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Peace to you, and welcome! I should warn you: you've asked me to explain one
of the longest stories I know... also, unfortunately for you, one of my 
favorite ones. But the ones who sit down (I'm sure you're not standing while 
in front of your computer) and listen to my story will learn much more than 
they think, not just about history but also about friendship, respect and 

A long time ago, reversing wasn't called reversing. That was mainly because 
people didn't reverse programs, but most of all because they didn't reverse 
reality at all. Some of them had very good technical skills, but used them to
become famous, or even to make money, just by unprotecting programs. And even
if sometimes, thinking about those days, I wish that some of those gurus had
spread their knowledge instead of keeping everything for theirselves, now I
just think that it just wasn't the right moment. So, that period remains for
me as a Golden Era of Myth, where I could go out and buy a magazine with tons
of pirated videogames, and spend the rest of the day playing with them, good
as the original ones even if their names had always been changed... All I 
learned from the beautiful intros of many games was that this art was called
_cracking_, and that some "elite" groups mastered that art so well that they
could unprotect almost any software.

Years later, a good and powerful master (whose real identity is still -and
probably will remain- unknown) decided to share his cracking knowledge with
others. Well, "with others" is not right: he wanted to share it with 
_everyone_. That's why he decided to write and spread on the Internet a 
collection of tutorials, in which you could learn from the basics of DOS 
cracking to the standard of bar codes, reading something about Windows 
protections and reality reversing too.

What was reality reversing? Well, it was just the same techniques you use for
software reversing, but applied to everything else which surrounds you in the
"real" world (how much will this world be the real one is another thing we 
could speak about, but that's another story). And this doesn't mean you can 
patch a jump in a person, or that you can debug a supermarket, at least not 
with the same tools you use with a computer: this means, instead, that you 
can use the same _mind_processes_ and _rational_techniques_ to crack a 
program, reverse a piece of news inside a newspaper or buy a SBLive paying it
as if it was a SB16 (someone really did it just playing for a while with 
barcodes...). And if the rational part of your mind still isnt' enough, just
follow the Zen way!

This great master was the first one I heard speaking about Zen Cracking, and 
this is an idea nobody will ever be able to delete from my mind. Even now, 
after so much inactivity, when I happen to crack something I sometimes still
can _feel_ the code and, as it happens when a Zen student reaches 
illumination, I understand in a moment how everything works. If it happened
to you too, you can understand what I mean.

The man of Zen Cracking was +ORC, the Old Red Cracker, master for _all_ the 
"pluses" you might meet in your life. If I remember well, he decided to use 
that plus before his name to make it harder to find with search engines... 
Anyway, all the people who wear that plus are either his students or have 
decided to use it as a sign of respect to that wise man.

I was talking about students... Well, yes, because he didn't just upload his 
tutorials and let them teach all the hard stuff for him, but he created an 
online school for those who really wanted to learn the art of cracking. The 
name of this school was "High Cracking University", and you might probably
still find something about it on the net just by searching for "+HCU" or
"+HCUckers", which is the name of its students.

I'm not one of the "first generation" students, because I reached the school
only one year after +ORC opened it. And while I was studying to solve the
"strainer" (which, IMO, was probably the easiest one in the whole history of
the university), people like +swann (the first student who published a tute
at +fravia's), +fravia (who created a website which has been a starting point
for most of the reversers you can meet now) and +gthorne (another mighty 
reverser whose page has been the home of the great +orcpacks, and whose name 
is still present in the +HCU*nix messageboard) were working together and
creating new tutorials which would have become guides for the next generation
of crackers.

I joined the +HCU during its second year of life, and published my first tute
on +fravia's after a few days. But the story of the +HCU is another story,
and I'll tell it another time. Since then, many years passed and I joined
other groups of reversers. I learned many new things from +HCUckers and from
other people (a big hug goes to all RingZero friends), but I still remember
what +ORC wrote just a few weeks after my admission... 

I leave you with +his words: please read this mail, think that it was
October 1997 and look with your eyes how much he had already understood of 
the future.

Now that you know the story, go and tell it to your kids. And if you feel 
you respect this great man, feel free to put a plus before your name and/or
drop a 'hi +ORC' here in this forum (I'll start a new thread for this). I'm
sure that wherever +he is now, if +he likes to browse his students' sites
from time to time, +he'll be happy to read this ;)

work well,


Greetings, new and old friends, I owe you some explanations.

And I have some work for you.

   I'll tell you a (minor) secret: when I started publishing my tutorial
on Usenet, back in 1995, I did not know exactly where I would have landed.
My idea, to put it simply, was to take advantage of the might of Internet in
terms of anonymity, international dimension, easy access and "just in time" 
modifiability, in order to spread a very simple message using (as major vector) 

software cracking... this I deemed necessary coz verba movent, exempla trahunt.
   My message was threefold:
-       knowledge should from now on be free, we should not allow any barrier 
        whatsoever any more;
-       everybody should not only be allowed, but also helped to develop his 
-       the consum oriented society wherein we are compelled to live is NOT 
        free, nor correct, nor the best possible one, far from it. We must 
        help others, blinded by a well-concerted propaganda, to realise this.
  If you examine these three sentences, you'll see that they support each other 

and that these same principle have been, many centuries ago, at the basis 
of the foundation of the "real" universities all over Europe.
  The word "university" is in itself a sort of synonym for "international 
dimension"... indeed knowledge does not care about national or physical 
nor worries about different social systems, racial or gender differences.
  Language of course can (and did) represent a problem for the diffusion of 
knowledge (and more generally for the relations between humans), yet the english 

'pidgin' used to-day on the Web is a good (albeit emendable) solution. The fact 

that many among us are NOT English native speakers seems fortunately to 
a negligible problem nowadays. 
  Now, you see, in our to-day world knowledge is often (if wrongly) connected 
to software. Software importance is due to its paramount importance for all 
modern scientific disciplines. These are deemed important in order to create 
(and sell) the incredible amount of useless gadgets that let this society 
roll on towards its own well deserved doom. 
Note -incidentally- that 'humanistic' disciplines are nowadays reserved 
only to the very rich people, poor slaves are not supposed at all 
to study greek or latin, or poetry or philosophy... vita sine litteris mors 
est! Young 'university level' slaves are tricked into following scientific 
'trends' which may be useful for a short span, but whose short life will 
secure to the same gullible slaves an unemployed or under-employed miserable 
status later on. Or does anyone of you think that he could get teached in 
some other 'real world' university 'trend' courses that what he is 
learning here?.
  Anyway I felt that it was pretty important to use in this context the only 
scalpel I know of, since software and Internet are indeed a knowledge vector. 
This scalpel of mine is (you have guessed it :=) a cracking attitude.
  When I started the +HCU project, inside my "C" lessons, in April 1996, I 
basically wanted to find some help: i.e. someone else capable of disclosing 
our art, some fellow crackers capable of carrying on and ameliorate the 
kind of work I was trying to do.
  The "Instant Access" strainer was -alas!- much too hard for the "scene" 
knowledge of that time (I believe that now many of you would crack that 
crap much more easily). And I got very few answers. My luck was that I
have found very good students among those few.
  Unfortunately in the last two semesters I was taken by other projects 
(which have much more to do with 'history cracking' than with software 
cracking as +gthorne knows :=) and I did not have the time to follow my 
very good (and few) students.
 Yet their work nonetheless (or may be for this very reason :=) went
beyond all my expectancies: reverser+ and +gthorne, with the help of +Sync, 
did develop something that surpasses by far, for contents and available 
free knowledge, anything I had ever seen on the net before.
  A real "Academy" (as reverser+ has called it) of software deprotection 
that serves already now as comprehensive reference for all 'protectionists'
and de-protectionists alike (and you should hear the deference and 
admiration that has been expressed by some 'very high' software bonzes 
for many of the essays that have been published there :=)
  The "Microsoft" strainer of April 1997 inside my lesson 4.2 found a much
greater audience. Potius sero, quam nunquam. Inside our 1998 +HCU courses 
we will have a dozen of students, clearly too many to be followed and tutored 
as they deserve by me alone.
  I will therefore create once more various 'units', but this time I'll 
try to place inside each one of them some experienced crackers together 
with some less experienced ones. each unit will be targeted towards some 
specific project (yet of course anyone will be able to swap courses if 
he likes so).
  Next year we will therefore have a REAL university (or at least the 
beginning of it). It will of course be completely free, for anybody that 
has deserved it through is work.
  I'll personally invite some "famous" crackers (friends of mine) to give 
you "ad hoc" (or ad personam) specific courses... and during our 1998 
academic year we will meet (figuratively speaking :=) some eminent "hacker" 
personality too.
  The "real" universities of yesterday have also been a cosmopolite meeting 
point... people from many nations and languages and social situations have 
brought there their personal contribution... this allowed formidable 
progresses and an incredible evolution of the societies of those times.
  Our society has come to an awful regression point. Useless nationalism 
and petty provincial attitudes are rampant (even inside the 'real world' 
universities :=( while at the same time few international commercial oligarchs 
are dominating the whole world as if it where a conquered "Unicum".
  Everything seems to be geared towards consume and money, as if the main
wish of humanity should consist in an 'hamster' life, hoarding useless 
gadgets and munching them with full cheeks while loosing at the same time 
more and more all the precious attributes that form the "quality of life".
  Software will be used in that sense too: giving them more and more 
VIRTUAL life quality and hiddenly stealing the last real bits of it.
  Our university will be really 'universal'... some of you may -already 
now- have many friends from different continents, good friends 
that they may never have met, but that they read and/or hear every day, 
friends that 'in the real world' come in all varieties of colours, 
religions, beliefs and costumes. It's the human race coming together 
anew after dozen of thousands of years, something that our forefathers 
could only have dreamed of. It's a vulcan we are sitting on, and we should 
contribute to crack it open.
  In fact for once in history our diversities make us STRONG instead than 
feeble. They help us to develop even quicker than our masters. It's an old 
lesson: when the provincialism of a closed society is broken, 
when input and ideas can circulate freely (and the anonymity of the web 
plays a very important catalitic role in all this) then an incredible 
rhythm can be conveyed to the development of each one of us.
  Let's also not forget that our very craving for knowledge, together with 
our longing for justice, represents already now a considerable power, a 
power that some of our enemies are beginning to feel. We are at the right 
place in the right moment, don't forget it never.

  I would like to try to perform an 'assessment' of the capabilities of 
each one of you that goes byond the (easy) strainer that you have solved 
this sommer. You are not compelled to take part to this 'project', and 
since you passed the strainer you'll be admitted to the courses on the 
first of January anyway, of course, yet if you only find the time, I 
would like you all to partecipate, I would like more elements to 'group' 
you for the courses. 
Besides I believe that this project is interesting per se (I got the idea 
for this project from lazy reverser+ :=)
The Acrobat project, preparation for the 1998 +HCU courses

  ACROBAT FORMAT FILES security settings have not yet been cracked, 
AFAIK, and therefore this makes the target a very nice (and very 
interesting and very important) project to work on.
Acrobat format files are those  *.pdf files in portable document 
format that you can only read (yet not write) with the free Adobe 
reader. The idea behind this being, as usual, common greed. If Adobe 
had given to anybody reader and acrobat (writer) for free, this (very 
good) format would have been by now the standard on the web. 
Yet they just wanted to make money. Result: only few people are using 
this. We'll change all this right now!

First (this should be easy if you work in group):
Defeat the security settings: a PDF document author can choose to 
restrict access to a file by requiring an open password or 
by restricting the use of certain tools and commands.
If a file requires an open password, you must enter the password to view 
the file. When a file has restricted access, any restricted tools and 
menu items are dimmed. We don't like 'restricted access' per definition, 
so crack this :=)

Second (this is a little more difficult, but you'll have great 
satisfaction if and when you master it): a good comprehension of this pdf 
format will allow you to quickly write a *.txt ==> *.pdf file converter 
which we will then distribute (of course for free) on the net.
Yes, we'll do now that what Adobe should have madeby itself long ago. 
De nihilo, nihil:
You'll find some first info (and you'll be able to download reader) at
At the beginning of your work you'll quikly find out that there 
is already a first (bad) attempt at cracking this format on the web.
Actually it is not a 'crack', but a programmer that wanted to port 
acrobat to another platform (and had some problems with Adobe, of 
course). You'll be able to download there some files specifications 
that will spare you a lot of work.
You'll have to perform some social engineering as well, in order to 
get the info you need: that is good, a good cracker IS a social engineer.

I believe you'll have to work a little to crack this project which 
will teach you a lot in my opinion, and there is another advantage: 
by yourself to form little groups, you'll see how quikly you'll get 
to the solution thattaway.

Work well


2014-06-11 14:17