This weekend I went to the local Barnes and Noble–an uninspired choice, admittedly, but one with few options, really, particularly when it comes to magazine shopping in my part of the world. There, amongst the magazine stands, while others milled about making decisions that would effect the weekly New York Times Bestseller List, I found my weekend retreat:

The new issue of 2600: The Hacker Quarterly;
And, the third issue of Make:.

2600: The Hacker Quarterly is that "bad-boy" of magazines that has talked about how to hack things, ranging from PBXs to Javascript pages. It's a brilliant, no-frills mag, with a devoted following. 2600's contributors submit short articles, usually around 1000 words, from around the world. The articles are compelling to read, even if they tend to require some willingness to learn or knowledge of the subject matter. Usually one can find quite a few hacking how-tos, including detailed scripts and social theory hacks. And the letters to the editors section is always entertaining. This issue covers, amongst other things, tunnelling and anonymous web surfing. There's a great article on ICMP tunnelling by a Norwegian contributor, that explains how one should be able to get online at many WiFi hotspots, looking to charge a fee, by routing TCP traffic over ICMP to host computer. ICMP traffic is often not blocked and one can check whether or not it is, by simply pinging a website or an external host. [please forgive my insensitivity to spelling out these protocols. I would be hard pressed to say for what the acronyms are abbreviations.]

Make: takes reporting on hacking a decidedly different route. Although there are some how-tos, you won't need your pen and highlighter nearly as much. This issue showed how-to manufacture a Spud Gun. There was a lengthy article on the theory and experiments surrounding low-energy nuclear reactors (LENRs). LENRs are the erudite equivalent of cold fusion reactors. (Google LENRs and you'll currently see 459 hits.) Not surprisingly, Make: leaves out the step-by-step for making these high-tech devices, though actually produce very little radiation and waste. There are also articles on a Mac Mini in his VW Gti (the author, Matt Turner, maintains a blog, which contains much of the same content), how-to create a silicone clock, add additional VoIP lines to your house, and manufacture an exact, but more durable, duplicate of your old LPs.

Make: is produced by O'Reilly. And, I see now, the 4th issue has been published. Shame on my local B&N magazine buyer!

I'm not going to say that one magazine is better than the other. They are decidedly different. If I were going to read one on a plane, I would probably take Make: with me. But, if there was a quiet bean bag, where I might be able to dream of doing something more than dream, . . .