Tuesday September 10, 2002 at 10:15 pm

I read a great book over the day and a half; it’s by Jeffery Deaver, the writer of “The Bone Collector”, this book however was nothing like it other than possible the twists and turns he manages to immaculacy string throughout the story. The title is called “The Blue Nowhere”. A brief summary, a hacker has become lost between reality and “The machine World/ The Blue Nowhere” as it’s called in the book, which is basically the net, goes on a rampage transpiring a old MUD game into his everyday life, and begins to target and killing people by cracking personal and government systems. After an officer is killed the California Computer crimes division enlisted the aid of a convict serving time for hacking, as he is the only one at their disposal with the faintest capability of catching the killer. A better description and a copy of the 1st chapter can be located here.

My roommate told me about the book and highly suggested it to me, as it was done with him. Though I tired finding the book online, its intrigue got the better of me. After I read the 1st chapter online, and for the most hounded him into locating his copy out of whatever leftover boxes, were left to be unpacked. His comment to me after handing the metallic blue paperback to me and resuming his position on the couch to proceed to watch Sports Center was “After I read that book, I’ll never look at the net the same again”. Now here I sit at 1:30 am Monday morning, pondering what I’m going to wear to my mundane job in 11 hrs, having finished the book in a day and half, I can see clearly why anyone would think that.

The strange part was I kind of saw it coming, I mean, it’s almost like when I watched the Matrix form the 1st time 6 months before it was even released in theatres. One of the biggest points of the books is that computer and the net are evolving closer together before our very eyes and very few people see it and even fewer understand it. I’m not going to say I’m and elite hacker or that I’m some pseudo character who understand the ends an outs of every network connected to the net, but I do understand and have always seen what’s happening right now. Even during the early days of my computing with my Trash-80, a Tandy TRS-80, one of the 1st personal computer put out commercially on the market, granted at the time I had the attention span and patience of any kid who’s summer revolved around “Where are we skating to today?” and “Do you think you can clear the jump over the creek if crouch down and try and kick the tail out?”. I wrote one program, not even really wrote I copied one program out of the huge manual, the resembled and Webster’s dictionary. The code itself was almost 30 pages long and required an entire day of going back through the code and correcting errors preventing the supposed magical delight to run. Then finally on an almost perfect Sunday afternoon, grounded as usual for the previous weekend’s antics, involving church clothes and borrowed Huffy dirt bike, a take off through church parking lot, down a 40 ft hill, and over a 12 ft creek. I ran the final command and ran the program; a huge colorful explosion came across the screen and with a barrage of tones, then began to almost fade away, and was then replaced with another color, pattern, and tone. This proceeded for what seemed like 5 minutes. Needless to say 3 minutes into it I was wondering whether or not the Black Cats I had kept for the 4h of July would have the same effect if properly attached to a multiple colored packets of Kool-Aid, enclosed within tennis ball soaked in homemade napalm, attached to some speaker wire, swung carefully mind you over head and launched at the correct angle and speed after bouncing of the schools volley ball yard and into sent careening through the air. With that thought I backed up the completed program to one of many tape drives (with the TR-80, it’s tape drive was simply a standard audio tape connected to tape deck which plugged into I believe the serial port on the back of the system) my dad had lying around, labeled it explosion, tossed it in my myriad of tapes, shut the computer off, and never turned it back on again, as well as never saw to run the program again.

I probably would be a complete net head however if what I really wanted would have been possible, but due to my dads cautiousness, or lack of knowledge at the time, he never did allow us to connect it to the phone lines to access BBS’s and other intranet libraries at the time, I was fascinated at the fact that it was possible for my computer to call another computer, just like in war games and I could talk to other people around the entire globe. At 1st my dad response was simply, no, but of course anyone who knows, knows, it was quickly proceeded with a barrage of “how comes?” Fired in such succession that only few, at the time had mastered the art of effectively diverted my attention to other items or buy simply shutting down all attempts in their tracks, and at the time my mother was the only one who could. Finally feeling the tension building within him, I made my fatal mistake and advised him that “I could even talk to other kids on other bases like in War Games”. Let’s just say the response took me a minute to comprehend and then finally realized that my failure was result of not researching enough, and not having a full understanding of my dad job.

My father at the time was a communication specialist working for the Army as a civilian, yet was retired Air Force, and when I mentioned the movie is when I realized that it probably wasn’t the best thing to mention as often time he was being shipped around the country on classified duties, in regards to communication issues. Basically figuring that curiosity would get the better of me, like it usually does, the result would be of course the same as it usually was, I’d do something to set off bells were bells should not be set off thus sending up a nice smoke signal to those around that I had done something I shouldn’t have done, or shouldn’t have access to, resulting of course in me getting in trouble. This was then reinforced when I mentioned that I could talk to him at work and then I wouldn’t get in trouble because I was talking to him and not someone I wasn’t supposed to. He almost laughed, and responded with a look of “Do you realized you’re just digging a bigger and better whole to bury yourself in?” he then explained “that” is what would get me in trouble, and worse yet would get him in trouble. Now that I’m older and have a better understanding I would probably do the same thing, obviously having a secure data link compromised due to your son wanting to talk to you while you’re at work and restricted government facility wouldn’t be looked upon to kindly by my father superiors. The fact remained in my mind for many years and was often caught trying to connect anything from a calculator to my toy Star Trek communication center, which was nothing more than a junked CB radio, crammed in a cardboard and plastic box and often time picked up trucker drivers from Texas to Hawaii when the night were just right, to the phone jacks, in attempts to reach out and touch some other kid out there doing the same thing.

Many years alter I was finally able to experience it through the help of my former roommate and Dj mentor Tom. I can probably say everything I know about computer is his fault *LOL*, but I wouldn’t replace it for anything. At first it was simply AOL chat rooms and being able to talk to someone in another country without the international calling charges, and later moved to VIRC. The need for knowledge was soon replaced with my yearning to be Dj and the computers were soon replaced with turntables and records, though the intrigue still lingered on. It amazed me that Tom knew about both and was somewhat willing to tech me about it, though he would prefer to teach me about computers than Dj’ing as it is a skill that takes many more years to master, nonetheless it perplexed me why other didn’t know anything about this whole other world that was out there in digital domains of the globe.

While unpacking some years ago I ran across the tape and thought absolutely nothing of it, and possibly discarded it. I wish I hadn’t, as my parents still have the old Trash 80, as well as the tape deck, I would have like to see if it still ran and seen if any of my knowledge of today’s systems could have modified it at all. That same day I also ran across the Matrix movie CD I had created some time ago, an also thought nothing of it.

It wasn’t until I read the book that my theory was not necessarily confirmed but more or less agreed upon, and that is that to this day people still don’t realize how much computers and the net play in their lives, yet they don’t seem to realize the extent of it. It’s almost as if there is a true matrix so to speak and that only those that deal with the field or have an interest in it seem to realize it, and even then very few understand it. At the same time I realize there are people in the world that still take absolute amazement in the fact that they can watch moving pictures with sound from a box sitting in their living room. I realize that analogy was quite extreme, yet it still holds truth. It’s as if half of those that do use the computer and the net are on the bottom half of the curve, preventing the rest of the evolution or mergence of the two reality and virtual reality from coming together, Simply because of the lack of knowledge in the technology, thus unwillingness to invest their buying power into it, or the simple fact they are the other few that simply refuse to acknowledge to fact that it is inevitable and still sit in awe at the fact hey can play solitaire without the use of real playing cards. I say this simply due to the fact, of for example mp3’s. Mp3’s have been around for years and have been readily available without any issue on the net for nearly 7 yrs. Yet it seems that only within the last 1 or 2 that the mainstream public has become aware of it, the same goes for chatting. Chatting goes back to the days of private messaging on IRC channels in the 70’s. Yet only within the last few years has chat clients and chatting become the rave of the public. Nearly 20 years from something so simple to become so wide spread.

I remember not to long ago when, everything I did was over the net, and the little I couldn’t do was preventing by the service not being available in my area. I paid bills, online, bought movie tickets online, worked from home online, I even bought my 1st car online, and if it were available I would have ordered groceries online and had them delivered. My life was split in 3 parts, the virtual, the real and the in between. The in between was the portion that was done online and reflected in RT (real time). The RT portion went to work has a helpdesk technician for a Computer manufacture. The VT (virtual time) portion, well simply the VT did many things, and I’ll admit not all of them were good, but for the most part harmless. And like so many I had began to start seeing, something happen in VT that had a profound effect in RT, and I left the virtual realm, for at the time seemed to be for good, as I had little intention on returning and if I did not in the manner if which I was before. Even today the effects are still lasting, yet, now the desire for knowledge, the urge to want to reach out across, what in RT could be unattainable, grows and hungers for it once again. I’ve heard some say I was addicted to the net. I definitely wouldn’t go that far, seeing as most addicts can’t go weeks without their fix, whereas I’ve gone months if not years with little or no online interactions. Net Head, maybe, Net Junky, definitely not, unlike some others I know, my life doesn’t revolve around the net, mine simply finds it more efficient and interesting to incorporate it

I suppose the biggest thing I took away from reading “The Blue Nowhere”, was the fact that some people are meant to do things in life and no matter what one does to change that, we all have a calling, a desire that we yearn for and to deviate from that desire or calling is a grave injustice to ones self “To thine own self be true…”

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