The Best of 2600: A Hacker Odyssey (Anglais) Relié – 12 août 2008
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Revue de presse
John Baichtal ( Wired Blog, August, 2008)
"...a testament to a culture which thrived before computers and the internet mattered to most of the world." (New statesman, September, 2008)
a testament to a culture which thrived before computers and the internet mattered to most of the world. New Statesman Thursday 4 September 2008
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Over time, I read it less and less, both because the writing was generally bad, and because the revelations were often so weak. The Best Of book fairly reflects the content of the magazine -- it gives a good sense for the passions of a particular technological subculture, but much of what is here is dross.
So many articles were clearly written by people who did not know much, and who punt when they get to difficult work. "The encryption is done by a custom chip and, uh, you might want to decompile the EEPROM and see what's in there." Or they contain only trivial information, made to fill many pages through the inclusion of anecdotes about how the writer came to know the trivial information. (Four pages on how you discovered that ATMs run OS/2? The entire article could have been reduced to four words: "Many ATMs run OS/2.") And then there are the political articles, most of which are screeds about how the government and/or big companies are coming to take your freedom away, and their desire to be paid for your pirated movies proves it.
In some cases, it is hard to imagine how a given article was selected for inclusion in the magazine, let alone for reprinting in the book. An essay on the mathematics of lotteries is particularly weak, using high school level combinatorics to argue that nobody should ever play. The article contradicts a much more interesting essay earlier in the book in which the weaknesses in certain lotteries were revealed and methods for exploiting these weaknesses detailed.
The best material in the book is historical -- the stories of individual hacks, arrests, court battles, etc., by the people involved. Emmanuel Goldstein could have printed just those and had a better book while saving 550 pages.
If there was anything you ever wanted to know concerting what hacking was like before the explosion of the Internet, or how hackers have been portrayed with biased by the media and in some cases the government, this is a must read book.
If you subscribe to 2600: The Hacker Quarterly or if you patiently wait at the book store or mail box for a new issue every three months, you will definitely want to pick up this book.
It will be interesting to see in the future, online hacker zines to try their hand at publishing their writings such as TOTSE and Phrack.
More than just the cartoonish representation in popular media, the hacking movement is a testament to creativity and innovation. Rightly so, this book is a celebration of cleverness and ingenious engineering instead of the more malevolent applications.
The publisher is to be saluted for not only putting a great deal of effort along with the editor, the founder of 2600 Magazine and also of the HOPE conference, for making this volume a true reference work. I was immediately impressed by the selection of "best of the best," the organization of the material, the index, and the fact that the publisher moved away from the micro-print that was used to keep costs down on the volume of knowledge being transmitted in the individual journal issues, and instead went for a high-end glossy, "just right" white space presentation that should be in every Information Technology library across the country, and is also a collectible for anyone who pretends to know anything at all about information INsecurity.
If you got this far, this lovely volume, easily worth $60, is a real value at the much lower price being offered, and I hope enough people buy it to occasion a reprint or a second volume.
It merits comment that this is not just a volume of hand-picked items from a single journal. The editor and his closest colleagues created a community of over 30,000 hackers (whom I have always said are like astronauts on the edge with the "right stuff") and this volume LITERALLY represents the 30,000 who were decades ahead of the US Government, which is still--as are corporations and public utilities--largely stupid about information system security, to include our Supervisory Control and Direction (SCADA) systems, all of them on the Internet.
For a really good time on what the Chinese know and can do that we cannot, see my Memorandum, easily found online, <Chinese Irregular Warfare oss.net>. They brought Dick Cheney's plane down over Singapore in Feburary 2007, and when he got off to stretch his legs, told him exactly what they could do, and what the US would not be allowed to do. Thus did the power of the information age move East.
Other great Hacker books (the last one is the ultimate public hack, taking back the power):
Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution
The Second Self: Computers and the Human Spirit, Twentieth Anniversary Edition
The Hacker Crackdown: Law And Disorder On The Electronic Frontier
The Art of Intrusion: The Real Stories Behind the Exploits of Hackers, Intruders & Deceivers
The Cuckoo's Egg: Tracking a Spy Through the Maze of Computer Espionage
Cybershock: Surviving Hackers, Phreakers, Identity Thieves, Internet Terrorists and Weapons of Mass Disruption
Collective Intelligence: Creating a Prosperous World at Peace
Three DVDs, the first based on the real-life of the editor of this book:
Live Free or Die Hard (Unrated Edition)
There are two sets of hackers: these, and the ones who came out of the Homebrew Garage Club (Lee Felsenstein, Eric Hughes, etc) and tended to created businesses rather than live free. Bill Gates is certainly in that number, as are Stewart Brand and others. The most famous Free/Open Hacker in the first group is Richard Stahlman, whose book on the origins of Free/Open Source Software (F/OSS) is most recently complemented by Yochai Benkler's book on Wealth of Networks. With a tip of the hat to Nat at O'Reilly, open source software is Darwinism, while malware and proprietary software are Intelligent Design that is not so intelligence. VISTA by Microsoft is the biggest scam in history, for the first time forcing documents to be uniquely tied to the Microsoft operating system and not processable anywhere else. It is time for Microsoft to die, or come to its senses and put its money into F/OSS while monetizing the transactions. Bill Gates has called F/OSS communist. In my view, that makes Bill Gates a fascist. My money is on F/OSS.