The Book Report.

The Book Report: "Book" by Hernán Piñera (https://flic.kr/p/nw8VEm). License: CC BY-SA 2.0.

It’s been almost a year now since I started my A Book A Month project, where I aimed to read at least one book every month. How did that turn out? It’s time for the book report.

I used to read quite a lot back in the days, but not so much lately. “Lately”, as in “over the last five years or so”. It’s not terribly hard to pick up a book and read a bit, though. Books are, for instance, great for killing time when moving around using public transportation. Most pocket books are conveniently small, and not much hassle to carry around. A digital option, like a Kindle, is even better – given that you’ve remembered to charge it. And if yet another device to drag along doesn’t suit you, the Kindle app runs on pretty much every smartphone. So if you want to read a book, there’s very little stopping you from doing it. You just have to make time for it, or take some time that would have been wasted and make good use of it.

But the A Book A Month-project was still ambitious, at least by my standards. For some reason, I rarely manage to follow through on my personal projects. So to make it even more ambitious, I decided to write a review of every book I read, too. Everything started out quite well. When January was over, I’d plowed my way through “The Man in the High Castle” by Philip K. Dick, “Abusing the Internet of Things” by Nitesh Dhanjani, and “The Running Man” by Stephen King. I’d also managed to review the two first books, and I’ve got the notes for The Running Man laying around here somewhere.

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Homeworld Remastered.

Homeworld Remastered Collection by Gearbox Software.

In 1999, Vancouver-based developer Relic Entertainment released their first game. The game was Homeworld, a real time strategy game set in space. For its time, Homeworld was a visual feast. Beautiful, 3D modeled space ships in combat against glorious backdrops of star fields and nebulas. In 2015, 16 years after the release of the original game, Gearbox Software released Homeworld Remastered, with both upgrades visuals and a refined user interface. But does Homeworld stand the test of time?

Both critics and players rejoiced when the original Homeworld was released. Even I wrote a preview of sorts. But the visuals wasn’t the only aspect that made the game stand out. Homeworld came with an intricate, original backstory, a feature that wasn’t exactly in abundance among the strategy games released at the time.

An ancient space ship is discovered buried in the sand at the dessert planet Kharak. It contains a stone map showing Kharak and another planet across the galaxy labelled “Higara” – home. The clans of Kharak unite to build a giant mothership that will carry 600,000 people on the long journey to Higara to reclaim their home planet. But during a final calibration test of the mothership’s hyperdrive things go bad. It turns out that strong forces in the universe are prepared to do whatever it takes to keep the Higarans from leaving Kharak, and start the journey back home.

Homeworld Remastered and its beautiful space combat.

Homeworld Remastered and its beautiful space combat.

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AI War 2 Kickstarter Campaign, Take Two.

Arcen Games AI War 2 Kickstarter Campaign.

You might remember Arcen Games‘ first AI War 2 Kickstarter campaign. I wrote about it when the campaign launched, and while I threw quite a lot of money Arcen’s way, I didn’t really think they would reach their very ambitious $299,400 funding goal in time.

When people say “I hate to say I told you so”, they rarely really do. But when Arcen Games founder Chris Park cancelled the campaign on November 10, I felt really bad for him. I don’t know Chris personally, and I’ve never talked to the guy. Still, by following what he’s been doing to promote both his company and the AI War 2 Kickstarter campaign, it’s obvious that this is a man who lives and breathes for making games he really believes in. Park is not a guy who gives up, and lays down in the fetal position under a desk when the world kicks him in the nuts.

Instead, he goes back to the drawing board, takes good advice from the people around him, and returns with a new, better, and refined AI War 2 Kickstarter campaign.

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PoisonTap – The $5 Tool That Steals All Your Stuff.

PoisonTap by @SamyKamkar || https://samy.pl

A while back I wrote about the WiFi Pineapple, a wonderful little device that can be used to “audit”1 wireless networks. The device makes it surprisingly easy to act as Man in the Middle (MitM), a technique used by hackers to effectively steal all your passwords and credit card numbers. The cheapest version of the WiFi Pineapple, the Nano, costs just shy of $100. Not a lot of money, but it’s a bit too much for me to spend on a device that can’t be used for anything cool without breaking more laws than I can count. But now there’s a new toy available that does many of the same things as the WiFi Pineapple: PoisonTap.

Price tag? Around $5.

PoisonTap also plays the role as the MitM, but there’s a big difference. While the WiFi Pineapple hijacks wireless networks, PoisonTap needs physical access to the computer you wish to audit. Because of that, it’s easy to dismiss PoisonTap as pretty useless. It’s hard to get physical access to an unattended computer, isn’t it? No, it’s not. If you’re working in an office environment, simply take a look around you at lunch time. And if you have access to a conference center or a hotel, take a look inside. I bet you can find an unattended computer within minutes.

Another reason you might dismiss PoisonTap as worthless, is the size of the delivery vehicle. The version of PoisonTap demoed by its creator, Samy Kamkar, runs on a Raspberry Pi Zero. While the Zero is small, it’s not exactly invisible, and not hard to spot. But the PosionTap software doesn’t have to run on a Raspberry Pi, it’s possible to install it on even smaller computers. Both LANTurtle or USB Armory are viable options. Not too easy to spot one of those connected to the back of the workstation tucked under your desk, is it?

On top of that, the PosionTap doesn’t have to be connected for long. Just leave it plugged in for a minute or two, then pull it out, and walk away. The target computer is now infected, and a persistent backdoor has been installed.

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