Restoring Dignity and Nobility to the term "Hacker"
O'Reilly Publishing has been on an almost solo crusade it seems to elevate the word "hacker" to its former dignity and nobility.
The media has co-opted the term and used it for any variety of malicious computer programmer or Internet malcontent. I myself am guilty of "mis-using" the term and have even written that the hacker purists should just get used to it (see What Is In A Name?.
But, the roots of hacking are more benign. Hacking is about being clever, not malicious. Pure hackers set out to be ingenious, not notorious. The O'Reilly Hacks series of books is devoted to this interpretation of hacking and now true hackers who just want to know how things work under the hood and tinker with them to create new inventions of their own have a magazine to help them.
The beginning contains a lot of newsy sort of tid bits that describe various hacking projects or hacker tales, but don't include the complete details. For example, there are a few photos and a brief rundown of the home monorail system Kim Pederson built in his backyard. Five years, $4,000 (USD), and 300 feet of track later his monorail glides around his backyard with ease.
The middle section provides a handful of full-fledged projects, complete with an inventory of the materials and tools necessary, full details for how to construct it and illustrations to guide you.
If you are interested in hacking and learning how to convert and modify gadgets and gizmos to do your bidding, check out this magazine. If you have done some of your own hacking projects already, contact the editor to see about publishing it in an upcoming edition of Make.
Tony Bradley is a consultant and writer with a focus on network security, antivirus and incident response. He is the About.com Guide for Internet / Network Security (http://netsecurity.about.com), providing a broad range of information security tips, advice, reviews and information. Tony also contributes frequently to other industry publications. For a complete list of his freelance contributions you can visit Essential Computer Security (http://www.tonybradley.com).
a geeky blend of all my favorite mags
I just received the premiere issue of Make Magazine from O'Reilly yesterday. Let me just say this mag is a geek's dream come true. It's not a magazine about coding. Heck, I'm not sure if calling it a magazine is even accurate. It's more of a journal or zine (but with higher production values). A geek quarterly, if you will.
For example... the premiere issue features an article on aerial photography. Not geeky enough for you? Ok, how about aerial photography accomplished by rigging up a camera to a kite? Still not geeky enough? Throw in a homemade mechanism for triggering the shutter from the ground. The best part is, this isn't just an article full of theory. These guys DO this stuff. The article is full of pictures, plans and step by step instructions on how to make it happen.
That's not all... other How-To articles include: making a 5-in-1 network cable, making a magnetic stripe reader, XM Radio hacks, tips and tricks for your IPOD, gmail hacks, IPAQ hacks and a lot more. This puppy is just under 200 pages of D-I-Y technology.
Still not geeky enough? How about an article on how to make your own railgun, using magnets, a ruler and some steel bearings? There's also an article about hacking robotic dogs to sniff out toxic waste. This is geek goodness in all it's glory.
If you like reading 2600 (the hacker quarterly), Maximum PC and Scientific American, roll them all into one and you have Make (but without the attitude of Maximum PC and the leetspeak of 2600). I'm gonna subscribe!
A geeky winner!
Make: Technology on Your Own Time is not a book... exactly. It's a mook, which is a hybrid of a magazine and a book. It's a magazine, but not a typical one. In my initial perusal, I think I wasn't high on it because I'm not into home projects because I don't have time.
I read it closely. Shortly, I became engaged and enjoyed reading the articles. Though I don't plan to make anything (like I'm going to put a monorail in my backyard-yes, this is a real project), the stories and the writing drew me in.
I like geeky things, but I'm not a geek in terms of building computers from scratch and hacking gadgets. These are the kinds of projects covered in the mook. The premiere issue includes the following projects: magnetic stripe card reader, camera on a kite, $14 video camera stabilizer or buy one, and a 5-in-1 network cable.
The quarterly mook has a Web site with things not covered in the print edition as well as a blog. Its design is clever with color codes on the cover and side for the major projects. The initial issue has 192 pages of quality paper and color printing to justify $8.74 an issue.
The mook has a homemade yet professional feel and has "home improvement" style fonts to add to its DIY (do-it-yourself) theme. The photos give the impression they're taken by average people and not photographers. They're good quality and complement the articles.
People who don't have time to build and like technology will find it an engrossing read thanks to the personable writing and instructions that don't make eyes glaze. Few new magazines make it past the first year or so. Make should thrive for years to come.
Fantastic guide to cool projects
I've been waiting for this magazine all my life. Finally, it's here. There are enough ideas in here to keep me busy for the next several months, and even if I don't plan on building everything in it, it's a lot of fun just reading about how other people are making stuff.
It's more like a paperback book than a magazine, and there are very few ads in it, which means there's lot of room for plenty of do it yourself projects.
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