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    Levine’s classic. Probably the first online book I have referenced in a “publication”; my high-school (A-Levels) project was an x86 disassembler. Actually, it was a database course management project, but I changed it a month before graduation, and my teacher refused to grade it; so she let me do disassembly with the tacit understanding that I wasn’t gonna get any help from her, and I was at the mercy of the outside graders. (I also changed the implementation language from Pascal to C and x86 assembly)

    It was my first real program. And I bled. The x86 binary format is not for the faint of heart, at least not a non-programming teenager.

    And I didn’t do well ;-)

    Trivia time: John Levine is (was?) the moderator of comp.compilers in the 90s, which I read religiously. He would edit posts with his own addenda (“[I think the Dragon book has this algorithm” – John]“), etc. I didn’t realize it was an edit, so I took on to asking questions in usenet and other online fora, but if I ever had a doubt about my question, I would add ”-John" addendum at the end with my own alternate theories. To this day, my teenage alias is archived with that embarrassing signature for perpetuity.

    Another trivia. One night I refused to go hang out with my teenage friends because I wanted to read up on SML/NJ, and work through some of Norman Ramsey’s “Hacker Challenges”. Ramsey was then at Harvard, IIRC, and had a page of challenges for “elite” “hackers”. Me being a “blackhat”, then, totally misunderstood the label; I spent close to a month studying SML/NJ, because one of Ramsey’s challenges was an optimizing linker for SML/NJ. I poured over Levine’s book and all sorts of publications trying to live up to this challenge. I thought writing a linker for SML/NJ would label me “elite” and give admission into exclusive IRC channels for top-criminals ;-)

    That month was the last time I had casual friends for the next decade. Everyone of those boys moved on and I never noticed us growing apart. The next time I looked up from this “research”, it was 2 years later and I was by now a Unix programmer (up, or down, from an Win 9x script-kiddie.) I missed prom, home-coming, graduation, new year’s eves .. the entire millennium, and I didn’t even care. I had better things to do.

    I found a new, different kind of pride. I was no longer another immigrant Somali kid “hustling” in America; I now had role models. I was better than bad-ass, I was curious. And I am grateful to this day I did!

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      That is one hell of an interesting story, I am shocked as to how far a few books took you in life