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Old 2006-06-16, 19:20   #1
jasong's Avatar
"Jason Goatcher"
Mar 2005

3×7×167 Posts
Default "Evil" hackers

I'm reading in my Discover magazine today, and I come upon this informative sentence:
Originally Posted by Discover magazine
The room is chilled to a steady 60 degrees and crammed with rack-mounted monitors, blinking red lights, a squat supercomputer, and three "spidering machines" that crawl through the Internet, quietly spooling data from the shadowy digital realm inhabited by terrorists, ???hackers???, and cybercriminals. Welcome to the Dark Web.
Notice the word I placed question marks around. When will this ignorant prejudicial treatment end? While I'm sure there are many hackers out there who would scoff at the idea that being able to defeat Tivo's DRM or having the desire to build diskless nodes for Distributed Computing makes me anything less than an amateur hobbyist, there are plenty of people(my father for instance) who look with displeasure and fear on these skills, wishing I would do something else with my time. And thinking of us as potential criminals because of these skills.

What is a hacker, I ask you? My definition: Anyone who has an unusual ability to simplify a task because of their knowledge or skills in that area. Thinking on that, I would classify Christianity as my favorite hack. Christians say and think all kinds of horrible things about hackers. I haven't had the opportunity to state the last two sentence concepts to a fellow Christian, but I do kind of remember insulting an older gentleman who refused to acknowledge that hacking could be beneficial.

MySpace is a hack, so are Windows XP, Media Center, Linux, a computer mouse and, at the time it was invented, the wheel. We wouldn't be able to eat meat if some intelligent caveman hadn't discovered the ability to light and maintain a fire.

If a moderator would please participate, I'd like to get help writing a letter that I'm hoping many of you will sign with your Mersenne Forum usernames.

I'm sick and tired of the word hacker and cyber-criminal being interchangeable and I want to do my part to try to stamp it out.
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Old 2006-06-16, 20:32   #2
victor's Avatar
Oct 2005
Fribourg, Switzerlan

FC16 Posts

Some good extracts from en.wikipedia - Hacker :
A hacker is a person who creates and modifies computer software and computer hardware, including computer programming, administration, and security-related items.

In computer programming, a hacker is a programmer who hacks or reaches a goal by employing a series of modifications to exploit or extend existing code or resources.

In computer security, a hacker is a person who specializes in work with the security mechanisms for computer and network systems.

In other technical fields, hacker is extended to mean a person who makes things work beyond perceived limits through their own technical skill, such as a hardware hacker, or reality hacker.
In my opinion, it is a very good definition of what a hacker is.
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Old 2006-06-16, 20:38   #3
xilman's Avatar
May 2003
Down not across

3·5·743 Posts

Originally Posted by jasong
I'm sick and tired of the word hacker and cyber-criminal being interchangeable and I want to do my part to try to stamp it out.
You are about 20 years too late.

Whether you like it or not, "hacker" now has the meaning for which the 1980s hackers used the term "cracker". That is as well as the original meaning, not instead of it.

I speak as someone who has been a hacker since the 1970s.

Many words have drifts in meanings at least as wide-ranging as those for "hacker".

"Queen" used to mean the same as "woman" does today (though it was spelled "cwene" in those days). "Nice" used to mean "discerning" or "particular", and still does --- but it is very rarely used in that sense, if I may make a nice distinction. For further examples, consider the words "gay", "computer", "terribly" (as in "terribly nice" or "terribly good") and "fantastic". Even the word "man" is no longer a synonym for "person" but now refers almost exclusively to the male of the species. The word "woman" was originally wyfman", or "wife-man".

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Old 2006-06-17, 03:20   #4
Xyzzy's Avatar
Aug 2002

203308 Posts

The real question:

Who cares what people think?

Just get out there and do whatever you need to do.

Don't be a sheep. Be the wolf.


(We need a wolf smilie!)
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Old 2006-06-19, 23:30   #5
jasong's Avatar
"Jason Goatcher"
Mar 2005

66638 Posts

Okay, maybe I'm overreacting.

I guess I should instead hope for a new word that means what I mean when I say "hacker."
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