Archive for September, 2010

Hackers Turns 15

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

Do you remember hacking The Gibson? How about that place where you put that thing that time? Last week, the film Hackers turned fifteen years old. Now normally, when a film turns fifteen years old (or more often ten years old) it gets some sort of special treatment with a re-release containing no less than three discs in some collectible tin case with little extras wrapped up in the package. With Hackers, this isn’t the case. The film isn’t even available on Blu-ray yet.

Now, while many people might brush this film under the carpet as a loose end of the 90′s, there still exists a small group fanatics that watch the movie over and over again celebrating it yearly. Who are these fanatics? You might be surprised to know that the people who keep this movie alive are probably the people who dislike it the most: hackers. Yep, above it all, people involved in the computer industry love this movie. It’s campy, it’s nostalgic, and it’s downright entertaining.

Despite this, there are many people involved in hacking culture that find this movie damaging. Not only does it perpetuate the use of the word “hacker” to mean someone who breaks into computer systems to cause chaos, but also detracts from the image with the almost “too hip” feeling of the movie. Personally, I’m a fan of the movie due to the fact that I find it to be very interesting. It plays into the fear of technology and provides something of a time capsule for the mid 1990s. There is humor around every corner of this movie if you know where to look.

Region 2 artwork

Despite this movie being forgotten by film companies, many still strive to keep it alive. For example, Infonomicon released the Hackers on Hackers commentary a few years back. The commentary itself is both informative and comparable to MST3K. There is also a planned anniversary party for those die-hard fans out there slated for next week in NYC.

Who knows if Hackers will ever get a proper DVD or Blu-ray release (Criterion, here’s hoping) but as long as there is one DVD or worn VHS tape, this film will continue to live on at hackerspaces and file sharing networks. Copying a garbage file has never been so interesting.

The End of Vox

Thursday, September 9th, 2010

At the end of the month, Vox is closing their doors for good. For those who missed it, Vox was a blogging platform. Made public in 2006, Vox took off as something more of a social blogging site. You had friends on the site in the form of “neighbors” who you could connect to and be updated whenever they made a new post. At the time, there weren’t many other outlets in the blogging family. You basically had WordPress and Blogger, the latter just being WordPress based anyway. So when Vox came out, it attracted a lot of attention and really caused something of a social blogging revolution. Since Vox, there have been different takes on the idea with sites like Tumblr and their use of followers, but the true essence of Vox hasn’t been duplicated on any other platform.

I started my first blog on Vox. I only had maybe two or three posts there, but I loved the platform as a way to keep in touch with my friends. If you have ever made friends on an IRC channel, you know that just about everyone has their own blog, and these can be hard to keep track of. When 30 people all have their blogs in one place, this becomes much much more manageable. The popularity of Vox soon dwindled. I remember even back when I was using it, people were closing their accounts up within months of starting them. I soon closed down mine as well and adapted the posts I had there to a Drupal installation on a shared hosting account myself and my friends had. After that, it was from one WordPress installation to another and who knows what the future holds.

While free blogging platforms are still surviving, serious users will always be tempted to go bigger and better and get their own hosted CMS with plugins and extensions. While Vox may seem like a lost site with no merit, it holds a place as a stepping stone for many bloggers and will definitely be missed as time goes on.