credit, with titles like Handle With CARE: Motivating and Retaining Employees and The Creative Communicator: 399 Ways to Make Your Business Communications Meaningful and Inspiring. Balancing Acts, she says, came about during a very unbalanced time of her life, after her partner's death, moving house and hiring a new assistant. You won't be surprised it comes with lots of pointer boxes and uplifting quotes in bold and italic text. Long on what some might see as Christian-oriented touchy-feelery, team building gimmicks and American sunny-side-up-ism, and short on harder issues (such as why Americans take the fewest holidays of any first-world nation), the harried may nevertheless find in it some commonsense ways to assess their time priorities. While away, call, email or send digital photos to your family. Convince your company to offer long-service sabbaticals. Take five-minute vacations. (Take real, longer ones.)

Radical Change, Radical Results: 7 Actions to Become the Force for Change in Your Organisation by Kate Ludeman and Eddie Erlandson (Dearborn, $59.95)

Curiosity, awareness, authenticity, accountability, candour, genius, appreciation. All great traits for high-EQ types and, apart from perhaps the third (finding congruence between your inner self and your behaviour) and the sixth (unlocking your potential), all blindingly obvious. And therein lies the problem. As a change management specialist suggested to me, without actually working your way slowly and carefully through a serious time of upheaval in your organisation with the aid of experienced managers and consultants, a book like this may be about as useful as searching for "change" on Amazon and copying the summaries.

A Practical Guide to CRM: Building More Profitable Customer Relationships by Janice Reynolds (CMP Books, $105)

This very detailed handbook (285 pages of small print and tables) argues that price and uniqueness of product are no longer enough to make companies competitive. Customer buy on price and product quality, sure, but also because of service, recognition and support. They return loyalty and better profits. Companies must adopt a customer-oriented business strategy, which drives a customer-centric corporate strategy, which then brings on board technology which is properly implemented and integrated into its existing IT. This is likely to turn a company "inside out", as Reynolds says, which is why she spends so much time helping the reader choose the appropriate solution and technology partner. A layout gripe: chapter headings at the top of pages would have helped navigation.

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