'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the internet
All mimsy were the routers,
And the mome raths outgrabe.
(with apologies to Lewis Carroll's 'Jabberwocky')
I am the designer and programmer of Federation 2, an economic themed multi-player game. Federation 2 is the longest continuously running multiplayer game on the internet. While no longer run as a commercial enterprise - text based games are no longer in vogue - the game fills a niche and maintains a large enough user base to be viable as a game. I still maintain and extend it in my copious (hah!) free time.
My web site contains pieces I've written, talks I've given, reviews of books I've read, and information about things I'm interested in. Like me, it's somewhat chaotic, but if you dig around a little you will, I hope, find some interesting material. Most of the stuff on the site is written for the non-specialist; if you find something that isn't very clear drop me a line and I'll try to clarify things. The address to write to is firstname.lastname@example.org and if you include the word 'fed2' in the subject line my spam filter will pass it by on the other side and not junk it!
I also produce a free weekly newsletter, called Winding Down, which features information, reviews, and analysis on computers, the Internet and society. It's available via an e-mail list, and you can get the subscription details here.
You can find more detailed information about me here.
The Basics of Hacking and Penetration Testing (2nd Edition) by Patrick Engebretson. Published by Syngress
This book is a classic example of the dilemma facing ethical hackers. It's extremely good, with comprehensive, clear explanations of how to use the tools, and detailed explanations of the techniques. A wannabe badass hacker could learn a lot.
But it's also essential reading for anyone wanting to learn the trade of penetration testing, and for anyone looking to protect their on-line assets against hackers. Sun Tzu had a thing or two to say about the importance of knowing one's enemy, and he knew what he was talking about.
The book leads its reader systematically through the steps needed to penetrate an on-line system. Reconnaissance, scanning, exploitation, and the post exploitation techniques for maintaining access, such as backdoors and rootkits, are all explained. Along the way it also covers social engineering and web-based exploitation.
One thing I haven't seen in other books of this ilk is the way it takes you through the use of the tools of the trade. How to install them, how to set them up and of course, how use them effectively.
Definitely a must have if you plan to do a little work on the side for the NSA!
Graphic Icons by John Clifford. Published by Peachpit Press
A rapid (two to four pages each) illustrated look at the art movements and innovators that have inspired modern graphic design. A must for budding and experienced graphic designers, not to mention digital user experience programmers and designers. The pages are chock full of illustrations guaranteed to provide inspiration and examples for your day to day work.
Obviously, any book like this must to a certain extent be a personal choice of the author, but there was one glaring omission which surprised me. That of the surrealists, whose influence on modern design has been massive. In fact a number of the designers featured cite Man Ray, for instance, as a major influence. A very strange absence.
Personally, I would have also included typographer Mathew Carter who produced the first digital fonts properly designed for screen display - the sans-serif Verdana and the gorgeous serif Georgia. But these are nit-picks. John Clifford has done an excellent job of providing something which is fun to read, educating, and inspiring of new ideas. Go for it!
Americanos by John Charles Chasteen. Published by Oxford University Press
In 1800 the continent of South America was ruled directly by European countries - Spain and Portugal. South America was bound, in the words of the Americano patriot Mariquita Sanchez de Mendeville, by the 'three chains' of terror, ignorance and Catholicism.
Twenty-five years later, the last Spanish army having been defeated at the battle of Ayacucho, South America was a collection of self-governing republics struggling to build themselves into nations.
This very readable book tells the story of those 25 years. It is a story of both defeats, victories, incompetence and sacrifice.
The book is surprisingly comprehensive for such a slim volume, and while it tends to concentrate on the key players, such as Bolivar and O'Higgins, and the military situation, it doesn't neglect the social and political context within which they operated. The whole of South America is a big place - a whole continent, but the author's canvas is large enough to detail the whole picture.
If you know little about these struggles for independence, and would like to know more, then this book would make a very good starting point. Definitely recommended.