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Hacking the Xbox:
This--this being the attitude encapsulated in Andrew "bunnie" Huang's Hacking the Xbox--is why a lot of people got into the computer industry in the first place. These people liked taking things apart and figuring out how they worked, then making them serve purposes they weren't originally designed for and sharing the new discoveries with others of like mind. Sure, Huang's book is about how to how to turn Microsoft's game console into a high-performance, general-purpose personal computer with a small price tag, and it contains lots of details about the how the heavily advertised gizmo is put together. But you can get the technical material on the Web. What's valuable about Huang's work is that he communicates the pure joy of taking the Xbox apart, figuring out how it works--despite its many designed-in anti-hacking features--and making it do new things. This book reads like the journal of a seventeenth-century voyage of discovery.
There's a wealth of information in these pages about how to disassemble and reverse-engineer electronics, and Huang is careful to show you what tools you need, and how to use them (don't worry if you don't know how to use a soldering iron--that's covered here). There also are step-by-step guides (complete with photos) to a couple of projects, and interviews with key figures in the Xbox-hacking community. --David Wall
Topics covered: How to enjoy a Microsoft Xbox game console without the mindless tedium of playing video games. This book shows you how to open an Xbox, make modifications to it (from a cosmetic LED color change, to putting in a new power supply, to adding a USB connector), and make the changes needed to get Linux running on it. In the process, readers get an education in reverse engineering electronic circuits, as well as in basic electronic techniques (soldering, crimping, etc) and in the intellectual property law that governs hacker activity. [via]