David Madore's WebLog: Gratuitous Literary Fragment #34 (hackers)

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Gratuitous Literary Fragment #34 (hackers)

—That door…

—That it?

—Yeah. Need you to hack it open.

—“Crack” it open.

—No, don't crack it! You can't break it, it…

But before Ralph could finish, the shorter hacker was pouring a stream of explanations as to the meaning of the verb “to hack”. Not that he hadn't been warned: “These guys are a couple of geniuses… genii… very intelligent folks, but you have to be careful about every word you use when you talk to them.” Besides that, another piece of advice had been that Ralph should not on any account allow them to start talking about something called ITS, which is exactly what the hacker was now rambling about, so, quickly, Ralph interrupted:

—Whatever. Get it open. But don't trigger the alarm, of course.

—Easy job.

In every movie Ralph had seen, it took the genius whiz-kid roughly half an hour to do the hacking bit. He asked:

—How long do you think it will take you?

—Uhm, half an hour, maybe?— the short hacker answered.

—Taking into account Hofstadter's law— the tall one added.

—Which is?

—“It always takes longer than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter's law.”

—So make it a fifteen minutes.

Ralph didn't even try to understand.

—I'll be back in half an hour— and he was.

The hackers were all excided about something.

—Any progress?— Ralph asked ingenuously.

—Yeah. Neat hack. Sam figured how to program the game of life on the LED display.

Ralph repressed an urge to smash both of their heads against something hard.

—Blast the display! What about the door? Can you open it?

—Oh, right. The door. Forgot about that.

The taller hacker simply depressed the latch and pushed the door open.

—So you picked the lock? Deactivated the alarm?

—Never was locked, just a bit stiff at the hinges. Never was an alarm either.

—What you see here is a smoke detector— the other added, helpfully.

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