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Topic: Is it OK to be a hacker again? (Read 2 times) previous topic - next topic


I remember when being a "hacker" was a good thing, the term bascially meant anyone who modified or built electronics hardware. I fondly remember showing off my memory mod (soldered a row of DRAMS on top the existing chips in my Sorcerer to double the RAM to 8k, heady days indeed) at the local computer meeting where we were all "hackers" and proud of it.

Then the term went bad, was it because of the "Sneakers" movie?

Anyway I notice that people are now happy to "hack" things and we have sites like Hackaday.

So my question is, is it OK to be a hacker again?
Rob Gray aka the GRAYnomad www.robgray.com


Being a hacker is a no-no...

The term in general doesn't apply to people who 'hack' into a electronics system (that they bought) anymore, but rather those who gain entry into a system they're not supposed to be in (yes, also applies to hacking into phone lines, or even gaining physical entry into a off-limits area).


Imahilus, - isn't that a cracker, not a hacker?


is it OK to be a hacker again?

No, if you say you hack things, people still normally consider calling the authorities.

It's very annoying so I normally say that I modify electronics or something similar rather that I'm a hardware hacker.



A cracker is either a nut  :P
or a hacker who hacks into a system using a cracking method.. for instance, brute-force geussing of the password used (ie: is it a? is it aa? is it aaa? is it aaaa? is it b? ab? ab38cd? etc. etc.).
Not so much circumventing the system, as the better hackers usually do.


Not so much circumventing the system, as the better hackers usually do.

Yeah well I suppose this is one of the problems, people think that one who can circumvent some system is somehow a threat to them or society.

Most hackers now are relegated to fixing stuff that is broken and the only time that they ever get any media coverage, it is negative, complaining about how many millions of pounds/dollars will be lost from people circumventing PS3 security and playing pirated games for example.
There are so many intelligent, technologically minded people who get branded as 'hackers' and then feel afraid of fulfilling their potential.



I wouldn't use "hacker" but I would say "I hack stuff together".

James C4S

Imahilus, - isn't that a cracker, not a hacker?
The only people that know the difference are the "real" hackers.  The general public and the crackers themselves don't often differentiate.

I'm with cowjam's way of saying it.  I tend to tell people "I like to hack together bits of hardware in my spare time."  It generally gets the question of "what do you mean by that?"  If I said:  "I like hacking" people generally tightly grip their cell phones and slowly walk away.

On a related note, I watched the movie "Hackers" this weekend.  I almost had an aneurism.  "Run Anti-Virus!!"
Capacitor Expert By Day, Enginerd by night.  ||  Personal Blog: www.baldengineer.com  || Electronics Tutorials for Beginners:  www.addohms.com


I watched the movie "Hackers" this weekend.  I almost had an aneurism.

Hahaha! I've never dared watch it.  




One never calls themselves a "hacker"; only their peers may bestow that moniker...

I will not respond to Arduino help PM's from random forum users; if you have such a question, start a new topic thread.


Semi Nude Angelina is always good;)


Sep 20, 2010, 06:04 pm Last Edit: Sep 20, 2010, 07:17 pm by focalist Reason: 1
Well, phone system hacking was traditionally called "phreaking" a few billion years ago.. much of that was the construction and use of "boxes" (dedicated circuits for the purpose) of various uses which were given names of colors... kind of a variation on the so-called "black box" concept.  Clear, yellow, green, tan... all phreaking devices.  Functions ran the gamut from DTMF encoding to payphone coin fakery.  In many ways, Arduino is closest to Phreaking, as phreaking required the construction of physical devices to spoof electronic (and early computer) systems.

Cracking usually referred to removing software copy protection.  This was most commonly done to games... though sometimes also to applications which a kid/hobbyist couldn't afford.  Cracking required decompiling to assembler and reverse-engineering the code.  Hard to do, but a dedicated kid with time on his hands, etc.. but did not require physical access outside of the floppy disk.  Cracking is a form of Hacking, in the same way that phreaking is.

Hacking referred to gain access where one isn't supposed to be.  Computer Hacking was just that- gaining (electronic) access to somewere where you aren't supposed to be.  Usually requiring finesse, otherwise just plain old vandalism.  Hacking is access - not about changing things or damaging them.  Hackers (originally) did this for a sense of exploration, or to learn, or simply the Climbing Everest logic, "because it's there".  Mostly, it was curiosity, nothing more sinister than that.  Hacking definition grows thin when you are doing something someone else did before, and you are following what they did.. a memory upgrade KIT for your Atari might be owned by a hacker, but itself would not be a hack.  If it's widely known and used, it's not a hack.  Hackers felt a sort of geek elitism, so to speak, for having done things others had not.  If however you hand-wired a rack of core that fell off a DEC truck to your Heathkit- that's one hell of a Hack.  Like needing medication level.

Which bring us to our current hobby.. which isn't Hacking, really.  These little buggers are meant to be messed with- they want us to diddle around in the guts of the beastie and are willing to help.  If however you are mapping the output to an RFID fob for the purpose of spoofing an access-control door, that's Hacking.. with a little Phreaking tossed in.  Most of what we do with Arduino would at best fit into the Phreaking realm.  Making an infrared remote control  transmitter to shut off all TV's in line of sight, a bit of a nice hack too.  Hacking really is about being able to do something you aren't supposed to.  Hacking can refer to using a device for something other than what is was intended for- for example, Wiichuck has to be called a hack, they never meant us to be able to use them outside of the Wii... but soon, as it becomes more widespread and documented, it will cease to be a hack.  In that way, Arduino projects can qualify as Hacks, and us as Hackers, if the idea is innovative or obstrusuve enough into relatively "new" territory.

Just to say, that's what these used to mean back in the day..  there once was a great amount of pride in being called any of these terms, and for good reason.  They all required a level of technical knowledge and ability to cobble stuff together that the general populace just don't have.  I'd say most here have the capability of being hackers, it's a matter of inclination and/or a desirable enough reason to do it.  It's not owning hammer that makes you a carpenter, so to speak.  One other thing tends to be true- calling yourself any of these terms pretty much defined you as incapable of actually being said description of any merit.  Since these are compliments, it's like walking around saying "Hi, I'm awesome and superior to others.." as a way to introduce yourself.

Assuming you agree with me, what would be the best term, in your mind?

Media pundits and fiction authors toss words about until they have lost their meaning, at least their truest interpretations..

A few props due because they haven't had any in a long time.  Most of these guys are captains of the industry these days, nearly three decades later- for good reason.
When the testing is complete there will be... cake.


Well, definition below from jargon.txt, circa 1980, before the media got hold of it and ruined it.  Or was it just that computers got more into the public eye?  In any case, the poor portrayal goes back to at least "War Games" (1983).   I would say that you can only describe yourself as a hacker to other hackers :-)  [extra points if you can identify TECO and/or SAIL] [LOTS of extra points if you have either one on your computer.]

HACK n. 1. Originally a quick job that produces what is needed, but not well. 2. The result of that job. 3. NEAT HACK: A clever technique. Also, a brilliant practical joke, where neatness is correlated with cleverness, harmlessness, and surprise value. Example: the Caltech Rose Bowl card display switch circa 1961. 4. REAL HACK: A crock (occasionally affectionate). v. 5. With "together", to throw something together so it will work. 6. To bear emotionally or physically. "I can't hack this heat!" 7. To work on something (typically a program). In specific sense: "What are you doing?" "I'm hacking TECO." In general sense: "What do you do around here?" "I hack TECO." (The former is time-immediate, the latter time-extended.) More generally, "I hack x" is roughly equivalent to "x is my bag". "I hack solid-state physics." 8. To pull a prank on. See definition 3 and HACKER (def #6). 9. v.i. To waste time (as opposed to TOOL). "Watcha up to?" "Oh, just hacking." 10. HACK UP (ON): To hack, but generally implies that the result is meanings 1-2. 11. HACK VALUE: Term used as the reason or motivation for expending effort toward a seemingly useless goal, the point being that the accomplished goal is a hack. For example, MacLISP has code to read and print roman numerals, which was installed purely for hack value. HAPPY HACKING: A farewell. HOW'S HACKING?: A friendly greeting among hackers. HACK HACK: A somewhat pointless but friendly comment, often used as a temporary farewell. [The word HACK doesn't really have 69 different meanings. In fact, HACK has only one meaning, an extremely subtle and profound one which defies articulation. Which connotation a given HACK-token has depends in similarly profound ways on the context. Similar comments apply to a couple other hacker jargon items, most notably RANDOM. - Agre]

HACKER [originally, someone who makes furniture with an axe] n. 1. A person who enjoys learning the details of programming systems and how to stretch their capabilities, as opposed to most users who prefer to learn only the minimum necessary. 2. One who programs enthusiastically, or who enjoys programming rather than just theorizing about programming. 3. A person capable of appreciating hack value (q.v.). 4. A person who is good at programming quickly. Not everything a hacker produces is a hack. 5. An expert at a particular program, or one who frequently does work using it or on it; example: "A SAIL hacker". (Definitions 1 to 5 are correlated, and people who fit them congregate.) 6. A malicious or inquisitive meddler who tries to discover information by poking around. Hence "password hacker", "network hacker".


Sep 20, 2010, 08:18 pm Last Edit: Sep 20, 2010, 08:21 pm by kraig Reason: 1
it was always ok.
and even at some case of computer hackers.

But other are evil and only want money and steal personnal informations. Oh the other hand, if they steal informations from a corporation, I'm glad they did, as long as they share it and it doesn't allow them to build some top-secret weapons or get money out of the info.

Sometimes people judge a whole population by the act of a few ones.

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