Finished Wizzywig Graphic Novel Finally To Be Released

Long time readers and listeners know I am a tremendous fan of Ed Piskor’s story about a fictional hacker, Kevin “BoingThump” Phenicle, clearly inspired by real life hackers and events that figure largely in modern computer mythology.

I wrote previously about how Ed decided after finishing volume three of a planned four parts to go back and re-work all of the material so far and release a single, more finished volume containing the entire story rather than completing the final installment. He very generously posted his progress as a regular web comic for those unfamiliar with the work at the point or fans, like me, interested in following his progress.

I was thrilled to get an email from Ed the other day.

For the past few years, I’ve been retooling/reediting, and finishing the Wizzywig graphic novel and it’s finally being released this coming July, I’m happy to report.

Originally I had the idea to self publish a 4 volume series to tell the complete story. I was able to self publish 3 volumes on my own. I started to imagine how the complete story would read as a cohesive unit, so instead of doing a 4th volume I decided to work with a publisher, Top Shelf Productions, to make this graphic novel possible.

Now, I’m able to bring the complete work to you, as a handsome, hardcover book, for the same price-point as volume 4 would have been. The printing is top notch. The design is meticulous. AND, I had great editors who helped fix all of my typos, bad commas, nonsensical and redundant phrasing, etc.

The book will be a well produced object, but, of course, you can read the entire story in its unedited form here for free.

You can check out the TopShelf page for the forthcoming book or, for those outside the US, you may be interested in the Amazon page which will probably be a little cheaper.

History of Hackish Metaphor for Brute Force

One of my favorite tidbits of obscure hacker culture is a silly synonym for any given brute force algorithm. The British Museum Algorithm refers to a notional basement at the eponymous institution filled with an infinite number of monkeys randomly typing away at an infinite set of typewriters in the vain hope of producing the works of Shakespeare by blind happenstance.

Esther Inlgis-Arkell at io9 reveals that this particular mental construction dates back a little bit further, in varying forms. In humorous fashion she traces how an idea dating from 1900’s France evolved and shrank in scope to take on the more familiar form. The idea has so much humorous appeal that an unfortunately short-lived project was started a few years ago to build a computerized equivalent of the horde of random simians, The Monkey Shakespeare Simulator Project.

Starting with 100 virtual monkeys typing, and doubling the population every few days, it put together random strings of characters. It then checked them against the archived works of Shakespeare. Before it was scrapped, the site came up with 10^35 number of pages, all typed up. Any matches?

In a turn that will be all too familiar to any naive programmer hoping that even the pseudo-randomness into which we can tap on the average computer might yield something coherent given enough cycles, the results after a few years were both scant and obscure: just 23 characters from one of the Bard’s less known works.

The story of the Monkey Shakespeare Simulator Project, io9

2600 Now Available on the Kindle

2600, the Hacker Quarterly, is a staple among certain hackish sets. I am kind of surprised that only now, according to Cory at BoingBoing, is the magazine experimenting with a digital edition. I guess the key distinction is that releasing it on the Kindle is a commercial electronic edition, complete with the promise of Amazon taking care of all the transactional hassles of selling digital copies. My sense is that producing and distributing 2600 is still very hands on for its publisher, Emmanuel Goldstein. I suspect it is also a key funding source for his other projects, like Hackers on Planet Earth.

We know a lot of you will want us to offer the magazine for other ebook readers as well and this is something we’re actively working on. Keep in mind that this is the beginning of the process for us and things take time to develop. If we do well here, we can devote that much more time to expanding to other platforms. Many people have requested the Kindle platform, so that’s where we’re beginning. How we do here will determine how worthwhile it will be to invest in additional platforms. If the response is anything like the requests we’ve received, we expect progress on these fronts really soon.

Count this post as a vote for an ePub edition. It isn’t clear from Amazon’s page or the announcement on the 2600 site whether the Kindle edition is locked down with DRM. Given Amazon’s past stance, I suspect so hence my real surprise. But as Emmanuel has written, this is just the start of the magazine’s experiments with electronic publishing. Hopefully many other folks will also ask for a DRM-free, open format version like ePub.

If you own a Kindle or use the Kindle software on other mobile devices do read the whole announcement as there are some glitches about which you need to be aware. The UK search function isn’t finding the magazine on the site, so you’ll need to use the link provided. You also cannot currently get a proper subscription, though Goldstein is working on that.

2600 Magazine on Kindle, BoingBoing

feeds | grep links > Following Up on Firesheep, White House Forms Privacy Committee, Vintage “WarGames” Fear Mongering, and More

feeds | grep links > TV Interview with Captain Crunch, New Report on Circumvention Tools, IP4 Addresses Running Out, and More

TCLP 2010-09-22 Interview: Ed Piskor

This is a feature cast, an episode of The Command Line Podcast.

In the intro, a heads up that changes are coming on two to three weeks as I complete the migration of my podcast production to Linux. A will announce a firm date once I have one and give a better run down of the potential impacts to the listener, hopefully minimal. Also, a clarification on the giveaway of the CD Randy gave me. All you need to do is email me between now and the end of the month and say you’d like the CD. If I get more than one response, I’ll pick one at random. Lastly, I have signed copies of the first two volumes of Ed’s graphic novel, WIZZYWIG. The next person to qualify for a custom nerd merit badge, whether they have one already or not, gets the books.

There is no new hacker word of the week this week.

The feature this week is the interview I recorded with Ed Piskor at the Small Press Expo. In the interview we mention Nedroid (that’s the beartato), 2600, Off the Hook, Ed’s talk at HOPE, the documentary “Freedom Downtime“, Chris Ware, Daniel Clowes, Charles Burns, and Tommy Blacha creator and write of Metalocalypse.


View the detailed show notes online. You can grab the flac encoded audio from the Internet Archive.

Creative Commons License

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