The night I became a hacker

On the night of April 15th, 2016, I officially became a hacker.

Ever wonder what being a hacker is all about? Wonder no more.
Ever wonder what being a hacker is all about? Wonder no more.

How to be hacker

You may ask yourself, how does one become a hacker? How do you become 1337? The answer might be simpler than you think. Old traditions, cheesy ’90s movies, and the information era.

On April 17th, I joined up with hacker Brendan Whitfield (beWhitty) and wannabe hacker Mike Nolan (nolski) to enjoy in a traditional viewing of 1995’s Hackers. The movie is described as the following.

A young boy is arrested by the U.S. Secret Service for writing a computer virus and is banned from using a computer until his 18th birthday. Years later, he and his new-found friends discover a plot to unleash a dangerous computer virus, but they must use their computer skills to find the evidence while being pursued by the Secret Service and the evil computer genius behind the virus.

Among the students of the FOSS@MAGIC program, the movie is like a cult classic. Within my first semester with the group, I became familiar with many notorious quotes and lines from the movie. Other students, now alumni, also encouraged a viewing.

There was no better time than the present.

Why be hacker

We only dreamed of having hacker skills like Crash Override and Acid Burn.
We only dreamed of having hacker skills like Crash Override and Acid Burn.

The cultural influence of the ’90s is clearly present in the movie. When we were viewing it, the movie was clearly written by a writer with as much experience with computers as the actors playing the parts. The stereotypes were laid thicker than molasses with the crossing of the “high school troublemaker” and the “tough punk” to define the hacker “mentality” of the characters. The director probably used a nephew, niece, or other cousin who “sat in front of a computer all day” as the inspiration for driving the characters and plot forward. It would be surprising if anyone who had ever used a computer or knew anything more than just using them for text documents and spreadsheets was involved in the creative process.

So, why bother seeing the movie at all? For all of the reasons mentioned above. Anyone in the technology or a digitally-oriented field would cringe at how the movie portrays the hacker mentality. And that’s why it’s so great. It is hard to imagine a viewing of the movie taken seriously. For our viewing, there were severe outbreaks of laughter and countless moments of cringe-worthy comedic relief, all wrapped up in a good time for a Friday night.

Now we are hackers

After listening to many references of this movie during the past year and wondering what it meant exactly when “the pool is on the roof”, I have graduated to the status of full hacker along with fellow FOSSboxer nolski.

To demonstrate our understanding of the movie, we had a brief showing of our own in the #rit-foss channel on the freenode IRC network.

[23:00:52] <nolski> jflory7: beWhitty and I have decided that we are dropping out of college and starting a bar themed after the movie hackers
[23:45:26] <nolski> jflory7 and I are now official hackers.
[23:45:39] <nolski> We have experienced the movie Hackers
[23:46:17] <CrashOverride> nolski, beWhitty: Mess with the best
[23:46:20] <CrashOverride> Die like the rest
[23:47:28] <Guest81889> u on my turf CrashOverride?
[23:47:47] <CrashOverride> Guest81889: you are not 1337 enuf
[23:49:56] <Nikon> You're in the butter zone now, baby.
[23:50:11] <ThePlague> Never fear
[23:50:15] <ThePlague> I is here
[23:51:21] <Acid-Burn> Never send a boy to do a woman's job.
[23:51:25] <CrashOverride> I don't play well with others.
[23:52:12] <CrashOverride> Hack the planet! Hack the planet, nolski!
[23:52:23] <nolski> Hack the planet CrashOverride!
[23:52:46] * nolski is finally 1337 enuf
[23:54:50] <nolski> scp god@gibson:/.workspace/.garbage. ~/1337h4x0rsfilez/
[23:54:53] <ThePlague> THEY GOT THE GARBAGE FILE!
[23:55:50] <nolski> beWhitty++
[23:55:56] <nolski> jflory7++
[23:56:02] <nolski> hackers++
[23:56:09] <ThePlague> nolski: Type "cookie", you idiot.
[23:56:17] <nolski> cookie
[23:57:14] <CrashOverride> HACK THE GIBSON
[23:57:16] <CrashOverride> ThePlague--
[00:02:41] <CrashOverride> My crime is that of curiosity. I am a hacker, and this is my manifesto.

I am submitting this blog post as my Meetup #3 for the Humanitarian Free and Open Source Software Development course at the Rochester Institute of Technology. I hope to help spread the hacker culture perpetuated by this film by possibly planning a late night screening of Hackers at the NASA Space Apps Challenge 2016 at RIT, if possible.

"Hack the planet! Hack the planet!"
“Hack the planet! Hack the planet!”

Drop a line