Whil I was on holidays, I read Stealing the Network: How to Own a Continent. This is the sequel to "Stealing the Network: How to Own the Box," and like the previous volume, it consists of short stories written by extremely talented hackers in which the computer bits are reported so faithfully that the books can be thought of as especially colourful HOWTOs, technical documents dressed up with narrative.
As such, they are terrific. I would much rather read a Stealing the Network volume than any hundred HOWTOs and Anarchy Filez: STN has the tone of a really good bullshitting session at a DefCon or Hackers on Planet Earth, hackers spinning war-stories about hacks they've pulled off, or have conceived of. Make no mistake, these are imaginative and brilliant technical people.
As stories, these pieces are sometimes clumsy. The prose rarely rises above journeyman level (it's at its best when the authors stick to declarative, Hemingwayesque sentences, but too often they stray into "colourful" similes and descriptive phrases that can be cliched and even unintentionally funny), and there's not a lot of characterization to be had, and virtually no character development. That said, the book is still a rip-snortin' read, mostly because while it's not the best fiction ever written, it is some of the best, most engaging technical nonfiction you're likely to find.
A couple of the stories are very funny -- I'm particularily fond of the "A Real Gullible" piece, which is an homage to one of the great hacker farces of all time, Real Genius. There's a lot of that kind of nerd humour and nerd folk art sprinkled throughout this volume, and for that alone, it's worth reading.
It's a good formula and a smart one, too: how else could you produce a tech book that was still worth keeping in print 18 months later?
Coming after improvements to Firefox and continued unease at Google’s life-pervading insight, this image is outperforming the ███████ ████ Virality Control Group today (via). It got me thinking about all the promises that were made. Here’s the earliest article in Google News to contain “Big browser” in its headline, published by Time Magazine on Nov. […]
The WiFi232 is a traditional old-timey old-schooley Hayes-compatible 300-115200 baud modem, no wider than its own parallel DB25 port. Automatically responds with a customizable busy message when already in a call. The killer app seems to be using it to get internet onto ancient retro portables like the TRS-80 Model 102, but it’s been put […]
Most tech-media takes on the iPhone’s 10th anniversary are bland and self-congratulatory, but I like Tom Warren’s at The Verge. He laments how Apple’s pocket computer killed his inner nerd. As a youngster, he’d be constantly tearing down and building computers, even in the sweltering heat of summer. But now… …All of that tinkering and […]
Between election hacks, ransomware, and Devil’s Ivy, the cybersecurity space is booming as malware and hackers become more sophisticated. If you’re interested in pursuing a career in ethical hacking, or just want to secure your own devices, The Super-Sized Ethical Hacking Bundle is a great resource.In this bundle, you’ll learn the fundamental skills of ethical hacking, prepare […]
The TREBLAB X11 Earphones are versatile, offer great sound, and are currently $32.99 in the Boing Boing Store.These Bluetooth earbuds are a great workout companion. They’re totally sweat proof and their ear-fins keep them snugly in place during high activity — something that Apple’s AirPods can only do if you were blessed with precisely the […]
Whether you’re a seasoned entertainment industry veteran or a student working on your first spec script, having the right tool for the job will make a huge difference in your focus and productivity.Final Draft 10 is far and away the world’s best screenwriting software, used extensively by professional film and TV writers at top production […]