Book Haul: Maths, Forensics, and the Occult

Well, no one can say I don’t have wide-ranging interests.

Books I’ve read this week cover subjects as diverse as forensically analysing Android smartphones and spiritual beliefs in ancient Egypt.

Hacking for Beginners: The Essentials by Mark Robbins


A skinny little book that’s obviously supposed to be in ebook format, Hacking for Beginners is predictably… well, beginnery. But it’s not a bad starting point for wannabe script kiddies who are thinking about experimenting with the inspiration they’ve gained from TV shows. There are a few gems of actually useful information too; I’d recommend it for young people who are considering a life of hackage.

Fermat’s Last Theorem by Simon Singh


I’ve been meaning to read this for years, and last week I finally did. It wasn’t my favourite maths book of all time, mainly because I already knew most of the stories that it told. But it was still good, and the description of the actual mathematics prompted this conversation with a friend:


It also has my favourite maths-related limerick:

“My butter, garçon, is writ large in!”
a diner was heard to be chargin’.
“I had to write there,”
exclaimed waiter Pierre,
“I couldn’t find room in the margarine.”
– by Everett Howe, Hendrik Lenstra, and David Moulton

So yeah, a good book to read if you’re unfamiliar with the history of maths and want to get more familiar with it. Warning: going down this road can quickly become an obsession.

Practical Mobile Forensics by Satish Bommisetty, Rohit Tamma and Heather Mahalik


One of the best overviews of smartphone and tablet forensics out there, Practical Mobile Forensics provides a fairly in-depth guide to the analysis of iOS and Android devices, followed by a more concise look at the less popular Windows and BlackBerry models. Definitely recommended reading for any forensic investigators who are going to need to extract data from mobile devices. Which, in this day and age, is all of us.

The Occult Arts of Ancient Egypt by Bernard Bromage


It’s always a bit of a gamble to buy and read a book about the occult. It’s a fascinating subject area, sure, but there’s just so much unresearched crap out there. And a lot of it’s really sensationalist, and desperate to push its own opinion rather than actually being interesting. Unfortunately, in this case the gamble didn’t really pay off. The Occult Arts of Ancient Egypt had far too many unfounded claims and exclamation marks for my liking. There are far better books out there.

Learning Android Forensics by Rohit Tamma and Donnie Tindall


A sister book to Practical Mobile Forensics, Learning Android Forensics covers some of the same ground in terms of explaining the basic structure of Android devices, but provides a more in-depth look at data extraction from applications, which is invaluable when conducting forensic investigations. Although it would be useful for investigators at any level, the book is pitched more towards the newer forensicator and as such would be a good guide for digital forensics students or people who are just starting out in the field. And the use of open-source, frequently free tools throughout makes it a genuinely practical guide for the individual practitioner or small forensics lab.

What have you read this week? What do you think I should read next?

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