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Old 12-14-2016, 04:07 PM   #1
hOoLiGaNNNNNNN
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Between Nowhere and Everything: a hOoLiGaN is Born

I've tried writing a blog many times before, much to no avail. So, if I fail to update this thread I will apologize in advance.

Perhaps it was that I never felt like I had an audience, or a story worth really telling. In fact, I think the opposite was true. I had too many stories and I didn't really know where to start. So, this time around I'm just going to start at the beginning. You'll have to bear with me for a few posts though as the first few years of my life were quite boring and uneventful.


The early years
I was the youngest of three boys born to parents who were far too young and a little too broke to even be having children. Except, not in the way that deadbeat parents shouldn't have kids. In fact, they were actually amazing parents and role models who would have done anything for me and my brothers. I didn't even know we were "poor" until much later in life when my Dad told me a story about writing himself a check from one account (that was empty) to deposit into a different one so he could pay bills/buy groceries a few days before payday -- back when funds didn't instantly disappear from your account.

We lived in a small duplex, in a suburb of one of the Midwest's younger cities. It was one of those neighborhoods where kids ran around all day in the summer with no worries, and your Mom yelled at you from the front porch that dinner was ready. It was perfectly situated between the boring life of country farm living (nowhere) and the hustle and bustle of the city (everything).

My brothers and I were always playing some sport or trying to build tree forts or bicycle ramps with the other kids in the neighborhood. We were too young and too well raised to get into anything remotely illegal. There were a few older kids that crashed our kickball games and H.O.R.S.E. contests once in a while, but they usually got bored too quickly and went to get stoned before they could really have any influence on us.

One of the kids was a skater punk who lived next door to us in our duplex. He seemed to always be fighting with his sister and Grandmother, and I thought for sure we were going to have to call the cops a few of the times. Somehow it always managed to fizzle out and he would leave before anything escalated too far though.

Right behind our backyard was a row of lilac trees and then a set of train tracks. One summer, when I was probably 5 or 6, the punks were hanging around and one of them dared our neighbor to jump on a passing train. I still remember him running to try and catch up with it as his black baggy jeans started to fall down. He managed to get a hold of one of the ladders, pulled himself up, then lost his footing and fell off into the ditch. We were watching the entire thing, and as soon as he fell the train put its brakes on and began to stop. My brothers and I were scared to death, thinking we could get in trouble just for being associated with this kid. So, we ran and hid in our garage for what seemed like the entire afternoon. Eventually the train started up again and left. After that we tried to stay as far away from our neighbor as possible.

When I turned 7 I remember getting a new bike for my birthday. It was getting dark out but my middle brother agreed to take a ride down to the pond behind the pool with me and make a loop back home -- about a one mile ride. When we got down to the pond there were two older kids fishing underneath the pedestrian bridge. I didn't see them right away, but their bikes and helmets were laying on the ground. One of them had a really sweet multi-color helmet that I picked up and started to look at. Then the kid saw us and started to yell to put his helmet down. I recognized the kid as an older bully from a nearby neighborhood, but didn't know much else about him. I yelled back at him "I hope your life sucks!" and quickly jumped on my bike and started to pedal away. Being I was much younger than these kids, it was really a futile effort. I got to the other end of the parking lot, about 60yds away, when this thought overcame me that you can't run forever and sometimes you just have to man up and face your bullies. The kid who started to chase me had pretty much caught up to me anyway. So, I turned back and started to head right for the bully. He stood in front of my bike so I would stop and then grabbed my handle bars and started yelling at me. I don't remember what got said after that, but I know I started crying like a little baby. My middle brother -- who was only a year older -- stepped in and started to talk the bull down, telling him it was my birthday and that I didn't mean anything by what I said. He was convincing enough, apparently, because neither of us got our asses kicked and we went home like nothing even happened. That was the first time of many that I remember my middle brother sticking up for me. He is a really good guy and I've always looked up to him -- even more than most younger brothers look up to their older brothers.



TO BE CONTINUED... thanks for reading!
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Old 12-15-2016, 12:09 PM   #2
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Re: Between Nowhere and Everything: a hOoLiGaN is Born

Growing Up
I got my first detention when I was in first grade. Our school had implemented a new zero tolerance policy on throwing snowballs in the winter. The other kids and I would spend recess digging tunnels in the massive snowbanks to build forts and find chunks of ice that we dubbed “crystals”. We kept a pile of all the crystals we found in the corner by the back entrance to the classrooms. There was a huge glass window next to the door, above the corner where we piled the chunks of ice. The bell had rung to signal the end of recess, but I had just found a sweet new crystal to add to the pile. I started running towards our collection but all of the other kids were already lining up and I didn’t want to get in trouble for being late. So, when I was about 15ft away from the corner I lightly tossed my crystal – underhand – and to my surprise I completely overshot the pile and hit the window with the chunk of ice. Bad luck for me, my teacher was walking past the window right as the ice struck and bounced off with a clang. Her face went from mildly-annoyed-semi-retired-nun to your-ass-is-mine-kid in less than 0.002 seconds. I was scared beyond belief and turned around immediately and ran to line up, hoping she hadn’t seen who threw the chunk of ice. My hopes were crushed when I got pulled out of class later that day by my teacher and the principal and given after-school detention. I tried to explain to them what I was doing and that I wasn’t actually throwing a snowball at anyone. They said policy is policy though and they couldn’t give me a free pass or it would look bad. I cried for a little while and then went back in to class to finish making my Christmas crafts.

At the end of third grade my parents bought their first house and we moved across town to a new neighborhood that was much closer to our grade school. It was a lot nicer than the small duplex we lived in but the house was on a main street on the biggest hill in our town and there weren't a lot of other kids to play with on our block. By that time my brothers and I were getting older though and starting to develop our own hobbies, so it didn't matter much.

When we did play outside though, especially in those early years of living in the new house, that hill really made things interesting. We had a wagon we would take turns riding down the sidewalk, seeing who could make it the furthest. Playing basketball was the worst though since any ricochet off the rim would inevitably send the ball rolling all the way to the bottom of the hill.

Our new house was just under one mile from our school so the bus company determined we were too close to be picked up. In the spring and early fall this didn't matter because we could walk or ride our bikes, but anyone who grows up in the Midwest will tell you that the winters can be brutal. Thankfully, living in a small suburb the community was very tight nit. So, we usually didn’t have a problem getting a ride home from someone else when our Mom wasn’t able to get off work in time.

I liked to fake sick fairly often so that I didn’t have to go to school. The other kids were ruthless and I was always stuck in between being a complete dork and sort-of cool so it made it tough to fit in because I was friends with both the nerdy kids and the athletic kids. When I did fake sick I had to be convincing enough to get my mom to call the school, but not too sick so that she would want to take off work and stay home with me. We had a computer in our den with 56k dial up and staying home “sick” one day was the first time I discovered porn. I was too young to even masturbate, but the thrill of looking at something you weren’t supposed to and completely foreign kept me clicking on random links for hours. Once I got through all the adult links on yahoo I wiped all of the browsing history and cookies. I was pretty proficient at using the computer, even at such a young age. A few days later, my parents called me into the kitchen and wanted to talk to me. They asked if I had been on the computer using the dial up at all while I was home sick. I was super nervous and thought that I had somehow made a mistake and they found out what sites I had been on all day. I told them I used it for a little while to look at some soccer gear. Then they said that all of their allotted hours for the month had already been used up and asked if I had forgotten to close the connection when I was done. I told them it was possible but I thought I had closed it and couldn’t remember. They were mad that they had to pay more for the bill that month, but they never had any idea what I was doing or punished me for my seemingly “honest” mistake.
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Old 12-17-2016, 04:18 AM   #3
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Re: Between Nowhere and Everything: a hOoLiGaN is Born

The Age of Compooters
Disclaimer: I'm pretty ****ing drunk right now
I vaguely remember 9/11; I think I was in 5th grade. I do remember we got to leave school at some point in the late morning and go home. My Mom had also gotten off work and I remember us all sitting in the living room watching CNN or some news channel and being pretty speechless. Then she told us we were allowed to go do whatever we want -- to take our minds off the tragedy apparently. I wasn't really sure what was even going on but I tried to pretend I was coping normally and went up to my room and "played" on the computer.

My oldest brother was always a computer whiz. I believe I got my first PC when I was 10 or 11. It's hard to remember the details of those early days. I started out playing random games like Wolfenstein and trying to mimic everything my oldest brother did. He was learning about 3D modeling software and always chatting on forums. I sort of did my own thing in regards to creating mods for Wolfenstein 3D. When I became engrossed in that I literally had no idea what my older brother was doing. But soon, I got bored, and I started to snoop on his projects. I discovered he was involved in something referred to as "FXP". A simple acronym for file transfer protocol.

I learned he was spending a lot of time on a private forum called KK. The community still exists to this day, but after years of trying to gain access -- and successfully getting an account -- I no long remember my credentials or have anyone to vouch for my authenticity. I used IRC to create my own connections, as the groups were a lot more open back then, and I soon discovered a new exciting underground community. During my early years I took up the easiest roles as a "scanner" or a "filler". That meant you were either scanning ports on vulnerable computers for hackers to exploit, or you were using your internet connection to spread warez. In fact, in the very early days you would use "pubservs" -- public FTP servers that had anonymous access capability -- to distribute games/movies/etc. Once you gained access you could create hidden folders that started with /.. / that the sysadmin wasn't able to see unless they looked very closely. It was a turf war in a sense when you discovered a "pubserv" because multiple FXP groups would tag folders with their name. It was against etiquette to download from one groups "pubserv" and simultaneously steal it and use it as your own to spread content.

After while I realized you were a nobody unless you could hack -- so I naturally learned the skill set required to scan and exploit my own "boxes". A box was any computer that could be used for remote scanning of potential exploitable computers or servers that you could host content on. When I was new I was amazed that hackers could have so many boxes that they lost track of how many they had or how many were still accessible. It didn't take long before I was in the same boat though. When you had excess servers you shared them with your other group members so they could use them to spread warez or scan for other exploitable computers. During that time, I didn't realize it, but I was what was commonly referred to as a "script kiddie". Despite my pretty regurgitated knowledge, I did manage to hack a few universities and some web hosts with a ton of servers.

There was always drama in "the scene" though. I remember going through multiple aliases within a couple years. My group admins would protect me and allow me to continue to operate as long as I agreed to change my nickname. This was due to other groups realizing who I was in the past or which group I had decided to leave to join another. I didn't really care as long as I was making steps towards the top.

In fact, the "FXP" scene is the lowest form of "the scene". As I started to learn more about couriers and top sites I became less and less interested in hacking and spreading the warez and more interested in being part of a release group. So, when I was a bit older and more experienced -- probably around 15yrs old -- I managed to get in contact with someone who ran a top site and offered leech access, for a price. I convinced my oldest brother that having 0-day access to releases was super important, and he gladly paid the montly fee to get a leech account on a "rented" top site. Since I was the one who set it all up, he allowed me to use his account. This greatly benefited me because I could use his access to spread warez to servers in the FXP community. I was essentially seen as a god because very few people had access to actual top sites in the FXP scene. This allowed me to move up very quickly to groups with much more talent, even though I had to change my nickname once again.

Once you got on one top site, especially if it was good and had some affiliates, it was much easier to get on other top sites as a "courier". This was very similar to the FXP scene but instead of spreading popular content days after the fact, you were responsible for moving hundreds of gb's everyday of all of the latest stuff -- no matter what it was. So, my brother and I began to "trade" (move warez) together and get access to more and more top sites. If you're able to build a reputation it becomes so easy to get on more top sites that you actually have to start being picky and turning down which ones you want to support because your sources are so fast you can't afford to use your download credits on mediocre sites. Most sites gave you a ratio of 1:3 so for every gb you uploaded you were able to download 3gb. This made it difficult in the beginning if you had one site that was super super fast and had content before the others, because you could never hope to upload enough to that site to give yourself credits for enough download capability to support filling your other sites. They had leader boards where only the top 20 couriers were allowed to stay, so if you didn't make the upload requirement your account was deleted and that was that. However, if you had leech access on a 0-sec topsite you were able to download as much as your heart desired. Normally they discouraged you from trading to other top sites, but if you were smart enough you could get away with it and use that as a source to get your foot in the door as a trader on other sites with very fast speeds, and then slowly build up your "portfolio" if you will so that you can maintain your 1:3 ratio on all the sites you've joined.

The first few years, we only had access to "rented" sites. That is, top sites that were hosted on servers that were just rented from a server company and multiple servers were linked together to increase the hard drive space and speed capability. Eventually, my brother and I learned that these were the bottom of the barrel in terms of top sites. Most legit release groups avoided these rented sites and only affiliated with sites that were completely private. That is: hosted at a business, a university, or deeply hidden within a server company so that it appeared to have its own internet connection. We quickly realized that if you wanted to be someone in "the scene" you had to be in a release group, not just a courier.

At some point in that era, I had actually joined an XXX group that was responsible for hacking porn sites and releasing their videos and images to the rest of the internet, immediately after they were posted on the XXX site. I made a name for myself because I transformed the usual process of downloading the image sets, individually renaming the files, and uploading them to be released simply by using .BAT files to automate the renaming and zipping of the images. After I beat a competitor group to releasing the images -- my first night on the job -- the members of my new release group forever had my back.

Years had passed since my brother and I had first joined top sites, become lowly couriers transferring gb's between rented sites, and finally had our third or forth shot at making it big.

It was after my freshmen year of college. I was on house arrest -- a story for another time -- and I had tons of free time on my hands, obviously. My oldest brother was already a real adult working a full time job and getting the income and some of the responsibilities that come with that. I had found us another top site that offered leech access for a monthly price. However, this one was different. This was no ordinary rented top site. Once we got access to this site we were able to make contacts that knew some of the most legit courier groups and release groups in the scene. After a lot of talk in IRC channels and private chats -- that is what the scene is all about after all -- my brother learned what it would take to be a part of one of the most respected and fastest TV groups in the scene's history. Due to his willingness to spend time and money on recording and cutting TV episodes, he was vastly rewarded. At the same time, I used my knowledge and connections to increase our ability as a courier. It didn't take long before we had to split into two separate personalities in the scene. I'm fortunate that he allowed me to continue to share his account on top sites that his release group gave him access to. If anyone in the scene had found out, we would have been immediately banned and black listed from any other groups or sites.

The rest of the story is pretty long-winded and moot unless someone has a genuine interest. My brother and I eventually started our own private top site that was located in Romania. By that time he had started his own TV release group with my help, and I had managed to join one of the top 5 courier groups in the scene -- with his help. We were a pretty great but frictional duo and had a good run for a long time.

About a year or two after we peaked my brother got engaged and I was completely engrossed in getting my engineering degree and spending time with a girlfriend. That's pretty much all it took to end our reign in "the scene". It was exciting and invigorating but in the end it was just another hobby that wasted too much of your time for very little gain.

Edit: if you know nothing about "the scene" you can get some idea watching www.welcometothescene.com

Last edited by hOoLiGaNNNNNNN; 12-17-2016 at 04:26 AM.
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