The Lost Days of Robin Hood Hackers
Back in the day, I used to steal software. All the programs on my machine were stolen or cracked or hacked. Everything. The programs used to just be out there. Posted on websites or found through early P2P programs like Scour. The overall attitude was paying for software was for suckers. Photoshop. Games. Operating Systems. Anti-virus software. It was all out there for the taking really. It was really a free-for-all literally. Software didn't seem real anyway. It wasn't physical. It was just copies of stuff. And software companies didn't seem to really know how technically protect their licenses.
Besides it being all free-- the extra nice part about it was there was a purity to the hackery. You could feel it through the web. It was easy to picture the person hacking the program was just some 15 year old kid who liked doing it. As a project. And the people that were making these programs available to the general public were just nerds who liked the attention and pseudo robin hood hero stature. Sure it was wrong of course but at the time (90's maybe spilling over into early 00's) all those software companies were getting crazy rich anyway-- so it took the edge off the guilt.
It was pretty easy too. Basically, all you really had to do was Google it... or umm.... at the time... um... Infoseek it? Astalavista.sk it. Or whatever. There were 'warez' sites that pretty much just posted stuff for free. Crackz. Appz. And Serialz. I'd take down a demo version of a program then just basically grab a text file with a string of serial numbers on it. By the 10th try usually one worked. Or there was a keygen program that generated a fresh serial number for you. These little programs were always weirdly set to the tune of annoying midi metal music branded with the 'Gang' that produced it. Once I even ordered a CD via snail mail with like 10 serious programs on it. For like $20. Burned and sent to my actual house. That was sloppy but it seemed safe then.
But those days of public piracy are long gone. I could blame the end of that world on software companies getting smarter about stuff- but I don't think that's what killed it really. I think people would still be putting effort into the game of public distribution-- if it was worth it. But it ain't anymore. What really killed it was when the whole scene got corrupted by cootified shady commercial interests. Keygens started carrying weird garbage trojans that would do lazy crap like overwrite your homepage setting in IE to some crap search engine. Or serve you popups when you restart. And the programs themselves started to get screwy or screwed with... or they didn't work at all after long downloads. Corrupted zips and such.
Eventually I dropped out of stealing stuff altogether. And I'd like to say that the moral issue was the trigger for me playing it straight nowadays. And that's part of it. But the truth is what pushed me into going legit with software--- was when I wasn't able to trust what I was stealing anymore.
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