Review: The Best of 2600–A Hacker Odyssey

5 Star, Asymmetric, Cyber, Hacking, Odd War

2600Fifteen Years of Extreme Hacking on the Edge, Under-Priced!, July 19, 2008

Emmanuel Goldstein

I am attending Hackers on Planet Earth (HOPE) in NYC this week-end, and have just spent time with this volume. Unlike the individual issues, all of which I have had in my possession over the years, this volume is HUGE, readable, indexed, and priceless. I mean that–PRICELESS.

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:
Hackers
The Net
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.