The Philosopher

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About The Philosopher

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    The phorce is with me!

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    Primarily Old School Phreaking.

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  1. Whew, it has been a LONG time. What's up around here these days?

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      Hey Philosopher, I just returned here a few days ago as well. Welcome back!

  2. Hello, all.
  3. My paper, "Notes Concerning the Security, Design and Administration of Siemens DCO-CS Digital Switching Systems", the result of a year of detailed research, has just been published in Phrack #67. FInally!

  4. Greetings all- For various reasons I have been on an extremely lengthy sabbatical from H/P lately (all other aspects of 'real life' called, left a voicemail, msg'd me on IRC, etc. ), and I'm not entirely prepared to return fully just yet. I just wanted to note that the new issue of Phrack, #67, has finally been released and is now available at I have an article in it regarding DCO-CS PSTN switches, my phreak magnum opus really, which I highly encourage everyone to peruse and comment upon. Enjoy! --The Philosopher
  5. has returned to the H/P 'scene' following a long hiatus during the academic year...summer!

  6. Post some more, help increase the collective IQ of the board :)

  7. occasionally reminded of the rather unpleasant fact that people such as yourself actually EXIST. I prefer to pretend that they don't.

  8. You thoroughly disgust me. A member of a military, who makes quasi-fascist comments such as "People need to determine when it is time to set aside their rights for the good of others." and ridiculous ones regarding wanting to kill "the inventor" of spyware, in addition to more moralistic idiocy such as an idea to create malware to delete child pornography. Ugh. I am occasiona...

  9. I think your message box is full...won't let me send you a message.

  10. I also once experienced a similar incident-these sorts of oddities collectively comprised one significant impetus factor for me becoming a phreak! It is likely that this resulted from accidental (or potentially intentional) mis-wiring and/or programming that ultimately created what is known as a "hot drop" into your line. I am unaware of the extent of your knowledge of the layout of the PSTN, and I may be about to repeat some information of which you are aware already. At the junction boxes/access points (the likes of which are also known as 'B-boxes' and appear to be usually greenish pedestals appearing every 40 or 50 ft. in suburban areas, located either directly on the ground or high on utility poles), the wires that bring landline service into your home are spliced along with many others and run off to your house. Research 'beige boxing' for much further information on the exploitation of these access points. Instead of connecting a phone directly to these wires to utilize one's service, it is possible also to simply run them off to another house/connect them to another pair. The really interesting aspect of all of this is that, often, B-boxes are messy; that is, many wires that carry service to various houses may be and usually are interconnected in this fashion. Usually, though, the other pairs/wires to which yours are connected in the box-the vestigial/residual connections, are 'dead', i.e., inactive and nonfunctional. In rare cases such as this, though, such connections may be 'live', or unexpectedly active. This could result from three primary causes: 1.) (Malicious) intent-if someone was to intentionally place a 'tap', to splice your wires and run them elsewhere. This is quite unlikely, though, as it is obviously detectable and of limited stealth. Plus, you wouldn't hear people on the other end... 2.) Mis-wiring, as mentioned. It's entirely plausible that a lineman made a mistake while tampering with wires in the junction box, lost track of them, and accidentally created such a "hot drop" as a result. 3.) Programming mistake-phone service is "turned on"-that is, wires are activated, at the switch, or, actually, through various OSSes (Operational Support Systems) connected/linked to the switch, such as COSMOS, SWITCH, WFA/DO, etc. An error in programming or input into certain OSSes could lead to the creation of a hot drop, by mistakenly activating a connection to your wires that was previously 'dead' or placing an order (known in telco terminology as a 'ticket') for work to do so. I hope that this proves informational! --The Philosopher
  11. Well, in the Autumn 1990 issue of 2600 there is an article entitled, "Build a Telephone Induction Coil" by the 1000 Spiderwebs of Might in which this process is walked through. --The Philosopher
  12. This is indeed an excellent sociological treatise of much historical value. It is also available online at . Many of the insights into H/P culture are still relevant to a degree, but the sections concerning software pirates are nearly completely outdated, I would presume.
  13. Alas, although it was once an excellent and predominant medium for online communication, especially prior to the proliferation of the World Wide Web, Usenet since the onset of Eternal September and particularly now in 2009 has been a wasteland filled with little but spam, spam, and more spam. I am also interested in the answer to this, as it would be excellent to communicate via any groups that remain active and spam-free. --The Philosopher
  14. To summarize my response to your reply in a single word: absolutely. I absolutely and completely agree with every one of these views, Phail_Saph. I have compared hackers to Renaissance/Enlightenment thinkers on a number of occasions, I view Hackers as an encapsulation of the 'silver age' of hacking in this manner, and I am extremely fond of all of the works of William Gibson and cyberpunk literature/aesthetics in general. If you have read any of my other posts/articles/writings you are aware of my ability to write at a 'college level'. I do apologize for the excessively loose and colloquial language utilized in this and other writings, though. Just take solace in knowing that I am aware of the errors and awkward wording in some cases. I am in concurrence with your use of the film and discussion thereof as such a 'test'. Really, though, all that one's response to that film indicates is his/her level of understanding of literature, culture, metaphor, and symbolism, an understanding that I often find lacking in the H/P community, which is frankly riddled with people with an Asperger's syndrome-esque tendency to perceive only the literal and to be adverse to the subjective (no offense to those with AS). To appreciate Hackers, one must possess a sense of the greater context of H/P, not just as a pastime but as a true subculture, a unique one which, unlike many other subcultures, transcends the boundaries of geography. By the same token, though, one must be able to laugh at oneself and one's hacker culture to appreciate the film and its often tongue-in-cheek humor. Some hackers, who were offended by the film's portrayal, take themselves too seriously and approach the whole matter with too much gravity. In all fairness, though, such a film was released at a very volatile time. With that 'silver age' a whole new slew of busts and crackdowns, with a corresponding culture of scapegoatism was ushered in, and for some people I could imagine where the film would either 'hit a little too close to home' or portray hackers in such a fashion as could be misinterpreted by the viewing public, thereby further exacerbating their negative perceptions. I did not know you, but I am now quite glad that you added me as a 'friend' here... Edit: By the way, for those of you who know your hacker history, Eric Bloodaxe aka Chris Goggans has gone on record as being extremely negatively critical of the film. You know what is very interesting about that? He was a character in actuality very similar to the villain 'The Plague' himself-a former hacker who had accomplished everything that he could in the underground and gone 'legal', to grapple with and sic the authorities on a skilled group of teenage hackers from NYC, some of whom likely served as basis for certain characters in Hackers. Wow, now that I think about this, I am beginning to really see a parallel... Another edit: Also of note is the fact that, in reality, many of the technological feats that the characters perpetrated were/are not actually that implausible. As one anonymous friend and colleague of mine said, "The better of a hacker you become, the more you begin to realize that." I will not run down a list of every instance and explain its theoretical possibility here, but I will say that even some of the more seemingly impossible things were extremely possible in the early-to-mid-90s, and some are not impossible even to this day... --The Philosopher
  15. Now that I have been extensively involved with the H/P subculture for a few years, during which I have observed the expression of opinions time and time again pertaining to a few extremely controversial topics that have essentially now become cliches, I believe the time appropriate to state my own opinions regarding several of them for the perusal of posterity. I have previously stated opinions regarding these time-honored controversies elsewhere-this thread exists thus as a central location of sorts into which I may consolidate my thoughts. I will likely check this topic from time to time and, admittedly, quickly scan it for well-formed and interesting responses in addition to those in agreement with me; the remainder I will promptly ignore. Agree or disagree with them as you will, but my opinions regarding the following subjects are quite developed and "thought-out", and as such I highly doubt that anyone will alter them-I must warn posters of the futility of attempting to do so. As usual, I (perhaps foolishly) request that readers will not allow their opinions of my opinions to affect their opinions of any of my technical work or "actual content". I will now proceed to discuss topics that have been over-discussed and will likely continue to be by those entering the subculture, to beat an incredibly stubborn horse that refuses to die. Hackers, the film: I will bluntly and directly state my general opinion as regards this: I am extremely fond of this film to the present day. Here is a bit of background and why: (is it possible that my writing style here has been influenced by extensive reading of Jason Scott's blog @ For those of you who are unaware or vaguely aware of this film, I will provide an extremely brief description of it and the controversy surrounding it. In 1995, to much fanfare and extremely mixed reviews, the film entitled Hackers was released (the one with Angelina Jolie, if that assists anyone in identifying it), created under the direction of Iain Softley, a director known for subculture films and who is quoted as saying, (Paraphrase) "I'm interested in subcultures...where they break through and become impossible for the mainstream to ignore." Few would argue that, in 1995, the hacker subculture had "broken through" and had become extremely well-known to the mainstream. As stated, reviews of this film range(d) from consideration of it as a masterpiece/cult classic to a horrible, unwatchable monstrosity. As with many cult films, Hackers failed to make a profit at the box office, and I will mainly address opinions of it with the H/P community. I will not provide a plot summary as such information is easily retrievable. A copy of the script can be retrieved here: Now for a bit of background regarding my personal history with the film. I initially viewed it sometime around 2004-it had been brought to my attention by my father, who is a sort of popular film buff and avid movie watcher, and who had viewed it years earlier in the mid-90s when it was released. Although already interested in the H/P subculture and "hacking" in general by this time, as ridiculous as this sounds now, I cannot say that I was not greatly inspired by the film. For a period of time quite a while later, I was nearly obsessed with it, viewing scenes from it regularly, reading the script, and listening constantly to the soundtrack as well as music "inspired by" the film. Although I haven't viewed it in a little while now, I still know much of the dialogue in my sleep and I am to this day capable of rapidly quoting with near-complete accuracy most of the lines. Although in retrospect my obsession with this movie was a bit silly, I am not ashamed of it as it is really an excellent film, for reasons that I will write momentarily. First, I will focus upon reasons as to why Hackers is in my estimation a well-made film and piece of literature, rather than reasons as to why it is a good hacker film, specifically. First, the subject matter was well-researched by the script writer and director. Even if you scorn the film for perceived absurdity in this realm, one cannot deny that at least an honest effort was made by the producers of this movie to understand the subculture that is its subject. The script writer was known to attend 2600 meetings in New York City (reportedly, Angelina Jolie was even taken to one on one occasion), and both Emmanuel Goldstein and Bill from RNOC (controversial figures in their own right, but known as ambassadors of the hacker culture, at least in Emmanuel's case) were hired as creative advisors/cultural consultants. Secondly, the subject matter is treated well from a purely cinematographic standpoint. The music is wholly appropriate to both the subject matter and the "edgy" feel that the film creates. The filming style, similarly, captures the scenes extremely well (is there really any other way in which to state this concept?) and eschews refreshingly the excessive, thick, cheesy computer-generated special effects seen in films such as Matrix Reloaded in favor of an anamorphic filming style that nonetheless creates enthralling eye-candy. The dialogue is, while slightly unrealistic and in some cases obviously scripted, strangely appropriate to the characters and well correlated with the message. Now, to finally address the reasons as to my fondness of Hackers specifically as a hacker culture and "cyberpunk-ish" film. I feel that, generally, Hackers captures the H/P subculture (especially as it existed in the 1990s) and the experience of being a teenage hacker/phreak (Without dating myself too specifically, I would know...) extremely well through assorted motifs in a fashion applicable across a wide window of time-in many instances, up to the present, which is why I consider the film a classic. A few examples? The diverse demographic of the hacker "scene" is portrayed most certainly-the group of hackers in the film is multiracial, multicultural, and includes characters from multiple income levels (Kate's mother is said to be quite wealthy, and the Phantom Phreak at one point in the film sports a "Two Tone" gold Rolex watch, while Joey and Lord Nikon reside in cramped, run-down apartments and the Cereal Killer's housing situation is ambiguous), different types of household situations, ages, and personalities, just as the actual hacker subculture does and did. This facet to me is extremely important in a film portraying actual hackers in the physical realm, as opposed to merely their actions online. We as a community, really however you happen to define the "hacker community" (or, dare I say, the term 'hacker', itself?), are simply not a group of "overweight technology lovers", as one friend of mine put it (we happen to disagree upon the film) or suburban, Cacausian males of a similar age and household income pounding away at keyboards day and night, and never really were. Phrack Prophiles terminate nearly without exception with the inquiry to the individual prophiled, "Do you consider the majority of hackers/phreaks to be nerds?" for a reason. The term "nerd" is extremely subjective in definition, I realize, but regardless, the answer is nearly always a negative one. The characters in the movie are seen as fringe, edgy sorts of individuals who are quite rebellious but not mindlessly, disobedient, often highly social, hedonistic, impulsive people who are intellectually gifted and creative regardless. This characterization of hackers certainly has its exceptions, I realize (in some ways I am one of them personally), but the fundamental concept of the hacker demographic, I think, however contrary to popular stereotypes regarding antisocial, isolated, myopically technologically dedicated hackers, is present and accurate. I speak from both personal experience and intensive study of hacker history when I state the accuracy of this persona and conversely the inaccuracy of the stereotypes in contrast to it. Each character represents/symbolizes an abstract level a different segment of the subculture. Dade Murphy/Crash Override is the seasoned, exceptionally skilled hacker whose ordeal is based very loosely upon that of Robert Tappan Morris, and who also represents somewhat the young, suburban element of the culture. Dade is skilled at social engineering, an often vital segment of systems hacking, as well as malware coding and many other things-Crash Override is the archetypal "elite" hacker, easily adaptable and skilled in the manipulation of both people and technology. Joey is the noob, the novice, the impressionable young upstart who is eager to learn and please. Cereal Killer embodies the sillier, tongue-in-cheek humor element of the culture, and is a sort of new-age techno-hippie (pardon my butchering of all of this terminology) although skilled himself. The list continues but I believe this point to have been sufficiently made. Furthermore, the film is chock full of allusions to hacker culture, general computing, and so forth. Examples include the "Gibson" supercomputer, the Hacker's Manifesto, The Plague's alias, "Mr. Babbage", etc. I would like to digress a moment to state an only slightly related opinion: those who scorn the Manifesto and its message, regardless of the many subtleties of the definition of the term, "hacker", are not hackers of any sort and will never be in my opinion, period. In this way I consider the Manifesto itself to be a significant segment of the definition of H/P culture. Undoubtedly I will be labeled as "old-school" by some and "new-school" by others for this view, but I digress even further. The message of the film is "spot on" regarding its portrayal of law enforcement and The Plague-Richard Gill is the very epitome of the ignorance, irrational hysteria, hostility, and incompetence that permeate(d) the general public's understanding of the computer underground phenomenon. The Plague as the ex-hacker turned corrupt security expert is an interesting concept rooted to some degree in reality as well-it prompts me to wonder whether a similar case of cat-and-mouse has transpired between hackers and a figure similar to The Plague to the degree portrayed in the film. In addition to relishing in all of these positive aspects of the movie, I find most negative criticism of Hackers to be ill-founded and emanating from a lack of understanding as to the nature and purpose of literature in general. Most such criticism is mainly based upon the technical inaccuracies, focusing upon such things as the eye-candy GUIs, the video tape robot battle, etc. Yes, of course, it goes without saying that the GUIs in the film are extremely unrealistic. They are symbolic, though, and not intended to reflect reality! The whole computer-as-a-city metaphor, seen in the beginning and as Joey traverses his way around the Gibson, is creative and amazingly portrayed if not original, and it reflects the incredible wondrous nature of technology. In the concluding scenes, similarly, packets of data are shown as literal small squares converging around a large rectangle that literally is labeled, "system command processor". What is wrong with these visualizations? They enable the viewer to feel the experience of using this technology while remaining entertaining. These metaphors and visualizations are used to explain and communicate the abstract subtleties of computer science and digital technology regardless. Furthermore, the interfaces are acknowledged as symbolic! In the credits, near the end of the credits, one will see a credit for the 'City of Light model', or some such thing. That's right, they acknowledge that it is a model. This is a film, people. It is not a documentary or supposed to exactly portray the reality of being a hacker. It is supposed to reflect the culture and the experience in a manner both accurate and entertaining, using the methods of LITERATURE to do so-that is, symbolism, hyperbole, etc. Exaggerated and obviously unrealistic scenes such as the tape battle have some basis in reality, and they are more significant for the cultural aspects than the technology involved. This is a general and irksome problem that I have observed in the H/P community, namely, an unawareness of culture, literature, metaphor, etc. Certainly, the H/P scene is based largely upon a mutual adoration of technology, but as I have stressed, it is a unique subculture with lore, values, philosophy, etc., and it is this subculture that the film attempts to portray and in my opinion portrays very well. Rather than contributing to the perpetuation of ignorance among the mainstream as to what we do and what we stand for as hackers, I believe that the film actually accomplishes just the opposite-all of the main hacker characters are portrayed favorably as innocent explorers who were the scapegoats of the media, law-enforcement, and true criminals such as The Plague...This, I feel, is accurate and positive, unless your definition of 'hacking' is fiddling around with some technology in a mainstream/mediocre manner, barring absolutely ANYTHING 'illegal'. (It would be correct to detect sarcasm and mild contempt in this sentence.) Such attitudes are another ball of wax entirely, and I will address them elsewhere. Windows and Microsoft: [To be continued]