A Burglar's Guide to the City: burglary as architectural criticism

23422023851_7574f15d6a_o
For years, Geoff Manaugh has entertained and fascinated us with his BLDGBLOG, and now he's even better at full-length, with A Burglar's Guide to the City (previously), a multidisciplinary, eclectic, voraciously readable book that views architecture, built environments, and cities themselves through the lens of breaking-and-entering.

The quest for the well-labeled inn

switch-panel-front-1-108681299803685JN5
I have a first-world problem: I stay in a lot of hotels.

Oh This Crazy VR Hype

Woman_Using_a_Samsung_VR_Headset_at_SXSW_2015_(2015-03-15_14.10.24_by_Nan_Palmero)
A few weeks back, I was at the annual Game Developers Conference. GDC kicked off this year with its first-ever VRDC, two days of all-VR, all the time. On top of that, there was VR programming sprinkled across the main event schedule, too: it’s launch year for the much-touted Big Headsets.

Something New: frank, comedic, romantic memoir of a wedding in comic form

SomethingNew-100-270
Lucy Knisley is a favorite around these parts, a comics creator whose funny, insightful, acerbic and disarmingly frank memoirs in graphic novel form have won her accolades and admiration from across the field. With her latest book, Something New: Tales from a Makeshift Bride, Knisley invites us into her wedding, her love life, her relationship with her mother, and an adventure that's one part Martha Stewart, one part French farce comedy.

The story of Traceroute, about a Leitnerd's quest

056c026d-1c66-4d42-9fae-a8e96df290c5-1020x1031
Johannes Grenzfurthner talks about Traceroute: On the Road with a Leitnerd(*)
(*) Leitnerd is a wordplay referring to the German term Leitkultur.

It's the criminal economy, stupid!

burger

The Panama Papers — a massive cache of 11.5 million records leaked from the law firm Mossack Fonseca — reveal that several heads of state have been sheltering their personal wealth in offshore accounts to evade taxes. This is not surprising, as dictators are known for draining public coffers and hoarding the ill-gotten funds in secret accounts. What’s more disturbing is learning that well-known global businesses and civic leaders have been doing the same thing for decades, and getting away with it.

Mossack Fonseca specializes in setting up untraceable shell companies. There’s nothing overtly illegal about them, but they’re often used by political and financial elites to hide assets, dodge taxes, and launder money. Creating shell companies is a big business, and Mossack Fonseca is just one of many firms that do it. FACT (Financial Accountability and Corporate Transparency) Coalition says shell companies house up to $21 trillion globally. (By way of comparison, the US gross domestic product for 2015 was $18 trillion.)

Too Big to Jail The firms employing the services of Mossack Fonseca include a rogues’ gallery of brand name corporations with a track record of breaking financial regulations with virtual impunity. Remember back in 2013 when HSBC was slapped with a $1.9 billion fine by the U.S. Justice Department for laundering drug cartel money? Its fine amounted to less than one tenth of its annual profits. And remember when UBS was caught in 2012 spreading false information to manipulate banking exchange rates? It was fined $1.5 billion, which sounds like a lot, until you learn UBS’ revenues are almost $40 billion a year. Read the rest

Outliers: the statistical mysteries that hold the key to understanding

Everydata - High Res
John Johnson and Mike Gluck's new book, Everydata: The Misinformation Hidden in the Little Data You Consume Every Day is a tour-de-force of statistical literacy. This excerpt, a chapter on understanding statistical outliers, is as clear an explanation of what an outlier is, and what it means, and why it matters, as you're likely to find.

The Nameless City: YA graphic novel about diplomacy, hard and soft power, colonialism, bravery, and parkour

NamelessCityRGB
Faith Erin Hicks (Zombies Calling, Friends with Boys, Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong) is back with the first volume of a new, epic YA trilogy: The Nameless City, a fantasy adventure comic about diplomacy, hard and soft power, colonialism, bravery, and parkour.

Parent Hacks: illustrated guide is the best kind of parenting book

bg
The latest incarnation of Parent Hacks is the best yet: Parent Hacks: 134 Genius Shortcuts for Life with Kids, with illustrations from Craighton Berman.

Indie games roundup!

alley1-1030x579
The best from the independent dev scene

Among a Thousand Fireflies: children's book shows the sweet, alien love stories unfolding in our own backyards

056c026d-1c66-4d42-9fae-a8e96df290c5-1020x1023
Rick Lieder -- painter, illustrator, photographer, husband of the brilliant novelist/playwright Kathe Koja -- waits ever-so-patiently in his suburban Detroit back-yard with his camera, capturing candid, lively photos of bees, birds, bugs, and now, in a new book of photos with a beautiful accompanying poem by Helen Frost, fireflies.

How to make awesome butternut squash fries

butternut-squash-fries

My two favorite foods are sweet potatoes and butternut squash. I typically cut them up like french fries and put them in a roasting pan with a lot of coconut oil and salt, then bake them at 425 degrees for about 40 minutes. I wanted to actually deep fry them, so a few days ago I bought a FryDaddy deep fryer. It costs just $21 on Amazon, and is very highly rated by reviewers there. After making sweet potato fries and butternut squash fries, I agree with the reviewers. This is a terrific tool, especially for the price.

It couldn't be easier to use. You just add oil up the the fill line and plug it in. (I use Carrington Farms organic cold-pressed, unrefined coconut oil.) After the oil heats up, you add the chopped up potatoes or squash and fry them for about 10 minutes. Put them in a colander so the oil drips off (there's not a lot of oil) and shake a bunch of salt on it. The more salt the better.

I learned how to prep the sweet potatoes after listening to Adam Savage describe how he makes them. He skins and cuts the potatoes, then soaks them in water for an hour, which gets some of the starch out (the water becomes very cloudy). Then drain the water and pat the potato pieces with paper towels until they are damp. Next, put a tablespoon of corn starch in a paper bag, dump in the pieces and shake them in the bag. Read the rest

Science Comics: Dinosaurs!

bg
Every volume of Science Comics offers a complete introduction to a particular topic -- dinosaurs, coral reefs, volcanoes, the solar system, bats, flying machines, and more.

How to Talk About Videogames: a book that is serious (but never dull) about games

Four_Arcade_Games
Ian Bogost's How to Talk About Videogames isn't just a book about games -- it's a book about criticism, and where it fits in our wider culture. Bogost is the rare academic writer whose work is as clear and exciting as the best of the mainstream, and whose critical exercises backfire by becoming enormous commercial/popular successes.

How libraries can save the Internet of Things from the Web's centralized fate

056c026d-1c66-4d42-9fae-a8e96df290c5-1020x1007
Everyone thinks libraries have a positive role to play in the world, but that role differs greatly based on whether you’re talking to a librarian or a patron. Ask a patron what libraries have in common and they’d probably answer: they share books with people. Librarians give a different answer: they share a set of values. It’s time for libraries to step up to those values by supporting access to the Internet and taking the lead in fighting to keep the Internet open, free, and unowned.

Medusa's Web: Tim Powers is the Philip K Dick of our age

91L9Ld-st9L
Tim Powers is a fantasy writer who spins out tales of wild, mystic conspiracy that are so believable and weird, we're lucky he didn't follow L Ron Hubbard's example and found a religion, or we'd all be worshipping in his cult. Along with James Blaylock and KW Jeter, Powers was one of three young, crazy genre writers who served as Philip K Dick's proteges, and Powers gives us a glimpse of where Dick may have ended up if he'd managed to beat his own worst self-destructive impulses.

The Car Hacker's Handbook: a Guide for Penetration Testers

056c026d-1c66-4d42-9fae-a8e96df290c5-1020x980

The 2016 Car Hacker's Handbook expands on the hugely successful 2014 edition, in which the Open Garages movement boiled down all they'd learned running makerspaces for people interested in understanding, improving, penetration testing and security-hardening modern cars, which are computers encrusted in tons of metal that you strap your body into.

No Starch Press has taken on the task of turning The Car Hacker's Handbook into a beautifully produced, professional book, in a new edition that builds on the original, vastly expanding the material while simultaneously improving the organization and updating it to encompass the otherwise-bewildering array of new developments in car automation and hacking.

Author Craig Smith founded Open Garages and now has years of experience with community development of tools and practices for investigating how manufacturers are adding computers to cars, the mistakes they're making, and the opportunities they're creating.

The Handbook is an excellent mix of general background on how to do threat-modelling, penetration testing, reverse engineering, etc, and highly specific code examples, model numbers, recipes and advice on how to put a car up on a bench, figure out how it works, figure out how to make it do cool things the manufacturer never intended, and figure out how to understand the risks you face from people doing the same thing without your best interests at heart.

A lot of the advice is theoretical, but there are a bunch of highly practical projects, from improving and customizing your in-car satnav and entertainment system to tuning your engine performance. Read the rest

More posts