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2600 - 2600: The Hacker Quarterly

  • NEW 'Off The Hook' ONLINE

    NEW 'Off The Hook' ONLINE Posted 26 Mar, 2015 4:20:35 UTC

    The new edition of Off The Hook from 25/03/2015 has been archived and is now available online.

    "Off The Hook" - 25/03/2015Download the torrent here!!!!

    Posted on 26 March 2015 | 5:20 am

  • NEW 'Off The Wall' ONLINE

    NEW 'Off The Wall' ONLINE Posted 25 Mar, 2015 2:56:32 UTC

    The new edition of Off The Wall from 24/03/2015 has been archived and is now available online.

    "Off The Wall" - 24/03/2015Download the torrent here!!!!

    Posted on 25 March 2015 | 3:56 am


    We've received word that "Off The Hook" will be back on for an extended two-hour program this Wednesday from 7 to 9 pm ET. We don't know if this is because of pressure put on WBAI management after being preempted for four weeks or simply because of an unrelated programming decision. Regardless, the support we've received has been very uplifting.

    Now for the fun part. This program is being scheduled in the midst of the Winter fundraiser, which we haven't been able to participate in because of all of the preemptions. There is also the issue of undelivered premiums to our listeners from previous fundraisers, which prompted us to decline to offer new premiums until these issues are resolved.

    This puts us and our listeners in a rather unenviable position. We clearly need to do well on Wednesday if we intend to continue at WBAI. But we need to do this without offering any of the cool things we usually donate to the station. So yes, we need our listeners to call in and pledge support for the station this Wednesday without getting anything in return other than the opportunity to show that our program has an audience that is there when we need it. And we've never needed it more.

    It sounds a bit unfair, but it's really what it should come down to in the end regardless. You should only be calling in if you like the program and want it to continue. Whenever we're able to offer extra stuff as thank-you's, we will do so. But this week, what we really need to see are numbers. The more people who call in, regardless of the pledge size, the better. Please don't assume someone else will do it. If 100 or more people (a small fraction of the listening audience) call in within that two-hour period, even with small pledges, we doubt we'd ever find ourselves preempted more than rarely.

    We've heard from a number of you suggesting that we move to a podcast-only format and avoid this hassle. But we feel the hassle is worth it. Besides having the accessibility of a radio studio, we also have the airwaves. People who listen to us via podcast have already done some of the work in tracking us down and are at least somewhat familiar with what the hacker world is all about. With radio, you can literally reach anyone by chance, which is part of its magic. Just as we prefer to have our monthly meetings in public spaces rather than inside clubhouses, we feel broadcasting to free airwaves is a great opportunity to open a door to the public - perhaps to understand our perspective and to get involved themselves. And a 50,000 watt FM station in the middle of New York City is a pretty nice door to have opened. As long as there's a chance of keeping that alive, we intend to fight for it. This week, we need to send a message that there are lots of us out there - and that we're listening. We feel a statement like this is essential at this point if "Off The Hook" is to continue.

    Please spread the word - call +1 212 209 2950 between the hours of 7 and 9 pm this Wednesday, pledge whatever you can to WBAI, and make sure you let them know that you want to continue to hear "Off The Hook" every week. We intend to bring you a special two-hour program, as devoid of on-air pitching as possible. A strong response will help ensure this as well as our future at the station. If you have feedback for the show, write to us at oth@2600.com. You can also find all of our previous shows in our archive at www.2600.com/offthehook.

    Posted on 24 February 2015 | 8:00 pm


    Having just survived a harrowing and bitterly cold voyage across the Atlantic Ocean, we're happy to confirm that a shipment of Club-Mate's annual Winter Edition is now in our possession. We will be happy to transfer some of it to you after a brief exchange of some financial mundanities at http://store.2600.com/clubmate.html. And just to add more urgency, we did only get a limited amount, so we don't expect to have this for long. (The bottles, however, are fresh through December.)


    Posted on 20 February 2015 | 7:32 pm


    We've been trying to work things out with WBAI for quite a while now, but the time has come to be a little more public about what's been going on.

    For months we've been attempting to resolve the many premium issues that remain at the radio station involving our weekly hacker program that has been airing since 1988 at 99.5 FM in New York City, as well as over the net at http://www.2600.com/offthehook. (For those who don't know, premiums are items sent to listeners as a thank-you for pledges to the radio station. Traditionally, they are donated to WBAI by 2600.) We've had many listener complaints about premiums dating back for years that have not been delivered as promised. Some progress was made on this front last year, but our attempts to follow up have been met with either silence or a circular passing of responsibility to someone else. And we have yet to receive ANY update on the Autumn 2014 fundraiser, where we donated 64gb thumb drives containing all talks from the HOPE X conference. Not one person who pledged to the station during that fund drive has received what was promised to them.

    Since November of 2014, we have been attempting to get this information so we can provide or replace the premiums. We've also made it clear to the station that we cannot offer new premiums until this situation is addressed, out of fairness to our listeners. The only response to this has been an order from the general manager to not talk with anyone else about this and what appears to be an indefinite suspension from the schedule.

    This is not a situation we can continue to tolerate. Our listeners have been extremely generous in their support of our program and of the radio station. Through this problematic period, we have never told people not to support the station in order to keep it on the air. We simply want to make sure those people who are there for us get what we have promised them. The failure of the station to return any of our email or telephone messages is simply inexcusable. It's also self defeating, as "Off The Hook" listeners have brought in many thousands of dollars in recent fundraisers. The replacement programming hasn't done nearly as well. More importantly, treating a highly relevant and popular program like "Off The Hook" in this way is bound to have an alienating effect on our listeners.

    We hope to see this situation resolved quickly, as it should have been months ago. We will not be silenced or intimidated into not addressing the issue, on air or off. We are all losing a valuable forum to discuss issues such as net neutrality, online censorship, leaks, and hacker issues at a time when such topics have never been more relevant. A look at our archive at http://www.2600.com/offthehook should be enough to demonstrate the importance of this program remaining on the radio where the mainstream can continue to have access to it.

    If you have pledged to WBAI through "Off The Hook" and have not gotten a premium you were promised, please email us at oth@2600.com. We know that nobody has gotten anything they pledged for in the October 2014 fundraiser, as we have not been given any information on fulfillment, so there is no need to email us if you're still waiting for something from that period. For other periods, it's possible that WBAI has lost track of them, in which case we will do our best to replace them ourselves. Rest assured, we will keep attempting to get all of this resolved, no matter what anyone else tells us. We hope that cooler heads will prevail and put our show back on the air so we can resume the valuable service it provides for our many listeners. We apologize for the void this has created.

    Posted on 18 February 2015 | 7:47 pm


    We've received an offer of a settlement from our distributors who took off with nearly 100 grand of our earnings last year. Needless to say, it's shockingly underwhelming.

    If we agree to say that they no longer owe us anything, they might pay us between 0 and 2.5 percent of what they owe us. Yes, they're not even saying they will do that much, since the numbers could change. (But they somehow know that the numbers can't possibly change in our favor.) So we could agree to this and get absolutely nothing. By not agreeing, we would almost certainly get nothing, but we would forever be able to say that they still owe us. We've always preferred leaning towards the truth.

    We understand the difficulty that bankruptcy presents. When crap like this happens, it's a miracle we can avoid it ourselves. But we seem to have a fundamental difference of opinion when it comes to integrity. We believe in paying what we owe, even when it's painful. Companies like this... well, they don't. What they do instead is something quite scandalous and shameful - but completely legal.

    While the distribution arm of Source Interlink indeed closed its doors last year when they decided it wasn't going to be profitable, their publishing arm changed their name that very day from Source Interlink to TEN: The Enthusiast Network. They continued to publish highly profitable magazines like Motor Trend, Hot Rod, and Automobile. (We'd be curious to see how much of a hit those publications took when their distributor didn't pay them. We suspect some creative math likely came to the rescue.)

    The corporate claim is that there is no connection between the two arms and, on paper, this is true. However, it doesn't take much to realize that there was a significant degree of coordination that continued between them. Their websites shared space, their mailing addresses were listed as the same, even their telephone switchboards allowed easy transferring from one company to the other. Concerned callers to Source Interlink were assured that the publishing arm was "flourishing" and operating under their new name. It was only the rest of us who were thrown under the bus.

    While this name change occurred at the time of the closure (such "rebranding" is what any company would do if their name became polluted), the legal separation had taken place a bit earlier. This allowed both halves to plan for this eventuality and minimize the damage to themselves. The ones left out in the cold would be those who they owed money to (publishers) and, of course, their 5,000 employees.

    This excerpt from their recent statement shows how familiar they are with this process:

    "In October, 2013, on account of, among other things, decreased demand for print media and upcoming debt maturities, the company undertook a corporate reorganization (the "October 2013 Restructuring") pursuant to which the Debtors were separated from Source Media while equitizing approximately $436 million of debt pursuant to an out-of-court transaction with their secured lenders that, together with the 2009 Restructuring, resulted in many Holders of Holdings Interests acquiring their respective positions."

    To us, it looks like they had plenty of time to prepare for a graceful exit, or to at least change their operating practices so that they wouldn't wind up hurting a lot of people. In fact, it's common knowledge that the event that led to their decision to shut down was the writing off of a debt of $7 million to Time Magazine. Time also claimed that they would be unable to collect around $19 million in sales. One might think that having a debt of this magnitude written off would be great news if you were the company that owed it. To Source Interlink, however, it only meant the loss of a big client and, with it, the loss of potential future profits. With this in mind, the following statement of theirs elicits little sympathy:

    "Two of the largest legacy print platforms - newspapers and magazines - have experienced year-over-year revenue declines since 2009 due to the continuing and fundamental technological shift away from traditional consumption of print media and toward online magazines and e-book readers. Readers are migrating quickly to digital and mobile platforms, a move that has accelerated with the proliferation of tablets and smart phones. This migration has been compounded by the sluggish growth of the U.S. economy and consumers' reluctance to spend on print media. The decline in overall demand for print media also led to increased competition for retailer customers among wholesale distributors."

    All of this is true, but it's not the reason Source Interlink decided to shut down. At the very least, being relieved of this massive debt should have been sufficient for them to make significant steps in paying their other debts before deciding to throw in the towel. And don't be deceived by that last sentence about competition. They were the second largest wholesaler in the United States, representing nearly a third of all newsstand business in the country. They were the primary distributor of magazines to Barnes and Noble. Source Interlink may have had problems, but competing was certainly not one of them.

    "The Debtors also experienced a number of operational setbacks. In 2011, for instance, Borders Group, Inc., a key customer, filed for bankruptcy and liquidated their stores, representing a $48 million reduction in revenue for Source Distribution and a corresponding $6 million decline in EBITDA. Kroger and Albertsons, other key customers, moved their magazine supply and in-store merchandising to competitor wholesalers. These customer-specific issues were exacerbated by, among other things, increases in the costs of fuel and other raw materials, continued same store sales declines for Source Distribution, lower worldwide sales by Source International, and lower-than-expected profitability from Source Manufacturing."

    We sympathize. We're in the same business, after all. Every issue related to the decline of publishing or the closing of retail outlets also affected us. The difference was that we made adjustments so that we could continue to survive. What these guys did was collect all of the money magazines like ours had earned through sales and then shut their doors without paying any of the publishers! Had they truly cared about the publishing world they were so heavily involved in, wouldn't paying the publishers have been highest on their priority list, rather than relegated to a category called "unsecured claims" with the weird label of "impaired" attached to it? We can only imagine how many publishers were driven out of business by these ill-advised and dishonorable actions.

    Again, this is how the system works. They did their homework and they will likely get away with all of these legal shenanigans. Small publishers like us have been hurt the most, both financially and with reduced distribution. But one thing they can't take away is our voice - and yours. What they did here was morally reprehensible and we intend to make sure that is never forgotten. They can change their name and claim innocence, but none of that alters the way the facts played out. Despite the negative connotations that hackers are given by the mass media, we like to think that people look to us to set an example. Ways that we do that include respecting our readers by providing them with what they want, admitting when we've fallen short on that or anything else, and always paying the debts we owe and fulfilling the obligations we make. The message we get from Source Interlink/The Enthusiast Network is very different: keep making a profit until it gets hard, then pull out and let others deal with the mess, all the while preserving your own self-interests. We hope that's an example few will ever choose to follow.

    If you want to express your opinions to TEN: The Enthusiast Network, good luck. Their Twitter account will quickly block you if you criticize them in any way. We suspect the same is true for their Facebook page. You can see how well they're doing at their website, but we doubt they really want your feedback over there either. We can tell you that their phone number is (310) 531-9900 (the same number as the distribution company) and their address is 831 S Douglas Street, El Segundo, California 90245, but we believe they have become quite adept at avoiding any contact with the public.

    For those of you who have some legal knowledge or who simply like to suffer, we have attached a couple of the documents related to the "plan" that has been put forward (nobody said we couldn't share the details). If you find anything of interest, please let us know. Thanks, as always for your support.

    2 Disclosure Statement.pdf 2b Plan of Liquidation.pdf

    Posted on 29 January 2015 | 6:38 pm


    The brand new Winter 2014-2015 issue of 2600 has hit the stands and is already in the hands of paper and digital subscribers worldwide. There are many ways you can quickly get a copy. You can head down to your local store that carries us, subscribe to paper copies through our store, or get a digital subscription through Kindle, Google Play, and a number of other outlets by visiting our digital edition section. (You can also get individual issues using all of these methods.) The important thing is that you remain up to date on what's going on in the hacker world, a world that has never been more relevant than today.


    Get the current issue!!

    Subscribe with Kindle!

    Explore the DIGITAL editions!!!

    Posted on 12 January 2015 | 12:26 pm


    You've probably been hearing quite a bit about hackers recently. According to the mass media, hackers have been holding Hollywood hostage, are working for the North Korean government, and are basically equivalent to terrorists. Some of this we've heard before and some is just completely out of left field. As one small part of the vast and diverse hacker community, we felt compelled to not only say something, but to do something.

    First, let's clear one thing up: We have little remaining ill will towards Sony for their part in the MPAA lawsuit against us in 2000, when we were hauled into federal court for publishing a computer program that would allow Linux users to view DVDs. We learned a valuable lesson about corporate America, the government, and the power of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. We saw how the media could be so easily manipulated by the powers that be. And, while we lost the case, we became the first actual victims of the DMCA, and had the privilege of being the ones to warn the rest of the country what was ahead. That fight has been going on ever since. And Sony played a valuable role in motivating us. We thank them for that.

    As hackers, we have a strong commitment to freedom of speech, which we regularly express through our magazine, our radio shows, our conferences, and any other medium we can get our hands on. Most in the hacker world share in these very basic values.

    We've protested films in the past when they've been unfair to the hacker community. It tends to freak out those in power when they realize hackers are angry at them, but most of those fears are based on paranoia and ignorance as to what the hacker community is really all about. And cutting off speech, silencing unpopular views, and avoiding controversy are not what we're about.

    As you have undoubtedly heard, Sony has decided to cancel the release of their controversial film "The Interview." They've done this because of a single, vague threat that is tantamount to something we've all seen at one time or another on an IRC channel and not thought twice about. By focusing on this threat, however, Sony can attempt to extricate itself from the controversy and the immensely stupid movie plot it agreed to produce - and blame the whole thing on hackers, albeit North Korean ones. (They might also escape liability for their inadequate computer security by claiming the massive compromise of their systems was equivalent to a terrorist act. But that's another story, or possibly a whole new movie.) In their gross generalization, and with the help of the mass media, the entire hacker community is being painted with a very broad and dark brush.

    We have decided to call their bluff. To demonstrate that hackers have no interest in suppressing speech, quashing controversy, or being intimidated by vague threats, we ask that Sony allow the hacker community to distribute "The Interview" for them on the 25th of December. Now, we're aware that Sony may refer to this distribution method as piracy, but in this particular case, it may well prove to be the salvation of the motion picture industry. By freely offering the film online, millions of people will get to see it and decide for themselves if it has any redeeming qualities whatsoever - as opposed to nobody seeing it and the studios writing it off as a total loss. Theaters would be free from panic as our servers would become the target of any future vague threats (and we believe Hollywood will be most impressed with how resilient peer-to-peer distribution can be in the face of attacks). Most importantly, we would be defying intimidation, something the motion picture industry doesn't quite have a handle on, which is surprising considering how much they've relied upon it in the past.

    We sincerely hope Sony doesn't refuse this offer because of the potentially bitter irony of having hackers show them how to run their own industry. Perhaps if they had spent less time in court and more time learning to stand up for the values they allegedly hold (not to mention installing a little security on their systems and protecting the privacy of their employees and associates), this little bit of drama might never have had to happen. But then, where would Hollywood be without drama?

    Even more vital than ensuring that the public gets to experience (and judge) art for themselves is the need for hackers to show their true colors. These are not the colors of terrorists, bullies, or government agents, but rather those of creative individuals who can cause all kinds of mischief and, in the process, come up with unique solutions and ingenious ways of preserving freedom. We believe it's the latter category that really scares those in power and is likely at the heart of all of the wild fear-mongering we're hearing today. Failure to correct these misconceptions now could easily assure future crackdowns that will affect all of us.

    We will be preparing a section of our website for screening of "The Interview" on December 25th. If Sony agrees, we will work our asses off to make this happen. If they don't give us permission to do this, then we will point to any sites that have managed to obtain the film. The address to write to for anyone from Sony, North Korean officials, hackers around the world, or the general public is interview@2600.com.

    Censorship and fear must be fought at every opportunity. We made that point while opposing Sony in the past. Now we must make that point again, this time for their benefit.

    Posted on 19 December 2014 | 12:48 pm


    It's now possible to get a 2600 subscription through Google Play in The Netherlands, Russia, Italy, France, Spain, and Germany. This is in addition to the countries that were already on that service (United States, Canada, United Kingdom, and Australia). We expect more countries to be added soon. To subscribe from any of these countries (or to get an individual issue from anywhere), click here.

    Posted on 28 October 2014 | 10:16 am


    The Autumn issue of 2600 has hit the stands and is also in the hands of most of our subscribers. We're still reeling from the "bankruptcy" of our major distributor, which looks to leave us in the hole for close to 100 grand. You can help us get through this by subscribing, renewing, and encouraging others to do the same.

    We've even added some incentives to try and get more people subscribing, so we can make up for the loss of bookstores and newsstands that our new distributors aren't supplying. Here's how it works:

    For every new subscriber you get for us, we will add one year to your existing subscription. There is no limit. The new subscriber simply has to mention your name or subscriber code. If you get ten people to subscribe, you'll get ten more years, we'll get ten more subscribers, and ten people will get turned on to 2600. Everyone wins. (If you're a lifetime subscriber, we will work with you to substitute something instead of additional years.)

    Existing subscribers who renew will get a free year added on to their subscriptions. If you're a new subscriber, all you have to do is renew your subscription before the cutoff date and you'll also get an additional year added on.

    These special subscriber deals will last until the end of the year.


    Get the current issue!!

    Subscribe with Kindle!

    Explore the DIGITAL editions!!!

    Posted on 14 October 2014 | 12:14 pm