Two worthwhile books

This past summer, we went to the local bookstore and picked up a copy of Jason R. Briggs’ “Python Programming for Kids” (No Starch Press). I had been looking for a fun kids’ programming book for a while, and decided on this one. My then 8 year old basically worked through the book alone, slowly following the recipe toward building the game which is the books’ climax. I had wanted to do a detailed review of this book, but it recently had an unfortunate encounter with a whole raw chicken, so that may not happen. Suffice it to say I think it’s a great book for a child to work through.

(On a side note, there is a free program called ‘laby’, where kids program a robot ant to escape a labyrinth in several languages, which was great fun for the kids. Heck – it’s fun for adults.)

More recently, I was sent a review copy of ‘The Car Hacker’s Handbook” (also No Starch Press) by Craig Smith. I was excited about this one, as the subject matter is both fascinating and disturbing. New cars have some great features, but the fact that I can (for instance) click a link on a google map to send directions to a car is a bit disconcerting. So, as Chris Evans says in the prologue,

“We’re all safer when the systems we depend upon are inspectable, auditable, and documented – and this definitely includes cars.”

This book starts by teaching about threat models. It goes into great detail describing various in-car networks, as these are a gateway to inspecting, modifying, and perhaps subverting the vehicle’s systems. It gives details about tools to retrieve diagnostic info, modify the ECU programming, and listen in on TPMS systems. It goes over cracked keyless entry systems. It (I think rightly) defers details about disassembling existing programs to other texts, but shows how to write a weaponized exploit. Overall, a wonderful – and motivating – book.

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2 Responses to Two worthwhile books

  1. Oisin Feeley says:

    Googling for “Python Programming for Kids” returns many possible leads but no single specific book. Who is the author? Thanks.

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