Hints and Hacks (QST)

Discussion in 'General Announcements' started by KK5R, Apr 15, 2018.

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  1. KK5R

    KK5R Ham Member QRZ Page

    Robert, it's obvious that you're no hack. :):):)
  2. N2SUB

    N2SUB Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    In IT, a hack is universally seen as a short-term solution that is not based on sound programming and should never be implemented because it risks breaking other systems, it can potentially corrupt data, it is a security weakness, or it creates more work for developers assigned to maintain the code. A hack is generally undocumented. Hard-coding a value instead of using a table to look it up is a very simple example of a hack. It's like using the doughnut spare when you get a flat...it will get you to the next gas station, but if you are planning on taking a trip, you'll need to get a new tire.

    A "hacker" is a cleaver fellow who exposes the weaknesses in the code, and leverages them to steal personal information, cause systems to malfunction, or even steal money. The hacker recognizes hacks in a system and exploits them for their own personal gain. So, a "hacker" might fit your description because they are using a computer system to do something other than what it was intended to do, but he is doing so by exploiting hacks in the code. From an IT perspective, both "hack" and "hacker" have negative connotations...unless you don't mind a website coded with weak security (a hack) and a guy exploiting the weakness and stealing your credit card number (a hacker).

    Don't believe everything you read on wikipedia. ;)
    KK5R likes this.
  3. KV6O

    KV6O Ham Member QRZ Page

    And you hit the core issue. QST is trying to appeal to the new set of hams joining our ranks, and "what's a kink" is exactly what I thought when I became a ham in 2003. Hack seems to have more negative connotations the older you are, today you have several maker websites that use the work "hack" in the context that it is being used in the magazine.

    If it didn't change, I wouldn't have noticed... we say lots of weird things in this hobby, like "73" or "HI HI" (Yes, I understand the history behind these). But try Googling "kink" vs. "hack" and see what you get... :rolleyes:

    Some folks hate any kind of change. The reasoning behind the change was given by the editor last year when they switched. No big deal, and life moves on, and maybe some 16 year old who picks up a copy of QST will see the column as "Hints and Hacks" - in it's positive framework (like hackaday) rather than the negative. I can tell you, a 16 year old's definition of "kinks" is going to not be ham radio (or technology) related. :D

    But really... "Tempest in a Teapot"? I'd be fine if the column stayed with the same name, but I am good with QST trying to engage with a younger audience as well. I only take issue with the argument that there is only one definition for the word.
    AG5DB and KA9JLM like this.
  4. KA9JLM

    KA9JLM Ham Member QRZ Page

    Times are changing.

  5. KV6O

    KV6O Ham Member QRZ Page

    I spent 25+ years in IT, first as a Novell SysAdmin in the late 80's, then managing an IT department, then as a Systems Engineer, then finally as a SE Manager, with IT consulting sprinkled in representing companies like Computer Associates. Now I run a Motorola radio system that is nothing more than a collection of VMWare machines, routers, firewalls, etc. In a production IT environment, hack is more negative than positive - yes. "Hack job, we got hacked", etc. In a research environment, not so much (think defcon.org) - and in the maker space it's a positive. Ham Radio isn't production IT. If you want the best IT Security, you want something vetted by the IT hacker community, do you not? Someone with true hacked cred isn't an idiot, it's someone folks at the NSA want to hire.

    I'd agree with your spare tire analogy for certain "hacks", but that's a good thing and potentially a life-saver. I knew how to put a process on the sleep-stack of a Novel server that ABEND'ed (Abnormal END - kinda like a BSOD) and this "saved the day" more than a few times by bringing back from the dead a server that had crashed. Now, it needed a reboot, but this could now be scheduled. A "hack", but made me the hero more than once.
  6. N2SUB

    N2SUB Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    SOC4? SOC7? or the dreaded SOC1? I go back that far. An old interview question...."What's a SOC4?". The correct answer, in my view anyway, was "To keep your feet warm". Gotta keep it light.

    I see your point.
  7. KK5R

    KK5R Ham Member QRZ Page

    English is a Living Language. This means that new words are added every day. It also means that old words take on new meaning but not all those meanings are good and productive and some are merely humorous twists with the well-known American sense of humor attached to it. But when a word acquires a new meaning that when applied to other terms but with a negative twist to it, then that word suddenly becomes more than a negative because now it's compounded.

    Many here want to rationalize and hint that this attracts new people, some who are new to ham radio and some who may not know what "kink" represents. These are newbies and if they want to assimilate into ham radio, they need to learn what the old traditional terms meant and should still mean. Sure, I know ham radio is quickly turning into keyboards and "smart" push buttons and knobs are seen as squirrelly little critters that take secondary position to a cursor. And why is it necessary to change ham radio so those diddle stick heroes can cope with technology that won wars (and I don't mean gamers' wars, either)???

    At one time "gay"was related to "happy" but now it has changed so if I call someone a gay person or refer to someone as a "gay blade," there may be some resentment. See where this is going? Not all language change is for the good and generally acceptable by society or a sub-set of society.

    I've been in computer technology since the mid-80's and taught Microsoft office to my organization when it went paperless. I was not born in the dark. But "hack" relates to computers, not to ham radio. "Kink," on the other hand, as relates to "Hints and Kinks" relates to Ham Radio and was at one time a decades old column in QST magazine, the journal of the ARRL. For me, the ARRL (and QST) are gooing the way of Western Union, being replaced by new technology like JT-8, etc. These new technologies can ADD to ham radio like RTTY and Slow Scan because the hobby is big enough to encompass a lot of electronic communications technologies. However, Hack relates to Computers, not directly to ham radio except as a tool.

    Here's an alternative to satisfy those who fear that ham radio will fade away unless they attract a rash of computer nerds into the hobby:

    Why not add a section to QST that is dedicated to Computers much like 73 Magazine did? Keep in mind, though, that it became such a big thing that this 73 Mag venture evolved to the point where Byte Magazine was started up. Where are these magazines today? To save time, then, why doesn't the ARRL just hire some computer phreaks and set up a new magazine and call it "Hacker"??? Is this where it's headed?

    Again, why change something if it's not an enhancement, not needed, called for or wanted? If it's indeed because they want to attract some computer nerds, let them first prove they want to be hams and willing to learn what that takes. If they want to waltz in and change ham radio to some IT-derivative, than why not first teach them the lore of CW and what that form of quasi digital communication system was all about? Instead, they seem to want the advertisers' bucks and plan to get it by increasing the numbers in the ham radio community with those who don't see ham radio as an end unto itself.
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2018
  8. K5TCJ

    K5TCJ Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Which reinforces the notion that this name change, was make solely for the sake of change.
    KA0HCP and KK5R like this.
  9. KV6O

    KV6O Ham Member QRZ Page


    No. And this is exactly WHY QST made the change. Did you read the editor's discussion on why they chose this? QST, and the ARRL are in the business of attracting newbies. You don't do that by dictating terms. Honoring traditions is one thing, expecting that newcomers do it the way you want is another. The hobby is what we collectively make it, not the other way around.

    You keep insisting that "Hack" is only a computer term. And that "computer nerds" is the audience being addressed here. Neither are correct.

    The Maker movement is where it's at today - not computers. Today it's about integrating microcontrollers into your Halloween costume, building CNC machines, 3D printers IoT, drones, etc. What used to be a computer club in the 80's is now a "maker space". Kids don't join a computer club at school, they get involved with STEM programs. Our local libraries have computers for general use, yes, but they also have laser cutters/engravers, desktop CNC machines, 3D scanners, 3D printers, sewing machines, video studios, etc. Three of my library district locations have Epilog laser engravers/cutters for patrons to use. I know, cuz I use them, and so do lots of kids making stuff. Computers are just the tools to be able to run a laser cutter, CNC, 3D printer - the focus isn't on the computer nearly as much as it was 25 years ago. Making stuff is where it's at.

    Do you know what a "phreak" is? Telephone/communications hackers were called "phreaks", not computer hackers. And that was 30 years ago!

    And BTW, the term "Nerd" is cool now. My step-daughter is in high school, and is a total nerd and geek - and loves it. She's the one the hobby needs.

    I seriously think you're out of touch with what's actually going on. Computer nerds aren't trying to get in the hobby. Go visit your local maker space, pick up Make magazine, visit hackaday.com, look at where the kids that should be future hams are. Visit a library and if they have a makerspace, see who's in there, and what they are doing.
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2018
    AG5DB likes this.
  10. KV6O

    KV6O Ham Member QRZ Page

    I'll add this. When I first saw the the change, I was thinking the same thing - was this change for change's sake? I read the editorial, and thought about it, and it made sense. After debating it here, and am even more sure about it. :p

    The change wasn't for us. It wasn't for folks that have been hams for 50 years. And it isn't for computer nerds either.
    AG5DB likes this.

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