Confessions of a Computer Program Hacker
In the Beginning
I wouldn't get too excited about the title. It is true enough, but this is not an expose of someone breaking into networks or computers and creating havoc. Actually Hacking is an honorable profession, that is known by other names, Program Fixing, QA, and Maintenance Programming. Please don't run away too quickly, there is a lot of interesting stuff here.
I have been a computer programmer analyst for more years than I care to think about. It wasn't until about 20 years ago that I truly started hacking and discovered I have a talent for it. I was working for a company called Memorex/Telex as a Consulting Systems Engineer. No one identified me as a hacker in those days, but that was part of what I did. The program I was asked to hack was one developed by Memorex/Telex, and the client that wanted me to do the hacking was Sprint.
Is It Live or Is It Memorex/Telex/Sprint
Be aware, that both Memorex/Telex and Sprint wanted me to perform the program hacking that I did. In fact I was well paid for my efforts, and I wasn't breaking any laws. The truth of the matter was that the program was a network communications application between two computers and it didn't do what Sprint wanted it to do. Although the program worked as advertised, Sprint wanted more,
They needed the communications protocol to be altered to provide specific transmission information about data to be integrated within the communications protocol at one end and to be extracted by a computer at the other. It was a way to confirm that the data being transmitted was legitimate. This was pre-internet, and in the end it I was able to accomplish the task without adding too much to the transmission overhead. It was fun exploring code, and looking through the commands to find where I could make the changes necessary so that when the two programs talked to one another the data was transmitted successfully and within the parameters requested by Sprint. Although there was no specific name for it at the time I was a computer program hacker.
Stupid Docent Tricks
Ironically it would be another 10 years before I would be compelled to re-enter the world of program hacking again, and it would again be my employer who made the request, and it would again not be defined as hacking, even though that was what was being asked of me. It came under the guise of “Stupid Docent Tricks”.
“Stupid Docent Tricks” was an internal contest for employees to come up with ways to use the Outliner and the CMS to deliver new and interesting educational content.
I had been hired to be an Outliner developer and to consult with customers about ways to transfer legacy forms of content into courses to be delivered over the internet. Part of my assignment was to become intimately familiar with the CMS and how it functioned and to explore the Outliner and discover new ways to create interactive engaging course content. Then I was to develop replicable functionality for customer's to reuse.
Hacking, for me, became the primary tool for studying and exploring the functions of programs and finding way to perform tasks and functions that were desired by customers. The more difficult process was to develop API interfaces (hacks) that we could give to customers so that they could take advantage of the elements within the Outliner and the CMS that I was able to exploit.
One of the greatest compliments that I received came from the developer of the Outliner, who told me that he had no idea that the Outliner could do what I was getting it to do.
WEB Master Hacker
(On a Side note, DSB has since changed its Shopping Cart to xCart (my recommendation) which was installed by another group of individuals.)
Again I used my skills as a hacker to infiltrate the shopping cart code to better understand what was going on and to exploit the code to correct the problems and fix the WEB site. Additionally I needed to make changes in the code to interact with API's from other online sites including UPS, the merchant bank, DSB did business with, Google ad sense and the email accounts of customers to transmit receipts to and the email accounts of DSB customer service to inform shipping about customer orders. My employer didn't refer to what I did as hacking, but that was the processed used to accomplish my assigned tasks.
As an independent Game developer, my Hacking skills were needed more than ever. First I needed to research a number of game engines to discover which would better serve the type of games I want to develop. I knew I wanted to develop adventure games. I had been playing adventure games ever since Sierra introduced the King's Quest series. I was impressed the growth of game GUI, story telling, and sophistication as I played each succeeding game. Too bad Sierra Jumped the Shark Tank with King's Quest 8.
My goal is to develop an adventure game with that sense of wonder I felt each time I played a new KQ game. I have been researching for about 12 months and working with my chosen game engine for about 8 months, Unity 3D.
I will need to rely upon other artists for voice, music, background, characters, and some programming as I continue to work on story development and puzzles which I will also require help with. In creating a successful game I will need a whole spectrum of Craftspeople to pull off what I hope will be a successful franchise of games that appeal to all ages.
Look for Booh and Babbot in The Haunted House Of Dracula, the first in their franchise game series. It is a work in progress.