A NOTE TO HACKERS
Some time ago, I received an E-mail asking me if I knew of any way to hack or do something annoying to pagers. I replied to this person's message with a suggestion that he have a talk with a priest, minister, or rabbi. I also said that I thought that disrupting a paging system was a lot like throwing nails on a busy highway and then standing back and laughing while people were hurt and property was damaged. In the paging industry, we are all working very hard to provide a fast, low-cost, and efficient way of communicating with people on the move. The idea that someone would interfere with a paging system on purpose infuriates me. These hackers have tried to get me involved several times just because I have this web site with lots of information about paging. The difference between us is that I want to share information about paging for the betterment of the industry, and they want to screw it up!
While I am on the soap box, I want to remind everyone that it is illegal divulge to a third party, any radio communication message that you intercept. The unauthorized interception of alphanumeric pager messages is a criminal invasion of privacy comparable to wiretapping someone else's telephone. Three guys in New York pled guilty to charges related to intercepting alphanumeric pager messages intended for the Police and Fire Departments. You can read the whole story in the December 8, 1997 issue of Wireless Week. “PAGERGATE” Their company faces a maximum fine of $500,000.00, while the individuals each face a maximum penalty of six months in prison and a $5,000.00 fine on each of two counts. So hackers, GET A LIFE! If you have enough brains to cause damage to a paging system, why not add some good character to the equation and do something positive and make the world a better place. But then maybe you like the way you are. OK, just sit there in front of your computer screen hacking away. Big brother will come and get you and put you in a nice cozy little cell for a few months or a few years. You will definitely enjoy spending time with your 350 pound cell mate named "Bubba." He will love you very much . . . . and very often. Think about it.
2014 DEFINITION UPDATE
[originally, someone who makes furniture with an axe]
1. A person who enjoys exploring the details of programmable systems and how to stretch their capabilities, as opposed to most users, who prefer to learn only the minimum necessary. RFC1392, the Internet Users' Glossary, usefully amplifies this as: A person who delights in having an intimate understanding of the internal workings of a system, computers and computer networks in particular.
2. One who programs enthusiastically (even obsessively) or who enjoys programming rather than just theorizing about programming.
3. A person capable of appreciating hack value.
4. A person who is good at programming quickly.
5. An expert at a particular program, or one who frequently does work using it or on it; as in 'a Unix hacker'. (Definitions 1 through 5 are correlated, and people who fit them congregate.)
6. An expert or enthusiast of any kind. One might be an astronomy hacker, for example.
7. One who enjoys the intellectual challenge of creatively overcoming or circumventing limitations.
8. [deprecated] A malicious meddler who tries to discover sensitive information by poking around. Hence password hacker, network hacker. The correct term for this sense is cracker.
The term 'hacker' also tends to connote membership in the global community defined by the net (see the network. For discussion of some of the basics of this culture, see the How To Become A Hacker FAQ. It also implies that the person described is seen to subscribe to some version of the hacker ethic (see hacker ethic).
It is better to be described as a hacker by others than to describe oneself that way. Hackers consider themselves something of an elite (a meritocracy based on ability), though one to which new members are gladly welcome. There is thus a certain ego satisfaction to be had in identifying yourself as a hacker (but if you claim to be one and are not, you'll quickly be labeled bogus). See also geek, wannabee.
This term seems to have been first adopted as a badge in the 1960s by the hacker culture surrounding TMRC and the MIT AI Lab. We have a report that it was used in a sense close to this entry's by teenage radio hams and electronics tinkerers in the mid-1950s.
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