Digested Read: Understanding Hacking with Dr K

Hackers are harmless. Nobody properly understands what hacking is. The media put it about that hacking is all evil stuff and stuff like that. So what IS hacking? If only people knew what it was then they’d understand. Hacking is like when you use a towel as a glove. Saying that reminds me of a time when I was in this really cool joint in London where a hacking friend of mine (let’s call him X) was hacking in broad daylight. It was amazing. You should really go there sometime.


Bought from Amnesty bookshop in Newcastle for 50p in their mega Winter sale. Just as well. Low prices do insulate against those occasional disappointments!

I think the first time I got into computers was when I was much younger than everybody else. I must have been even younger than that. And there was this school project and I zipped through it far quicker than anybody else and they said I should basically run the class but I don’t think of myself as a hacker and they said ’what’s a hacker?’ because they didn’t know anything. It was amazing that I was so good with computers because I was poor. I couldn’t afford a computer so I did my early hacking, though I didn’t realise I was hacking at the time, not that I think of it as hacking now, by drooling at computers through the shop windows. That was when I bought my first computer. Actually, I bought loads – money was no object. Anyway, I’d already been hacking for years. Schools and colleges and universities had computers in them. I even hacked somebody’s pocket calculator before that. Later, I learned, being a quick learner who’s usually way ahead of everybody else, that I could have grooged, hell, I could have even Dz-ed if I wanted to! But that came about when we knew more. BTW, when I say ‘we’, I should point out that hackers are social dudes. People think we are saddos who grenk alone in dark rooms. This is a media stereotype. The reason we’re so smart is because our strength and focus comes from numbers. The number I love most is 88.1 because, as few people realise, it applies to so much of our everyday reality. Instead, all people think of with computers is that some evil people out there are stealing or destroying stuff. This is not true. I think the view of hackers is just jealousy. Back when I was getting into computers, my teacher became jealous of me because I nuked all the computers in the school. I did it because he didn’t know how I did it. He should have. He was responsible. So he got me to set things better. Maybe I should have told the authorities that I did. I’d have had the credit and the prosecution against him would have been harsher. There’s nothing wrong with what I did. What I did was to explore. I was being creative. I was also doing the school a favour by testing their system. It’s not as if nobody died. In fact, I should have been paid, not the teacher. That’s why I’m now a church leader and mentor. And one day I’m going to do a PhD on trying to find out new stuff. Fast forward to when I was at university, though that’s before I was thinking about the PhD, I graduated and got offered a job as a research assistant. Learning is natural to me. Unlike users. They’re thick as pig shit. They phone you up with their problems because they can’t be bothered to think for themselves. They’re straight on your ass the moment something goes wrong. Then you show them then they’re like ‘Uh!’ and they’re all sorry and thanking you. So being a techie isn’t all about dealing with machines – you’ve got to be good with people too.  About that time I bought my Amiga. It only had half a meg of RAM. Can you imagine? Half a meg! But I wouldn’t knock it. It probably had more brain cells than the police or so-called computer ‘professors’ or anyone else in the world for that matter. Before that, and after the early days, I could have written a program on my old ZX81 to do better, whatever it was.

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4 Responses to Digested Read: Understanding Hacking with Dr K

  1. Sarah says:

    I just saw your goodbye post and as there was nowhere to comment, I snuck back in here to say farewell. Good luck in whatever form your writing takes next, you’ll be missed!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Alex says:

    Yes, I wanted to second Sarah’s comment, and also say farewell, and thank you.

    FWIW, I tend to think of a hacker rather as one who perceives, quicker than most, the unrealised potential of a rule-based thing, offered up publicly for “consumption” in a particular way, and often with full disclosure of those rules. In other words, the “hack” is a legitimate application of those rules to an unsuspected end. “Hack”, in this sense, has a certain bravado, implying a sequence of executions which in retrospect is obvious, but which had entirely escaped those involved in the development and deployment of the thing-to-be-hacked. I feel the word has actually come full circle since the eighties; it is now legitimate currency of contemporary Maker Fair(e)s, representing subversions of form, design or application, which in themselves are no different from innovations with some kind of ideological reference/agenda attached.

    Perhaps something has been lost here. There remain the other “hackers” about whose well publicised exploits “hacking” into secretive government sites we read with a measure of incredulity and resignation. Yet somehow the legitimacy of their agenda is diluted by its pure scale. To crack into an apparently unassailable computer system is far less interesting than to make an oscilloscope, familiar only with depicting frequencies or voltages upon a fixed scale, play ping-pong with stylised batons, Technology changes, but the essential nature of “hacking” has been with us forever.



    • Jeff says:

      There’s a lot of aspects to hacking that would make a great book. The trouble I had with this one, as my digest averred, was in how the author’s crushed sense of self was over-compensated for with narcissism, arrogance and misanthropy.
      I may pick up something else on the subject – perhaps a contrast with invention (whether of oscilloscopes or whatever) or the nature of things that get hacked. My interest comes from how hacking is a form of forgery. Hacking is typically thought of in respect of technology, and yet, oil on canvas is a technology. The first hacks weren’t the use of engineers’ codes for getting free phone calls. For example, oil on canvas took the devotional altarpiece into the profane world of commerce – what forgers did was tap into the resulting methods, distribution and economy for their own ends. The entertaining part is, so often, the Robin Hood aspect to this. But it’s a hack.


  3. Goodbye, Jeff. Good luck with your next project. All the best.

    Liked by 1 person

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