Monday, April 28, 2008

Hackerteen -- Internet Blackout (Graphic Novel)

Hackerteen is the name of a new graphic novel, and also the name of a unique educational project in Brazil. The project trains young persons, ages 14 to 19, about computer networks, security, internet businesses, and hacker ethics. The Hackerteen training attempts to solve three significant problems:
— Children wasting time on the Internet, surfing the Web and playing games;
— Children become victims of cybercrimes, and in some cases, committing cybercrimes; and
— The growing need for qualified professionals in the field of computer network security.

A “hacker”, by the way, is defined as anyone who can break in to a computer network, either for fun, or with the intention of committing crimes. What types of crimes? The computer could be shut down, and/or data could be destroyed. Passwords, or sensitive information — such as credit card data— might be stolen and then sold. Or the “hacked” computer might now record your keystrokes, and then send those strokes to the perpetrators. Of course, to save us from these crimes, we need “ethical hackers”, people who understand computer security so profoundly that they can prevent the crimes, or trace the criminals after the fact.

This spy-versus-spy type game has been a problem for a long time: in 1990, a non-fiction book titled The Cuckoo’s Egg, written by the astronomer Clifford Stoll, describes how Stoll tracked down a hacker from Germany.
The real Hackerteen team, led by Marcel Marques, has now produced a graphic novel, in English. The story is about teenagers and the real dangers of the Internet, and how technical expertise can be used help society, instead of harm. The illustrations are top-quality, the characters are realistically depicted, the story is captivating. The hero in this volume is an 18-year-old computer whiz named Yago. At age 12, Yago is spending days and nights in front of his computer screen, and his concerned parents take him to the Hackerteen headquarters for training. Six years later, Yago has become one of the best hackers on the team. The plot thickens as Yago’s parents fall into financial trouble, and Yago is tempted to use his skills to make big money quickly, and illegally.

In Hackerteen (the book), you won’t learn the step-by-step process for breaking in to your bank’s computer system, or how-to spy on your neighbors and friends. Instead, you will find clear descriptions of the perils of modern computing. Most importantly, you — and your teenaged children — will discover positive role models that show how cool it is to learn deeply, to make good choices, and to do the right thing.

Hackerteen: Internet Blackout, Volume 1
by Marcel Marques and the Hackerteen Team
Graphic novel, paperback, 100 pages
Published by O’Reilly, April 2008, $ 19.99

Hackerteen Project, in Brazil

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Monday, April 14, 2008

TV Turnoff Week April 21 to 27 ... Live Outside the Box

"Live outside the box,"
might be the motto for the Center for Screen-Time Awareness, the group that coordinates TV Turn-off Week. This year, the week runs from April 21 to April 27. For more information, visit the website:

See also the ebook published by Zorba Press:

The Terrible Tale of the Televisiion Baby and the Baby-Eating Dog

(and other resources for living with less TV)

Learn more about the ebook here.

For a hilarious and ingenious glimpse of the downside of TV, watch == The T.V. of Tomorrow == by Tex Avery. Produced in 1952, it pre-envisions some of the unintended effects of too much television viewing. To watch the video, click the arrow in the center of the screen.

And here is a picture of Tex Avery's version of the iPhone: 55 years before the iPhone was invented:

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Monday, April 07, 2008

Two Classic Films About Abraham Maslow

maslow films covers

My good friend, Maurice Bassett, has produced two digitally remastered films about Abraham Maslow. The first, Being Abraham Maslow, is a 29-minute interview that reveals Maslow the man. In the second, Maslow and Self-Actualization (60 minutes), Maslow explains his theory of self-actualized persons, as we watch clips of a bright young woman (named Anna) enacting various aspects of actualization. Taken together, these are two immensely important films that provide an essential introduction to Maslow's innovative work.

For more information, visit the Maslow website:

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