Recommended reading for nerds

I have gotten several books from tech publishers that I want to share with you, starting with my favorites and working my way down. There are links to Amazon if you want to purchase any of them.

  • Zero Day by Mark Russinovich
  • This is a novel by the guy behind many of the wonderful utilities that came out of Sysinternals, and is now working for Microsoft. It represents a very realistic scenario whereby a worm finds it way into various control systems, such as airline autopilots, nuclear plant control systems, and power grids. The story is told by a series of characters such as an NSA staffer, a white-hat hacker, a law firm IT manager, terrorists and so forth. It is a very entertaining read, and great to find a book that has action and plot that is technically accurate and yet interesting. And the sex scenes don’t hurt either.

  • The Most Dangerous Man in the World by Andew FowlerFowler is an Australian reporter who has followed the doings of Wikileaks’ founder Julian Assange. What makes this account interesting is how there are no good guys in this tale. He traces the roots of Assange from his childhood to how he ran Wikileaks and put together the various media moments that have had significant play over the last few years. There is a lot of things for journalists and technologists to think about while you read this book, including how sources should be protected, who acted in good faith and who should be punished, how the case of Manning and Ellsberg are similar or differ, and what the role of journalists should be in our new era where anything can be posted online. Fowler says at the end that Assange is “either a man of little credence who has fanned the cult of personality around him, or a journalistic savior, depending on your point of view.”
  • Helvetica and the New York City Subway System by Paul Shaw Shaw is a design instructor at Parsons and other NYC-based institutions and he shows us the process by which the Helvetica type font has been used and then not used by the NYC transit system. This is a coffee table book that is chock full of wonderful illustrations showing this evolution, and also will be intriguing for those of us (myself included) that can’t distinguish Helvetica from Standard fonts. It is a story of political intrigue and personalities, made all the more interesting with the signage that was used then and now.
  • When Gadgets Betray Us by Robert Vamosi How much data do you leak to the environment on any given day? A lot more than you think. This non-fiction book reviews some of the problems that our electronics have brought to our lives. For example, the new keyless car fobs are actually less secure than their previous version, and experienced car thieves can use laptops to reprogram their entry to steal cars with some ease. Or your hotel room TV remote can be used to ensure that you never again pay for any movies or minibar items with the right combination of key codes. Or the Car Whisperer, software that can be used to overhear via Bluetooth what is being said in a nearby car.
  • Spacesuit- Fashioning Apollo by Nicholas de Monchaux As someone who grew up fascinated by the space program I really enjoyed this book, which documents the design of the Apollo spacesuits. You would think it makes sense that a company like Playtex would get this contract, but they had a fight on their hands and it took NASA a while before they were selected over the hardened suits that were the initial favorite of the military. This book covers a lot of ground, including the New Look by Dior fashions, the role of latex and city planning , and other concepts that brought about the final design and execution.

9 thoughts on “Recommended reading for nerds

  1. You really should have included James Gleick’s recent book, The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood. Cory Doctorow commented, “The Information isn’t just a natural history of a powerful idea; it embodies and transmits that idea, it is a vector for its memes (as Dawkins has it), and it is a toolkit for disassembling the world. It is a book that vibrates with excitement, and it transmits that excited vibration with very little signal loss. It is a wonder.”

  2. Hey, just reading “The Difference Engine” – alternate history of Charles Babbage, Ada Lovelace, Lord Byron inventing/application of computers with no electricity(!) in 1800’s. Marvelous romp thru what could have been. OF course this is fiction but could have been true…

  3. Great List! There are a few definitely have-to- haves here. BTW, the first chapter of Zero Day is on Mark R’s web site. Now only if we could get another This Perfect Day.

  4. Pingback: Weekly Links– 2010_16 (50 for Web Devs & Other Geeks) :MS-Joe (Joe Stagner)

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