Hacker Cracker

I finished reading Hacker Cracker last night. The first part of the book deals entirely with the authors plight of growing up in a very rough area of town and the struggles that he faces with on a day to day basis. Apart from the first 4 or 5 pages, which contained a fast moving account of what happens when a rogue Chief Technology Officer gets sacked, for the first 71 pages I was wondering whether the book that I was reading had been slipped inside the jacket of hacker cracker as there was no mention of computers at all. The story was still pretty interesting though. Eventually he gets round to his first experience with computers and his encounters with hacking and the addictiveness of it all. Eventually the story ends up with a moving account of being at the site of the twin towers on 9/11 and a very touching part about a strange whistling noise (which I won’t explain as it is a bit of a spoiler). An easy read and not really the usual hacker biography type book. I think this is partly due to the fact that the author is assuming his readers are not technical as some of the explanations (IRC for example) are very basic and some are almost “media stereotypical assumptions” of what really goes on.
As the theme of the book is the struggle to overcome and make life a lot better for his family, the target audience for this book is increased beyond the geek and I think even my mother would like this book!


I watched most of the first season of 4400 yesterday as USA was holding a marathon rerun of the first series before the premiere of the 2nd series later on in the evening. It was a good series, similar to the x-files but not as spooky but with more of a focus on the real life effects of being dumped back onto earth after being away for x number of years. The funny thing is that at the moment I am currently reading Jasper Fforde’s Something Rotten and the main character is struggling with the exact same issues. I wonder whether Jasper watched the tv series too.
One of the annoying things with watching that much tv is the amount of adverts you have to sit through and you would have thought that they DON’T need to advertise the premiere of the 2nd series EVERY time there is an advert break. After all, if you are sitting there watching a whole series, it is extremely likely that you are well aware of the premiere and you just want them to get on with it.
I had tried to get the dvd out of the library and blockbusters, but neither of them stock it. I’m surprised as blockbuster had a whole stack of tv series but not this one. (It was available on bittorrent though but its too risky to start using that sort of network)

Wee Free Men

Now that we are in Dublin, we can get books,cd’s, dvd’s out of the library for no charge AND reserve books for no charge too. This is great as it means you can choose what you like and as all the libraries are linked it typically means you don’t have to wait long until you get the item you want. However if it is a recent dvd then you might have to wait a long time. One of the items that Kristen reserved we were the 667th person on the list so I cancelled the reservation. However on other books that we have reserved I’ve got the items in 2-3 days.
Anyway, Wee Free Men was on the shelf in the library and was the next Terry Pratchett book that I needed to read. Oddly enough it was in the teens section and not in the fiction section but I guess it is a kids book. It was still pretty funny and very similar to the rest of the Discworld series and Granny Weatherwax even makes an appearance. The only downside about reading the books in america is that you don’t get the good cartoons on the front cover (as in the amazon link posted earlier) that you do with the uk editions. Actually in this rare case I prefer the US cover. After Josh Kirby died, the illustrations on the books haven’t been as cartoony as they used to be. It only took me a day or so to read whilst cuddling cats so it goes back to the library later this week.
I also got Teach yourself MovableType in 24 hours out to see what it is like. I skimmed the first few sections as obviously I know how to install and use MT otherwise this blog wouldn’t exist. It did seem like a fairly good tutorial although the troubleshooting section was pretty vague. In the authors defence, I wouldn’t want to write a troubleshooting section on installing MT – like most software packages there are an awful lot of things to go wrong.
I’m more interested in the template section of the book but I have not had time to get to that bit yet and I’m resisting the urge to skip straight to that section as there might be something useful in the earlier bits.

In the presence of the enemy

Just finished In the presence of the enemy by Elizabeth George. This is the first of the Inspector Linley novels that I have read and all because it was one of the books from the library that Kristen got for 10p in their pre-christmas book sale. It’s taken about a week to read in the evenings before bed and it has been a good read. If you like your murder mysteries then you will like this series. Problem is there are loads of books in this series so you’ll either get hooked and have loads to read or you might that the series are very formulistic – I don’t myself but will find out when I read another one.
The funny think about the amazon affiliate link is that the book lists at £6.99, amazon themselves are selling it at £5.59, yet there is one seller who has it on sale, new, for £2.49

Spam Kings: book review

Whilst I was in America I took a couple of books out of the library. I only managed to finish reading one of them, Spam Kings: The Real Story behind the High-Rolling Hucksters Pushing Porn, Pills, and %*@)# Enlargements. Its a “biography” of spammers and the story behind how they work(ed) and the antispammers fight to get them brought to justice and stop them spamming. Its very entertaining and you don’t need to be a net nerd to understand the book either. At some points,when it tells you how much they were making a month, it shows why it is worth being a spammer….until the jail sentence catches up with them!
If you’ve ever read Cuckoo’s egg by Clifford Stoll then you will know what to expect (this book is about the tracking down of hackers) and is also a recommended read. The other book that I didn’t get a chance to read was Dave Gorman’s Googlewhack adventure but as that is available at Congleton library I’ll get it out from there now.
For those of you in Cheshire who want to see if books available from amazon are in your library, drag library to your links/toolbar and then click the link when you have a book from in your browser.

Underground book

Finished reading the 2000+ pages of Underground on the pocketpc last weekend. It’s been a really interesting read about hacking and has kept me entertained whilst waiting for tape restores/backups to run, dinners to be served in hotels etc whilst i’ve been out on the road. Interestingly one of the hackers lived in Salford at the same time I was there as a student and he got busted for hacking.