Part 5

Where'd everybody get the idea that I was demented?!?

I should sue.

I really should. There's gotta be something about it in law. Human rights, maybe. The right to hack without being labelled "demented" or "geek" or "nerd". And if there isn't, it won't take terrifically long to go on-line and add something. Tidy up a few unnecessary laws, such as "theft of electricity" when you phone phreak, that kind of rubbish. Oh, and totally make it illegal to have more than four administrators per task whatever that task may be.

For all you up and coming hackettes, you might like to know that my scribblings are now available on the big (and some might say bad) Internet. You know, the place where female genitalia present themselves to you before you've even switched on the modem. These media people must have a whole bunch of URLs I never found.... Anyhow, point your browser (preferably ArcWeb or the Acorn browser, Fresco at a push, never MSIE) to:

and (cliché alert!) "enjoy!".

Sorry it took so long. Was busy with other activities. As you know, I saw this doctor guy in the newsagent and appropriated some hardware off of his SWITCH card. Well, he must have some bizarre connections because astonishingly I saw him on the security camera the other day. He had a copy of one of my invoices and he was looking up the address. So I hacked the bank (easier than you might think!) to send me a SWITCH card with a number almost identical to his, only two digits transposed. We met, sat down, I apologised profusely and he bought it!

Turns out there is some freaky lab down the road. Our doctor has like a billion degrees in subjects I didn't know existed, and he makes LASER guidance systems. His claim to fame is a smart missile used extensively in the Gulf War. I wrangled for a job there - sounds like fun - but the military have a very thorough vetting procedure. Not to mention the fact that I'm clueless when it comes to stuff like that hardware. They don't even program in the usual computer languages!

There are probably only four places I would not hack. The Pentagon, the NSA, MI5 and the British military. All four of them are so paranoid they'd know you were there before you knew you were there. Like that guy a while back that hacked the Pentagon with a BBC micro or something ridiculously low-tech. He wasn't a hacker - he got caught. The whole point is to not get caught.

So, life continues. I am doing well at college. This is an honest "doing well", not a computer modified one! The Principal and Sopowitz still look at me as if I'm the spawn of Satan, but Albert Sanawuse is acting like he's my personal slave. After walking on the harddiscs for two weeks solid, I now know all the juice and hidden stuff and, frankly, it has started to get boring. There's only so many times you can read the iternal emails between the Principal and the cookery teacher (good bribe, I'll bet his wife doesn't know!) and some really explicit emails between one female secretary and another female secretary. Might get out my binoculars and see what a female-female friendship means when it "goes all the way". For the benefit of younger readers, I'll keep the remainder of my sick little comments to myself... Cucumbers! Oh, sorry.....

Talking of females, I have found my own. She doesn't know it yet, though. A trawl in her user directory reveals no relationships. She is small, about five four at a guess with fuzzy hair that seems like a blonde redhead that can't quite decide which to go with. She has that studenty look and is currently being taught the horrors of PASCAL. I've hooked my video recorder into the college security video cameras (courtesy of the framestore and the college ISDN link) and spend time drooling over her. She isn't what you would call "well proportioned", but I never did figure the idea of judging a girl by the breasts, butt and legs. Seems to me everybody is looking at the wrong end. As for beauty - it's an odd thing. She does not fit the profile of traditional beautiful, but the me she rocks. She is eighteen, never had a boyfriend as far as I could tell and she lives alone in a little apartment on the west side of town. Bought outright, no mortgage. Always pays her bills on time and she regularly receives cheques from the local council. I think she works part-time in the library...

It was a cold night. I was standing in the rain somewhere in the west side of town. The place where the street lights are far apart, creating little blips of orange light in a void of darkness. Few cars come this way since the bypass was finished. As the road was running with water from the blocked drain, it was just as well. I found a little shelter in the overhang of a small oak. You might be wondering why I'm hanging around getting wet when I could easily hook up an SSTV camera and watch from home. Well, I'm not sure exactly where my future wife (hehehe) lives and if you want to do something right, you should do it yourself.

I switched to the other side of the oak and lay low. My binoculars picked her up a way away. Do I watch or do I approach? If I approach, what do I say?

I took Sarah's plastic bag and carried it for her. She too was soaked, wearing her library uniform. The bag was heavy, full of books. I rattled off some really lame excuse about being out birdwatching and caught by the storm. She bought that and no hacking was needed.

She sat on the end of her bed sipping a mug of tea. I sipped mine and looked around. Her apartment consisted of a bedroom which was wall to wall with books. A little kitchen area and a living room. Her bed, her life, was contained in this living room. The apartment below was for sale, and the one above was used by some rich guy on his holidays into the country (whatever nutter would call this place the "country"?). Other than that, she lived here alone. Her back window overlooked a field and then the river. Her front window overlooked the road and more fields, with a school beyond. It was quiet and dark around this place.

Two hours later I found out she likes me, but her parents had recently died in a car accident and she wasn't sure if having a relationship was a good idea at this time. I told her I was a freelance programmer and to call on me if she had any queries. She kicked off her wet shoes and said she was going to bed, she was tired. I wasn't sure if I was supposed to stay or go. So I went. Better leave when expected than hang around too long. She didn't seem like the type to hop into bed on the zeroth date. Neither did I.

And that was the end of Sarah, as far as I could tell. She acknowledged me in the hound halls and sometimes sent me email, but nothing more. I didn't push it. Sometimes a fantasy is better when it remains a fantasy. Meeting her that stormy night did nothing to change my ideas, but who knows. Maybe she had wanted me to stay? And that wouldn't have been right. What with the death of her parents, the timing was all wrong.

The college upgraded to Windows 95 and that offers a whole lot more potential for hacking. I reconfigured the computers to use the old file manager and program manager, then installed MSIE version 4 beta release to confuse the hell out of everybody. A little faux Java and every so often political slogans would pop up. It was a case of hating everybody equally, with the possible exception of the party I disliked the least.

What is it about hackers that gets such a bad reputation? It seems totally legal for people to charge over the odds for a public utility, to give themselves massive payrises and for the public consumers to foot the bill. However if somebody tries to point out the faults in the system and do something about it - it is illegal.

Of course it is illegal. The people that rip you off make the laws. Talk about a lose-lose situation. You lose. You lose. You lose. And through slow integration and years of ignorance and ignoring, it is accepted that costs are astronomically high. Take for example petrol. I'm not a user myself, but I'm not stupid enough to have missed it. The prices went up during the Gulf War (reminiscent of computer memory prices rising when some factory in India burned down - why?), and suddenly we went metric. Prices have continued to rise ever since. Much of the cost is tax. Milk, going metric, but the prices stay the same even though you now get about 12% less.

Don't think my hackings are all for my benefit. I often hack into the DHSS and see who is on a benefit (and truly deserves it), and then I twiddle their bill for them. They are not aware of this. I don't want them to be. It's like my service to the community. Like the guy down the road whose phone line I often nick. He gets a good rebate on that, so no problem. Often I twiddle the exchange routers to think it is a fault in the logging. However the fuel bill hits him hard. He is like two million years old and needs the heat on so he doesn't, like, die. But no rebate or discount is forthcoming. You'll often hear excuses like "Well, if we give you a discount then we'd have to give everybody a discount". I don't hear that one coming up when they allocated themselves payrises.

A leading public figure has very sadly been killed. I could add my condolences, but the ocean of flowers in London says it all. So I bookmark ColourTrans and close my PRM. There are several interesting questions to be addressed here. As a hacker I am paranoid. This paranoia stretches to asking why the surveillance camera just happened not to be working. How do we know that the driver was indeed drunk? If we are dealing with the grey men in grey suits, they have astonishing powers. And I can think of several reasons for the scenario - and the blame will be dumped nicely on the press which, to the grey men, must be a right pain in the ass. However my reasons are not to be disclosed now. Come on guys, exercise your mind matter and think about it yourself.

Leading us onto another personal hate of mine. Our lack of rights. Exactly how many people can control you without your consent? How many people can come busting down your door without your consent? And how often do those people apologise?

I hold the opinion that paedophiles should forever burn in hell for what they do, and the punishments for that (and rape, murder etc) need to be tightened up from life ~= 3 years to life = life.

However people have an uncanny ability to judge and pass sentence on a whim. So-called vigilante groups might hear a garbled whisper and think that somebody is a sex offender. So 'round his place they'll go throwing stones through his windows, spray painting on his walls and telling him to take a flying.....

If he did not commit the crime, it's nearly impossible to convince such people otherwise. And even if the authorities put it in no uncertain terms, there will still be dislike and mistrust.
What gets me is these people seem to be justified in what they do. Of course it is okay to burn his house down, he (might have) committed a crime (we think).

Now, DON'T think I'm defending sex-attackers. Far from it. I'm defending innocent people subjected to horrifying abuse on what amounts to be no more than a whim multiplied by paranoia. Such paranoia can (and does) exist. Look at the anti-commie witch-hunts in the U.S. at the height of the Cold War. Lives ruined and for what?
(I'll yack about the concept of all-american later).

By all means, a sex-offender (particularly with young children) deserves to have their rights to society stripped, and be crapped upon by everything higher up the evolutionary scale than the earthworm; but just imagine if the victim was totally innocent...

Now, as we are busily letting off steam, let's attack something you see in the movies... The all-American hero. What do they mean by all-American? As a civilisation, America is a mixture of British, Spanish, Italian, German et cetera et cetera. I mean, America has literally no history. Something that is around two hundred years old is seriously old. Their history really started with the Mayflower. And as for the people that have the absolute right to call themselves all-American, they are placed in "reserves" and regarded as oddities.

Take the Frobnicate editor's hang out in France. It dates back God only knows how long. Estimate five hundred years. In those days the Earth was flat and the Americas didn't even exist.

So what is this all-American business? Somebody who upholds the right guaranteed by constitution to bear arms? That gets you labelled as a militant or a crackpot (depending on whether or not you still worry about the Commies). How about the right guaranteed by constitution to freedom of speech and political choice? Just announce in a crowd that you openly support the Commies. Hehe - that was a tad below the belt, but you get the point.

So, back to my PRMs, back to ColourTrans. Old RiscOS and Arthur Desktop have the palette manager accepting colour slider values between 0 and 255. Same for !Draw and when the Internet (font color = #ffffff) uses the 0 to 255 scheme. So why doesn't ColourTrans have a SWI where you can say you want 60 red, 60 green and 100 blue. Also, why is there nothing to do the same in percentages, and to do the reverse (tell you what components make up a colour). What a pain. Still, I'm happily surfing the Internet using the college ISDN link. Easier and cheaper to dial college than to dial London, You see, I am sending corrupted parts of a Windows swapfile to certain annoying email spammers. Like the ones inviting me to see young schoolgirls performing indecent acts with certain parts of certain domesticated animals. Or those offering to sell you software to spam tens of thousands of people an hour. I'm not able to remove my email address from these lists, but I can send them coredumps.

You know, they pick up on news postings and WWW pages. On your news postings you should forge the headers (the Editor tends to use "xxargonet") and include emailing instructions in your signature. Not the real email address, but how to send it (like "remove xx to email me"). On your WWW pages, you should provide a fake mailto link, like nobody@nowhere.com or something. Set the to have no text and leave it. Or, to be a bit more vindictive, set the WWW page and your news reply to to say "postmaster@" so auto-spam software posts it all to the postmaster of the domain. Or if you are feeling really vindictive and annoyed, set it to "postmaster@cyberpromo.com". After all there is no law stopping them sending you crap, so you send some back. Just forge your headers. Hehe... I'm off, got to sort out this business with ColourTrans and dream of Sarah........................

NOTE: Rumour has it that CyberPromo has died a death.
I shall weep for them.......not!
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Copyright © 1998 Richard Murray
Diary Copyright © 1997 Richard Murray