What do you understand when you hear the word hack?
Hackers, ah yes scary people. Nerds in-hoodies who live in shady places? Mashing fancy green text into terminals? Thanks to movies & coverage by the media — hacking in the modern world probably means someone who is skilled at breaking into/hijacking computers
I bet you’ve often heard catchphrases like:
- ‘Keep your data safe from hackers’ ~ le VPN shilling YouTubers
- ‘Hackers leak classifed — Government documents’
- ‘Can you hack my Instagram account?’
- ‘Hacking! isn’t that illegal? why would you be a hacker?’
- ‘Whaat! you use Linux? — aRe yOu sOme hAcKeR?’
As cringy as those phrases sound like—no one’s to blame; words keep-evolving.
Hacking can mean many different
things, there’s no real
definition. A quick Google search returns
news articles which often associate: hacking with ‘security breaching’ or ‘stealing’. I beg to
differ hacking isn’t about security breaking; when I use the word hacking or
say I’m a hacker: I mean
hacker as in
A hacksmith, a toolsmith?: a person who has total control over their tools. A musician is a hacker, your mother who cooks for you is a hacker, a painter, a mechanic, anyone can be a hacker. Someone who does it for the fun-of-it, not driven by money or other worldly needs.
Someone who can build & forge things. A craftsman — who strives for perfection, optimizing resources, polishing blemishes. Someone who finds fun ways to build / ‘hack on’ things. You got to be playfully clever — a prankster you say? maybe. Tinkering stuff, not just computers, hacking as in life-hacks, not breaching security as such. Those people too, are hackers but not the only ones 👨💻
Here’s a cat hacking a roomba
Some famous hacks!
Residents of MIT’s Simmons Hall collaborated to make a smiley face on the building’s facade.
An MIT hack involving a firetruck on top of the Great Dome on the morning of September 11, 2006.
Hacking is art. A show of playful-cleverness
I used to hack on: Lego sets, old toys, music players, electronic/circuit
boards, striping it down to the bones. Learning about stuff that runs inside.
Ripping out DC motors from R.C. toy-cars and building my own robots. A world so
fascinating & boundless, compared to the jam-packed days I live today. I had an
idea book — a scrapbook where I’d crayon sketch my nifty ideas. Looking back
at it today it feels so nostalgic.
A time, when I had limited internet access, no phone or personal laptop, (I used mama’s laptop) & email address. I had ample free time during my pre-teen days. I’ve blogged about it here -> ~/blog/how-i-got-my-username
Me at the beach - holding the sun
trying to fly — stop motion
My Lego truck. Notice how I extended the steering shaft - to my height using connectors (black/blue), because bending down was a pain
A thermocol toy robot mounted on top of an RC controlled car.
A makeshift plastic-straw stand
P.S. I’ll add more early hacks — once I finish digging through my photos.
Hackers learn from hackers
As a hacker you should be able to share, collaborate, exchange ideas freely. Open your ears to criticism, and make improvements. A hacker should be free. Famous people that I regard as hackers include Steve Wozniak, the co-founder of Apple. Richard Stallman, the founder of the GNU Project // Linus Torvalds — the guy beind the Linux kernel & the popular version-control tool: Git. Edward Snowden, Moxie Marlinspike; a Cypherpunk who developed the Signal Protocol, George Hotz and many more!
Growth & goals
I set out to utilize 2021 in a positive note. Made a bucketlist. Added a lot of things to do. ‘Learn from the best hackers (clever people) in the realm of Computer Science & Research’. I’m half-way there? One more year left.. Can’t wait to go to college!
I learn from a lot of people on the internet. It’s hard to find good content these days, the modern web is trash. I hang out on the fediverse, other nooky places on the internet like IRC & Matrix have people hacking together on projects like Firefox, Codeberg & KDE. The suckless community, OpenBSD, GNU/Linux distros, SponsorBlock, the IndieWeb, the Tor Project and uBlock Origin; the many tools that we use to navigate the modern-web. Computing will always be a core part of society.
Watch the entire documentary
Hope this article inspires you to become a hacker. Should you need any help. Feel free to reach out. Catch me in the next one — till then adieu!