Reclaiming the word Hacker

The term Hacker should be kept as they was originally intended, to describe those people who are curious about how things work, whether it be computers, networks, phones, electronics, maths, whatever. People who find ways to use things in ways that was not in the original specification. We used to cherish these people as innovators, explorers, etc. (Well apart from the early days when the church would burn them as heretics). We should go back to using “Hacker” as a positive description, and just call criminals “Criminals”. 

So Media People pay attention, to quote Randal from Clerks. “I’m taking it back”.

by Wayne Pendragon Owens

I am an Author, Freemason, Rosicrucian, Blood Biker, Widows Son, CodeNinja, Spod, Hacker, Son, Uncle, Brother, Man, AN INDIVIDUAL!

12th July 2010

Hackers – Hackers 1 : Network Admin 0

I forget exactly when this incident happened. I do remember it was towards the end of the University season (either the year end, or midway). It was in my second to last year in University, and everyone was rushing about trying to finish papers, coursework and get everything handed in on time.

Of course the Lords of Chaos were out in force, and the Universities Network was down, and had been for about a week, people were seriously starting to panic.  The network at the time was Windows 95 running of a Novell network. Now somehow (no info was ever posted) the windows image had become corrupted.  You could log onto the network, and it would copy the global copy of windows to your workstation ok, only winsock, and several other network important files/libs were corrupt meaning windows could not talk to the network.  This had a knock-on problem of all the program files & user data were stored on network drives.  Basically you were left with a corrupt and damaged version of windows that was of no use to anyone.

Now some of the computer labs had computers that also had local copies of windows on them, for specific software/applications. Unfortunately these were not set up to use the network, or the internet, in fact they had been set up specifically to be unable to use the network. (for security and to help prevent the pirating of specialised software)

After a few days of no net-access a friend and myself got fed up and decided to do something about it. We found one of the small labs with local copy windows machines, and using some of the libraries off the corrupt net-work versions, plus manually rewriting sever config files we were able to get two machines fully running on the uni’s network, and hence the internet. So there we were happily using the internet to plan the weekends fun when a Lecturer wandered into the lab.

“What are you guys doing in here?”

“err, just finishing some coursework to email in”

“What, do you think I’m stupid? The network is down”

I pointed at my screen and invited her to come look, pointing at a couple of websites to show it was working, and pointed out since we were desperate to finish our coursework we “fixed” the two machines we were using. She looked thoughtful for a while, then asked could we do the same to all the others in the lab, since she had an important lesson that afternoon that she had already put off once due to the broken network.

It was another week and a half before they fixed the network and all the universities computers were usable. But for that week and a half there was one small computer lab that was fully functional, and its location was spread about like a secret. After all, if everyone knew about it, you’d never get a free computer.

I like to think we helped a few people be a little less stressed in the run up to exams.