When last we had checked out the exploits of “Boingthump”, based on the real life hacking then prison then white hat exploits of the two Kevins (Poulson and Mitnick), he had just about entered high school and bought one of the first commercially available computers. That would be the buggy and archaic Tandy TRS-80 which retailed for about $600 bucks back in 1977.
Chapter two, or “Wizzywig 2: Hacker”, starts off answering the question that the main characters ask: “What can we do with it?” From my knowledge of hacking history all of these hacks have occurred and are still occurring. It is interesting to learn that stripping DRM off video games was one of the first hacks that was perfected. Before the World Wide Web, you had to kind of dial up to certain places around the world. Piskor spends a lot of time talking about bulletin board services.
You can follow the evolution of personal computing and you can sort of watch Boingthump’s abilities grow. First he masters the initial Basic assembly code that powers the first computers. He then combines his skills as a phone phreak and social engineer/actor of the highest order to give himself free phone calls and free software. You can also see how his exploits lead him into real trouble. I suppose his greatest hack is walking into a phone company office and stealing everything that he can get his hands on including a key password to one of their central databases. He eventually gets caught and the local press makes him out to be some kind of cyberpunk Menace to Society. It’s like the real you is a cartoony anime person but the person the police and media are drawing is right out of some kind of Robert Crumb crime comic.
Here’s Ed’s representation of the kind of press that Boingthump gets.
Wow. What a bad bad man that fictional Kevin Phrenicle must be. He even spits in court! I suppose in more saner times we would just have given this guy a fine and some probation. But this was a new and scary crime and he was picking on powerful AT & T. I should also add that this show looks very familiar to people who have been watching the press around Julian Assange, most diabolical man in the world who tells you stuff you need to know.
Our fictional character serves almost 8 months in jail. The order of these books is Wizzywig Phreak, Hacker, Fugitive and Prisoner. When you see how horrible his prison experience is you can understand why he becomes a fugitive in the next installment.
Here’s a scene:
I have to admit it seems pretty Hellish. There’s about four or five more pages of this and then the writer ends the show by saying repeat more than 200 times. Overall, just a stunning historical read about major league hackers and hacks. 4.7 out of 5 stars still.