The three titles in The Newsflesh Trilogy by Mira Grant. I'm not normally real big on zombie stories, but this one was a breath of fresh air. Part zombies, part conspiracy story, and wildly entertaining.
Living Low Carb - Jonny Bowden. Picked this up after I was diagnosed as diabetic, and needed to clean up my diet and lose some weight. Very detailed book, explains the endocrine cycle and the relationship between carbs, fat, insulin, etc. very well, and makes a compelling case for eliminating most carbs from one's diet. I've been following this approach for the last 2-3 months and feel pretty good about it. My weight is coming down, even though I'm not doing a lot more exercise (that part will come eventually, but for now I'm basically just doing on mountain bike ride of about 2 hours, on Saturdays).
The Startup Owner's Manual - Steve Blank and Bob Dorf. The successor to the famous The Four Steps to the Epiphany, this is the Bible of Customer Development.
Winning The Knowledge Transfer Race - kinda niche, but important to me, vis-a-vis Fogbeam Labs. Our space is (largely) knowledge management, and I got a ton of ideas from this book, in terms of how to articulate problems our customers might be facing, how some of the solutions map to capabilities we're working on, etc.
Outthink The Competition - Kaihan Krippendorff. Definitely got me thinking about the value of strategy and strategic thinking. Contains a nice catalog of basic strategies one can employ. Inspired me pick up some other books on strategy and strategic thinking as well. I definitely recommend this one, unless you happen to be in a business that might compete with us at Fogbeam Labs, in which case, forget you ever heard of this.
Capability Cases: A Solution Envisioning Approach - Irene Polioff, Robert Coyne, Ralph Hodgson. An interesting book on matching business problems to technical solutions through something called a "capability case". Think of a "capability case" as something like a cross between a "use case" and an Alexanderian pattern, and a business "case" like you'd study in business school. Basically it's an approach to distilling the essence of a problem an organization might have, laying out the capabilities needed to address that problem, and demonstrating the business justification for the solution.
Steve Jobs - Walter Isaacson. Just a fascinating story of a strangely interesting man. Lots of computer industry history embedded in here as well.
Hackers - Steven Levy.
Artificial Life - Steven Levy.
The Apocalypse Codex - Charles Stross. My first foray into "The Laundry Files" and it was a good one. When somebody first recommended this series to me, they said it was "sci fi with a Lovecraftian bent" which caught my attention as a huge fan of Lovecraft. Sure enough, that's exactly what it is. As soon as I encountered the phrase "computational demonologist" I knew I was in the right place.
The Fountainhead - Ayn Rand. I like to read this for inspiration every now and again. Howard Roark is one of my favorite characters and I aspire to be more like him. Unfortunately, to date, I think I'm closer to Gail Wynand.
Trust Me, I'm Lying - Ryan Holiday. How one man manipulated a variety of media outlets to gain free PR for his clients. Some of these tactics may seem (and probably are) underhanded, perhaps even downright unethical. But even if you don't want to use them yourself, you should probably be aware of them, as it may help you understand why certain stories get featured in the media and why others don't.
Ghost In The Wires - Kevin Mitnick.
This Machine Kills Secrets - Andy Greenberg. History of the cypherpunk movement, from the early days through Wikileaks and the Bradley Manning and Julian Assange sagas. Lots of great stuff here, definitely recommended for anyone interested in cypherpunks, government/corporate transparency, information security, and related topics.
Started, but haven't yet finished Taking People With You by David Novak. Another book on leadership and how to engage other people and get them onboard with whatever it is you're trying to accomplish. So far it strikes me as pretty good, with actual actionable material, not just a bunch of pithy aphorisms. But I'm only about 1/3rd of the way in, so kinda early to pass judgement.
Started Reamde by Neal Stephenson, but got distracted, set it aside and never resumed it. Will probably start it again sometime next year. Was entertaining up to the point I stopped.
Started, but didn't finish The Singularity is Near by Ray Kurzweil. It's a long book, what can I say?
I was roaming around inside networks and machines around the same time as these guys and I don't think it was a romantic era, but it was an era in which the laws were very lax and you'd likely get a slap on the wrist rather than a jail sentence. Lots of systems were open, anonymous FTP was the norm, and it was trivial to spoof email using SMTP commands typed through telnet since the SMTP servers trusted whoever connected to them. Also many dial up systems used either no security (i.e. if you knew the number it was enough to get in), or really trivial passwords. Networks were easy to monitor once you were in and most passwords were sent plain text (the assumption was that you couldn't see the X.25 or TCP packets themselves, but, of course, you could).
I remember on one occasion receiving an email from a system administrator in a university where I had changed the 'ls' program to be a trojan of my own design. His email just said: "I have removed the new 'ls' program you installed on $SYSTEM_NAME." All it did was log the name of any user who had visited my $HOME so I could see who was looking in my files. Today, I would likely be on my way to prison.
The other thing that's become very real in the hacking world is the amount of money that's flowing around. You can get paid for exploits, paid for stolen information, paid for botnets, paid for viruses, etc. etc. If there was anything romantic about the 1980s it was that it was mostly being done for fun and without malicious intent.
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