- Ghost in the Wires: My Adventures as the World's Most Wanted Hacker
- Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
- Year: 2011
- Pages: 432
Social Engineering was my hobby horse as an undergraduate IT major; I say this as though I’m an old veteran of the IT industry, but I’m not—I’m a fresh-faced, startup-mentality programmer. One of the reasons I always focused on social engineering in my various papers and projects, however, is I was exposed early to the idea of Kevin Mitnick. This isn’t to say I was particularly familiar with his exploits, or even well-versed in the technology of his area, but the notion that you could con your way into systems without necessarily programming or “hacking” was easy enough to understand.
A long time ago, I ran a comparison of various command-line compressors in Linux. Recently, intrigued by the rise of parallel computing and the emergence of multi-processor versions of old *nix favorites like gzip and bzip2, I thought I’d give the benchmark another go.
- Mr. Gatling's Terrible Marvel
- Publisher: Viking Adult
- Year: 2008
- Pages: 304
My appetite for biographies is minimal: in general I find focus in single individuals results in a necessarily circumscribed and correspondingly dull book, and therefore avoid them except in certain cases (Christopher Hitchens’ recent memoir, while not strictly a biography, counts among their number). Inestimably more interesting—and invariably more important as well—are general histories, either of periods or concepts.
Occasionally, however, an individual or dynasty serves as a synecdoche for said historical period or concept, and this is the approach that Julia Keller takes toward Richard Jordan Gatling, the 19th-century inventor who lent his name to the famous machine gun. In fact, Keller’s book, Mr. Gatling’s Terrible Marvel, travels along two separate threads; the first is Gatling himself and the era of innovation of which he was emblematic, but the second is the rich irony of Gatling, most proud of his agricultural machinery, becoming famous for instruments of death.
Steven Pinker has a new op-ed in the New York Times where, ever the gallant hero of relativism in the way that most linguists and social scientists are, he defends new forms of mass and social media from their loudest detractors. His two salient examples are Powerpoint and Twitter. While the former has been a fixture of academic or professional communication for well over a decade, the latter is a relative newcomer and currently receives the same mix of pointed dislike and frenzied exuberance usually reserved for the novel.
Let it not be said that I am discomfited or alarmed by new forms of media; that I’m posting this to a blog after finding the article on Facebook, cross-posted from Twitter itself, may say something about my attitude toward the new and the popular. At the same time, I am extraordinarily distrustful of smiling cretins who like to whitewash the tendency of pop-culture to both reflect and encourage those things about ourselves which are ultimately damaging—the execrable Everything Bad is Good For You is a good example of just how facile such attempts can be.
Download the PDF.
Economic models of the traditional and well-known sense usually describe either manufactured physical goods or services performed, both of which are scarce resources: only so much grain can be grown, for instance—or widgets churned out of an industrial plant, or pipes plumbed by professionals. Short of espionage, even the market for Information was tied to the cost of materials and availability of produced goods such as printed books, pressed records, or spooled movies. In other words, though the Information was created once and itself remained unchanged, the marginal cost of creating copies of that Information was the sum of the materials, labor, and transportation costs used the produce, package, and ship the finished physical good to a store or warehouse.