There is a scene in Sense8 season two when Nomi, a political blogger and hacktivist, is controlling the security in a Korean prison from a computer in San Francisco. She can block lights, lock doors, shut down cameras, that sort of thing. She is trying to help Sun, a member of her Sense8 cluster, who was imprisoned for her father’s murder, which was actually committed by her brother, who is now trying to kill her by sending fake guards into the prison. It’s quite a complicated plot when you try and write it down, but my point is: Nomi is controlling the prison from 10,000 miles away! She is helping Sun escape! She is tapping a keyboard with effortless cool and actually OPENING PRISON DOORS so a wrongfully convicted badass can hop into a bus and drive away into the depths of Seoul. Woah. Despite the fact I’m a bit obsessed with Nomi and her girlfriend Amanita, and maybe fancy them both a bit, and think they are the best characters to have been on TV in ages – the hacking stuff is just very, very cool. And I am thanking this newly found interest in Nomi and her skills for another new obsession, which is our brand new publisher No Starch Press.
That might seem like quite a tenuous link, but if I ever want to learn how to code, programme, and do other awesome stuff on a computer so I can be more like Nomi, the first thing I would do would be to buy No Starch’s entire backlist and get reading. Their strap line is “Publishing the finest in geek entertainment’ – and they really do! Look at some of their book titles: Hacking: The Art of Exploitation, Smart Girl’s Guide to Privacy, Hacking the Xbox, Cracking Codes with Python, Make Your Own Video Games. No Starch essentially publishes everything I could ever need to make my dream of becoming mates with Nomi a reality.
Also based in San Francisco (ha), No Starch was founded in 1994 and has been putting out cutting-edge computing and tech books ever since. Their list covers pretty much all bases – from teaching kids how to code using Minecraft to helping seniors navigate Facebook to helping hackers stay safe online. Their goal is to “make computing accessible to technophiles and novices alike” – as someone who falls into the latter camp, I can say they have achieved this goal!
No Starch publishes an incredible kids list, so children can learn how to programme in really fun ways, such as by making their own video games. They publish a series of Manga Guides (such as The Manga Guide to Microprocessors), which take complex topics and make them accessible through the medium of manga. And they also publish a fantastic range of LEGO books, some of which are truly mind-blowing.
We’re really delighted to be working with No Starch Press, and wanted to give you a little introduction to some of their coolest books. Check out the titles below, and then head over to their website to see a full list.
NB: I’ve already requested Arduino for my birthday so I can learn to code – give me a few years, and if you every find yourself wrongfully locked in a prison cell on the other side of the planet, I got your back.
9781593271442 p/b £41.99
Hacking is the art of creative problem solving, whether that means finding an unconventional solution to a difficult problem or exploiting holes in sloppy programming. Many people call themselves hackers, but few have the strong technical foundation needed to really push the envelope.
Rather than merely showing how to run existing exploits, author Jon Erickson explains how arcane hacking techniques actually work. To share the art and science of hacking in a way that is accessible to everyone, Hacking: The Art of Exploitation, 2nd Edition introduces the fundamentals of C programming from a hacker’s perspective.
9781593275990 p/b £24.99
If you’ve ever spent hours renaming files or updating hundreds of spreadsheet cells, you know how tedious tasks like these can be. But what if you could have your computer do them for you?
In Automate the Boring Stuff with Python, you’ll learn how to use Python to write programs that do in minutes what would take you hours to do by hand – no prior programming experience required. Once you’ve mastered the basics of programming, you’ll create Python programs that effortlessly perform useful and impressive feats of automation.
Arduino Project Handbook (2016)
9781593276904 p/b £20.99
Arduino Project Handbook is a beginner-friendly collection of electronics projects using the low-cost Arduino board. With just a handful of components, an Arduino, and a computer, you’ll learn to build and program everything from light shows to arcade games to an ultrasonic security system.
Python for Kids (2012)
9781593274078 p/b £29.99
Python is a powerful, expressive programming language that’s easy to learn and fun to use! But books about learning to program in Python can be kind of dull, grey, and boring, and that’s no fun for anyone.
Python for Kids brings Python to life and brings you (and your parents) into the world of programming. The ever-patient Jason R. Briggs will guide you through the basics as you experiment with unique (and often hilarious) example programs that feature ravenous monsters, secret agents, thieving ravens, and more. New terms are defined; code is coloured, dissected, and explained; and quirky, full-colour illustrations keep things on the lighter side.
Beautiful LEGO (2013)
Mix hundreds of thousands of LEGO bricks with dozens of artists, and what do you get? Beautiful LEGO, a compendium of LEGO artwork that showcases a stunning array of pieces ranging from incredibly lifelike replicas of everyday objects and famous monuments to imaginative renderings of spaceships, mansions, and mythical creatures.
You’ll also meet the minds behind the art. Interviews with the artists take you inside the creative process that turns simple, plastic bricks into remarkable LEGO masterpieces.