Saturday, May 22, 2010

Book Review: The Cuckoo's Egg

One of my favorite things about having a nursing baby is that I suddenly find myself taking 25 minutes of silent reading time about every four hours :)

The first book on my list was "The Cuckoo's Egg" by Cliff Stoll. Jon bought this as a text book for his computer ethics course at BYU. Kind of a strange class, but at least he got a good book out of it.

When I first picked it up, I didn't think I would like it, mostly because I am utterly backwards and incompetent when it comes to a lot of techy computer jargon. However, Stoll actually does a great job keeping the "layman" interested and explaining--sort of--how he went about finding the hacker. I still don't know exactly what a Gnu-emacs hole is, but I know that someone can exploit it to gain system manager privileges on a Unix-4 machine. Anyway, it's a great read, but you must remember that it follows a true story... so the disappointments and moments when the hacker escapes are much more numerous than the successes. Still, Stoll laces the often repetitive narrative ("... and by the time I got to the lab, the hacker had logged out... again...") with wit and entertaining verisimilitude... like his description of what happens when you put tennis shoes in the microwave to dry off...

So, if you don't mind a little dinosaur aged computer terminology and a slightly "Ender-esque" finale, this is a great book! High recommendation.



At May 22, 2010 11:55 PM , Blogger Aaron and Emily said...

Ah, Jon had me read that book when we were all living together. I actually really enjoyed it. Even though it was very computer-jargonish, I actually could tell what was going on.


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