When I was a kid, my mom used to get frustrated with me when she’d tell me to clean my room and put away my toys. Not because I wouldn’t do it, but because I was so easily distracted. I wasn’t A.D.D. back then (at least to my knowledge), I would just stumble upon toys I’d forgotten I even owned. Then, I’d say something like “Oh, I haven’t played with this in so long!” and spend ten to fifteen minutes playing with that toy. So you can imagine, after doing that two or three times, it would take hours to clean my room. You’d think with all that playing, I’d like cleaning my room more.
Nowadays, I actually prefer it when my bedroom is clean and the house is in order, but I still have the same problem. I forget about things that I own while they’re put away. Then later when I go to look for something, I unearth some fun gadget or other that I’d forgotten about, and get distracted from my original task. Technology changes at such a fast rate that a lot of what I would find would be completely obsolete – which has a certain amount of appeal in geekiness to see if the gadget still works or if someone made a driver to make it work with the latest Windows or Mac operating systems.
Nostalgia plays a big part, too, of course. I’ll pick up an old dial-up modem ISA (the precursor to PCI cards) card and laugh because it’s an outdated standard. Then I’d remember my dial-up bulletin board days before the internet was really popular. I still have a notebook somewhere from junior high when I wrote about the days when I was a gray-hat hacker and the last time I went back and read it I just laughed at myself.
But I was a smart kid and was into a lot of old school computer stuff. I once found a security hole in a library computer catalog system, and was able to telnet into a back-door and look up books I wanted from home and see what was on my account. I had read a book called Secrets of a Superhacker by The Knightmare, which taught me about the very basic hacker mindset – trying stupid tricks that only worked on outdated systems and basic passwords that a lot of people used. If you watch the movie Hackers, the tricks they pulled were about as up-to-date as that book.
Unfortunately, the library and the high school I went to were running such outdated systems. I was able to find out how to break out of the basic LAN School (an IBM product) menu and get to a DOS prompt, from which I found the games directories and also found a folder that had a list of everyone in the school’s social security numbers (back when they used those for login usernames). Some guys who went to a school in another district in my city had broken out and were able to load up a network game of Doom, and taught me how to do the same.
I got in trouble, however, when the student that sat next to me in typing class watched me and figured out how to break out. He started exploring the system and accidentally sent a message to everyone’s screen in every computer lab. He also let it tag his social security number to that message, which got him caught. So of course, he completely ratted me out and I got suspended for two days and he got four.
Ahh, memories. (Oh, incidentally, I stopped being a gray-hat hacker in favor of going to work for the other side as a Help Desk Analyst, which basically lets me be a white-hat hacker.)