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Ask Slashdot: What Inspired You To Start Hacking? 153

An anonymous reader writes "What got you into hacking? This is a question that Jennifer Steffen, IOActive CEO, often asks hackers she meets on conferences around the world. More often than not, the answer is movies: War Games, Hackers, The Matrix, and so on. But today, it is the real life hacking that is inspiring the movies of tomorrow. 'Hackers are doing epic stuff,' she says, and they are now inspiring movies and comics. So, what got you started? And what makes a good hacker today?"
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Ask Slashdot: What Inspired You To Start Hacking?

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  • My story (Score:3, Insightful)

    by choke ( 6831 ) on Friday May 30, 2014 @06:52PM (#47132831) Homepage

    What do you mean hacking?

    I was the kid who took apart telephones, figured out how to make them do strange things, "borrowed" spare parts from the alarm company dumpster and made things with them... I learned to pick locks, listen in a room with an inductive pickup on phone wires (on old POTS phones, this was possible)

    my first 'hack' was to short out connections on a video pong machine and make it do weird things.

    my second and probably best hack was to make a working apple ][ out of spare parts in the apple store I worked at on weekends. Integer basic forever!

    Ultimately I hack because of incurable curiosity and a desire to improve and eliminate inefficiencies. I am a producer, not a consumer.

  • by fyngyrz ( 762201 ) on Saturday May 31, 2014 @12:04AM (#47134111) Homepage Journal

    The day I got ahold of a couple 74181s was the day I started to build my own machine. No cpus available then. Then the 6800 came home, then the (wonderful!) 6809, then the 68000... won a 68k eval board at a tech show... then the Amiga, SO far ahead of its time... 68020, 68040... then Motorola dropped the ball, Intel took the field.... Windows... sigh.

    Eventually, OSX (which I love) and Apple (whom I despise.) linux refused to build a standard UI, locked itself out of the same market Windows and OSX were aiming to own (and which they succeeded in owning), so I never used linux for much more than a (very good) server platform. Always thought that was a wrong turn for everyone. linux being so rabidly anti-commercial, that is. The GPL was the ultimate poison pill for success, "eat me" written in pretty colors all over it. And you did. Oh well.

    So I made my way in the world with Windows as much as I had to, the Amiga and later OSX as much as I could get away with, and I have to say, it was a great ride. Much of my financial success, such as it was, came from Windows, true enough, but most of my fun was had elsewhere. My fondest memories are from projects built in assembler, C, Python. Although I did a lot of hardware design career-wise, software was so much more fun. Eventually, I just quit doing hardware. Meh.

    I see everything closing down now. Malware and black hats turned a wonderful computer revolution into a PITA for everyone, and the manufacturers followed suit by locking down a great deal that used to be open to play with. We got the abortion of an operating system that is IOS, and the pay-to-develop garden that "supports" it. Kind of like how a punji stick supports a person who stepped in the wrong pit.

    Pretty much retired now, sorry to see you guys get hit with such a lousy legacy. In our defense, I think most of us didn't think it would go this way.

    But perhaps the next tech revolution will be as much fun, or more so, than the beginning of this one was. I was reading about open source robots today. Someone makes the hardware, you plug in your own apps. You people have a chance to make that your own. Don't blow it like you did linux. Open should mean open. Not just "open if you do it my way."

    In summary, get off my lawn -- and go do something wonderful.

Experience varies directly with equipment ruined.