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Old 12 March 2020, 08:36   #41
Galahad/FLT
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Originally Posted by AmigaHope View Post
The whole elite/lamer dichotomy was pretty stupid and silly in general. Ultimately it was meaningless -- we all were just copying software. I mean, out of the scene came many people I genuinely look up to for their coding skills -- both in their ability to reverse-engineer (like you, Galahad) and in their ability to create great demos, and games when they moved on from the scene, but I sort of chafe at the sense of superiority some people in the scene had just because they were getting releases out faster, like they were somehow better human beings. But it's exciting when you're 14 and are getting unlimited ratio because of your skills. =P I struggled to be elite and not a lamer but now I realize how I was just using it as a crutch due to having zero social status in real life.

The skills were real (and made me a lot of money later in life), but I'm not especially proud of how I gauged my self-worth with them.

For all the talk sysops made bitching about freeloaders who couldn't keep their ratio, ultimately everyone was a freeloader. We all were. I didn't know a single person with a (non-business) computer who wasn't.

In the end I wish I could go back and give us all an Amiga equivalent of gog.com, or the humble store, etc. Easily available, DRM-free, affordable. Bedroom coders back then would have shit themselves at how awesome it is.

The warez scene would probably still exist (as it does today), but I think it would have been a lot different.



There were way more elegant ways to make the calls anyway. A lot of groups relied way too heavily on basic cards, but after blue boxing stopped working it was all they knew how to do. xD ANI spoofing was a big one, you could do whatever you wanted then coupled with other services. Just bill everything to a line that already made tons of expensive calls and nobody would audit it.
I wouldn't get too hung up on the term "lamer", back then it might have been derogatory, nowadays in the rare cases I use the name, its simply to describe someone that played no real part in the Amiga scene other than to copy games.
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Old 12 March 2020, 09:20   #42
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All these memories of that era, have they been written down in a book or some other publication? If not, maybe an idea for a book Galahad. Maybe jointly with some "colleagues" of the time?
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Old 12 March 2020, 16:25   #43
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Originally Posted by Galahad/FLT View Post
I wouldn't get too hung up on the term "lamer", back then it might have been derogatory, nowadays in the rare cases I use the name, its simply to describe someone that played no real part in the Amiga scene other than to copy games.
If i remember good, among musicians a "lamer" was someone like me that had no cash for proper equipment and did rip mods to get samples - still have a huge library at home in my 1200, even though later on i got a second hand crappy sound sampler
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Old 12 March 2020, 18:21   #44
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Generally in addition to being referred by someone you also had to upload something before you would be accepted onto the bbs.

The reason for this was so that:

a) It was believed that by asking people to upload illegal warez it would be considered entrapment if it was the law enforcement trying to get access. They would also often ask direct questions when you first logged on as a new user, such as 'are you a member of law enforcement?' and they also often had statements prior to logon saying things like 'This is a private BBS system and not open to members of law enforcement'.

b) if you uploaded a scene release in the correct format and it was a very recent release it could show the sysop that you had access to 0 day releases.

It was not uncommon for disabled ratios to be given to the best traders but they would soon be taken away if they were abused. Often people wanted the kudos of seeing thair name up in the weektop bulletins or the all time top uploaders bulletins so that was enough to keep a lot of people trading.
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Old 12 March 2020, 18:31   #45
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a) It was believed that by asking people to upload illegal warez it would be considered entrapment if it was the law enforcement trying to get access. They would also often ask direct questions when you first logged on as a new user, such as 'are you a member of law enforcement?' and they also often had statements prior to logon saying things like 'This is a private BBS system and not open to members of law enforcement'.
Which was funny and naive that we believed that. xD

The truth was that for a long time law enforcement just didn't care enough to go to the trouble of investigating. They had better things to do. Now they *love* doing online investigations because there's zero physical risk and it makes corporate lobbyists happy.

Quote:
I wouldn't get too hung up on the term "lamer", back then it might have been derogatory, nowadays in the rare cases I use the name, its simply to describe someone that played no real part in the Amiga scene other than to copy games.
Oh I'm not hung up on it now, it only mattered to me back then. When I was a 10-year-old-kid and first called into a board and was called a lamer it was pretty crushing though. Now that I look back on it it wasn't really any different than the social group hierarchy I hated at school, it's just the criteria for what was cool was different, and since I had technical skills I had a chance.
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Old 12 March 2020, 18:55   #46
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There are still a handful of scene bbs still up and running today. They generally have a large collection of old scene files online and a few new uploads here and there (generally demos trainers etc).

They are mostly run for the nostalgia factor because those days were an amazing time where we not only managed to trade the latest releases but made many friends in an online world that didn't exist yet for the majority of people.

If anyone has an interest in this stuff and never got to see what these systems were like then go find one that is still around, grab dctelnet and log on. Obviously you won't see the large numbers of callers, files and messages flying around like it was back in the day but you can still get a feel for it.

Last edited by Phantasm; 13 March 2020 at 14:36.
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Old 12 March 2020, 21:49   #47
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I really like your stories and the down to earth approach to this subject. It would make for a cracking memoir. I lived in UK (well, London :P) for many years and can easily imagine a bunch of council estate haxxor-scallywags and characters like that "crazy Mark" from the market
As far as I can see it's pretty much the same now, lots of hackers/script kiddies who are arrested and end up in the press now are often kids.

The main difference is you now have bitcoin meaning there is serious money to be made.

When I think back we were just bored and poor. It took me a year to save up for an amiga doing a horrible 5am paper round (aged 11!) every morning then my grandparents felt pity and threw in the extra cash.

There was no way we could afford games so learning to crack them and getting involved in BBSs was the only way. We could not afford the phone bills thus PBXing.

Then we got busted and we grew up. I still remember that guy from BT who did all the busting (was his name patterson?) and worked in their fraud unit, people used to write horrible things about him on the BBSs but TBH he gave me my computer equiptment back and was actually an alright guy, Doom had just been released and we talked about it at length. He also turned a blind eye to all the p0rn0 images on my HDD which was cool of him (I was super worried my gran would find out about that).

The courts were super lienient on us and off we went to 6th form and uni and a life working in tech. Had to start somewhere.

I agree it would make a good film, showing how it really was, not the usual glossy hacker films.

Galahad/FLT I thought you were a teenager back then too? How old were you?
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Old 12 March 2020, 22:06   #48
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We weren't just a bunch of teenagers. Galahad and I are both of a similar age. I was in my early twenties when I was involved in the scene and I don't remember it just being a bunch of teenagers. I'd say more like twenty or thirty somethings. I mean running a bbs for example as not something a teenager would easily be able to afford. You generally needed expensive hardware and multiple dedicated phone lines. You couldn't just use your parents phone line and hope they didn't want to use it.

Last edited by Phantasm; 13 March 2020 at 14:36.
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Old 12 March 2020, 22:25   #49
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Sent from my I3213 using Tapatalk
Heya Phantasm,

As per Rules & Help, can you please remove the "Tapatalk" signature?

I know it sounds a bit anal; but people get annoyed; see this thread.

Cheers
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Old 13 March 2020, 00:06   #50
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As per Rules & Help, can you please remove the "Tapatalk" signature?

I know it sounds a bit anal; but people get annoyed; see this thread.
Only lamers would forget to turn off their Tapatalk signatures
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Old 13 March 2020, 00:12   #51
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Hahahahaha
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Old 13 March 2020, 00:24   #52
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I think the warez side of things was the least of the worries for law enforcement... the main issue was with the illegal use of stolen AT&T calling cards that were used by European traders to call the US based BBS's .. as well as other phone "hacking" methods
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Old 13 March 2020, 07:15   #53
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The cops never gave a shit about warez. They still don't. Many of them probably have hard drives full of ISO's themselves.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Galahad/FLT
I wouldn't get too hung up on the term "lamer", back then it might have been derogatory, nowadays in the rare cases I use the name, its simply to describe someone that played no real part in the Amiga scene other than to copy games.
It's still a derogatory term mate. I believe these days best suited to the people who still release closed source software and hardware for the Amiga. No interest in the machine's future, just in it for monetary gain. Now that's what I call lame. Obviously I am not including games in this statement.

Last edited by Hewitson; 13 March 2020 at 07:24.
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Old 13 March 2020, 08:01   #54
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Obviously I am not including games in this statement.
Why not? Isn't it a bit hypocritical to rag on software/hardware developers for doing closed source development but not hold game makers up to the same standards?
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Old 13 March 2020, 10:46   #55
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How did PBXing and other stuff with Phones work?
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Old 13 March 2020, 12:39   #56
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How did PBXing and other stuff with Phones work?

PBX (Private Branch eXchange) was a toll-free (0800 in the UK) number that would end up at a dial-tone, where if you knew the s3kr3t k0d3 (usually a 4-6 digit 'PIN') you could then make an on-going call that would be billed to the owner of the toll-free number. They existed for travelling employees (sales reps, etc) to bill their calls to their employer - but many enterprising young phone phreaks also made use of them :P


AT+T cards were basically the same, you called a toll-free number and billed the call to 'your' calling card, no matter where you were in the world. Back in the day these were 'hacked' (social-engineered) from poor unsuspecting Americans, but in later years people on the scene created their own cards (it just required social security number + other info, all available on credit databases with little or no security) and/or hacked into places that held databases of cards...


Then there was blue-boxing - I recommend reading "Exploding the phone" by Phil Lapsley, although it's very US-focused it's basically the same story as the rest of the world
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Old 13 March 2020, 13:46   #57
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The ratio also depended on your standing in the scene. If you were a member of a group the board was affiliated with or otherwise elite or knew the sysop personally, you often had disabled ratios.
Indeed. It is always important to know the key people and be kind enough (or something else) that they also want to know you back
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Old 13 March 2020, 14:40   #58
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The phone numbers definitely started disappearing in the later years when there had been a few sysops busted. The files the were downloaded from the bbs's were often full of ascii bbs adds as well which all had phone numbers in that were added by each bbs it had passed through - they often also contained new user passwords or system passwords as well.
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Old 13 March 2020, 14:44   #59
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How did PBXing and other stuff with Phones work?
Usually knowing how to log in to their internal system. I only ever came across a straight up dial tone once.

Usually you log in (pass codes easy to crack, unlimited attempts, write script to get the modem to do it for you), do it at night so no one is there. (this stuff still works, phone up any automated system and try pressing hash or star and see if you can get a login request)

Once in, see if they have a call redirect (access system menu).

Figure out the outgoing pass code (usually just 9).

Set system to redirect calls on an unused extension.

Call up, request extension (usually this could be done without speaking to anyone), it connects you to whatever outside number you want.

Often because it was a phonecall to a line to an outside number quality would be reduced and you would never get more than 14.4kbps but it didn't really matter.

One funny story was we once chose a *used* extension by accident. This was with cocacola's system and it ended up with my friends mother getting all these redirected calls because we left it as his number (we used to exchange wares with each other at night).

Anyhow Cocacola realised what was happening and rather than actually investigate it they assumed someone had made a cockup at their end and sent my friends mother a bunch of flowers and a load of Coke merchandice to say sorry.

Also, I didn't mean to imply BBS owners were kids, I was talking about spreading the wares and cracking. BBS owners had balls of steel running those in plain sight.

Often most BBSs had hidden warez areas, the only one which I believe really (despite the rumours) didn't was digital candy.
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Old 13 March 2020, 18:44   #60
Galahad/FLT
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As far as I can see it's pretty much the same now, lots of hackers/script kiddies who are arrested and end up in the press now are often kids.

The main difference is you now have bitcoin meaning there is serious money to be made.

When I think back we were just bored and poor. It took me a year to save up for an amiga doing a horrible 5am paper round (aged 11!) every morning then my grandparents felt pity and threw in the extra cash.

There was no way we could afford games so learning to crack them and getting involved in BBSs was the only way. We could not afford the phone bills thus PBXing.

Then we got busted and we grew up. I still remember that guy from BT who did all the busting (was his name patterson?) and worked in their fraud unit, people used to write horrible things about him on the BBSs but TBH he gave me my computer equiptment back and was actually an alright guy, Doom had just been released and we talked about it at length. He also turned a blind eye to all the p0rn0 images on my HDD which was cool of him (I was super worried my gran would find out about that).

The courts were super lienient on us and off we went to 6th form and uni and a life working in tech. Had to start somewhere.

I agree it would make a good film, showing how it really was, not the usual glossy hacker films.

Galahad/FLT I thought you were a teenager back then too? How old were you?
Im 46 now if thats any clue, but early 20's when in Fairlight.
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