benrothke writes "Narrating a compelling and interesting story about cryptography is not an easy endeavor. Many authors have tried and failed miserably; attempting to create better anecdotes about the adventure of Alice and Bob. David Kahn probably did the best job of it when wrote The Codebreakers: The story of secret writing in 1967 and set the gold standard on the information security narrative. Kahn's book was so provocative and groundbreaking that the US Government originally censored many parts of it. While Secret History: The Story of Cryptology is not as groundbreaking, it also has no government censorship. With that, the book is fascinating read that provides a combination of cryptographic history and the underlying mathematics behind it." Keep reading for the rest of Ben's review.
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Neil Gaiman spoke Monday for the Reading Agency's annual lecture series. His talk centered on the importance of libraries and of reading for pleasure. His talk was transcribed and posted by The Guardian. Quoting: "Fiction has two uses. Firstly, it's a gateway drug to reading. The drive to know what happens next, to want to turn the page, the need to keep going, even if it's hard, because someone's in trouble and you have to know how it's all going to end that's a very real drive. And it forces you to learn new words, to think new thoughts, to keep going. To discover that reading per se is pleasurable. Once you learn that, you're on the road to reading everything. And reading is key. ... The simplest way to make sure that we raise literate children is to teach them to read, and to show them that reading is a pleasurable activity. And that means, at its simplest, finding books that they enjoy, giving them access to those books, and letting them read them. I don't think there is such a thing as a bad book for children. Every now and again it becomes fashionable among some adults to point at a subset of children's books, a genre, perhaps, or an author, and to declare them bad books, books that children should be stopped from reading. ... It's tosh. It's snobbery and it's foolishness. There are no bad authors for children, that children like and want to read and seek out, because every child is different. They can find the stories they need to, and they bring themselves to stories. A hackneyed, worn-out idea isn't hackneyed and worn out to them. This is the first time the child has encountered it. Do not discourage children from reading because you feel they are reading the wrong thing. Fiction you do not like is a route to other books you may prefer. And not everyone has the same taste as you."
Nerval's Lobster writes "This morning we discussed news that the National Security Agency (NSA) has siphoned up millions of online address books and contact lists. The Post drew its information from top-secret documents provided by government whistleblower Edward Snowden, who spent the summer feeding information about the NSA to a variety of news outlets. Snowden's documents (as outlined in The Guardian, Spiegel Online and other venues) have detailed a massive NSA program that's siphoning all sorts of personal information from a variety of sources — and yet the public seems to have greeted each new revelation with weakening outrage. Whereas the initial news reports about NSA splying in June kicked off a firestorm of controversy and discussion (aggravated by the drama of Snowden seeking asylum in pretty much any country that would have him), the unveiling of the NSA's Great Contact-List Caper has ranked below the news stories such as the government shutdown, negotiations over Iran's nuclear program, and invites for Apple's upcoming iPad event on aggregators such as Google News; it also didn't make much of a blip on Twitter and other online forums. There's the very real possibility that Americans, despite the assurances of government officials, are being monitored in a way that potentially violates their privacy. Surely that's an issue that concerns a great many individuals; and yet, as time goes by, it seems as if people are choosing to focus on other things. Are we suffering from 'surveillance fatigue?'"
Charliemopps writes that the Washington Post reports "The NSA is collecting hundreds of millions of contact lists from all over the world, many of them belonging to Americans. The intercept them from instant messaging services as they move across global data links. The NSA is gathering contact lists in large numbers that amount to a sizable fraction of the world's e-mail and instant messaging accounts." According to the leaked document (original as a PDF), the NSA is intercepting some chat protocols and at least IMAP, and then analyzing the data for buddy list information and inbox contents.
First time accepted submitter Michael Harris writes "According to The Age, an Australian company plans to use autonomous quadropters to deliver text books to University students in Sydney. Apparently the drone will locate you via your smartphone's GPS, fly autonomously to your location, and drop the book into your hands."
Michael Ross writes "An online store is one of the most common use cases for a website nowadays. For those web developers and business owners who choose the current version of Drupal as a basis for such an e-commerce project, the canonical solution is Drupal Commerce. There are numerous online resources for learning Commerce, and yet for the longest time no printed book. Now we have Getting Started with Drupal Commerce, written by Richard Jones." Read below for the rest of Michael's review.
Nate the greatest writes "The Kernel started an uproar last week when they 'discovered' that the Kindle Store and other ebookstores sell adult content in the erotica category. None of the content is actually illegal, but it is icky enough that the major ebookstores decided to respond by removing anything even vaguely questionable. Unfortunately, they went too far, resulting in an act of censorship the likes of which we haven't seen since Paypal went after the indie ebook distributor Smashwords. The Daily Mail reports that WH Smith went so far as to shut down their website with the promise that it won't reopen until all self-published titles have been removed, and according to BBC News, B&N is also deleting content. Numerous authors have reported on KBoards that Amazon and B&N have removed far more than just the titles that feature questionable content like pseudo-incest; they appear to be running keyword searches and removing any title that mentions innocuous words like babysitter, sister, or teenager. And they're not the only ones; there's a new report that Kobo has jumped on the ban wagon as well."
00_NOP writes "Researchers from the New School for Social Research in New York have demonstrated that if you read quality literary fiction you become a better person, in the sense that you are more likely to empathize with others [paper abstract]. Presumably we can all think of books that have changed the way we feel about the world — so this is, in a sense, a scientific confirmation of something fairly intuitive."
Nick Kolakowski writes "Here are the lessons imparted by Dave Eggers' The Circle, his new novel about the rise of a fictional technology company clearly modeled on Google or Facebook: 1) Sharing content with people online is a poor substitute for having real-life experiences with, like, kayaking and family gatherings and drinking and stuff. 2) Unless stopped, companies that build social-networking tools will create increasingly intrusive software. 3) The only sure way to stay sane in our increasingly interconnected (Eggers would say over-connected) world is to drive at high speed off a bridge." Read below for the rest of Nick's review.
The original Warcraft and Diablo games hold a special status in the hearts of many gamers. Each game brought its genre into focus, and their success elevated the status of Blizzard Entertainment and Blizzard North to the point that further games are still hotly anticipated more than 15 years later. In an effort to discover and document that part of gaming history, author David L. Craddock conducted extensive interviews with early Blizzard developers. His intent was to investigate how both of the Blizzard studios succeeded at breaking into a saturated and competitive industry, and how their design process influenced both their acclaimed releases and the projects they discarded along the way. He's writing a series of books about the history of Blizzard, titled Stay Awhile and Listen. The first is due out on October 31st, and David has agreed to answer your questions about his investigation into those early games. David will be joined by Blizzard North co-founders David Brevik and Max Schaefer. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post.
guttentag writes "The author of The Hunt for Red October and many military and espionage novels which inspired a number of movies video games died last night in a Baltimore Hospital. The news was first reported by Publishers Weekly's Twitter account this morning and confirmed by New York Times Book Reporter Julie Bosman's Twitter account."
KentuckyFC writes "Stories are a powerful channel for communicating emotions. But while they have been studied in detail by generations of critics, there is little in the way of objective tools for analyzing and comparing their emotional content. That looks set to change thanks to one data mining researcher who has applied the process of sentiment analysis to novels and fairy tales that have been digitized on Project Gutenburg and the Google Books Corpus. The results show the density of emotions in different parts of a story and how the emotional 'temperature' changes throughout the tale. For example, this guy has used the technique to compare the emotional content of the entire collection of the Brothers Grimm fairy tales to reveal that the darkest story is a tale called Gambling Hansel; clearly a lesson to us all."
Nate the greatest writes "Scribd threw its hat in the ebook subscription ring today. The site is expanding on its existing ebookstore with a new $9-a-month all-you-can-read ebook subscription service which offers a selection of ebooks from a number of publishers, including HarperCollins, E-Reads, Kensington, Red Wheel/Weiser, Rosetta Books, Sourcebooks, and Workman. That's a better selection of commercial ebooks than the Kindle owner's lending library, but not quite as broad of a selection as the recently-launched Oyster. However, Scribd is charging less and they're offering better platform support. While Oyster is only available on the iPhone, Scribd has apps for both Android and iOS, and you can read the ebooks in your web browser."
Frosty Piss writes "Delta Air Lines plans to buy 11,000 Microsoft Surface 2 tablets for its pilots to replace the heavy bundles of books and maps they haul around now. Delta says the Surface tablets will save it $13 million per year in fuel and other costs. Right now, each pilot carries a 38-pound flight bag with manuals and maps. Other airlines, including American and United, have been buying Apple's iPad for that purpose. One reason Delta picked a Microsoft device was that it's easier to give pilots separate sections for company and personal use, said Steve Dickson, Delta's senior vice president for flight operations. Another reason for picking the Surface tablet is that Delta's training software also runs on the same Windows operating system as the tablets, reducing the need to redo that software for another device, Dickson said."
Sally Wiener Grotta and her husband Daniel wrote some of the first books and articles about digital photography. Sally was an award-winning photographer in film days, and has maintained her reputation in the digital imaging age. In this interview, she talks about how to buy a digital camera -- including the radical idea that most people really don't need to spend more than $200 to take quality photos. (We had some bandwidth problems while doing this remote interview, but the sound is clear so we decided to run it "as is" rather than try to remake the video and lose the original's spontaneity.)
benrothke writes "Of the books that author Pete Loshin has written in the past, a number of them are completely comprised of public domain information that he gathered. Titles such as Big book of Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) RFCs, Big Book of IPsec RFCs, Big Book of Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) RFCs, and others, are simply bound copies of publicly available information. In two of his latest books, Practical Anonymity: Hiding in Plain Sight Online and Simple Steps to Data Encryption: A Practical Guide to Secure Computing, Loshin doesn't do the wholesale cut and paste like he did from the RFC books, but on the other side, doesn't offer much added information than the reader can get online." Read below for the rest of Ben's review.
harrymcc writes "On Saturday, I picked up a copy of a book called How To Use the Internet at a flea market. It was published in May, 1994, and is a fascinating snapshot of the state of the Net at that time — when you had to explain to people that it wasn't a good idea to say 'thank you' when issuing commands to a machine, and the World Wide Web was an alternative to Gopher that warranted only four pages of coverage towards the end of the book. I selected some choice excerpts and wrote about them over at TIME.com."
theodp writes "This week's NY Times Magazine cover story, We Like You So Much and Want to Know You Better, is an adaptation from The Circle, the soon-to-be-published novel by Dave Eggers which tells the tale of Mae Holland, a young woman who goes to work at an omnipotent technology company and gets sucked into a corporate culture that knows no distinction between work and life, public and private. The WSJ calls it a The Jungle for our own times. And while Eggers insists he wasn't thinking of any one particular company, the NYT excerpt evokes memories of Larry Page's you-will-be-social edict and suggests what the end-game for Google Glass might look like."
toygeek writes "'Scout,' a 4-meter-long autonomous boat built by a group of young DIYers, is attempting to cross the Atlantic Ocean. It is traveling from Rhode Island, where it launched on 24 August, to Spain, where all being well it will arrive in a few months' time. Scout has now gone about 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) of its planned 3,700-mile (5,900 kilometer) journey. Should it complete this voyage successfully, its passage will arguably belong in the history books."
colinneagle writes "Members of an FAA advisory panel are reportedly meeting this week to make changes to the ban on the use of electronic devices on an airplane during takeoff and landing. The new regulations will allow the use of electronic devices to access content stored on the devices, including e-books, music, podcasts, and video. Sending emails, connecting to Wi-Fi, and making phone calls will still be prohibited. The announcement is expected to be made later this month, and the rules put into effect next year, according to the report."