Pseudo-Review of “Zero Day” by Mark Russinovich and other stuff

I’m currently reading “Zero Day” by Mark Russinovich, and to sum things up: for the first time in a very very long time i’m actually considering abandoning the book before reaching the end. I’ll try to explain here what i mean by this. Even though i have not reached the end, i can safely say that i can’t recommend this book to anyone interested in a *solid* techno-thriller. But anyway, spoilers ahead.

I bought the book based on..what? Maybe a tweet? Maybe it was Amazon who recommended it to me or something. I’m not entirely sure. But i had just finished Bret Easton Ellis’ latest book “Imperial Bedrooms” which was.. well rather bland as well, and i was looking for a good read.

Zero Day starts out fast, exciting, like a real techno-thriller. But very soon, the reader will become aware that the book is written with a very very specific audience in mind: A person who is male, young and unaware of the ways of “hackers” and computer crime. Reading this book i feel almost insulted at times. I could for instance not recommend this to anyone who is easily offended by the objectification (is that even a word?) of women. The book reads like something written by and/or for horny teenage boys. Almost every (it may even be every) female character in the book is portrayed in a flirtatious manner. Like all women are raucious perverts, just looking to be fucked. Almost every “scene” describing a female character, no matter how minor, includes descriptions of things like men oogling the woman’s ass, breasts, how she looks, or she may talk in a flirtatious manner, proposing sex or just generally acting like sluts.

I thought it’d apply to just one or two characters, but this has to be a god damn joke, because i have never seen such horniness in any description of the IT industry. Where are all these big-breasted, ample-assed always-horny IT-expert women? I need to know, now.


Another annoying thing, that drives me mad, is the chapters where the protagonists are discussing on instant messenger, irc or whatever. The language is silly, and made up and not how people talk, anywhere! Christ! Do you have to put up a big sign saying “this is how hackers talk!!” by making the characters talk like fucking language-impared imbecilles? Sure, sometimes people talk in leet-speek, but this has become kind of an in-joke at this point. I’ve seen 14 year-olds express themselves quite clearly, and i find it very difficult to believe that 30-something IT-industry experts would sit in a chatroom writing sentences that lack most vowels or are otherwise compressed to the point of utter annoyance. It would actually take a concentrated effort to write like the characters in this book.

I have about 70 pages to go, and i’m so tired of these repeating themes. Oh and one can’t forget the continuous references to 9/11 (that’s September the 11th for people who write dates in a way that makes sense). I get that it’s a central plot point, and Al Qaeda is the pseudo-boogey-man, and how arabs are evil and the towers fell and the planes hit and oh the humanity. I don’t think it’s a very effective plot point at this point anymore, but then again, i’m not a US citizen. I don’t have the lifelong emotional scars.

This just.. doesn’t work for me. I might recommend this to someone who is entirely outside this industry, this scene  if you may. But under no circumstances would i recommend this to anyone who has spent more time in front of a computer, or who would like to read something about like cool cyber hackers (the word cyber also appears on nearly every page, which means, if you’re playing the Pauldotcom drinking game, you’d be dead by page 100), about criminals and terrorists and Osama Dead Laden, and how horny the girls are in the IT industry (not). But if you for some reason wish to read about this stuff, by all means, pick it up. A casual reader looking for a sure-flowing thriller might enjoy this book. I’m not sure i can finish it, because i find it so insulting to my intellect. And i write this without even a hint of arrogance, trust me.

The other stuff

Another chapter of miscellania. Most of the stuff is now in boxes or bags. Keys will be picked up on Friday. We’re on the waiting list to buy Assembly 2011 tickets  (me and H, P, M and O, at least). The other people, well.. they don’t seem too interested, as nobody has contacted anyone about tickets. But i guess that’s for the better.

This will probably be my last year. It’s a fitting end too. It’s the 20th aniversary Assembly, and i’ll get to show H what the fuzz is about. I also realize i’ve said this for the past three years. But you can’t trust me!

We’re rewatching Twin Peaks, and we just saw the episode with David Duchovny as Dennis, sorry, Denise. A brilliant episode, and a brilliant portrayal by Duchovny, keeping in mind that this was before The X-files started. Wonderful.

With B, we’ve discussed multi-dimensional objects, probabilities of intersection in finite and infinite spaces. Standard stuff.

Also wrapping up Mad Men Season 3, which is a great series to watch. Looking forward to the 4th season on DVD, whenever i can get that for a reasonable price. Also, Flash Forward, though i have only seen the first half of the series. The box is a bit pricey in Finland at the moment, so maybe i’ll wait to get it. I’m not sure they showed the entire thing on TV, and considering the fact that i don’t watch TV anymore  (haven’t watched more than an hour a week for the past two years), it’s unlikely i’ll see the remaining episodes there.

Random & The HBGary Federal stuff – redacted for now

I was recently contacted by Jussi, who stated that i have things backwards. I have redacted the post, and i’m trying to find out the real course of events, if i indeed got things the wrong way.

My goal is not to publish faulty information, and as i stated, this post was an analysis by me, of how i thought the events unfolded.


Ah frack it.. Google cache was faster.

Dorsia/Agamenon back up

So the server is now back online, after i fixed some port forwarding rules on the modem. SSH traffic is now directed to the correct destination.

Site update: Header picture updated

So i updated the generic looking header picture that came with the theme to something more suitable to the theme of the blog, i.e. technology. The picture is a cropped version of a public domain picture from the Los Alamos National Laboratory, and depicts Roadrunner, the fastest computer on earth. Those are IBM System x3755’s in .. well a lot of racks. More on this awesome piece of machinery here. Also check out this cute collection of supercomputers from the present, as well as times past.

Added PGP-key

I added my PGP public key, so you can send me mail with it. You can get it here, or by clicking the PGP-key link in the sidebar. If you want to send me something using PGP, use my grelbar {ät-sign} gmail \dot\ com

Oh yeah, and i also recommend the FireGPG addon for Firefox. It can do encryption and decryption in a webmail environemnt, say gmail. You need gpg installed, in windows it’s something like wingpg? Or something. It comes installed in most Gnu/Linux distros. Import or create your own key to the key manager. Once it’s configured, you can just open an encrypted mail in gmail, and it’ll ask for your password to decrypt. It’s very easy, and works well.

The only thing we noticed with P is that when i reply to his mails from gmail, the encoding is all fucked, probably due to either gmail or Firefox or my systems or all of the above, but in any case, the decryption works fine.

The blog of a given hacker

Hi, and welcome.

I registered this page yesterday, from EWH Solutions, who had an awesome offer. Fifteen minutes later, the site redirects to another page,, which apparently merged with EWH. They apparently eliminated the old offers (though, anyone using an old EWH product can keep their shit!). Had i been Fifteen minutes too late, i wouldn’t have gotten this great deal! So thanks EWH 🙂

So, this is kind of a fork from my original blog. This blog, on my very own domain, will be concentrating on the very essence of grelbar; hacking. I’ll discuss mostly technical matters, while my old blog will discuss matters of my life, politics and general ranting.

Here, i’ll detail some of the projects that i am working on, as well as post interesting hacks that i’ve tried out. There will also be pictures of my lab and hardare. Nothing interesting to you perhaps, but i like it.