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February 10th, 2004


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02:27 pm - Bookstore paranoia
I admit it. I read 2600 magazine.

I've read it since I was in high school. I guess there was a time when I might've used whatever knowledge I gained from 2600 for not entirely wholesome purposes (oh, like you didn't install a password logger on your middle school computer network), but now that I'm not 13 years old, there's plenty of information there that's still useful to those of us not interested in breaking into "secure" networks or learning how the Barnes and Noble computer system works.

Last night, though, was a weird experience.

Last night I went to the East Side Borders on my way home from work to pick up the newest issue.

I was looking for 2600 on the magazine rack. It's a smaller publication than most magazines, and other customers tend to accidentally shove the entire stack behind something else (I've seen it happen -- it's the other customers). Borders also shelves the new copies anywhere between the day they're supposed to hit the store and two weeks later. Sometimes they fly off the shelves really quickly. These factors make finding a copy of 2600 a little more difficult than finding a copy of oh, say, Naked Broads With Guns (which is also more prominently displayed).

So I was scanning the shelves as one of their sales associates was taking inventory or something. I was standing behind her, and she noticed me.

"Oh! You must be looking for the new two-sixty oh."

I said "Yeah, I am, how did you know?"

"My boss recognized you when you came in. He said you always come for the new two-sixty oh."

I don't know what I said next -- probably something along the lines of "yeah, that's me." I took my magazine, looked at the current issue of Heavy Metal (known in some circles as Naked Broads with Aliens), and wandered over to one of their PC terminals to look for something. Another sales associate practically ran to get there before I did.

"Can I help you?" she asked, obviously craning her neck to see the magazine in my hand, as if she was checking to make sure that I'd grabbed 2600 and not Reader's Digest or something of a similar size and shape.

"I was going to see if you have a book in stock."

"What book? I'll look it up for you."

"The List of 7 by Mark Frost."

"Oh, the guy that made The X-Files, right?"

"No, he's the Hill Street Blues guy."

Fun Fact™ #761: Mark Snow composed music for The X-Files. Mark Frost wrote and directed episodes of Hill Street Blues (which I've never seen), co-created Twin Peaks with David Lynch, and is a writer on the upcoming Fantastic Four movie. I think the woman at Borders thought I was confused, though.

She looked it up, said she could order it, I decided not to, etc., etc., etc.... Anyway, I got to the checkout, and the woman there had to look at both me and the magazine for a long time before she decided I could buy it. Actually, from the look on her face, I'd guess she was more surprised that such a magazine existed than suspicious that I was buying it.

I'd like to tell myself that this was an atypical experience. In fact, I'd chalk it all up to the kind of paranoia we all sometimes experience during a particularly stressful day, except for the fact that the "my boss recognized you" comment really freaked me out. 2600 occasionally publishes letters about people losing their jobs for reading it at work, or from network administrators who have been told not to have the magazine on the premises. More frequent are letters from readers whose local bookstore carries 2600 behind the counter, covers up the word "hacker" on the cover, or asks for ID whenever the magazine is purchased. Borders and Barnes and Noble are frequent offenders, probably for no reason other than fact that they have so many branches. Still, I'm unsettled by the fact that although I'm at Borders at least twice a month, they know me as "the guy who buys 2600" -- a quarterly publication which sells well at that particular store.

So um, the next question is: Is there anywhere else in Madison I can pick up 2600? Mikey? I'm looking at you, if you're actually reading this, 'cuz I know you sometimes buy it. Nelson's Pick-A-Book used to carry it... when they still existed. Barnes and Noble doesn't seem to, and I haven't checked the University Bookstore recently.
Current Mood: uncomfortableuncomfortable
Current Music: Information Society -- Hack

(17 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:sacredspud
Date:February 11th, 2004 05:57 am (UTC)

Re: Three! You have three last chances

(Link)
Well, let's see:

A) This could help, depending on the employee and depending on the manager. On the other hand, 2600 has, as I recall, published plenty of uh, technical specs relating to the network Borders uses, so they can certainly refuse service to me or have me kicked out, especially if they believe (even erroneously) that I represent a threat to their business or their customers. That's their legal right.

2) This could again work, but if you'll recall the nipples/syrup incident in Denny's, I might end up embarrassing you. That have a coffee shop in Borders, so they must have flavored syrup. Hmmmm...

D) Given the current political climate, subscribing to 2600 right now seems like a very bad idea.

51) I thought you were talking about Wells Fargo. Those bastards. I have a savings account with them which I haven't touched since I was sixteen because every time I try to deposit something, they tell me I don't have an account there, and then, a few hours later, they call back saying they'd found some missing records, and yes, I can make my deposit now. This happened twice before I decided to start banking elsewhere, and I've just never bothered moving the Wells Fargo accounts. I suggest that you transfer yours, if possible to another bank or credit union or mattress or whatever.

I doubt very much that all Wells Fargos are like that. I think it's just their Stoughton branch.
[User Picture]
From:evil_jim
Date:February 11th, 2004 07:31 am (UTC)

Nice red uniforms

(Link)
What exactly is 2600, anyway? I guessed it was a retro home console mag or something. Hence, great confusion over the whole problems-with-clerks thing. Maybe they just don't like your mustache.

And I've never seen you as threatening, except with that isolated "prairie" incident. But I don't think about that anymore.

The branch in question is actually Financial Acceptance in Madtown. There was a lot of red tape when I tried to get the loan in the first place last year.
[User Picture]
From:angelic667
Date:February 11th, 2004 05:57 pm (UTC)

Re: Nice red uniforms

(Link)
2600 is a hacking magazine. It's been around for a long time (as long as or longer than Phrack? I'm not sure). I have a nifty 2600 t-shirt with the assembly source code of the michaelangelo virus.
[User Picture]
From:sacredspud
Date:February 11th, 2004 07:44 pm (UTC)

Re: Nice red uniforms

(Link)
That's right 2600 is the self-proclaimed "Hacker Quarterly." The most recent issue contains articles with titles such as "Holes in Windows 2003 Server," "How to Mess with Citibank Collections," and "Living Without an SSN."

They publish all kinds of stuff like this, taking a very "laizzes faire" approach -- 2600 disseminates the information, it's readers decide what to do with it. Naturally, this means that the information is going to make its way into the hands of both people who will benefit from it (such as people who use an article like "Holes in Windows 2003 Server" to secure their computer network) and people who will exploit it (such as people who will use the same article for malicious purposes). While one might question 2600's motives in supplying this information to the general public, the simple fact is that if security holes (for example) exist, people are going to find and exploit them. 2600 proudly publishes a few letters every month from network administrators who read the magazine to locate the security holes in their systems.

There's also plenty of information for those of us who are just looking to customize our operating system or learn about new technologies or control our car stereos through a PC. That was in one of the last few issues... Anyway, if I use the PC terminals in Borders, it'll be to browse their inventory, but I don't blame them for being squeamish about carrying a magazine that occasionally details the inner workings of their network.

As for Phrack, I did the research ('cuz I'm a dork), and the first issue of Phrack was released on November 17th, 1985. The first issue of 2600 came out in 1984. As far as I can tell from the article index on their site, they released 12 issues per year between 1984 and 1987, beginning the quarterly format in 1989. This suggests that the first issue of 2600 was published in January of 1984, predating Phrack by almost two years. Yeah, did I mention that I'm a dork?
[User Picture]
From:angelic667
Date:February 11th, 2004 07:58 pm (UTC)

Re: Nice red uniforms

(Link)
Nice work doing the research that I was too lazy to do. ;-) What's the reference to uniforms?
[User Picture]
From:sacredspud
Date:February 11th, 2004 08:00 pm (UTC)

Re: Nice red uniforms

(Link)
I have no idea. Perhaps it's in reference to Wells Fargo? I haven't been in there recently enough to have noticed. Evil_Jim?

Incidentally, why aren't you on my friends list yet? I'll have to fix that as soon as I post this.
Bookstore paranoia - Garmonbozia for the soul. — LiveJournal

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