Monthly Archives: September 2011

Hacking Timbuktu

Davies, S. (2010). Hacking Timbuktu: A novel. Boston [Mass.: Clarion Books.

Does this code make sense to you?

int main(int argc, char *argv[])
list *1, *new;
int *result;

if (argc next = 1; 1 = new
new = mk_list (“3, available ips);
new->next = 1; 1 = new

cl = clnt_create(argv[1], “tcp”);
result = tunnel1_1(1, cl);
if (result == NULL) {
printf (“error: Timbuktu tunnel blocked!\n”);
return 1;
printf (“client: Timbuktu tunnel open!\n”, *result);

return 0;

If the code does make sense to you I‘m pretty sure you’ll like this book… if it doesn’t make any sense you’re in the same boat I am, but don’t worry I loved this book!

By chance our protagonist Danny Temple a burgeoning parkour expert and master hacker along with his best friend Omar “Grimps” Dupont a francophone and master at parkour (see videos at the bottom of this post), find themselves in possession of a magic square which contains the map to two million mithqals of gold.

It takes a Dogon to recognize a Nommo

1 mithqal ≈ 3.6 grams ∴ 2 000 000 mithqals = 7 200 000 grams
1 troy ounce = 31.1034768 grams ∴ 7 200 000 grams = 231 511.25 troy ounces

Now here’s the juicy part!

As of 09/17/2011 gold was trading at $1771.32 per troy ounce
231 511.25 troy ounces x $1771.32/oz = $410 080 507.35 !!!

Not too shabby, eh.

Now all Danny and Omar have to do to get the money is decipher the map, avoid capture from various security guards, the London police, and crazed treasure hunters from the Facebook group: the Knights of Akonio Dolo. Oh ya, and they also have to fly from England to Mali without any money, avoid being killed by the manuscript mugger, and figure out how to carry two thousand mithqals of gold from the middle of nowhere back to the Bank of Africa. Simple, right? Well, if you disagree, I’d like to see you try (you can start by at least reading the book :p )

I’m not an especially fast reader but I have been plowing through this book. The chapters mostly flip between Danny and Omar’s journey towards decoding the map and the Manuscript muggers similar journey in Mali. This keeps the action fresher, IMHO. The scenes where the author is describing events of hacking and parkour move at a similar pace as a movie quick, action-packed and thrilling!

About Parkour:

Parkour (sometimes abbreviated to PK), AKA; Free Running AKA l’art du déplacement (the art of movement) is the physical discipline of training to overcome any obstacle within one’s path by adapting one’s movements to the environment. I’m particularly interested in it as when i was young, growing up in an urban center I loved climbing around on buildings and seeing the city from above. Assuming trespassing laws aren’t broken to blatantly I feel this is a great exercise for kids, a touch of danger, the thrill of independence and the benefits of physical activity. After all kids traditionally are supposed to monkey around in trees. Buildings replaced trees, so naturally kids gotta monkey around on building now. That being said, i never tried anything as fancy as parkouring so don’t be an idiot and try out the parkour moves you see in the following videos. As Omar says in the book: “those who parkour practice not just until they get something right, they practice until they can’t get something wrong.” Words to LIVE by if you catch my drift.

Here’s a video of some sick looking moves:

And here’s a video explaining the philosophy of parkour: The Art of Motion

Impact via Video

This morning I read an interesting article in this morning’s Halifax’s Chronicle Herald. In an article called, “Digital video makes impact in classrooms” Joanna Sanders Bobiash is being highlighted for her efforts to incorporate mixed media into her teaching style.

Forgive me for taking the stance that it is common knowledge that technology should (possibly even MUST ?) be used to teach the current generation and those to come. Some will disagree, but I suspect that the YA librarians out there who give at least two hoots have all used various types of media in their programming for youth (and younger) patrons. So, I’m not here to proselytize, but to point out one specific concept that Joanne learned at Google Teacher Academy that I think would be a great concept for Librarians to use as well. This is the concept of “flip teaching”.

This is how the article describes flip teaching,

It’s when teachers film themselves explaining a concept, or assign an educational video and have the student watch it for homework so they’re actively thinking about the subject before it’s explored in class the following day.

This is the way I see flip teaching being used in a library setting: Have the librarian(s), library technician(s), teen volunteer(s), or whoever is going to be running a new program produce a short video, 2-5min sounds reasonable. Try and get participants to sign-up for a program and provide an e-mail address for contact, or alternately put out an e-mail sign-up sheet at the next teen drop-in session and tell people it’s just so the library can send them videos of upcoming programs and events they might be interested in.

If done properly a video introduction to the potential participants of a program will be interesting enough to avoid falling into the spam category of their minds and can be a good way to start building a good relationship between programmers and participants.