Cracking The Information Curtain

by Tapu
30 October 1998

Reality Cracking


One thing is sure: I don't need to present to my readers Tapu. I may exaggerate, but I believe that there is noone on the web that has even vaguely to do with reverse engineering who hasn't visited Tapu's beautiful site.
I'm glad to publish this small essay, even if there are some (few) points where I don't agree with Tapu (Tapu is so perfectly and deeply 'holy' that -for instance- chooses to ignore the considerable differences that do exist between warez-crackers and anti-warez crackers: I, for instance, wouldn't give any patch to even if I would gladly give all the help needed to reverse any target :-)
Yet she's right: knowledge is that what really matters for all crackers alike, and crackers (all crackers), are, as you may recall, "heirs of an almost extinct race of researchers that has nothing in common with the television slaves and the publicity and trend zombies around us. Cracker should always be capable of going beyond the obvious, seek knowledge where others do not see and do not venture" (paste "heirs of an almost extinct race of researchers" with ", inside altavista and you'll see where I have taken it from :-), moreover, in this curious web-age, maybe for the first time in history, knowledge, 'real' knowledge is de facto freely available, without (almost) any filter at all. It had never happened before, and this may (may) change the world (would be about time!).
Head this 'cracking related' reality cracking. That there is an 'information deprivation' strategy is a deep truth. The society where we live is already -clearly- structured in a "two-tiered system of haves and have nots", and reversing, as a practice and as a philosophy, is indeed a pain in the neck for all parasites and paid lackeys of this awful society of vulgar slavemasters and gullible slaves... Read and enjoy! Let's hope that Tapu will use more often her pen to show us what we are and where we are (or should be) going!


Cracking The Information Curtain

by Tapu, 30 October 1998

Information is power. Armed with that truism, humans have endeavored, since the beginning of time, to withhold information from each other, typically in a group from group format.
Almost every corner of the earth, at one time or another discouraged or forbade the education of women. When European "colonists" invaded the Americas and established race-based slavery, education of slaves was criminalized; the scars and after-effects of this are still present in many parts of the U.S. and Latin America.

While race/religion/sex-based information deprivation still far from extinct, in a general sense, we are moving forward toward a two-tiered rainbow system of haves and have nots, based more on economics than genetics, and while it is unquestionably more difficult for, to use an example, a woman of color in the U.S to accumulate enough assets to move her up into the heady realms of the haves, once she is there, the previous "disadvantages" of being a woman of color magically disappear.

As the media is so fond of telling us, we have now moved from the Stone Age to the Information Age, and Information is rapidly becoming the ticket to punch. The quaintly named "Information Superhighway" itself has punched a large hole in the Formal Education Scam, whereby economic gain could be neatly filtered away from the masses and into the cups of those few who had the resources to pay for impressive sounding diplomas from prestigious institutions, whether they had learned, or had the capacity to learn anything or not.

Today, it does not matter so much if you have three degrees in Ancient History from Harvard. When HugeCo, Inc. has an urgent need for Oracle database programmers, and will gladly pay one $150 an hour, the pertinent question is whether the candidate can program. Note the period at the end of that sentence.

This condition means that Information Deprivation strategies must change. It is no longer sufficient to ensure, through politics, that the poor will have such woefully inadequate elementary educations that they will have little or no chance of developing the kinds of standardized test-taking skills to pass University entrance exams, even if scholarship money can be found. If they can get to a computer, they can educate themselves, in areas of knowledge that the vast majority of politicians know nothing about.

Although the politicians, and many Giants of Industry, see these matters through a glass darkly, if at all, they are aware of the danger here. They can see the slow but sure carmelization of the West, turning on the immutable laws of Mendel and Math, and they must act.

First of all, filtering software. If, they reason, they can limit, on one lofty-sounding pretext or other, the information to which the masses have access, particularly in the formative school-age years, they can nip this thing in the bud. A child who enters url after url, only to be hit each time, with a colorful popup telling her or him to choose another site, will soon lose interest.

Second, and just as important, is keeping software programs inaccessible. A person lacking in means and future opportunity, seeking to better their condition, will not get very far if their self-education is limited to freeware and trial periods of the software commonly used in most businesses.

Software companies, for the most part, are exceptionally cooperative in this endeavor, writing ever larger, more system-resource-consuming behemoths, so that only those with the latest, newest, fastest machines can even run the program at all, even if they are able to acquire it, and that is only the beginning.

Obviously, even if you have managed to gain access to a machine capable of running it, if you do not possess $700 of disposable income, you will be unable to purchase Adobe Photoshop, a basic tool that anyone who aspires to have even the most humble Web Development/Graphics job must know inside and out. And even if you FOUND $700 in the street, and bought Photoshop, and subsequently discovered that it did not meet your needs for whatever reason, you could not return it for a refund, or even credit, as you could if it were a microwave or a flannel shirt.

Making the program extremely large ensures that acquiring it through alternative distribution channels will be a cumbersome, time-consuming process, a process which is in addition, courtesy of the politicians and software companies, criminalized.

It is worth pointing out here that Adobe, could, if they wanted to, do any number of programmatic things to ensure that an alternatively distributed copy of Photoshop would not run. But they choose not to. They choose not to because they KNOW that if you get it, run it, learn it, and become employed, you will in all probability cause your new boss to purchase several licenses for Photoshop.

There are many different flavors of copy protection. Some are "good," in the sense that they are difficult, almost impossible to defeat. Others are cake, and it is the cake that is used by the vast majority of software manufacturers. Why? Is the "good" copy protection so much more expensive? No. See above. With one hand, they distribute programs that are so easy to crack that an evaluation aid appears on the same day that the program is released. With the other hand, they fund the campaigns of politicians who pass laws criminalizing that same evaluation aid.

In this bubbling cesspool of criminalization of self-education and information deprivation fueled by the light of the Holy Grail of maintaining an economic oligarchy at all costs, there are, however, beacons of goodness.

I was privileged, as were many of you during its Golden Days before the arrival of the jack-booted thugs of EFNet, to spend time in #PC98. I do not believe that had I stood with Mother Teresa in her Calcutta hospice, that I would have seen a purer example of selfless, unconditional dedication to giving to the "poorest of the poor."

Just as Harriet Tubman and her ilk sheltered and helped "runaway" slaves on their way to freedom in another century, just as Miguel Hidalgo raised the banner of the Virgen of Guadalupe and gave the grito that freed Mexico from the oppression of Spain, as prison-scarred Nelson Mandela led South Africa out of the darkness of apartheid, so today do Fravia+, +Greythorne, good wizard Saltine, tKC, Nitallica and all the other Phrozens too numerous to mention, Glen Roberts of Nurse Your Net Nanny fame, UCF, tireless Leonardo, Marek of Astalvista, poopzy, the sometimes nameless but always brave couriers, the crackers, the compilers, spend their own resources and risk their own freedom in the name of What is Right.

It is they who know that may be asking for the 3dSMax patch for some superficial or even no reason, but they also know that unless he has the patch, neither he nor they, nor their children will reap the benefits that MAY come from him having it.

They and all who toil with them in the endless task of tearing down the Information Curtain are the Heroes, the Saints, the Freedom Fighters of this Information Age. And, with uncharacteristic optimism, I believe that history will bear me out and record them as such.

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