1/11/2006

Hacker History and You! and Target


Wikipedia's Timeline of Hacker History is an amusing if not frightening look into the psychology of how technology has been - and will be -- misused over the last 35 years or so and into the future.

The original meaning of the word "hack" was born at MIT, and originally meant an elegant, witty or inspired way of doing almost anything.

Many early hacks took the form of elaborate practical jokes. In 1994, MIT students put a convincing replica of a campus police car on top of the Institute's Great Dome.

Of course, there is a lot of notable stuff missing from this piece; in the 1870s, several teenagers were evicted from the country's brand new phone system by enraged authorities. However, it presents a keyhole look from the Universe into the mind of the Hacker. In 1998, an anti-hacker ad ran during Super Bowl XXXII. The Network Associates ad, costing $1.3-million for 30 seconds, showed two Russian missile silo crewmen worrying that a computer order to launch missiles may have come from a hacker. They decide to blow up the world anyway.
(Shades of Peter Sellers in Dr. Strangelove [1964] - the classic!)

Hacking works two ways -- some hackers use their skills to damage or shut down computer systems. Others have altered computer data in order to steal money.

However, many hackers do not break into computers for vandalism or personal gain. These hackers often feel rebellious towards authority and want to cross computer boundaries simply to prove that they can. Some people respect or romanticize these hackers as defenders of freedom on the Internet. Law enforcement officials view computer hacking as a serious crime, however, and prosecute hackers as criminals.

Some hackers who have been convicted of computer crimes, and others who simply want to keep access to the Internet open and free, work with the authorities. They seek out spots where computer systems are vulnerable to hacking and help make them more secure.

What are the lessons we have learned, if any?

Whoopee! Ain't technology grand!



Target goes for .NET in all 1400 stores


Target Corp., the nation's second-largest discount general merchandise retailer, will adopt Microsoft(R) .NET Framework- based technologies within its 1,400 stores in 47 U.S. states. Target will migrate its systems within each store to the Microsoft .NET Framework 2.0, Windows Server(TM) 2003 and Microsoft SQL Server(TM) 2005, core technologies that deliver on the Microsoft Smarter Retailing strategy for connecting people, information, systems and devices. (Hey! I wonder if they'll be using -er, "AJAX"?)