How to use the Web to look up information on hacking

Want to become really, really unpopular? Try asking your hacker friends too many questions of the wrong sort.
But, but, how do we know what are the wrong questions to ask? OK, I sympathize with your problems because I get flamed a lot, too. That's partly because I sincerely believe in asking dumb questions. I make my living asking dumb questions. People pay me lots of money to go to conferences, call people on the phone and hang out on Usenet news groups asking dumb questions so I can find out stuff for them. And, guess what, sometimes the dumbest questions get you the best answers. So that's why you don't see me flaming people who ask dumb questions.
Newbie note: Have you been too afraid to ask the dumb question, "What is a flame?" Now you get to find out! It is a bunch of obnoxious rantings and ravings made in email or a Usenet post by some idiot who thinks he or she is proving his or her mental superiority through use of foul and/or impolite language such as "you suffer from rectocranial inversion," f*** y***, d****, b****, and of course @#$%^&*! This newbie note is my flame against those flamers to whom I am soooo superior.
But even though dumb questions can be good to ask, you may not like the flames they bring down on you. So, if you want to avoid flames, how do you find out answers for yourself?
This Guide covers one way to find out hacking information without having to ask people questions: by surfing the Web. The other way is to buy lots and lots of computer manuals, but that costs a lot of money. Also, in some parts of the world it is difficult to get manuals. Fortunately, however, almost anything you want to learn about computers and communications is available for free somewhere on the Web.
First, let's consider the Web search engines. Some just help you search the Web itself. But others enable you to search Usenet newsgroups that have been archived for many years back. Also, the best hacker email lists are archived on the Web, as well.
More how to search for hacker knowledge...
There are two major considerations in using Web search engines. One is what search engine to use, and the other is the search tactics themselves.
I have used many Web search engines. But eventually I came to the conclusion that for serious research, you only need two: Alavista ()and Dejanews (). Altavista is the best for the Web, while Dejanews is the best one for searching Usenet news groups. But, if you don't want to take me at my word, you may surf over to a site with links to almost all the Web and Newsgroup search engines at .
But just how do you efficiently use these search engines? If you ask them to find "hacker" or even "how to hack," you will get bazillions of Web sites and news group posts to read. OK, so you painfully surf through one hacker Web site after another. You get portentous-sounding organ music, skulls with red rolling eyes, animated fires burning, and each site has links to other sites with pretentious music and ungrammatical boastings about "I am 31337, d00dz!!! I am so *&&^%$ good at hacking you should bow down and kiss my $%^&&*!" But somehow they don't seem to have any actual information. Hey, welcome to the wannabe hacker world!
You need to figure out some words that help the search engine of your choice get more useful results. For example, let's say you want to find out whether I, the Supreme R00ler of the Happy Hacker world, am an elite hacker chick or merely some poser. Now the luser approach would to simply go to and do a search of Usenet news groups for "Carolyn Meinel," being sure to click the "old" button to bring up stuff from years back. But if you do that, you get this huge long list of posts, most of which have nothing to do with hacking:

CDMA vs GSM - carolyn meinel 1995/11/17
Re: October El Nino-Southern Oscillation info (Gerard J. Gonthier) 1995/11/20
Re: Internic Wars (The Reaver) 1995/11/30 (Christopher Proctor) 1995/12/16
Re: Lyndon LaRouche - who is he? (lester john ness) 1996/01/06
U-B Color Index observation data - (Carolyn P. Meinel) 1996/05/13
Re: Mars Fraud? History of one scientist involved (GK Smiley) 1996/08/11
Re: Mars Life Announcement: NO Fraud Issue 1996/08/12
Hackers Helper E-Zine wanted - (Raul Cortes) 1996/12/06
Carolyn Meinel, Sooooooper Genius - (John Anonymous MacDonald, a remailer node) 1996/12/12
Anyhow, this list goes on and on and on.
But if you specify "Carolyn Meinel hacker" and click "all" instead of "any" on the "Boolean" button, you get a list that starts with:
Media: "Unamailer delivers Christmas grief" (Riccardo Mannella) 1996/12/30 Cu Digest, #8.93, Tue 31 Dec 96 - Cu Digest (
RealAudio interview with Happy Hacker - (Brian S. McWilliams) 1997/01/08

This way all those posts about my boring life in the world of science don't show up, just the juicy hacker stuff.
Now suppose all you want to see is flames about what a terrible hacker I am. You could bring those to the top of the list by adding (with the "all" button still on) "flame" or "f***" or "b****" being careful to spell out those bad words instead fubarring them with ****s. For example, a search on "Carolyn Meinel hacker flame" with Boolean "all" turns up only one post. This important tome says the Happy Hacker list is a dire example of what happens when us prudish moderator types censor naughty words and inane diatribes.
Newbie note: "Boolean" is math term. On the Dejanews search engine they figure the user doesn't have a clue of what "Boolean" means so they give you a choice of "any" or "all" and then label it "Boolean" so you feel stupid if you don't understand it. But in real Boolean algebra we can use the operators "and" "or" and "not" on word searches (or any searches of sets). "And" means you would have a search that turns up only items that have "all" the terms you specify; "or" means you would have a search that turns up "any" of the terms. The "not" operator would exclude items that included the "not" term even if they have any or all of the other search terms. Altavista has real Boolean algebra under its "advanced"" search option.
But let's forget all those Web search engines for a minute. In my humble yet old-fashioned opinion, the best way to search the Web is to use it exactly the way its inventor, Tim Berners-Lee, intended. You start at a good spot and then follow the links to related sites. Imagine that!
Here's another of my old fogie tips. If you want to really whiz around the Web, and if you have a shell account, you can do it with the program lynx. At the prompt, just type "lynx followed by the URL you want to visit. Because lynx only shows text, you don't have to waste time waiting for the

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