September 20th, 2011, 04:31 AM
The Cuckoo's Egg
So, last week, My Wife and I went into a used Book store, as we both like looking around these types of places, and I happened to be a little bored, so instead of looking to make sure my "Silence of the Lambs" set of Books was complete, I instead started looking around the "True Story" books.
I see this book called "The Cuckoo's Egg" and I think "Where have I heard that Title before???? I KNOW I've heard of this book..."
So I pick it up, and start looking at the front cover. That alone grabbed my attention, so, I read the back of it to see what it's about. I see a book that was written by a guy who went from Astronomy based projects, and was then put in charge of some Computers.
OK, interest fully grabbed...
I continue reading the back, and see that the guy is at the University of California at Berkeley. OK, Interest now TOTALLY grabbed, as I am a HUGE fan of BSD, the CSRG, Marshall Kirk McKusick, Bill Joy, and in general, the whole thing.
I keep reading, and see it's about his true story about what happened when a 75 cent Payroll error caught his attention, and, he traces it to Hackers and Crackers in Germany. Being someone proud of his German Heritage, I keep reading and get more and more into it, and I haven't even opened it yet.
So, let's look at it like this; Based on what happened at the University of California at Berkeley, some Hackers and Crackers in Germany, some of which are members of CCC, and then, the fact it's a true story.... I had to have it.
So, my Wife bought it for me, and I get it home, and can't wait any longer; open the book up, and started reading it.
Now, the fact that this was all going in in the late 1980s, I'm intrigued! I start reading it, and I'm already enjoying it. The jabs at VMS, the Unix Wizards at Berkeley making fun of their VMS guy, the guy saying AT&T Unix is what the "Hacker" seems to know best, and referring to him as a not so nice name.... Yea, this book is GREAT!
I'm pretty sure we have a LOT of members here at AO, who have read this book before. But I personally didn't have it. The main reason, if maybe the only reason, that I didn't have it, or at least had read it before, is that I RARELY buy books that aren't Technical Manuals.
I have LOTS of Books. Most of which are either Computer Security books, Unix books, Linux books, or, Historical books such as "A Quarter Century of Unix" as I DO admit, I AM a bit of a History Nerd too.
Well; Last night, I finished the final Chapter. All that is left, is the "Epilogue" that's at the very end of the book. I started reading it a little while ago, and, to my surprise, the guy who wrote the book, which, is the guy who experienced all this stuff first hand, started talking about how a "Virus" was running wild on the ARPANET. Then, he starts to talk about how after a few hours, they learned it was actually a worm.
My first thought is "Wow, the Robbert T Morris Worm!" and, I was just reading that my guess was correct.
Anyway, I wanted to talk about this book here, because it's one of the VERY few books I've EVER read that wasn't a Computer Book. I mean it IS a Computer Book, but it's not a Unix Manual, or a Computer Security Book; It's a Story. The only book I've really ever read that wasn't, is "The Shining" and a good portion of the book about Jim Morrison.
Anyway, anyone else enjoy it?
September 20th, 2011, 09:26 PM
read it way back when
but his story telling is a little stale / staid
but hey, the guy is an astronomer
or, as they said in book, for a coder he aint a bad astronomer
and for an astronomer he aint a bad coder
but it was a very interesting book
liked the way that NONE of the 'security' services were remotely interested
and the little things appealed to me more
the guy who spotted the 'hacker' was NOT BSD
and more East Coast
as he tried to run incorrect syntax in code
that was more conventional Unix
overall, 4 out of 5 for content
3 out of 5 for read-a-bility
well worth a perusal, especially if you get it from a 2nd hand store
55 - I'm fiftyfeckinfive and STILL no wiser,
Beware of Geeks bearing GIF's
come and waste the day :P at The Taz Zone
September 21st, 2011, 01:55 AM
I'm glad you responded; I was wondering when someone would chime in to say something. Hehe, 5 Minutes ago, it became Official; I have now finished reading the book! All of it too. I even read the bits at the very end where he started talking about what he's doing now.
And yea I remember that part about one of the "Unix Wizards" that he worked with at Berkeley, who would argue all the time with the VMS guy, and how he said "Umm, Cliff, this guy ran a very particular command here... He ran it in a manner that suggests he's used to AT&T's Unix, and not BSD, because BSD does this by default... In other words; a Heathen" lol.
All in all, I LOVED the book. I agree that in some spots it got a little ... Well, I'll jst say you have a point on Readability, as that's more or less what I'd agree with.
But, I have to say, for someone who isn't an Author, he did a great job in not only talking about what happened, but, he did explain quite a bit of what he meant, which I think was so it would be approachable for people that aren't really into the hole Computer thing at all. So I'm not going to ding the guy for any of that either way, as this book could be read by my Mom as well, and the only reason She knows anything about Unix, is from me.
I once begged for a week straight for Her to make an Ebay account for me (I didn't have a Credit Card, or Paypal, so I wanted to use Her Credit Card) so I could bid on an Original Unix Manual from WAY back. The Manual was one of the very first Unix Manuals ever printed at AT&T, and I was really into it, but the current bid was over 50 dollars, and, it still had a while to go. It was quite a piece though.
I don't remember if I ever looked to see how much it actually went for, but the thing only had two bids, and was already above 5 dollars.
Anyway, thanks for popping in, and I must say; Now that I'm finished reading it, I can properly state my opinion:
I LOVED the book! It was WELL Worth the dollar we paid for it. (I know, a whole dollar lol)... My Wife and I like going into book stores, and whenever we go to Barnes and Noble, which is a pretty nice store we have here, I grab my issue of Bizarre Magazine, my issue of 2600, and, then I look in the Computer Section to see if they have any new BSD or Unix books I don't already own.
They actually have a new book I hadn't seen before going in there the last time, which was a book about Social Engineering. I thought that was awesome too.
Once we finish looking around, we go to the Star Bucks that's right inside, and I get one of the following:
Chai Latte, Regular Coffee, or a Quadruple Espresso. I used to only the Espresso, but after having to show the employees there how to actually ring the thing up for the 50th time, I started ordering a Chai Tea instead once in a while. I Love Chai Tea so it works out too.
September 21st, 2011, 12:31 PM
I recall reading the book years ago, but I didn't remember the details until you refreshed my memory. Thanks gore.
September 22nd, 2011, 01:26 AM
PBS did a video on this book and the author, Cliff Stoll was (and probably still is) a geek's geek.
An astronomer by trade, was working for computer services while between grants....
read the story it's great
"Somehow saying I told you so just doesn't cover it" Will Smith in I, Robot
September 22nd, 2011, 04:28 AM
I'll reply to both posters, so I'll make my replies by name:
I figured someone with your background had probably ready the book. I'm pretty darn good at reading people, as even back years ago when I had a lot of people here who didn't like me, at the very least, they'd usually admit I did have a knack for being able to read people and push the right buttons and so on, as for some reason, I can read people even from just text lol. And what you told me about you personally, I drew conclusions about what you may have read, and this book was for sure something I almost expected you to have read.
I think the main reason was when you told me about your experiences in 1977. I'm currently trying to get my Wife to read it, but She's currently been reading two other books so, She doesn't have time.
I didn't know anything about the PBS thing, but I'd like to have seen that. I personally would like to meet him at some point in time. I mean, this is a guy who were there at Berkeley at the SAME time, as Marshall Kirk McKusick was doing a lot of the BSD work. I don't remember the exact time that Bill Joy left Berkeley to become a founding member of Sun, but I know Kirk was basically the head guy after he left.
I can't recommend this strongly enough, so, let me say this:
For EVERYONE who read this book, I HIGHLY recommend you go out, and buy a DVD, and one other book:
The DVD is called "20 Years of Berkeley Unix" and you can get it from either Kirk's Web site, or the FreeBSDMall, which is where I got my copy. I play it on Computers as it's made in a weird way, but it's a VERY good DVD.
Basically, it's a taped talk that Kirk gave at a FreeBSD Conference, and he had it taped. It's a few hours long, in which you see Kirk, a Legend.... A TRUE Legend, in the BSD world, standing there telling us the story of how Multi User systems first came to be, then, leading into how AT&T was involved with MULTICS, and, then, finally, the birth of Unix, and, then, the Berkeley Involvement.
For whatever it's worth to any of you, this DVD gets the "gore stamp of approval". HE makes the talk not only informative, but VERY entertaining. He's funny, he speaks well, and he's someone else I'd LOVE to meet.
The people at Berkeley in that era are to Unix what Punk Rock was to music. And I like that a lot.
The book that gets "the gore stamp of approval" is called "A Quarter Century of Unix" and you can get it almost everywhere. It's not expensive at all, and you can also buy it used.
The book is a History of Unix, and told by the people who were actually there. It's VERY good. If you don't have it, get it!
September 22nd, 2011, 11:25 AM
That book has been sitting on my bookshelf for years. Absolutely loved it. As Foxy noted, the guy's not really a writer. But it's a great story. Loved the little technical details
Experience is something you don't get until just after you need it.
September 25th, 2011, 02:04 AM
He does a decent job at the writing. I mean, it is something you can tell he doesn't normally do, but I don't think I've ever seen a Physicist who could heh. I'd so LOVE to go see Berkeley some time. And get a picture of the Elevator shaft they palmed off to pay for the PDP they got for Unix. That Elevator shaft is a part of history.
January 2nd, 2012, 01:30 PM
ive never been a professional at any of this besides a short lived computer repair business out of my home (economic collapse),being from northern California ive been to the exact place your referring to ,i also am a bit of a technology (obviously) and history buff i am going to have to check this book out , hit me up sometime ill give you some book ideas as i find them i miss going to the book stores and looking around also going to antique shops looking for old electronics and computers,i live in hillbilly hell Texas so i don't get out much,
Originally Posted by gore
im a Steve Wozniak in a bill gates world
January 2nd, 2012, 11:34 PM
You left Berkeley for Texas? Did you lose a bet? Damn dude lol. (Kidding obviously).
Anyway, yea, for whatever it's worth, I REALLY recommend reading this. It's a great book, and when I finished reading it I was amazed at how it was a true story.
And as I said in the intro; The fact that this book takes place at Berkeley.... That alone would make me want it. To me, Berkeley is WAY WAY beyond MIT. I mean whenever people think of Computer Science and all that they always for some reason think MIT first.
To me that's stupid; Berkeley was more important. I don't care if we have any MIT graduates here or not; Berkeley beat you! Berkeley did TCP/IP, BSD Unix, and has Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, not to mention Bill Joy, and Marshall Kirk McKusick.
What does MIT have? Richard Stallman and ITS? ITS was **** and it's nothing today but a memory. So, from that point of view; Berkeley gave us BSD Unix, and MIT gave us ITS.
Berkeley gave us Vi too.