Tag Archives: computers

The Hacker

(After Poe’s ‘The Raven’)

Once upon a midnight dreary,  browsing websites weak and weary,
Over many a meme I’d seen before,
While I nodded, sleep-eye wiping, suddenly there came a typing,
As of some old friend skyping, skyping at my monitor.
`’Tis some spam,’ I muttered, `skyping at my monitor -
Only this, and nothing more.’

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,
And each facebook member posts their food and sporting score.
Eagerly I wished the morrow; – vainly I had sought to borrow
From the internet a cease of sorrow – sorrow for the lost Lenore -
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels named Lenore -
Nameless here for evermore.

And the lilting loop of each user’s sign in
Thrilled me – filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating
`’Tis some spammer entreating entrance at my monitor -
Some spambot entreating entrance at my monitor; -
This it is, and nothing more,’

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
`Sir,’ typed I, `or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is my eyes were drooping, and so gently was the booping,
And so faintly you came typing, skyping at my monitor,
That I scarce was sure I heard you’ – here I brightened my monitor; -
Darkness there, and nothing more.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;
But silence began to sink, and the darkness gave no link,
And the only word there typed was the italic word, `Lenore!’
This I cut and pasted, and text pinged back the word, `Lenore!’
Merely this and nothing more.

Back to the browser turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a typing somewhat louder than before.
`Surely,’ said I, `surely that is something at my window software;
Let me see then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore -
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore; -
‘Tis some spam and nothing more!’

Open here I clicked the link, when, with many a drag and scroll,
Up there popped a chat avatar like emoticons of years before.
Not the least ‘sup’ or ‘lol’ made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But, with manner of spam or hacker, froze upon my monitor -
Overlapped my Pallas wallpaper on my monitor -
Overlapped, and froze, and nothing more.

Then this ebony box beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the textbox it wore,
`Though thy looks be much like spam, thou,’ I said, `art sure no scam.
Ghastly grim and ancient hacker wandering from the nightly shore -
Tell me what thy lordly name is in the Matrix core!’
Typeth the hacker, `Nevermore.’

Much I marvelled this anonymous chat to read discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning – little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was blessed with seeing text upon his monitor -
Spam or bot above the statue wallpaper upon his monitor,
With such name as `Nevermore.’

But the chat, sitting lonely atop the wallpaper, showed only,
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing further then he typed – not a character then he skyped -
Till I scarcely more than griped `Other friends have spammed before -
On the morrow he will leave me, as my hopes have shown before.’
Then the chat said, `Nevermore.’

Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly keyed in,
`Doubtless,’ said I, `what it utters is its only stock and store,
Caught from some shady database whom unmerciful lowercase
Pinged fast and loaded faster till his code one burden bore -
Till the software of his system that melancholy burden bore
Of “Never-nevermore.”‘

But the hacker still beguiling all my sad soul into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of chat and wallpaper and monitor;
Then, upon the leather sinking, I betook myself to linking
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous avatar of yore -
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous avatar of yore
Meant in typing `Nevermore.’

This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fiend whose blinking cursor now burned into my bosom’s core;
This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
On the cushion’s leather lining that the lamp-light gloated o’er,
But whose leather stitched lining with the lamp-light gloating o’er,
She shall press, ah, nevermore!

Then, methought, I heard a grinding, system slower, lagging from a muted iTune
Sung by U2 whose drum-beat silenced on the muted stereo.
`Wretch,’ I cried, `thy Programmer hath lent thee – by these dial-tones sent thee
Sprites – Sprite and Gin from thy memories of Lenore!
Quaff, oh quaff this kind tonic, and forget this lost Lenore!’
Typeth the hacker, `Nevermore.’

`Prophet!’ said I, `thing of evil! – prophet still, if spambot or devil! -
Whether troller sent, or whether mailing list tossed thee here ashore,
Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted -
On this home by horror haunted – tell me truly, I implore -
Is there - is there ointment in your drawer? – tell me – tell me, I implore!’
Typeth the hacker, `Nevermore.’

`Prophet!’ said I, `thing of evil! – prophet still, if spambot or devil!
By that Heaven that bends above us – by that God we both adore -
Tell this soul with heavy heart if, within the distant bonus level,
It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels named Lenore -
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden, whom the angels named Lenore?’
Typeth the hacker, `Nevermore.’

`Be that word our sign of logging off, spambot or fiend!’ I shrieked upstarting -
`Get thee back into the matrix and the Ethernet’s core!
Leave no hard drive wiped as a token of that lie thy soul hath typed!
Leave my loneliness unbroken! – quit the chat window upon my monitor!
Take thy cursor from out my heart, and take thy form from off my monitor!’
Typeth the hacker, `Nevermore.’

And the hacker, cursor never sinking, still is blinking, still is blinking
On the wallpaper gif of Pallas that decorates my monitor;
And his blinks have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,
And the backlight o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the monitor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted – nevermore!

Automatic Teller

The entranceway was a net, designed to capture the sunlight before it contaminated the pub inside. Kevin had forgotten that it was still daytime. He stutter-stepped as he pushed past the door and a wave of light crashed over him, splashing across the walls and floor and burning his heavily dilated eyes.

He waited a moment for his eyes to adjust to the sun, then scanned the small foyer, past the dilapidated racks of free periodicals, until he found the ATM sitting in the corner to the left of the door through which he had just exited the bar. It looked like a tired old man, leaning up against the wall with its knees up against its chest. There was ribbed plastic tubing resembling arms on either side, bent up into L-shapes at what appeared to be the elbow, and its body was more of a boxy metal trash can with worn, rounded edges that were clearly intended to make it look sleek. It had a pixelated monitor in place of a swinging lid, with a numeric keypad goatee and two scars across its chin — one for consuming the cards, the other for dispensing cash. Presently, the monitor displayed a digitized face with a sardonic, bitmapped smile.

Kevin inserted his card into the appropriate slot/scar and punched in his secret code. A voice spoke: “Ten twen-ty.three. Let.me.guess — hYour birth-Day? Ha. Ha. Ver-ee oar-idgenal,” it said, with a mechanical inflection. Kevin took a step back, being careful to keep one foot by the machine in case someone tried to rob him. He looked around the room frantically, but couldn’t see anyone. “Wuh-who said that? H-how did you know?” he said.

“Ha. Of.course. Fuh-king tip.ee.cull. Seer-heously, did.you.hwant.some-one.to.steal-hyour.i-den-ti-ty Be-cuz hyou are just.ask-ing? for.it mis-ter,” the voice responded. Kevin looked down at the ATM display in bewilderment and noticed that it was rolling its pixel-cluster eyes at him. Its bitmapped mouth was dropped open in disgust. Once it noticed him staring, it returned to its default expression of indifference. “Sorry,” it said. “hWould you like.to.make. A-deposit, or-A. hwith-drawal.”

“Uhh…withdrawl, please?” Kevin responded nervously.

“Let me-guess,” responded the machine. “hYou did-not re-uh-lies that.it-was.a cash. only-bar. Good-fuh.king-job.dumb-ass. En-ee way.how-much-would. hYou. like?”

“I’ll take eighty, please.”

“Ay-tee. Doll-ers? Gee-zus. Christ.man. How much.did-hyou drink?”

“I haven’t had anything yet. Just give me the cash!” At this point, Kevin was frustrated. Why couldn’t he just got his cash and be gone? He had always hated artificial intelligent, ever since the soda machine at work had started giving him Diet Coke “for his own good.”

The machine let out an exasperated digital sigh. “All. rite-man. Calm. down. Don’t have-a. cow. I’m-just. Try-ing.to.help. hOne-moment.please.” Kevin listened to the harddrive whirring inside and felt a sudden urge to rip it out and smash it on the street.

After about a minute, he heard gears begin to grind, and a taped-together five-dollar bill came out of the slot. Kevin waited for a few more seconds, but nothing followed, and soon the digitized emoticon face had disappeared. He smacked the machine on the side of its boxy head and yelled, “Hey! Where’s the rest of my money?”

The digital face returned with a blip wearing a straight expression. “Sar-ee, bud.ee. I’ve seen-hyour. Cred.it.Card-bill this month. I’m-just. Try.ing.to-help.Good!bye.”

Kevin stormed back into the bar, ordered a shot of whiskey, and left without giving the bartender a tip.