At long last, a modest page update.


Now with its own page!


I had a recent trip out of town and picked up "The Digital Fortress" at the airport based on rave recommendations I'd heard for "The DaVinci Code" by the same author. It was awful. My wife had just borrowed "The DaVinci Code" from a friend and I had to call her to ask if it had anything to do with computers. Because I'd have to forbid her from reading it if so. The story is about some superstar cryptographers at the NSA and their suspense-filled race to break the unbreakable code!!! Obviously, there are going to be technical simplifications and errors in an interesting work of fiction, but they were so big and so central to the entire premise of the book that I would like to smack the author. In his intro, he thanks "three former NSA employees who communicated via anonymous remailers". Before even starting the story I said to myself "That's pure bs to artificially claim credibility". After reading the story, I wonder if the author may have been hoodwinked by some school kids during their summer vacation.

The central plot point is the prospect of this 'unbreakable' code, which gains its supernatural powers via "mutation strings". The general idea is that before encryption, the "plaintext" is "scrambled", so that even when the "encryption" is "broken", the "reader" has nothing but "gibberish". Now, I will confess to briefly considering multiple compression passes on data in my youth (...if it zips to 50%, then zipping that will shrink another 50%! Then I'll put it on a Stacker drive and rule the world!), but I didn't go write a book with my name on it before figuring out that was stupid.

I could really rant for a while, but I'll try to leave it at that. But let me just add, "That's not how computer viruses work, either."

To top it off, there were multiple instances of apostrophe abuse. Bob the Angry Flower addresses that best.

The writing went down easily, but for some reason I also took offense to its "ready for screenplay" format of two to three page chapters. I was mostly in a bad mood from the other problems, I think.

I gave the book to my cousin on the condition that he keep telling himself "That couldn't happen" while reading.


Now with its own page! Nothing to play here, just my ramblings about various digital and analog games.

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Last Update: July 24, 2008

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