My Corner of the Web

The Tinkerer’s Legacy: How My Father Shaped My Hacker Mindset


Celebrating the Architect of My Curiosity

On this Father’s Day, I reflect on how my father has influenced my life.

My father shaped my decision-making processes and problem-solving skills in ways I continue to discover.

You see, he was an OG hacker.

The World of Machines and More

As a child, I lived amongst tools, machines, electronics, and various pulled-apart gadgets.

I remember my brother and me always causing trouble, mixing mortar for our father’s bricklaying work. Bags sat around the yard, tempting us to start small construction projects. Mortar dye covered us from head to toe several times—my poor mother.

Then, there were the times when our playground was a dismantled car lying in our yard. My brother could identify the components of a VW engine before he was ten.

These were no ordinary childhood memories. These were our first ventures into mechanics and engineering.

Diving into the Unknown

What these experiences cultivated within me was not knowledge about cars or computers but a love for exploration.

The story I often share is how I could type at the command prompt before walking. For a child born in the 80s, that’s odd, and it exemplifies my early exposure to the world of computers, thanks to my father.

His hands-on approach to gadgets intrigued me. It inspired the fearless exploration of new territories.

Demystifying the Magic

Watching my father solve problems showed me there was no magic involved.

Instead, it was about understanding the mechanics and the principles and using them to find a solution.

Cultivating the Hacker Mindset

This approach fostered a “hacker mindset” within me.

It’s a perspective that views rules as guidelines rather than restrictions, as a tool to aid creativity and innovation. This hacker mindset permeates all areas of my life, from personal to professional.

A vivid example was when my father became a tool and die maker in 1995.

His father-in-law ran a machine shop. But it was all done on pen & paper.

Unsatisfied, Dad sought digitization. Costly design software, like AutoCAD, proved a hurdle. Small businesses faced exclusion.

Instead of staying analog, we teamed up and ventured into the somewhat murky waters of IRC channels, where pirated software found a home.

Before we knew it, we had “ops” on the largest channels for this software. Sure enough, that led us to more adventures - like burying hard drives in our backyard to hide our tracks from Rogers, our internet service provider.

This story does not promote illegal actions. It shows the extent of our hacker mindset. This unusual experience gave me early software understanding. It built the foundation for my current skills and knowledge.

The Cycle Continues

And now, as a father, I find myself echoing my father’s practices with my children. I strive to ignite their curiosity, encouraging them to dismantle and understand the world around them.

An Ode to My Father, The Original Hacker

This Father’s Day, I wish to express my gratitude to my dad, the original hacker in my life, for his invaluable influence.

His unique worldview has equipped me with a thirst for exploration and innovation and continues to guide me.

The Gift That Keeps on Giving

Our fathers leave us with legacies that continue to shape our lives, even as we grow older.

For me, that legacy is the hacker mindset that my father instilled in me.

This gift aids in discovery, creation, and learning. Rules need inventive use, not blind obedience.

Today, my dad lives this spirit. He spends summers with his boat and winters fixing his snowmobile. His love for hands-on learning and solving problems thrives.

So, here’s to my father and all the fathers who continue to inspire and guide us.

Happy Father’s Day!