Rob Vincent dot net

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November 18, 2009

Five questions

Rob @ 1:30 PM

Here's a thing that's been going around LiveJournal.

Instructions:
Leave me a comment saying "Resistance is Futile."

• I'll respond by asking you five questions so I can satisfy my curiosity
• Update your journal with the answers to the questions
• Include this explanation in the post and offer to ask other people questions

I don't really dig telling other people what to blog, so if you like please feel free to just post your answers in the comments to this post instead.

Now then, I swiped this from Tottenkoph, who asked me:

1. How'd you get involved with Off the Hook?
I think that came about because of a number of factors.

Long story short: I'd known Emmanuel and the crew for ages via our 2600 meetings and the HOPE conferences. After years of volunteering for odd jobs at HOPE and doing the odd presentation, I ended up joining the core staff of The Last HOPE. That led to hanging out with the crew more, sitting in the studio during the show now and then, and eventually being invited on mic. At first it was to talk about HOPE, and if you look up the episodes from around then in the archive you can clearly hear I had no idea WTF I was doing on a live radio broadcast of a show that'd helped to change my life years before (more on that in my answer to the next question) but I eventually got more comfortable with it. It's been and continues to be an absolute blast.

2. What got you interested in hacking/phreaking?
Long story long: Ever since I was a small child I've been fascinated by how things work. As soon as I could hold a screwdriver I was taking apart my toys. I was glued to science programs more than cartoons. Typical nerdy 80s kid.

In the mid 1980s my family was pretty damned poor, but my mom had the foresight to somehow scrape up the cash for a home computer; a brand spanking new TRS-80 Color Computer. I remember the trip to Radio Shack, I was around 8 or 9 years old. They had a demo TRS-80 running some game or other the Radio Shack salesman taught me how to control, and I was really excited at the prospect of getting one of these things for myself. My mom talked with the salesman about how advanced I was in school, etc. while I played around on the demo. Then I dragged my mom over to the game cartridges, figuring we'd have to get some of these to go with my new computer; being a veteran of Atari consoles I knew how these things worked. However, that Radio Shack guy did something that tangibly altered the course of my life; he handed my mom a couple of BASIC manuals instead. One was kid-level with BASIC games you had to type into the machine to play, and the other was the extra-fat manual which actual programmers used. I remember actually being a bit disappointed, until the salesman explained to me that there were more games in those two books than there were on the whole shelf of cartridges, and the books would even teach me how to make my own games.

Sooo, this led me to teach myself BASIC out of these books, which of course led to the realization that I could change the code to make the games work differently. I also figured out the basics of making my own programs. There were also graphics programs, and since I was already addicted to drawing I jumped at the opportunity to draw with my computer. I learned that the real possibilities of this wonderful machine were in changing and creating, not just passively using, and I never looked back.

I'll always wish I could track down that Radio Shack guy; he must have recognized that spark of a potential geek and figured out how to best encourage me on that path.

As for getting involved in the public hacker scene, that actually came about from finding Off the Hook on my radio dial. I was not a social creature at all as a teenager (I dont think the term "brooding and disaffected" really begins to cover it) but I was hooked on BBSes, and later email discussion lists and message boards. Happening upon Emmanuel and the others talking openly about hacking and phreaking stuff had really been the first thing to drive the fact home to me that there was indeed a living breathing scene out there in the real world full of geeks like me, and eventually led to me venturing nervously out to my first 2600 meeting to be a part of it all.

3. Have you ever presented/are you interested in presenting?
I've co-presented a couple of HOPE panels with my pals from Phone Losers of America, but those aren't traditional presentations so much as us being totally random and making teh funny while playing our old pranks. I remain interested in doing that sort of thing again, as well as some other stuff I have half an idea to do. Watch this space.

4. Are you going to NOTACON this upcoming year?
I truly hope so! I absolutely loved Notacon, and have resolved to go to every one I can from now on.

5. What is the newest thing you've put on your iPod?
I have no iPod, just a $10 USB stick that plays audio. The last thing I added to it was this pair of mashup albums.

16 Responses to “Five questions”

  1. nicky says:

    resistance...is...futile. :D

  2. murd0c says:

    resilience is food.

  3. Jenn says:

    Resistance is Futile

    I wish you had more time to make more music.

  4. sidepocket says:

    Resistance is A Film Starring Dannel Craig.

  5. ellipser says:

    The Resisty is Fighting...

  6. Tottenkoph says:

    RESISTANCE IS FUTILE!

  7. Rob says:

    @nicky:

    1. How are things at Pumping Station One?
    2. What color is your hair these days?
    3. How much would someone have to pay you to grow in your natural hair color?
    4. Have you thanked Parker Brothers for including the SPOOOORTS category in Trivial Pursuit thereby insuring that I can't beat you?
    5. Any neat holiday plans?

  8. Rob says:

    @murd0c:

    1. Where the hell have you been? I haven't seen you in ages.
    2. What's a movie you like which people wouldn't normally think is your thing?
    3. How do you pronounce "Palahniuk?"
    4. Who's your favorite game show host?
    5. hax?

  9. Rob says:

    @Jenn:

    1. What started you collecting phone company recordings?
    2. Which song from Rocky Horror or Shock Treatment is your favorite?
    3. What animal is most delicious?
    4. What was the last video game you played?
    5. How did you end up being a Troma extra?

  10. Rob says:

    @sidepocket:

    1. Do any photos of you without facial hair exist?
    2. What was your favorite cartoon as a kid?
    3. How did you discover NYC2600?
    4. What's the best thing about your neighborhood?
    5. How'd you fall in with the Yes Men?

  11. Rob says:

    @ellipser:

    1. What started you blogging?
    2. What's your favorite thing to drink?
    3. What is your current favorite song?
    4. What's your favorite thing about your house?
    5. Where's the furthest you've ever been from home?

  12. Rob says:

    @Tottenkoph:

    1. How did you come by the name Tottenkoph?
    2. If you could permanently cancel any current TV show, what would it be?
    3. What inspired you to get into neurohacking?
    4. What item in your toolbox could you not live without?
    5. What was the last book you read?

  13. Cyrus says:

    Resistance is the opposite of conductance.

  14. Rob says:

    @Cyrus:

    1. What was the last piece of music you really enjoyed?
    2. What's your favorite pasta?
    3. What's a news source you dig?
    4. How did you choose your screenname?
    5. What's it going to take to entice you back to a 2600 meeting?

  15. Jenn says:

    What started you collecting phone company recordings?

    It was a whim, actually. I decided I wanted a web page and back then it was trendy to make a completely useless website so that's what I set out to do.

    Which song from Rocky Horror or Shock Treatment is your favorite?

    Oh, that's a tough one. The favorite changes constantly. From Rocky, Over at the Frankenstein Place and Once in a While. From Shocky, Bitchin in the Kitchen, and Anyhow, Anyhow. But the best song from either movie, hands down, is Me of Me. It's too bad the reception to Shock Treatment was so poor, it is brilliant and far more clever than Rocky. Also, eerily predictive and ahead of its time.

    What animal is most delicious?

    You're Italian, you know as well as I do the most delicious animal is PIG.

    What was the last video game you played?

    It has been a long time since I sat down to play a video game, unfortunately. I've tried Super Mario Galaxy. I played Dungeons and Dragons Online for a few days.

    How did you end up being a Troma extra?

    My friend (who was also in the movie) was friends with the director. It really was just right place, right time.

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