Min Lee

RaGe Against Your Enemies

computerYO! Editor's Note: Although there are a group of young Americans under indictment for causing havoc on America's computers in the headlines, there are hundreds of young cyber sorcerers casting viro-curses on the enemies of their friends and gaining valuable computer skills, showing that hacker culture is more than meets the eye.

To many hackers of the underground world he was once known as TinY, but don't let the name fool you, with the click of a button he can instantly have 35 plus people monitoring your every online movement.

TinY was his call sign. At age 20 he has already retired from the hacking world consisting of mostly 15-21 year-olds. In the recent media barrage of stories about young hackers -- such as Jeffrey Lee Parson, 18, and Adrian Lamo, 22, who both admitted to hacking into the websites of large corporations and government organizations -- it's almost as if they wanted to get caught. Lamo turned himself in for hacking into the New York Times database, causing over $25,000 worth of damage. Parson spread a virus called teekids.exe, and hacked into the website of the Minnesota Governor's Office. To many hackers, creating a virus that spreads worldwide or hacking a highly secured government homepage is equal to gaining celebrity status.

TinY was the leader of a hacker group once known as RaGe. He explains "I started getting into it when I was maybe about 13. I originally started by being a graphics designer and I was asked to do some of the graphic work for some of the hacking programs that were being made for a particular hacking group. When I joined the group as that, the leader asked me to train with him and he taught me a couple of things until eventually I took over his position."

Little did he know, he was leading a nationwide group of 30-something hackers that ranked fifth among an elite list of hacking groups, along with United Pirated Software, United Warez, Katwarez and the Legion of Doom. The CIA is still trying to track down Legion of Doom for some of their nastier crimes.

RaGe had different sections. One section would get 10-15 credit cards a week; two were given to TinY and the others were distributed among the other members. TinY himself never used these credit cards. He was not in it for the money, but that is not to say other members weren't. One section would crack and distribute software. They are part of a warez community that would exchange software with other groups, then distribute it to regular people who needed software. They also had a security division that made sure they had each other's back. If anyone would mess with a member of the group, RaGe would hack into that person's computer, get into their bank accounts, send viruses to them, find out who their family and friends where and send viruses to them, too.

One time a friend of TinY's was angry at someone and she jokingly told him to hack into that person's computer. He took it seriously, told his security division and "had him on lockdown." For the first week, the security division -- which consisted of about 35 people -- would kick him off every time he logged on.

The second week they kept sending him viruses. In the final weeks, TinY signed on himself and told the guy directly, "Don't ever mess with my friend" and sent him a string of codes that crashed his computer. On a lighter note, the victim is now a good friend of TinY's.

When asked why he raised hell on other people's desktops, TinY said "I wanted something to do in my spare time and this was just something to me that was fun." He added that another reason was software. "I wanted a lot of software that I couldn't afford." He mentioned Adobe Photoshop, for example, which costs upwards of $600. He did not have that much money as a kid, nor would he spend that much now, so he downloaded a pirated version from his crew. But there was more: if anyone ever messed with him, having the power to "completely ruin their computer, keep them offline, get into their account, anything I wanted, that was a power-trip I couldn't let go off."

Although TinY messed with other's computers, he never felt guilty because he always gave warnings and only did it to someone when they gave him reason to. He never used anyone's credit cards and did not feel he was really stealing anything from a large corporation who steals from people everyday by charging a ridiculous $600 for software.

The thought of getting caught was always on TinY's mind though. "I heard that one of my friends actually got stormed by the feds," he said. "They stormed his room, took away all his equipment and his right to go on the internet."

Perhaps some hackers, like Parson and Lamo, are so concerned with getting props from their peers that they overlooked the consequences. Perhaps they were making a statement by becoming martyrs for the hacking community. Whatever the reason, the decisions they chose will significantly affect their lives. While Adrian was released on $250,000 bond, he was ordered not to use a computer again.

As for TinY, he's no longer a hacker. When TinY first started, the internet was still new and most security levels were at 32-bit encryption. Now everything is at 128-bit encryption. He feels the hype of the hacking era is over. Now TinY is back where he started using his skills for graphics design and web design, using his powers only for good and not evil, but he had fun the whole way.

Min Lee is a staff writer for YO!

Am I Chinese?

charactersI was born in China and came here when I was six. I drew pictures on the airplane on the way to America. On the side of those pictures I wrote words in Chinese. I do not know what those words mean anymore.

Sometime between that flight and now I stopped thinking, speaking and writing in Chinese.

It's come to a point where it's difficult to talk to my own parents. They don't speak much English. They've tried to learn, but only managed to pick up a few words. My mom can kind of make a coherent sentence because she interacts with customers at work as a cashier. She sometimes leaves little notes on the kitchen table like, "eat soup & chicken."

My dad, on the other hand, knows almost nothing about English. He works at a nearby Chinese restaurant in the kitchen with Chinese-speaking co-workers. Fortunately, he can draw, so he sometimes draws pictures of a TV with a number indicating what channel and time, so I can record Chinese TV shows for him while he's at work.

My parents talk to me in Chinese and I try to respond but often stop in the middle of a sentence because I don't know the Chinese word. Our conversations have gotten shorter and shorter over the years. They call me from work sometimes, and the typical conversation goes like this:

"Hello."

"Have you ate yet?"

"Yes."

"What are you doing now?"

"Nothing."

"Did your brother eat yet?"

"Uh-huh."

I can say more but I don't bother. I think the most common phrase I say to them is "stop bugging me." They ask, "What are you doing on the computer? What are you drawing? What are you reading?"

I tell them to stop bugging me.

I guess this is a typical teenage response to parents, but I say it's only partly because I don't want them in my business and partly because I don't want to make the effort of explaining. Explaining means I have to gather my thoughts in English and individually come up with the translation for each word. I might want to say something like "that person is tall," but what comes out is "that person is high." (By the way, "high" doesn't translate into "drugged up" in Chinese either).

Responding to yes or no questions I can do. It's like a multiple-choice question: yes, no, and occasionally maybe.

The worst is family gatherings, usually dinners around the holidays. My aunts will ramble on and on in Chinese (and they have their own undecipherable dialect). They must use thousands of words every time they speak, but only sometimes, possibly, if I am lucky, I can pick up my name. Maybe they talk sh-- about me, but I don't understand or care.

They're kind too, always putting food on my plate, which also kind of sucks because it makes me feel like I can't do sh-- for myself, and then I have to thank them. There's two different forms of "thank you" in Cantonese: "m'goy" and "do jey" (or some might be familiar with xièxie in Mandarin). One is for a gift and one is for a service, but I can never remember which is which.

Have I lost my roots? Probably. My friends say I'm not Asian because my household is the only Asian one where you don't take off your shoes, and I don't like them pearl tapioca drinks or whatever you want to call it. I also prefer nachos over fried rice and Kentucky Fried Chicken over Chinese fried chicken.

On the other hand, my family does drive three Hondas and one Acura, and my English is still pretty crappy. Does that make me Chinese?

No, there aren't any traits or actions that make me Chinese and there is no real measure of how Chinese I am. Nonetheless, there's a tendency for people, myself included, to place me on a spectrum where one end is yellow and the other is a mixture of white, black, brown and green. It's hard to say where I am now, but I find myself slowly inching toward that mixture. But part of me will always remain Chinese. So what if I can't speak my native language and don't listen to Japanese pop music? Being Chinese doesn't mean being bound by Asian stereotypes.

I can't say that I know the answer to who I am, and I'm open to different ways of looking at it. I do wish, though, that I understood more Chinese so I could talk to my parents. But I'm still young. Maybe it's not too late. And barriers are made to be overcome, right?

PNS contributor Min Lee, 19, writes for YO! (Youth Outlook), a journal of youth life in the San Francisco Bay Area published by Pacific News Service.

Time for a Dance Dance Revolution

dance pad

The Dance Dance Revolution (DDR) sweeping across arcades and living rooms across the Bay Area is becoming a staple showcase for young dance talent.

I must admit when I first saw DDR I thought it was just another video game but there's a lot more to it than just arrows and dancing -- DDR has brought video games into dance culture. That's the revolutionary part of Dance Dance Revolution.


GLOSSARY
Air - Number of jumps in a song
Battle - A mode of playing two players. Both players' arrows begin overlapped in the center at the bottom of the screen and branch outwards to the appropriate player's side. Introduced in 4th mix.
Bemani - Konami's collection of music games
Boo - The rating you get when you step on an arrow off-beat
Couple - A mode of playing for two players where the steps complement each other.
Difficult - DDR USA's equivalent of trick.
Double - A mode where the DDRer plays on both sides at once
Freestyle - A way of playing DDR where the object is to look good and perform for an audience introduced in DDR Max that requires the player to hold an arrow for some defined time
Matrix Walk - Freestyle move where the performer puts one hand on the bar and walks on the screen. Most people frown on this, as it is known to damage machines
Unison - Both players share one group of arrows in the center of the screen; the color of the arrows determine which player it belongs to.
Versus - Same as single player steps, but for two players.
(terms from ddrfreak.com)


Want to know more? Here's another piece from about Dance Dance Revolution from salon.com by Skyler Miller.


Lights flash from the top and music bumps from the speakers at the bottom of this walk-in arcade game. Arrows point in one of four directions scrolling up the screen until it aligns with the outlines on top. At that moment, the dancer has to step on the corresponding arrows on the floor pad.

Looks simple enough. Now imagine two arrows at the same time, then a sequence of four making a circle, then a sequence of eight alternating arrows. For the length of the song there will be more than a thousand arrows scrolling across the screen.

Since 1998, DDR has been manufactured by the Japanese company Konami. The game was wildly popular in Asia before it hit American shores. You can find sites dedicated to DDR all over the internet. One of the most popular is ddrfreak.com. At arcades like Albany Bowl, The Bearcade in Berkeley, and The Sony Metreon in San Francisco, crowds of mostly teens and young adults gather to watch the Dance Dance revolutionaries do their thing. You can even find some of the observers shadowing the players' moves, as if they were on the pad themselves.

When dancers are new to the game you can tell. Beginners are usually just stepping and not really dancing. After they know the steps they start getting creative. Combining dancing talent and game familiarity, a select few graduate to creating their own styles. These are the stylers. When they get on the pad, all hell breaks loose.

You might see people C-walking, breaking, raving, flipping, and so on. Katie, 16, who plays once or twice a week, has seen stylers "...that jump in circles, or hit the pads with their knees. Times like that you'll have to look over people's shoulder to see what's going on."

Adam, 18, who's been playing DDR for two years, observes, "After like you finish the game and everybody starts clapping it's like, 'Damn, I'm hella good.'"

Watching is how people usually get into this game. "They just sort of watch like it's something they haven't seen before," says Ryan, 16. "It seems that more people get interested as they see people do it. I've seen DDR around for about a year and it's grown into a trend, or even part of a culture. Competitions are being held, the machines are popping up everywhere, prices are going up in some places, and more people watch every time someone good plays."

Some patrons of this game are at the arcades more than three times a week getting their style down. Even people who own the game on Sony Playstation or Sega Dreamcast continue to go to the arcades to show off new moves in front of crowds.

Why does DDR attract so many people? It's unlike other video games. Jason, 19, who plays two or three times a week says "It isn't just sitting down and watching a TV screen, you have to move around."

The dancing and the upbeat music put DDR right into center of teen dance culture. It's got techno, trance, rave, hip hop, and lots of other types of music in the different mixes. With more mixes emerging, DDR is evolving into a culture. There's music for people to C-walk to and music for people to rave to.

This interactive dance craze doesn't look like it's ending anytime soon. Zeid, 18, a frequent DDR dancer believes "the whole dance culture is gonna keep going and DDR is part of that dance culture."


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