Switched On: Touched by a hacker

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Each week Ross Rubin contributes Switched On, a column about technology, multimedia, and digital entertainment:

I glanced at the clock, 1:36 PM. Perhaps I should not have gotten my hopes up. For weeks I’d been exchanging e-mail with an elite hacker who promised to speak with me about the latest attempt to free hardware from the shackles of manufacturers that bind it, sticking it to such companies by making their products more desireable.

Just then, Skype lit up like a flaming notebook battery. It was the notorious hacker 5m0kNcR4K. A shadowy figure in the videoconferencing window spoke in a disguised voice.

“I’m in ur Skype, grantin’ ur interview. Do not try to identify me. By using advanced digital video effects, I have pixelated my facial image, put myself in silhouette, and added a big blue dot in front of my face.”

“What video effect makes it look like you have bunny ears?”

“Oh, that’s just a mask I picked up at Party City.”

“We could have just spoken by phone, you know. Or just used VOIP. Besides, I thought we were set to talk at 1 PM.”

“I thought 13:37 would be more appropriate.”

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