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This article was posted to the Usenet group alt.hackers in 1995; any technical information is probably outdated.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: 8884 of alt.hackers
Newsgroups: alt.hackers
From: (Purna Murthy)
Subject: Re: Hackers vs. Crackers (long reply)
Approved: We don' need no stinkin approvals!
Sender: (System Administrator)
Organization: Compaq
Date: Wed, 18 Oct 1995 16:12:25 GMT
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Status: RO

On a dark and stormy night, Greg Corey whispered...
> (David Ljung) wrote:
>>However, it seems you are missing a whole category of people,
the people
>>that I traditionally called hackers:
>>hackers:  people who enjoy looking at systems and finding the loopholes
>>          and corner cases and ways around that system.
>>I think that is a more correct definition for hacker - and that
means that
>>would include people who come up with new ways to install phone
lines as
>>well  as people who figure out (not read up on) tricks to get into
some of
>>the most complex systems of all (computer systems).

Well, after having read this group for, oh, several years, and not ever
posting, I finally thought I should say something ;^)

I actually have found it amusing that over the years, even though most of
the people here realize that hacking does not, necessarily, have anything
to do with computers, most anyone else I talk to automatically assumes 2
1) If you're into "hacking" you must be a BAD person, and
2) Gee, since you know SO much about computers, can you "fix"
my computer
   to run Windows faster?

While I do work with computers, I even work for a computer mfgr, I believe
that hacking is an attitude.  I'm not talking about "kewl d00dz, give me
some warez!" or the "Check it, using my pocket calculator, I used my
cellular phone, dialed (using a "free" phone service) into my
home computer,
satellite linked over to Hong Kong, and order a pizza to go!" attitude
either.  I think it has to do with how you approach situations.  Any

For example, many hackers look down upon non-technical people/work. However,
if you look at the "definition" that is in the FAQ, not until you
get to
definition 4 is there any tech stuff mentioned ("program").
And, yet,
it's funny how much "hacking" is associated with technical work
for the odd-man-out "social hack").  I guess it's just the nature
of the

>hack <P> 1. n. Originally, a quick job that produces what is needed,
>but not well. 2. n. An incredibly good, and perhaps very time-
>consuming, piece of work that produces exactly what is needed. 4. vt.
>To work on something (typically a program).

What am I trying to say?  Well, I guess I'm probably just rambling (too many
years of trolling) but I think that, somehow, the public, especially those
hacker-wannabes, need to realize/understand that hacking is not something
new.  It didn't come into existence when members of TMRC at MIT started
getting into computers, or when CalTech pulled off their amusing prank at
the Wisconsin(?) football game, or when the movie _War Games_ came out.
Hacking is much older than that (except it wasn't called hacking).

How about the "discovery" of dynamite?  Wouldn't that be considered a
"hack"? (For those who don't know, look up the background of
Alfred Nobel).
Or, how about the astronauts and engineers of the Apollo 13 mission? Weren't
they "just hacking" (no disrespect meant)?

For non-technical hacks, how about the New Coke/Classic Coke fiasco (or
was it?).  I would consider that falling into definition 1 (or perhaps 2?).

Are these not "hacks"?  The way I see it, a hacker is someone
with the
knowledge and ability to be able to solve a problem.  Whether it has to
do with computers, phone systems, or business is not the issue.  It is the
attitude and desire to learn anything and everything about a situation so
that you can effectively deal with any problems/issues arising from it. To
give a personal example, I'll talk about speaker wire.

I recently had a house built.  Before they put up the drywall, I decided
to run coax throughout the house to be ready for a home-automation system
(if I ever got around to it!).  While I was sitting around feeling smug,
after running wire, it never occurred to me to think about speaker wire.
So, here I was, several months later, and I can't put speakers into the
garage (oh no! the horror!).  Well, what to do, what to do?

Fortunately, I had plans and photos of the entire house in various stages
of its constuction.  While looking through photos, I remembered that in my
(upstairs) study, a hole existed in one of the wall floors that led straight
into the garage ceiling.  After putting a hole in the study wall and using a
3' rod to punch the hole out in the garage, I could run speaker wire from
the study into the garage.  The hack?  Well, that was getting speaker wire
from the family room (downstairs) up to the study!

I won't bore you with the details. However, suffice it to say that without
my natural curiosity of the constuction of the house, I would never have
been able to do what I wanted.  I have also noticed that this attitude is
not common. Almost all of my neighbors don't care about knowing every nook
and cranny of their house.  The come by once a week, or every two weeks, to
look at their house and say "gee, I guess it's coming along".
Oh well.

>Not really tough, but hey, no hack too small, right?
>(PS:  That part of the FAQ is NEVER going to change).

Thank goodness!
Of course, all of the above are my own personal opinions and MAY not
reflect anything that my employers believe or feel, he way you feel/believe,

> -- Greg Corey         | All opinions are my own, no warranty made or
> | implied.  Send complaints to

Purna  - I was into physics before physics was cool!
Neal   - Purna, physics isn't "cool".
Purna  - Oh.

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