Jun 5, 2012

"How to Unblock Everything on the Internet"- Redundancy Redefined?

http://www.bookchums.com/EditorImages/ankit%20fadia.jpgFew years back, you probably would have heard of the 'hacking' stories of Ankit Fadia, and how he prevented some attack on some site by listening into the conversation of the would-be hackers. Maybe you have read somewhere that he was offered a job by some online magazine as he mailed the webmaster some vulnerability and also a solution to it. You might have noticed somewhere in your busy schedule that he had written a book when he was 13, which turned out to be a(n) (international) bestseller. So I pick out 'How to Unblock Everything on the Internet', his latest book, for just over a hundred bucks having high hopes.

As an unbiased reader, let me tell you the good things about it first. He starts off with his views on internet censorship, which are quite strong. He sympathizes with the common man, who has had to face censorship as a child from his parents, in college, and then at work. I appreciate his views on the topic and yes, at that time, it looked like a hundred bucks well spent. He then goes on to talk of archived pages, and the first thing I did was post a link on Facebook with Google's look back in the late 90s. He then goes on to talk about translation tools, format conversion websites and URL shortening tools. The part where he describes 'Website Aliases' and 'Special URLs' is pretty impressive (although Jadavpur University's proxy still picks those with ease).

One interesting fact that I came to know is that Russian versions of websites are usually free, even if their international counterparts are not, and they do not maintain records of the activities of the users. The piece on Public DNS systems is nice, and after that point the book stops being nice.

The book then explains how to use stuff like Ultrasurf and TOR (Come on, online documentation is available, mate!) The reason it gets worse is that he explains stuff like DynaWeb and Alkasir, and a bunch of others, which do practically the same thing, and fall under the subset of functions TOR performs. Possibly it was written keeping in mind the layman, but people who can't Google won't buy the book anyways.

One shocking thing in the book is that there is hardly any mention of Ubuntu (or Linux) except the Tails Operating System. All his commands run in the bitter Windows terminal. In some dark corner of the book, he mentions a list of bootable operating systems, and writes 'My Favourite' corresponding to Ubuntu but that's it. Nothing else. It was rather disappointing that he doesn't even tell the user to open the Linux Terminal by pressing Ctrl + Alt + T.

What he fails to mention is that the online proxies he talks of are not safe for entering passwords. They are, in no way, encrypted and hackers can be easily sniff out information. He does not tell you about other ways of proxies like using Glype, which is far safer than the online ones as you put it up in your own host or your local system.

The book feels really disappointing towards the end as I felt, that he dragged on pointlessly just for the sake of making the book thicker. Well, the title of the book suggests that it can be written in a single blog post, why, then, a two hundred page book?

Anyways, if you still think the book is worth the money, feel free to grab one here.

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