Hacker and Nerd - Hacking by Solis Tech: How to Hack Computers, Basic Security and Penetration Testing (2014)

Hacking by Solis Tech: How to Hack Computers, Basic Security and Penetration Testing (2014)

Chapter 12: Hacker and Nerd

Being a hacker does not necessarily make one a nerd. Also, hackers are not necessarily social outcasts who frequently resort to living life online. However, being both a hacker and a nerd can be a tremendous advantage. And incidentally, most hackers are nerds and are sort of social outcasts. It is more related to the demands and rigors of hacker life other than a requirement. Writing open-source programs, testing and debugging all take time. The more complex a program or bug is, the more time is required to fix or solve it. Hence, hackers do tend to spend more time facing a computer than being out there and socializing like the rest of the world. Also, some serious hackers prefer to spend more time talking with people of the same interests than spend precious time on non-hacking activities.

This is one community that takes the label “geek” with pride. It’s one way of declaring their independence and non-compliance with societal standards and expectations. Another is that most hackers tend to share the same interests, extending from hacking activities to science fiction and strategy games. It keeps their problem-solving and critical thinking skills sharpened.

Also, hacking does not mean forsaking socializing physically (i.e., in person) with others. If a person can be a good hacker while still maintaining friendships and activities outside of hacking, it’s totally fine. Beginners would just expect that there might be times when they would be spending more time online with some hacking activities and may have to miss out on some of mainstream socializing.

Hacker mindset

In order to fully understand and embrace the hacking life, understand what the mindset of a hacker is. For one thing, hacking is not everything. The hacking community does not expect every hacker to be a nerd, to be social outcasts and to live fully and solely for hacking. In fact, there are a few non-hacking activities that can help in improving one’s hacking skills. Some of these are:

Writing coherently

What does being able to write well in English or native language have to do with hacking? It’s for better communication skills. Again, hackers mainly communicate with written texts through emails, through program codes, through newsrooms, or through chats.

One stereotype about hackers is poor communication skills. Common portrayals of hackers are people who can’t spell, have poor writing skills and poor grammar, and are unable to express themselves well. There are a few but the great hackers are those who are at least able, if not great, writers. The ability to communicate through written texts is crucial in communicating with programmers, software developers, and other organizations that may be seeking their help or advice. Also, it’s a great advantage in learning and appreciating puns and word play. It’s great mental practice among hackers. It also is a form of entertainment, especially during stressful hacking activities. Also, it helps in sharpening their vocabularies and other language skills.

Other things that can help in hacking include:

Reading science fiction is common among hackers. It promotes imagination, fuels creativity, and helps in sharpening one’s critical thinking. Creativity is part of the core of hacking and one of the best ways to hone it is through science fiction. Aside from reading, attending science fiction conventions can also help. It’s also one great way to meet proto-hackers and hackers in person, which also promotes better relations with the community.

Martial arts may seem completely unrelated to hacking, but practicing it can help in improving one’s hacking skills. Martial arts incorporate mental discipline that can help a person in focusing during hacking activities. This mental discipline also helps one in getting through long hours of tedious or challenging testing, debugging, or writing programs. There are quite a number of serious hackers that train in martial arts. Popular martial arts among these hackers are Aikido, Kung Fu, Karate, Western fencing, and Jiujitsu. Some also practice pistol shooting. Martial arts that can help improve hacking skills and performance include those that put more emphasis on precise control, relaxed awareness, and mental discipline. The best martial arts for hackers are those that do not require much physical toughness, athleticism or raw strength, which does not help much in actual hacking.

Studying meditation disciplines also help. It can help in retaining focus in midst of long, tedious hacking work or when program issues seem to be too overwhelming. An example is Zen, which is also an actual favorite among the hackers. This does not mean having to give any current religious beliefs in exchange for these meditation beliefs. It’s just meant to aid in keeping a calm and focused mind because hacking can turn hectic, mind numbing, and draining. Also, when choosing any meditation technique, choose one that does not require you to embrace some far-off, wacky, or totally nonsensical ideology.

These activities help in keeping the mind focused and strong despite performing some mentally draining activities. Also, it helps in improving the functioning of the right and left hemispheres of the brain. Hacking requires good functioning of both sides of the brain, which are for logical reasoning (right hemisphere) and for creativity (left hemisphere). Also, hackers often find themselves having to use logical reasoning and then take steps beyond logic at a moment’s notice. Exercises or non-hacker activities like these can help with that quick transition whenever needed.

Also, learn how to “work hard, play hard”. It’s one of the hacker’s ideologies to work as hard as one plays and to play as hard as one works. Boundaries between what constitute work and what is considered play seem blurred in the eyes of a true hacker. They treat their work as fun, like playing, but still serious enough to provide credible and outstanding results.