D - Kevin Mitnick in a Row House
Jan 16 2004
<disclaimer> This is a late-night rant, don't read this if you're on duty. This post contains _NO_ useful information, at all! </disclaimer> Just finished watching Takedown (the True Story of catching Kevin Mitnick, world's Most Wanted Hacker), on TV. I just moved from a 4 bedroom detached house to a 2 bedroom row house. But now I have a fireplace. And it competes real successfully with the TV. Half the time I find myself watching the fireplace and only listening to the sound on TV -- even with Law and Order, reruns of Ally McBeal, Stargate, LA Law, John Doe, etc. Having read Cuckoo's Nest way before Kevin ever even started hacking, (by Cliff Stoll), and having recently seen Sneakers, and a few films with Keanu Reeves, gives me the background to say that this film really is a decent depiction of what happened. (Of course, forgiving the Hollywood monitor shots, some virtual exaggeration of the hardware they used, and, of course "some characters may be composites of the originals", and that some scenes were radically altered, to convey the _meaning_ of context vs. actual facts.) But upon the whole, I've seen worse movies about hacking, cracking, computers in general, and human engineering as such. Today I got the Internet working. Two months ago I placed an order at the local phone company about my moving 300yds. They gracefully decided then that Jan 15 was the earliest they could fix my (wire) telephone, and the ADSL Internet hookup. On the 13th the technician phoned me on my mobile telling me he'd come "tomorrow". He never came, but "the day after tomorrow" he came at 4pm, just before I was leaving for a conference with the Kindergarten ladies -- and my ex-wife. You guess the rest. Please stop reading if you're on duty --- now! To err even further from [the world], I had to visit my ex co-hab 'cause I had to deliver to my customer a copy of a CD and I had lost my CD-writer in the move'. (More about that later.) So... er, where was I? Ah, the Mitnick film. It reminded me of the Good Old days, when I was Head of Computer Operations at the Swedish (sic) School of Economics and Business Administration [now called Hanken], in Helsinki, _Finland_. (So there's your "this language in this country".) What really gave me an eerie feeling was, I live a half an hour's drive from the Head Quarters of this "Nokicell" (or was it "Nokicomm"? You get the picture). I also live a 20min drive from the University of Helsinki, where Linux was conceived. This ex of mine was a class mate of Linus. One evening we sat at a bar next to the University of Technology of Helsinki (totally different from Helsinki University) and tried to convince Linus to keep working on his "I dunno, I just wanted to apply the knowledge I found in Tanenbaum's Operating System book". To all of us it was clear [including Ari Lemmke, who actually was the person who coined the name Linux, (with considerable protests from Linus)], that Linux would be a serious contender to the Majority of Market Share, especially when Richard Stallman, [of Emacs, FSF, Lisp, and other fame] with his huge Foundation had had this as his goal for years, and still had had no success at it! (Just try to guess if I'm LOL whenever I see RS trying to prove to the world that Linux is actually "GNU, with a few minor, scattered pieces of Individually Developed SW, like the Kernel".) Good Grief!!!!! Well, anyhow, I've now got my 2-bedroom apartment wired. I have an ADSL connection, cables running from my study to the living room, the kitchen (where I use it the most of the time), the toilet (don't tell your mama), the childrens' room, the living room, the patio, and the Sauna. (Really.) Thank God, I'm behind a variable IP number... Sitting at the fireplace and remembering what all kinds of things we used to do with the guys really got me going. We had a society called 'the Hacker Group' in the '80s, where we used to meet about once a month. One of the guyw was associated with the First Commercial Radio Station in Finland, at the time. He provided us with quarters for celebrating Major Events. His friend was the first person I know to have had a private Unix computer (a Motorola, something) that I know of, and this was about 1983. Oh, and to those who don't know, this building had a huge Sauna. The building had previously been used by the local Fire Department, and they really used the Sauna. Now, it was only used for purposes only privy to those under 20 years of age! Boy had I some unforgettable nights there, especially when the Sauna was in co-use by all the small entrepreneurs who'd gotten installed in the building. Green Vegetables, Shiatsu Massage, Greenpeace, IndyRecords of Finland, Radio City of Finland, and numerous others. Some of them had really nice looking and young staff, and whenever we had a Sauna party on a Friday, all of them came along. And it was usual for the parties to end at 9am. Contrary to local Finnis tradition at the time. For some folks who don't know how we have it in Finland, I gotta tell you, everybody goes to the Sauna if it's heated. Ladies, Mummies, Gentlemen, Daddies, Grannies, Grandpas, kids, celebes, next-door neighbors, everybody. And it's not even considered erotic! Probably that is the reason we have a lot less trouble with pedophilia than some other countries. Quite a lot of people go from the Sauna to an opening in the ice, and dip in the freezing water, neck high! The medical community considers this as extremely beneficial for your health, especially at an older age. (Ugh, I gotta be 200yrs before I'll try the freezing waters!) We used to communicate by Bulletin Boards, operated with CP/M. They were strictly single-user machines, but since we were only about 30 guys, and everybody dialled in to the servers with 300 or 1200 baud modems, all of us had the luxury of quickly reading all of the other comments before we wrote our own. This kept the quality (and signal- to-noise ratio) very high on the boards. With that kind of slow communications it never crossed your mind to state something 'just off-hand'. You rather logged (there was no Download at the time) the discussion, then logged off so others could go on, then you thought about the issues for several hours, or a day, and only then you wrote your post on a text editor, reviewed it, (heck some of us even had peers to review them, so you wouldn't get cauht for off-hand opinions!) and only then uploaded the writings. Yeah, yeah, I told you not to read this post! In the film there was this company called Nokicomm (or whatever), whose Top Secret code Mitnick supposedly got a hold of. I remember, at the time, there were big newspaper headings about some Communist Data-Delinquent having gotten hold of some Very Secret Nokia specs. Well, that's no news to people from here. (Remember having seen the movie The Telephone, (with this guy who played opposite Madonna in Dick Tracy?) Half of that film was actually filmed in Helsinki.) Well, anyhow, with my fireplace this near to both the site of conception of Linux and the site of conception of Nokia Cellular Phones, (oh, and incidentally, I was classmate to Kristiina Kairamo, whose father was a previous chairman of Nokia), I felt a special kind of cold shivers going down my spine when the film talked about "Nokicomm". !!
Jan 16 2004