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This article was posted to the Usenet group alt.hackers in 1995; any technical information is probably outdated.

Re: Hackers vs. Crackers (long reply)

Article: 8916 of alt.hackers
From: (Jeff Mercer)
Newsgroups: alt.hackers
Subject: Re: Hackers vs. Crackers (long reply)
Date: 22 Oct 1995 08:42:56 GMT
Organization: Green Hell, Inc.
Lines: 74
Message-ID: 46d06g$
X-Newsreader: NewsWerthy 1.82
Status: RO (Nathan Waddoups) wrote:
NW> (Purna Murthy) writes:
NW>>Or, how about the astronauts and engineers of the Apollo 13
mission? Weren't
NW>>they "just hacking" (no disrespect meant)?

I think that it goes a bit beyond hacking in that case... Desperation breeds

NW>Absolutely.  I walked out of the theater thinking "holy cow
what brillian
NW>string of hacks" and having the utmost respect for all hacking
NW>involved in saving the astronauts' lives.

Read the history books and you'll be more amazed, :)

NW>Like Purna said, it's all about problem solving.

Well, while I do acknowledge that hacking is essentially about problem
solving, I sorta object to just using the term "hacking" to refer
to any
sort of problem solving... Innovative, unusual, and plain old weird solutions
to all sorts of problems have been around for centuries (millenia), as was
pointed out (I imagine that the building of the Pyramids in Egypt resulted
in all *sorts* of little day-to-day hacks).

But I personally feel that when it comes to computers, there's a whole
different level to hacking... With computers, so much of hacking doesn't
involve any physical problems or limitations. And solving a problem isn't
necessarily an exercise in intellectual prowress, but a subtle understanding
of how the system works...

NW>A few months ago, at my girlfriend's place, I found myself standing at a
NW>kitcken counter with a spoon covered in spaghetti sauce (don't get any


Now, if it was covered with chocolate syrup, ;)

NW>Not wanting to leave a big splat on an otherwise clean
NW>countertop, I found a way to balance the spoon on the edge of a glass
NW>(pulled from the sink), held in place with another glass atop the spoon.

I do things like that all the time when cooking, trying to find a clean
spot to place something so not to contaminate it (the item), or finding a
way to place something so as to minimize mess.

But it's not a hack...

The other day I had to help someone get into her car, which she had locked
her keys into. DOn't ask me how someone can leave their keys *in the
ignition* and lock themselves out... *sigh*

The solution? The only one available: break the window.

I don't consider that a hack either. Just a solution. A messy one too, :/

Wrote a DCL program for the UF VAX system some years ago, which would check
a user's true quota usage against what the system said they had used. This
way a person could tell when they were being over/under-charged quota, some-
thing that happened a lot thanks to DEC refusing to acknowledge a well-
documented bug...

The program was simple: It transversed the directory tree of the user's
account, getting the file-size for each file they owned, as well as for their
root directory. Added it all together, along with 1 block for each file
entry (for the INDEXF entry), and wrote it out along with the result of a
SHOW QUOTA command...   : Bailiff! Wack his pee-pee!
 Jeff The Riffer  :
    Drifter...    :
Homo Postmortemus :



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