What is a Hacker? by Russell Street

Between the commercialism of the MSIS department, and the
innocence of the Real User we find a delightful creature
called the Computer Hacker.

Hackers come in assorted sizes, weights and colors. But
all hackers have the same creed: to fill every byte of
every disk of every machine with source code and old news.
And to protest with flames, their only weapon, when the last
process is KILLed and the computer center switches to a
“better” computer.

Hackers are found everywhere — universities, colleges,
corporations, underneath, inside of, climbing on, swinging
from, running away to, on top of **VAXen**.

Management ignores them, secretaries don’t understand them,
Customer Support tolerate them, administrators HA! Heaven
and the grateful user protect them.

A hacker is intelligence with a head ache, elegance with
a core dump, daring with a secure backup, and the hope of
the admin with the root password.

When you are busy a hacker is a inconsiderate, bothersome,
intruding, resource hogging process. When you want him to
solve your problem his brain turns to jelly. Or else he
becomes a savage sadistic jungle creature bent on destroying
his reputation and your data with a misplaced ‘rm -r’.

A hacker is a composite. He has the brain of a adding
machine, the stealth of a thief, the persistency of a tiger,
the resourcefulness of cracker, the subtlety of a meat cleaver.
And when he has to put a tape in a drive by himself he has
five thumbs on each hand! <CRASH>

He likes USENET access, e-mail, source code, nethack, money,
admins (in their natural habitat), free accounts and the

He is not much for paper work, code grinders, other hackers
on his machine, the MSIS department, dummy money, and the
new-girl-in-the-operator’s-room’s husband.

Nobody else is so late to rise or to late to supper.
Nobody else gets so much fun out of old news files, loud
records, junk food and females. Nobody else can cram into
one half hour so many requests for restores, bulk chowning,
increased disk space, more processor time, faster CPUs and
a large chunk of unknown substance.

A hacker is a magical creature. You can kick him off your
terminal but you can’t kick him off your neighbor’s terminal.
You can get him out of your mind, but you can’t get him out of the
batch queue. He’s a bleary-eyed, syrup-voiced, fast-talking, bundle
of keystrokes.

But, when you are editing, with only the shattered pieces of working
code backed up, he can make you wish you’d saved sooner with the two
magic words:



Author : Russell Street <russells@ccu1.aukuni.ac.nz>

Posted without permission.

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