Monday, June 16, 2014

MACHINES ARE TAKING OVER

Long before the widespread public accessible World Wide Web, Mekkar’s best friend Lasse had completed his custom made computer system for use at his house. Lasse had taught himself to become up to date in his knowledge of hardware and other related issues. The two boys had used other means to hack into satellites and information databases around the world. The technology and capabilities were expanding very quickly during this time.

Many times in the past, Mekkar and Lasse had both picked Henrik’s brain often since Mekkar’s papa was considered an electronics guru. Henrik was enlisted by the national government and military departments due to his expertise in those fields. Of course, Henrik would share some helpful information and demonstrate their applications to his oldest son and his friends. Mekkar figured it would be an honor for any papa to be able to pass on something to his offspring.

The system was extensive and too up the whole side of Lasse’s bedroom wall with an assortment of tables and various separating constructs. Wires and cables seemed to be everywhere. They were marked with different color tape with written indicators as to function and where to be connected. The servers and makeshift other equipment had symbols on the back as well to identify how all of it must be set up. Lasse had other written his own software to make the whole thing operate as intended. The complete system itself was not cheap and the cost was in excess of sixty thousand dollars. Lasse had worked hard to gather the funds to pay for it.

That same day when a couple of the last parts, that Lasse ordered, had arrived he was excited. He couldn’t resist and had to share the news with Mekkar. After reaching Mekkar’s house, he waited about an hour for his best friend to finish his work in one of the family businesses. Mekkar licked his lips in anticipation upon his hearing his buddy’s news. They went back a few roads over to Lasse’s house to test out the newest prize. However, when these two get together there is mischief to be carried out.

It took awhile for Lasse to sort out the parts to set up the last pieces of equipment and integrate them into his system. Mekkar always hated that part because he expects most mechanical items to be already preassembled and ready function properly upon startup. Mainly, because Mekkar has no tolerance or patience for any nonsense. Plus, Mekkar does not sense how fortunate he was by being surrounded by individuals that are very mechanical. People that can fix or put together most things like Lasse, Alf, and Henrik are able to. Individuals that are closest to him. As Mekkar lacks those mechanical construction and repair abilities. Mekkar has other special talents. Unfortunately, contrary to Mekkar’s wants, this was the not the plug and play era of the twenty-first century. Mach of the required know-how was not common and had to be diligently researched and put into practice to understand its inner workings. Lasse was blessed with an attention to details in his character makeup. Thus, he went through every step of the instructions a few times previously before actually setting up the additional machines. Lasse didn’t want to damage what he already had.

Mekkar’s attitude is let’s play and see what we can do with it. A more haphazard and risky approach in many respects. Mekkar learns by doing it himself; not by merely reading, hearing about, or watching another person doing something. Unknown to Mekkar, his buddy had prearranged for a visitor from somewhere else to show up around that time and show them how to increase and maximize the configuration’s abilities.

Eventually after the helper left, the two boys were able to connect with other aquaintenances. Also, people they knew from hockey in other regions outside of their own. Mekkar and Lasse contacted some going to school or living, with their relatives, in Switzerland, India, Hong Kong, and other locales. There was basic interaction, new jokes received back and forth, and updated news. It was painfully slow, in its infancy, with frustrating delays compared to later online chats like the Telnet Relay, ICQ, Windows Messenger, and later more advanced programs. Another future world was opening up to the Arctic boys, Mekkar thought.

With rapid technological improvements over time, in the computer and communications industries, Mekkar and Lasse further tested the boundaries. They began to access University and United States Department of Defense mainframes, and other places via the ARPANET. They wanted freedom and this was one way for them to get it. The system was restricted for only their use, as no one else in the village knew how to operate it and left it alone. Later on, WordStar was used for creating their own documents and other tasks. There were color limits such as the word processing, messaging, and transmission programs usually had the option of orange or green letters on a black background or the reverse. The black color in actuality appeared to be a dark brownish color instead of black on some screens. Some time later, Lasse did add video game consoles to the mix. Games were not Mekkar’s focus. He observed Alf spend a lot of time playing Zaxxon and Super Zaxxon arcade game at the nearby store. Niillas was consumed by the other video game unit at the store, Donkey Kong and subsequent versions. Mekkar said that, “Those two put enough coins into those machines and played them so often, they could have bought the machines many times over.”   

Mekkar did maneuver his way into a couple of early game company sites. He had done this to help gain an advantage of a few games. Maybe, they could make some extra cash by selling secrets to the unknowing. Both of them were entrepreneurial in many respects. On one occasion, Mekkar thought that he had an answer to shrink the player spacecraft and create a surrounding force field to make the user harder to hit against the oncoming enemies. Instead, Mekkar ruined Lasse’s game after applied the new hack. On top of that, this action by Mekkar, also did minor damage to Lasse’s system. Less costly for Mekkar, his best friend was able to repair his system and get a brand new copy of that particular video game. Still, they would not be deterred.

The next day after watching a western movie from television, Lasse and Mekkar felt that they were in the computer Wild West just like the movie. Mekkar even accidently accessed into a program that was originally used for functions related to nuclear weapons. This online program could track their trajectories, if fired from a certain place to another. There were displays that showed the calculated distances, time of flight, etc. Lasse and Mekkar did play the simulated games a few times. They wanted to see how long it would take to fire a large nuke from various underground silos and reach the intended targets they chose, anywhere in the world. It lost its fascination quickly and they never accessed it again. The original program name has been changed and the former title now is a very different application that is familiar in today’s society.

This is how Mekkar and his best friend gained insights on not so well known underground sites, military installations, and information that governments hide from their citizens. The boys discovered began to learn who had what capabilities and now knew where to find them. They grasped the pervasiveness of the industry and were exposed to plans regarding future, more advanced weapons and systems. Mekkar and Lasse tried to comprehend how much more extensive the internet was by reading and examining its history, but only touched the surface. Thus, little surprised the two when they were required to conduct their own national conscription military service, later on.

The Arctic reindeer herder comments that he is spoiled now regarding the development of The Web. He decided to rid himself, quite awhile ago, of his old hacking ways along with his code and cheat books that Mekkar had developed for himself. Making it easier and shortening the time processes to access anything was important to him. Mekkar stopped hacking because it became to too tempting to steal large amounts of money online. It would have so easy to make him a very rich man. However, he did have to perform a final act before giving up his freewheeling approach in this area. Getting even with some adversaries through satellite services had to be carried out first. It was paramount that Mekkar go out with a literal bang and he did.