Tag Archives: London

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