The Hardware Hacker
Adventures in Making & Breaking Hardware
Andrew “bunnie” Huang
$29.95 List. $18.43 Amazon (Prime)
I was excited to hear about this book and receive a copy of it but my feathers fell when I saw a quote by Edward Snowden on the dust jacket. The publisher also place Edward Snowden’s review at the top of the others in the pre-release reviewer’s list. This is not a book about Edward Snowden nor was he a hardware hacker, so I’m not sure what his “endorsement” does for the book except diminish its overall value to me. In fact, even if this book were a 10/10, which it isn’t, this inclusion decreases that review by at least two points right off the top. I was very disappointed to see any mention of Snowden in this book.
The Hardware Hacker is basically a reprint of Andrew Huang’s blog. Most of the information in the book is long outdated and is basically a memoir of stuff he’s done. If you’re looking for this book to actually teach you something, save your money. It’s basically one man’s adventure into various aspects of “hacking” and building things.
At the end of the book, there’s a lot of info about DNA, which totally doesn’t fit with the rest of the book. As one Amazon.com reviewer put it, it’s navel-gazing.
I’m sure there’s an audience for this book and it’s decently written, but it’s not a reference book by any stretch. If I had to categorize it, I’d call it technology historical nonfiction.
<rant>Edward Snowden is a fake hacker and a non-security professional. He’s not an authority on anything, especially security. His resume and history are sketchy at best and his claim to “fame” is that he stole documents and revealed them to a journalist, who of course, ran with them. He’s not to be trusted or held up as a hero. He’s a total zero who deserves prison time for treason. He should never be quoted, unless it’s ironically, for any book.</rant>
I guess if you’re interested in “how one guy did it”, then this is a good book. Otherwise, save your money and wait until it’s on the penny list or bargain bin at used book stores. I’m not actually sure why No Starch wanted to publish this book and I’m hoping that they didn’t invest a lot of money in its production. It seems more like something that should have been self-published and sold on Huang’s blog site as an ebook for his followers.
Originally, I was going to create a video review of this book but I just don’t see enough value in it to go to that much trouble. I am not really sure who the audience for this book is supposed to be. If you know who Andrew Huang is, then you’ve already seen this material, except perhaps for the weird DNA-related material. And if you’re like me and never heard of Andrew Huang, then this book is not likely to make you a fan.
I’ve seen some laudatory reviews on Amazon and other sites but I don’t think they’re to be believed. Honest ones like the three-star Amazon review I referred to earlier is more realistic.
I don’t mean any offense to No Starch Press because they have many great books available and generally speaking, I highly recommend them. I also don’t mean any offense to Andrew Huang, who I’m sure is a perfectly nice guy. I’m not sure who’s responsible for the inclusion of the Edward Snowden review and quote on the dust jacket, but that was a poor decision.
Recommendation: If you like historical nonfiction and want to read about how someone else did it, read Huang’s blog and save your money.
San Francisco, CA (April 27, 2016)—No Starch Press, arguably the most widely respected publisher of books for hackers, teams up with Humble Bundle to offer a pay-what-you-want collection of ebooks called the Humble Book Bundle: Hacking. The bundle includes a selection of the company’s finest—such as worldwide best seller Hacking: The Art of Exploitation; classics like Hacking the Xbox; and more recent best sellers like Automate the Boring Stuff with Python, Black Hat Python, and Practical Malware Analysis. This bundle is a true bargain—valued at over US $350—and with Humble Bundle’s pay-what-you-want model, customers can pay whatever price they think is fair.
“Many people call themselves hackers, but few have the strong technical foundation needed to really push the envelope,” says Bill Pollock, founder of No Starch Press. “True hackers never stop learning, never stop pushing boundaries. Our core mission is to produce the books that hackers really want and need, and we’re not pulling any punches here. We’ve included several of our best sellers to make this bundle right for just about anyone.”
- Automate the Boring Stuff with Python
- The Linux Command Line
- Hacking the Xbox
- The Smart Girl’s Guide to Privacy
- Silence on the Wire
- A Bug Hunter’s Diary
- Designing BSD Rootkits
- The Maker’s Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse
- Bitcoin for the Befuddled
The hacking bundle benefits the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), an organization dedicated to defending civil liberties online. EFF defends free speech, fights illegal surveillance, advocates for users and innovators, and supports freedom-enhancing technologies.
As with all Humble Bundle promotions, customers choose how much of their money goes to the publisher, Humble Bundle, and the benefiting nonprofit. The Humble Book Bundle: Hackingruns for two weeks and ends May 11.