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Undergound. Go to Table of Contents.

   theft--stealing someone else's computer resources--but the argument

   was ambiguous. What if no-one needed those resources at 2 a.m. on a

   given night? It might be seen more as `borrowing' an under-used asset,

   since the hacker had not permanently appropriated any property. Not so

   for carding.

  

   What made carding even less noble was that it required the technical

   skill of a wind-up toy. Not only was it beneath most good hackers, it

   attracted the wrong sort of people into the hacking scene. People who

   had little or no respect for the early Australian underground's golden

   rules of hacking: don't damage computer systems you break into

   (including crashing them); don't change the information in those

   systems (except for altering logs to cover your tracks); and share

   information. For most early Australian hackers, visiting someone

   else's system was a bit like visiting a national park. Leave it as you

   find it.

  

   While the cream seemed to rise to the top of the hacking hierarchy, it

   was the scum that floated at the top of the carding community. Few

   people in the underground typified this more completely than Blue

   Thunder, who had been hanging around the outskirts of the Melbourne

   underground since at least 1986. The senior hackers treated Blue

   Blunder, as they sometimes called him, with great derision.

  

   His entrance into the underground was as ignominious as that of a

   debutante who, delicately descending the grand steps of the ballroom,

   trips and tumbles head-first onto the dance floor. He picked a fight

   with the grande doyenne of the Melbourne underground.

  

   The Real Article occupied a special place in the underground. For

   starters, The Real Article was a woman--perhaps the only female to

   play a major role in the early Melbourne underground scene. Although

   she didn't hack computers, she knew a lot about them. She ran The Real

   Connection, a BBS frequented by many of the hackers who hung out on

   PI. She wasn't somebody's sister wafting in and out of the picture in

   search of a boyfriend. She was older. She was as good as married. She

   had kids. She was a force to be reckoned with in the hacking

   community.

  

   Forthright and formidable, The Real Article commanded considerable

   respect among the underground. A good indicator of this respect was the

   fact that the members of H.A.C.K. had inducted her as an honorary member

   of their exclusive club. Perhaps it was because she ran a popular

   board. More likely it was because, for all their bluff and bluster, most

   hackers were young men with the problems of young men.  Being older and

   wiser, The Real Article knew how to lend a sympathetic ear to those

   problems. As a woman and a non-hacker, she was removed from the jumble

   of male ego hierarchical problems associated with confiding in a

   peer. She served as a sort of mother to the embryonic hacking community,

   but she was young enough to avoid the judgmental pitfalls most parents

   fall into with children.

  

   The Real Article and Blue Thunder went into partnership running a BBS

   in early 1986. Blue Thunder, then a high-school student, was desperate

   to run a board, so she let him co-sysop the system. At first the

   partnership worked. Blue Thunder used to bring his high-school essays

   over for her to proofread and correct. But a short time into the

   partnership, it went sour. The Real Article didn't like Blue Thunder's

   approach to running a BBS, which appeared to her to be get information

   from other hackers and then dump them. The specific strategy seemed to