The Hacker Acumen – a Digital Zen Story

Consider the story of Leo, a lifelong hacker:

The Hacker Acumen

Leo has been serving one of the oldest technology organizations in the world for past 30 years.

Leo was a self-taught programmer who led his way to a multinational tech organization via acquisition of his own tech security services company.

Leo had used punch cards. Worked with age-old technologies such as Fortran, Cobol, Basic and C/C++, watched email being invented, coded business apps with Xbase languages such as Clipper, saw the PC market being taken over by Microsoft in mid-nineties and also saw Apple being the world’s most valuable company in the past decade surpassing the PC era.

Even in his fifties, Leo lived a geeky life. Several years ago his wife passed away. His children found their way in their own lives and here was Leo, alone yet peaceful and content with what he’s been doing with his life.

One Saturday night, he was spending some time working on a complex algorithm in his home office.

He saw an abnormal activity in one of the backup servers he was monitoring.  A hacker was trying to get into the server and get access to the code but was not able to.

Leo’s home backup server hosted the legacy code of an Operating System he had developed long ago.

Experienced Leo soon caught the hacker, “You’ve been trying so hard to break into my backup server,” he told the hacker, “and you should not return empty-handed. Please take the source code of the operating system I built long ago as a gift.”

The hacker was puzzled. He took the source code and went offline.

hacker-accumen

Leo sat on the floor, reflecting about hacking. “Poor guy,” he mused, “I wish I could give him my ‘Hacker Acumen’ to him, which means to create and learn, not to steal.”

My Takeaways

  1. Hacking does not mean breaching the security of systems; it means being a creator…a lifelong learner.
  2. If you commit to the work of your life then you don’t worry about spending your time at work. Even you’re at home, you create your workplace. You do it for a simple reason: it is no longer just your work, it’s your life!
  3. Source code has no value in the word of a competent hacker.  I remember when I was worried about “protecting” the source code of the Business Apps I was building in early 2000. Fast forward to 15 years and it has never helped me. I mean having a “copy” of the source code just gives mental relief that you have something, but in the real world, if you know what you’re doing, you’ll easily create new source code without any hassle. And if you’re not competent, it doesn’t matter much.
  4. Just trying to crack into someone’s server does not make you a hacker. A hacker has a ‘Hacker Acumen’,  a mindset of continuous exploring, trying, failing and learning.
  5. Get absolutely clear about hacking: Real hackers solve problems and build things, and they believe in freedom and voluntary mutual help; So-called hackers (Crackers) break them. Decide which kind of hacker you want to be.
Real hackers solve problems and build things; crackers break them. Choose to be a #hacker. Click To Tweet

Be a Real Hacker, Be Like Leo

be-a-hacker :: be-like-leo

This is Leo.

Leo is a hacker.

Leo spends a lot of time building things. Leo is crazy. Leo does not hack to break any system’s security. Leo hacks to help.

Leo has a real hacker acumen.

Be like Leo!

The Present of Humiliating Words – A Zen Story

There once lived a passionate painter. His name was Leo. Leo had been painting for 30 years and he was well respected for his unique creations and perspectives.

utpal "uv" vaishnav

Picture Courtesy: Parish Joshi

Leo’s reputation extended far and wide throughout the land and many students gathered to study under him.

“It is your point of view that makes you unique, not just the physical piece of art that you create,” Leo used to say to his students.

One day a young artist namely Lisa arrived in the city.

Lisa was an ordinary artist but she was on her way to conquering the world of art through techniques and so-called smartness (read: manipulative actions).

She would visit different cities, invite the most popular artist of the city to participate in a competition and would defeat the artist.

She wanted to prove that she is the smartest artist in the country.

Manipulation or smartness, fueled with good intent and married with right actions, can be a blessing. But when used wickedly, it is the beginning of an actor’s misery.

Lisa’s art…her paintings; were okay at their best but she used to trick her opponents by effectively using humiliating words and playing with the emotions of the artists. As soon as the competition begins, she’d use humiliating words by criticizing the artist’s style and habits and made the artist feel down and embarrassed.

Artists are sensitive beings so when they hear such disgracing words in front of public, they feel upset and their emotional disturbance would be reflected in the piece of art they create at that time.

Since the artist would not able to concentrate, Lisa’s ordinary art would stand out as a better one in the comparison.

Lisa had traveled to over 50 cities and won all the competitions using humiliation as a chief tool!

Enter Leo

Much against the advice of his concerned students, Leo gladly accepted the challenge.

As the competition began, Lisa started insulting Leo with her humiliation technique.

For hours, she verbally assaulted Leo with every curse and insult known to mankind. Leo merely stood there motionless and calm. Leo knew that Calmness is the cradle of power.

“Calmness is the cradle of power.” ~ Josiah Gillbert Holland

Finally, Lisa felt exhausted. Calmly, Leo started painting and invited Lisa also to do the same. As Leo started painting, he forgot that there was anyone other than him and his creation in that moment.

Lisa also started drawing but she could not concentrate. After looking at the art she created within first 10 minutes, she felt ashamed and left.

The students gathered around Leo and questioned him, “How could you endure such an indignity? How could you stay calm when she was using so many humiliating words about your capabilities?”

“If someone gives you a present and you do not accept it,” Leo said, “to whom does the present belong?”

Why North is Not the Best Direction for Sleeping in India

“Never keep your head facing North,” they typically say in India. “It’s a ritual. Vaastu does not permit it.”

I’ve always wondered why is it so. Is there a logical reason for not doing that? I understand Vaastu is a subject of life energy – and energy has to have some roots in science. Maybe our consciousness has not understood it yet.

In the quest of finding out the truth, I came across this video from Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev:

“If you place your head to the north and stay that way for 5 to 6 hours, the magnetic pull will cause pressure on your brain.”  ~ Sadhguru

So if you are in Australia, South may not be the best direction for sleeping and if you’re in India, North is not. Important here is not to follow a ritual blindly but go to the roots of its WHY and then make an informed decision.

Here is a resourceful post on Sleeping Positions: Why North Is Not The Best Direction from Isha Foundation.

My takeaway: Rituals are fine but when you understand the scientific reasons behind them, you might want to follow it not because it is a ritual but because you think that’s the right thing to do.

The Happiness Experiment

Today we have access to an abundance of luxuries money can buy.

Today if something is happening in one part of the world, then we get to know in just a few seconds thanks to the digital revolution we have been witnessing.

Technology has solved so many of the problems our previous generations had faced: mail is replaced with emails, in-person meetings are replaced with Skype, FaceTime and Phone Calls, and manual processes & systems are replaced with Automated Systems, Software and Apps.

Speed + Agility are considered the virtues of our time.

If you are Smart + Fast + Uber-intellectual, then others admire you.

If you have generated material results for your (or anyone else’s) business, then you are regarded as a respectable entity in your  industry and many community organizations ask you to join their board as a mentor, advisor, consultant or a director.

If you have extraordinaire skills of handling difficult situations, the world is ready to do everything possible to pay you more $$$ and get more out of your abilities.

The Language of Accomplishment has become a universal language that everyone seems to be speaking… and practicing… and appreciating. I’m not sure about the “understanding” part, though but that’s not the point.

Why do we chase material accomplishments?

To live a happy and joyful life, isn’t it?

But, are we really happy?

If you answer is an absolute YES then you don’t need to read the remaining part of this post. The purpose of this post is solved!

But if your answer is NO then you should read on.

Okay, and if your answer is not an outright NO, but you took more than a couple of seconds to answer the above question (delayed NO) then you are dreaming doing something else than what you have been doing. You should also read on 🙂

I know that you want to run away from your present state and spend more time with the state that you have been imagining in your mind.

But you know that if you do that, you might lose the material success you have created for you – so you continue doing what you have been doing… unhappily.

What if we get a moment or two of happiness to connect with something that will give us happiness?

For me, photography is one such avenue.

Last week, my better half Kavita invited me to participate in an experiment where I was supposed to post 7 Nature photographs on Facebook and ask other photography enthusiasts from my circle to do the same.

During 2008-2013, I spent some good time with my Camera but in last 2-3 years, I kept away with it for several valid reasons (read: excuses) so it was a refreshing invite.

Long story short, I am participating in the experiment. Here are the Nature pics (experiment ongoing …)

Would you like to live in an unhappy world full of accomplishments?

If not, then my invitation to you is to pause for a moment, reconnect with one activity that can potentially give you internal happiness and just do that!

And the world will become a happier place :).

 

 

 

Is that so – a modern Zen Story

Alex, an intelligent, detailed oriented and calm Computer Programmer was praised by his colleagues for his ability to solve complex problems without getting stressed.

He was working with a Software Development Company and he was so respected that many clients used to put a clause in the contract that the company would get the contract only if Alex is part of the development team.

One day a young and attractive software developer, Lisa joined the company. She was to be the point of contact for the company’s biggest client account. What’s more, she was hired based on a strong recommendation from the same client.

Few months passed and the client discovered that the software version they received had a business-critical bug. It made the client upset and they asked Lisa about who was responsible for causing the bug. She would not confess initially but after much questioning, at last, she named Alex.

With great anger, the client went to Alex. “Is that so?” was all Alex would say.

 

Is that so?

“Now you will need to work on the day and night and fix the critical bug within next 24 hours or your company will lose the contract and also the legal battle.” The client demanded.

“Is that so?” Alex said calmly as he accepted to fix the critical bug.

Few months later when Lisa could not stand it longer, she told the client the truth: the real bug was caused by her and not Alex.

The customer went to Alex and asked for his forgiveness, to apologize at length and offer them praise and bonus and express their gratitude.

This time also, Alex was calm and peaceful. All he said was: “Is that so?”

Lesson: Whatever the problem, keep calm and always focus on the solution.

Whatever the problem, keep calm and always focus on the solution. #hackyou Click To Tweet

May the Force Be With You

Reading a very powerful writeup by Albert Camus. Here it goes:

“In the midst of hate, I found there was, within me, an invincible love.
In the midst of tears, I found there was, within me, an invincible smile.
In the midst of chaos, I found there was, within me, an invincible calm.

I realized, through it all, that…

In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer.
And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger – something better, pushing right back.”

~Albert Camus

Above write-up brings in tremendous hope and reestablishes the faith we all should have in ourselves if we are on our path to living our personal legend.

While reflecting on those lines, some thought-pictures are created in my mind. Here they go:

In the midst of desert, I found there was, within me, a beautiful lake.  In the midst of night, I found there was, within me, an unbeatable morning.

I realize through it all, that …

No matter how difficult the challenges are, within me, there is a force that wants me to push back. The force wants me to live my personal legend there is no matter what.

May the Force be with me … and with you.

light within darkness

Startup India Standup India: Create Something Today

Has Indian startup eco-system seen a better initiative than this – Startup India Standup India?

With Government of India’s Startup India, Standup India initiative, which is intended to build a strong ecosystem for nurturing innovation and Startups in the country, I am seeing the Sun of new hopes for creating something on the face of an uncertain next.

Startup India Standup India

Since the thought of building the Startup ecosystem has got an attention from the Government, the economy is going to be benefited from it. You get better at what you focus on!

Highlights:

  1. A Rs. 10,000 crore fund for startups
  2. A single point of registration for startups
  3. A simplified regulatory regime based on self-certification
  4. A fast-track mechanism filing patent applications
  5. A credit guarantee fund for startups
  6. Tax exemption for three years, and capital gains
  7. A Startup India Hub for collaboration
  8. Relaxed norms of public-procurement
  9. Faster exits for startups
  10. Atal Innovation Mission to encourage entrepreneurship and innovation
  11. Innovation focused programs for students
  12. An annual incubator grand challenge

More Info on Startup India Standup India Initiative

With this initiative, I visualize that the Indian youth will get better at creating more rather than complying or consuming.

Still today, many smart grads think that since they’ve finished their degree education, they should get a highly paying job if they “comply” to the set standards and commonly accepted norms. Not an effective strategy in 2016. A better way is to create something that only you can create. Be a Linchpin!

Why it it a better way?

Because you will be the first in your own creation. Rather than worrying about getting chosen, you will be able to choose!

Is it a silver bullet?

No, it is not and I am sure this initiative will pass through iterations and improvements in its due course but this is the nature of any new creation … and guess what, effective startup founders are comfortable dealing with uncomfortable situations with ease. Be one.

Opportunity is to focus less on compliance and more on creation … create something today. Let us Start Up India!