Thursday, April 14, 2011

My Bookshelf

I am in the process of doing some updates to my place of residence. As part of it, I ended up cleaning out my bookcase and reminiscing about some of the books I found there. It seemed like a cool idea to mention what's on my bookcase and why.

Google Hacks (2005): This book was a pretty cool book for the time, teaching you how to use many of the Google services more efficiently. This book is how I learned about some of the special Google commands (as basic as using the title command or as in depth as using commands like inurl). It also gave a bunch of Perl scripts you could use to do all sorts of cool stuff, effectively combining a Perl script and Google to give you the power to automatically perform and parse searches. This book doesn't seem to have continued past the third edition (I have the second), but it is a cool read, especially for those of you with knowledge of programming.

Fire in the Valley (2000): This book details the history of the personal computer, going back to the days when people ordered the parts and put them together themselves. The central part of the book details the battle between Apple and Microsoft, made more famous by the movie Pirates of Silicon Valley. I found it fascinating, though a little dry at times.

The Art of Intrusion (2005) / The Art of Deception (2003): Two books by Kevin Mitnick detailing some hacking and social engineering topics. It is fascinating how social engineers can manipulate a person to the point where you are thanking them as they steal your information. These books taught me about things like SQL injection attacks (which we just talked about in my 163 course - see page 175 of the Art of Intrusion). I asked the librarians at both PCCC and BCC to get these books to have on hand, they are definitely worth checking out.

Cryptonomicon (2002): This is a tough read, but it's an excellent fictional novel. It has two main storylines. The first has to deal with a group of people in World War II who have broken the German's secret code (Enigma). This was early cryptography, and it was interesting to see the characters intercept messages but not actually warn troops sometimes, because they also did not want the Germans to know they had broken the code. The second storyline has to do with a group of more contemporary individuals trying to create a secure digital cash system, using cryptographic methods.

And, just to show I have more than computer books on the shelf...

The Butterfly Revolution (1961): I actually had to read this for a freshman class in high school, and my teacher gave me one of the books since I liked it so much. It has to do with a socially awkward teenager who goes to a summer camp, where he ends up involved in a takeover of the camp. Chaos ensues. Picture "Lord of the Flies" in a summer camp.

The Machine (2009): A book about the 1975 Cincinnati Reds. Even as a child, I read a lot of books about baseball. I remember in high school having to write a persuasive essay, and I wrote one arguing that Pete Rose (featured in this book) was innocent of gambling charges. Of course, he later admitted this so I was wrong, but as a fan, I guess I was blinded. So, the book involved one of my favorite players, and had the extra bonus of being authored by my favorite sports blogger, Joe Posnanski. I've been reading his stuff for years, and it was cool to see him go from a small writer for a Kansas City newspaper to someone who writes for Sports Illustrated. Behold, the power of the Internet!

The New New Thing (2000) / Moneyball (2004) / The Blind Side (2008): All these books are written by Michael Lewis. I was first introduced to him through the first book listed, which was about Dr. Jim Clark, founder of Netscape and Silicon Graphics, and how it was fascinating for him to take chances on new technologies and stay at the forefront (and find the new "new thing"). The book detailed a company called Healtheon, which later merged with WebMD. The Blind Side and Moneyball were both excellent sports books which had movies made from them.

The Closing of the American Mind (1988): This book was recommended to me a few years ago by a colleague from PCCC, Dr. Ida Greidanus. The author feels as if modern colleges and universities are failing students, and that America is in a crisis regarding higher education. I think this book made some excellent points which got me thinking about my teaching in a different way.

The Dark Half (1989): The first Stephen King book I ever read.

There are many more books on the bookcase, but I think that's a good enough sample for today!

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