by H.Cioff
12 November 1998

Reality Cracking


One, two three... seems many are trying to crack my own intents... :-)
Cioff is wrong, of course: advertisement is not so harmless as he says, and politicians are even worse... besides it is realtively easy to see the 'great' mischiefs, it is more difficult to see the 'hidden and concealed' ones, and our task is not to perform simple agitprop... we'll see... IMHO our 'annoyance' with the actual commercial society has quite sharp fangs... we'll see... in the mean time, enjoy some sound reflections on what's happening, and a correct sounding (sort of) 'defense' of M$'s word... let's see if something more consinstent will follow (I'm publishing this only as a sort of 'promising' placeholder)... Hey, Cioff, c'mon! Awaiting your 'real' essays. In fact what you wrote (until now) just 'sounds' interesting, now, please, if I may ask... let's see the 'beef'... and somehow less "local" oriented if possible... the whole silly world has plenty of prisoners everywhere, starving and being malmed and tortured and everything... yet the point is to understand, not to be emotionally involved... it's much more strong when you understand... it's pretty useless when you'r emotionally involved, as any reverser that has read Brecht's incredible 'Line of conduct' knows... see, the real pity is that there are unfortunately too few people around explaining why there are prisoners in the first place... Nah Ja...

Dear Fravia+

     As I see your engineering, it is a curious mix of
highly sophisticated hi-tech skills and fairly nave annoyance with 
society, commercialism and consumer culture, plus promotion of activities
bordering on petty crime. I love it.

     I consider myself a a reverse engineer - even a master within my
very specialised (?) and limited (?) field - but not in computer
programming, even though I'm old enough to remember PIP and STAT, not to
forget: writing a thesis in good old WordStar on a dual floppy system
(anyone out there remember DEC Rainbow?). But I don't press CtrlC any
more when I change a floppy.

     I have retired from my position of "master" because of the forces 
of this world (read: my stupid and/or corrupt bosses) and now live my life 
in active and healthy retirement in a different position, at an higher 
salary. I can even make a nuisance of myself in the best newspapers 
without interference from bosses.

     Sting said on one of his songs: "I have come here just for seeking
knowledge." I sought and found your page because I was seeking a cracked
version of Adobe acrobat - this POISON of the Web. I hate that program
far more than M$ because it limits the exchange and use of information.
I want the information as Word .docs or ASCII text or HTML, not as .pdf
files. Then I can reverse engineer the text, and don't need to bother
about cracking the medium first, or doing an endless number of select s,
copy s and paste s. OK, I can print and scan the text, and OCR it. But I
haven't a scanner, and I don't care to buy one.

     You, dear Fravia+, are the editor - I offer you my essay which
obviously belongs in the reality cracking section. You have all the 
editorial privileges, from outright rejection to stealing my essay 
- go on, if you like, sucker 8--], so on we go.


So you hate Microsoft, do you? Because they write big, fat, slow and
buggy programs, and force the world to buy? Because they force you to
write your texts with a pinball game, or do your calculations with a
flight simulator? Because they fool people into installing the Active-X
snooper on their systems? Because they make far too much money? Because
Bill Gates is a ruthless businessman, living off inventions stolen from

But tell me of the damage: Rich people buy computers and waste their
money (which they have too much of, anyway - anyone who can afford a Pentium
or AMD or Cyrix P-clone, is rich according to this definition) on expensive
nice-looking bug monsters instead of simple DOS programs, or Linux or Free BSD
But those Micro$oft monsters, apart from annoying the experts, actually do
most of what they are supposed to for simple users like me. 

So I saith: The computer industry, IBM and Compaq and Microsoft alike,
do only a limited amount of harm. Annoying: Yes. Dangerous? Possibly -
eventually. But how many people have been killed deliberately or by bugs by 
Micro$oft? And how many talented writers have had their talents destroyed 
by buggy and slow software? 
If I had talent as a writer, Word97 or Word95 or Word 6 or Word 2 would
not stand in my way towards the Nobel Price. As a matter of opinion (maybe 
even fact), Word is a very nice tool for authors because editing is so easy 
and powerful (at least nice on my K6-200 under NT 4.0 with 96 MB RAM 8--) 
- as long as I don't write tables and make my document a mix of portrait and 
landscape, UltraEdit, which I am using now, to humour you, is good, perhaps 
brilliant, but buggy as well. It doesn't give me easy nice-looking formatting, 
it does not give me indices, it doesn't give me tables, and it forces me to 
hand-HTML (or steal Fravia's Nofrills Web Design (-Reversed)). 
It has crashed more times the last three days than Word97 the last 6 months 
when I tried word-wrap of an .exe file (incidentally the service pack 4 for 
NT, which refused to load because USEnglish is not my native language or the 
language of my NT4.0. 
Microsoft steals - but primarily from the rich. 
And forsooth: People PREFER Windoze to DOS programs. 
I myself always hated WordPerfect because I could not remember the function 
key commands, even after daily use for four years. Word 1.0 for Windoze
wasn't any good. Word from 2.0 onwards were the first actual improvements 
compared to WordStar for DOS on the Rainbow, because the quick old keyboard
commands were preserved (not the CtrlQ-commands, though, but I don't miss those).

So, which industry is worst? You can't mean it if you say the software
industry, led by $. You say the advertising industry? But it only takes
advantage of the sad fact that most people are stupid, and buy by the looks 
and the image and not by the function or the need. Fools them into Coca-Cola, 
or Adidas, or Mercedes-Benz, or Philip Morris. So what - people are free to act
stupidly. But the advertising industry does not kill deliberately. They steal 
from the rich because it is more money to earn by stealing from the rich, 
but they steal from everybody - by proxy.

Politicians have killed through the ages. The systems still kill, not
only through warfare and murders. I will not dwell long on the monster
cities of the third world, the corrupt dictators, the banks, the industrial
companies, the tycoons and big bosses, the weapons dealers, the drug dealers, the
currency speculators, those that steal the food out of the mouths of the poor,
and cause irreparable damage to people and environment for very short-term
profits. I think reverse engineering of these conditions are beyond even the
masters - unless it is with a very long perspective. Don't give me the revolution
crap - we need much more sophisticated changes than what the wild dogs and
gorillas can accomplish. But if you go for political change with the means we
possess in combination, through your new pages and by other means, I'll be with
you. All the way, I think.

To illuminate my point: Here is an E-mail message I received the other
day, through one of my channels
HEADLINE: Russia to grant amnesty to prisoners suffering from tuberculosis
      Russian authorities plan to grant amnesty to some inmates
suffering from tuberculosis to better combat the disease that is rampant 
in the country's prisons, a news agency reported Tuesday. Prisoners with
tuberculosis who are serving prison sentences up to two years will be 
released, Justice Minister Pavel Krasheninnikov said, according to the 
Interfax news agency.
      Krasheninnikov said if some of the 90,000 prisoners with TB in
Russia's prisons are released, it will be easier to combat the disease,
which has spread quickly in the overcrowded prisons where conditions are 
abysmal and diseases of all sorts are rife.
      Krasheninnikov has said the government can afford to spend only
67 kopeks (about 4 cents) a day to feed each of its more than 1 million 
prisoners. Russia has one of the highest incarceration rates in the world.

If we choose the politicians as the primary enemy (and there are good
reasons to), we face a secondary adversary: The propaganda machine that 
says we get the government we deserve because we can vote for the 
politicians we like.
And the stupid people who watch TV and read tabloids and believe them, 
are the ones who vote and keep the system legitimate. So for now there 
is little to do with politicians and bosses and speculators. Our 
grandchildren, perhaps, if we can keep continuity going.

But there are worse industries. There are industries that steal
directly from the poor. Industries that ruthlessly directs their research 
and development towards the ailments of the rich, and neglect the needs of 
the poor.
You can see bribery and suppression of information and unethical marketing 
and inferior products and unfair pricing and striving towards monopoly.

So - my rhethorical question: which huge information-heavy sophisticated
hi-tech industries steal from those who can least afford it? Deprive
them of vital necessities? Cheat people of their health and well-being
for huge profits? And how can we do something effective against it?

This is my question. I have some answers, but I'll save them for another
essay - if you, dear Editor, permit me. 

Presently I am your devoted
-H.Cioff (the dash is a minus sign because I am not qualified for +)

(and while I'm waiting for your verdict I play music MP3s: the lovely
Chlepsydre by Pascual Loutchek, played by the inimitable Jon Larsen, and
Trains by and with Al Stewart, the greatest of them all - who is now
without a recording contract, as far as I know, while the crappy Bob
Dylan still has an audience. I think I'm more anti-Dylan than
anti-Microsoft. Guess who writes beautiful lean code - full of magic,
and colours, and who writes buggy, slow, disagreeable code with no music
or magic)