The "art" of hacking is not just a description of how to program effectively. Rather, it is a description of a philosophy that one can apply to one's life. It involves the application of several perspectives and attitudes to your everyday life; you can cultivate these attitudes and perspectives through application of several techniques and actions in your daily life.
What is "Hacking"?
Most people mis-define hacking in a multitude of ways, or define it much more specifically than the term actually represents. Here is a proper definition of hacking:
hacking: The art or techique of manipulation of the inner workings of a task of any type, going hand-in-hand with problem solving.
In other words, hacking is the ability to discern, consider, and utilize the inner workings of anything in the quest to solve new and interesting problems. Many people apply this to computers specifically; this is because there are a great number of interesting problems to solve.
Hacking is not cracking; it has nothing to do with illegal entry into protected systems.
What is the Difference Between "Hacking" and Problem Solving?
Problem solving is basically a specific instance of hacking; one can hack without solving a problem. For example, reading a book and contemplating it does not directly solve any problems, but is most assuredly a form of hacking. On the other hand, writing a computer program is most assuredly both hacking and problem solving.
Problem solving is solving the problem; hacking is understanding the problem.
How Does It Apply To My Life?
Hacking is a mindset, a way of approaching everything in the world around you. Becoming a hacker of anything causes your perspective on the world to change greatly; a realization of the techniques used in hacking and applying them to other aspects of life brings about a feeling that is almost transcendent.
Beyond that, it adds a sense of direction to your life, something that has a great deal of value to many people. One never has to feel without direction any longer.
Fourteen Steps To Enlightenment
To actually achieve this requires some changes to your living style. Most of these are small changes that won't be widely noticeable to the outside world, but truly delving into the art of hacking may bring about some overall changes in your life.
You can feel free to skip any of these that you like, and attempt these in any order; however, each of these steps are important and should at least be attempted.
The overall goal with these steps is to make yourself hack various things, in order to discover the hacking processes that work for you. Through the repetition presented here, you will gradually find yourself incorporating these processes into your daily life.
1. Listen to challenging music, and think about what makes it challenging.
We're not talking about pop music here; we're talking about music that attempts new things and expresses conflicting ideas. The type of music you should look for is the type that causes a great deal of conflicting thought and reaction in your mind, merely from the music of the piece. But why is there a conflict, and what is the conflict? Pondering these issues serves to hack into the core of the music that you are hearing.
2. Become a strong player at a "thinking" game (i.e., chess).
Although chess is a strong choice for a game to learn, it doesn't have to be your choice, particularly if you have a partner available to play against. Other strong choices include Twixt, shogi, and go. Duplicate bridge or contract bridge are also excellent choices, but require four players.
Your choices become much more limited, however, if you are a solitary person. Your best choice if you are alone is to pick up a top-quality chess-playing engine, such as gnuchess, Fritz, or Chessmaster, and play against a machine. Thankfully, these programs are quite good at teaching the game at a graduated pace.
The goal is to eludicate strategies on your own from experience playing the game. Much like the rest of life, all games are full of subtle patterns, and the strong players are the ones that can discern those patterns. Playing a game repeatedly will cause those patterns to be slowly revealed to you, and you'll gain skill in discerning those patterns.
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