The Imposter's Handbook, Season 2: Binary, Encoding, Encryption, networking and More. Now On Presale.


We are actively writing the next volume for the best-selling The Imposter's Handbook, and we need your help.

Scott Hanselman and I want to take our time and do this book right. This means means investigating every topic thoroughly, writing concisely, and grounding everything in a simple, straightforward way. So we're pre-selling the book in order to crowdfund our effort. 

The book is all about the flow of information. We start with simple logic and move our way through encoding, encryption and transmission over a network. These are the topics at a high level:

  • 1
    Logic, Binary and Logical Circuits
    We start simply, looking at Aristotle's "Laws of Thought" and then George Boole's translation of those laws into mathematics (Boolean Algebra). We then meet Claude Shannon, who took things a step further by implementing boolean logic with electrical circuits.
  • 2
    Compression and Encoding
    We'll get to know Claude Shannon, who kicked off the Information Age with his masterpiece: A Mathematical Theory of Communication. We'll see how this paper laid the foundation for data compression, error correction, and digital networks as we know them.
  • 3
    Encryption and Cryptanalysis
    Now that we can transmit information, we need to protect it. We dive into simple enciphering schemes, from Bacon's biliteral encryption all the way through to SHA-1, MD5 and beyond. We also deviate for a bit and look at how cracking software works, such as THC-Hydra and Brutus.
  • 4
    Networking and Protocols
    We'll end the book with a deep look at networks and networking, getting to know TCP/IP, DNS and the inner workings of the internet. We'll also see how these things affect distributed programs, and what Paxos is all about.

Why Should I Care About These Topics?

Programming is much, much more than simply typing some code into an editor and hoping for the best. The applications we write produce information, which your business uses to make money to then pay you. Understanding the nature and flow of information within your application gives you a particular focus. An appreciation for how that information is created, where it goes, how it's stored, and how it will be analyzed later on. Information and data are the true value of your business, and your attention to it will make your boss/clients/colleagues very, very happy. This means you win.

I already have the first The Imposter's Handbook. Is this an update? Or new material?

This book is all new material in a completely separate, standalone book. It's still written for programmers without CS degrees (like Scott and myself), but all programmers might find something useful.

So... how far along are you?

As of mid May, 2018, we've written 32,545 words covering approximately 165 pages. We expect to double that, easily. We're currently slugging our way through encryption, with cryptanalysis and networks taking up the bulk of June and July of 2018. We'll keep updating this page so you know what's going on, and we'll also send out emails if you want to sign up below.

The Rough Draft, So Far:

  • Chapter 1: Basics of Logic
  • Chapter 2: Boolean Algebra
  • Chapter 3: Mechanical Computers
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    Chapter 4: A Binary Primer
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    Chapter 5: Symbols and Circuits
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    Chapter 6: Logic Gates
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    Chapter 7: Logical Circuits
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    Chapter 8: Bitwise Operations
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    Chapter 9: Binary Negation
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    Chapter 10: Industrial Age Communication
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    Chapter 11: The Information Age Begins
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    Chapter 12: Shannon's First Fundamental Theorem
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    Chapter 13: Shannon's Second Fundamental Theorem

The Plan (as of today):

  • Simple Replacement File Compression
  • The Lempel-Ziv Algorithm
  • Dynamic Markov Compression
  • Baconian Biliteral Cipher
  • Shannon's One Time Pad
  • Simple Cracking Using Frequency Analysis
  • Black Hat Cracking Using Rainbow Tables
  • Common Encryption Algorithms
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    Common Hashing Algorithms and How They Work (SHA-1, MD5, etc.)
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    The First Computer Conversation
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    A Brief History of TCP/IP
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    The Mystery of DNS
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    Networking Essentials

After the drafts are finished and we've worked through your feedback, the book will be submitted to a professional editor and then formatted for awesomeness.

Our (Tentative) Schedule

I am writing this full time, and my current plan is to have the manuscript ready for an editor in the beginning of August, 2018. Prior to that, the book will be in your hands, and you will help us shape and polish the content, if you want.

Just like the first volume, we'll be handling issues, enhancement requests, and any kind of feedback you want to give us. We can't possibly get everything right the first time, so we're opening this book up to your feedback.

How This Will Work

Like any crowdfunding effort, you choose what level you want to be involved. You'll have access to the PDF as we write it, which we think should be updated every 2 to 3 weeks. You'll also have access to the book forever, each version, always

Be sure to add yourself to our mailing list as well so you can stay in the loop. We would do it for you, but GDPR and so on.

Back This Project

No matter which option you choose, you'll receive the current PDF today, in draft form. You'll find links to the code as well as our Github repo in the book itself.

Just the Book: ($30)

You'll get the in-process PDF today, and all versions in the future, including the epub, mobi and PDF formats when the book is released. You'll receive any and all updates forever!

This is NOT a physical book! It will be an ebook only!

The Book and Videos: $49

You'll get the book and all updates as described above, and you'll also receive the videos when they're ready, which should be in September/October of 2018. We're currently planning on producing right around 10 videos.

Both Seasons (Imposter 1 and 2 - Book Only): $55

You get the second volume ebook, as described above, plus the ebook for the first volume as well. These are not print books, only ebooks!

You'll get both today. The first volume is finished with some minor maintenance planned in the coming months.

Both Seasons, Books and Videos: $89

Both ebooks and their videos. The Imposter's Handbook first volume has 17 total videos (just over 3.5 total hours) and we're planning on creating at least 10 videos for season 2, which you will recieve in September/October of 2018.

Is there a print edition planned?

Yes, but not for a long while. We want to be sure the book is solid and as free of technical and grammatical errors as possible before we send it off to the printers. A print book should be available by December 2018 or just after the new year.

Stay In The Loop!

We'll be blogging about our progress with this effort as well as all of the other things we're doing. We don't send out promotional spam, only messages with content you can use. If you'd like to know how we're doing, sign up below.

Copyright 2018, Big Machine Inc.