LEVI McPHERSON, a graduate student of analytical chemistry at the University of North Central Florida, is approached by agents of the Homeland Security’s Counter-terrorism Unit. The agency is recruiting Lee to study and expose the loopholes of screening instruments in airports. Struggling financially, he accepted the offer, making him a paid, benevolent hacker of the nation’s gateway. Yet Levi is horrified when an Airbus from Los Angeles disintegrated in mid-air.

At 40, when everybody’s career trajectory is going up, Levi’s still a poor graduate student, struggling financially. His research projects however, are worth million dollars. Researching the highly classified and heavily guarded secrets of detecting traces of explosives, what Lee know was a goldmine. The agency's offer is his financial break . So Levi tackles the problem like a scientist, detailing the loopholes of the aviation security and turning what he knew into a big time money machine.

JIM and JONATHAN of the counter-terrorism unit, where nowhere to be found after Charlotte International Airport, a hub of Delta Airlines closed abruptly because of instrument malfunctions in their security lines. And in a post-Osama Bin Laden’s era, the biggest blow to the United Stated after the 9/11 disaster comes unexpectedly when a passenger plane blew up in the skies of Washington D.C., in the heart of the nation.

Levi knew it was only the start of more troubles, so he recruits his fellow graduate students to counter the future attacks. They have to think like criminals—and scientists too. With the help of FBI counter-terrorism experts, Homeland Security and Transportation Security Agency, the team races to close and plug the loopholes Lee identified.

Friday, April 4, 2008

The SEARCH: How Googles and it's rivals rewrote the rules of business.

It starts with a computer hamming, then the blue sky in the background, then the typing. Remember those days when you first open up the computer and typed I do remember those days, around 1995 to 1996 (Internet was released to the public 1992).

This is my second book for the year 2008, and it's about search. What will the internet be without a search engine? It's hard to imagine. So the first thing you type in front of a computer (most likely) with an internet connection, is of course a search engine. I do Yahoo during those days, the banner ads then appear, and then the graphics are lost because the connection was slow. I didn't encounter until 2002, when I was already in the US (from the Philippines).

The book discussed how google came to be. Have you ever wonder what google means? It's a variation from the word googol, which means 1 followed by 100 zeros. In short a huge number. Too geeky? Try this, when google made public offerings for it's stock 4 years ago (2004), it sold 2,718,28 1,828 of its stocks. The numbers are not random, the numbers represent e (e=2.71828 18284 59045 23536), the natural logarithm.

The book concluded that there still no such thing as a perfect search. Search the web for "the meaning of life" and I bet you will be disappointed. Or search why "Julia loves Raymond", there's no perfect answer either. In the end, the book thought me how to do search: and that is, use yahoo and google or when you are searching for something. Every search engine is unique in terms of crawling, indexing and showing the results to the users.

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