344: 1337: Part 4
|1337: Part 4|
Title text: Mrs. Roberts would have gotten up sooner, of course, but she was busy piping find ~ and find ~nomad into xargs shred, just in case.
All comics in the series:
This series was released on 5 consecutive days (Monday-Friday) and not over the usual Monday/Wednesday/Friday schedule. The comic is narrated by Cueball as seen in part 2 comic, but that Cueball is not shown here, but still he is part of this comic series, and thus also this comic.
In this part Elaine Roberts returns to the second best hacker in the world, (she being the best according to part 2), her mom Mrs. Roberts. Together they are an unstoppable force and they help out a guy called Jon with a CSS decryptor.
This refers to Jon Lech Johansen, also known as DVD Jon, who is famous for DeCSS (which he got help with from the Roberts team), a DVD decryption program that removes the copy protection from commercial DVDs. The Motion Picture Association of America, also known as the MPAA, was not amused.
Both the MPAA and the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) use the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, shortened to DMCA, as a kind of brute club to silence "infringements" on their copyright. In a perfect world, the DMCA provides safe harbor protection to websites and consumers to make fair use of copyrighted content while also affording copyright owners the ability to protect their works from being pirated. In this world, this means that any content protection system, no matter how weak and poorly executed, cannot be circumvented and discussion of circumvention is illegal as well.
This is not a perfect world and in the end the Roberts team is noticed and two men with black bowler hats and briefcases with the abbreviations MPAA and RIAA shows up at their house to arrest them. The two men look very much like Thomson and Thompson from The Adventures of Tintin.
When Elaine is not ready to let them arrest her, and draws her knife, they instead draw their katana swords, out of their (way to short) briefcases. Mrs. Roberts says to her daughter that she should calm down, and that they are not allowed to slice people up in their own housed.
However the two men disagree and reefer to the DCMA Title IV, Section 408: Authorization of Deadly Force. So now the two women are in lethal danger.
But of course, Richard Stallman, founder of the GNU Project and stalwart defender of freedom and copyleft, cannot stand for this kind of repression of freedom. (In the real world, Stallman is not a swordsman; there is also no Title IV, Section 408 of the DMCA; Title IV ends with Section 407.) In keeping with the "Kill Bill" themes from earlier in the series, Randall imagines the conflict between Elaine/Stallman/Mrs. Roberts vs MPAA/RIAA agents as an action-packed katana battle rather than the legal battle it would likely have been in real life.
The title text is talking about a Linux-ism. In Linux (and all Unix derivatives) ~ is a symbol for a user's home directory (usually
/home/<username>). Presumably "nomad" is Elaine's username.
find is an application that recursively walks a filesystem, listing all files, and
xargs shred takes those files and securely erases each one with pseudo-random data. This is different from simply deleting a file, which merely removes the pointer in the filesystem's record tables to the file's location on the hard disk. The latter can usually be recovered from, secure delete however requires physically taking apart a disk and reading individual bits for remaining magnetic charge to attempt to reconstruct what was there.
Proprietary hardware is hardware (the electronics part rather than the software) created and uses only by that company as opposed to open hardware that uses parts or chips common to everyone. Proprietary hardware used to found in most gaming consoles and apple/mac devices but that isn't as common now since the cost of designing your own hardware is too expensive compared to using common chips.
- As time passed, Elaine intensified her hacking work, anonymously publishing exploit after exploit.
- [Elaine is sitting under tree, typing on a laptop.]
- To crack open proprietary hardware, she teamed up with one of the top experts in signal processing and data transferring protocols.
- [Elaine, wearing a backpack, is walking up to a door where a woman is greeting her.]
- Elaine: Hi, mom.
- Mrs. Roberts (Elaine's mom): Hello, dear. Did you have fun?
- They were an unstoppable team.
- [Elaine is on the floor with her laptop and Mrs. Roberts is on her computer at a table.]
- Elaine: I finished the CSS decryptor.
- Mrs. Roberts: Good, dear. I'll send it along to Jon.
- And were eventually noticed.
- [Two men in black hats arrive. One holds a briefcase that reads RIAA and the other holds a briefcase which reads MPAA.]
- RIAA man: Game's over.
- MPAA man: You're coming with us.
- [Elaine stands up.]
- Elaine: Oh, are we?
- [Mrs. Roberts is still sitting at her computer, typing.]
- Mrs. Roberts: Now now, Elaine-
- [Elaine pulls a knife out.]
- [The two men each pull a katana out of their briefcase.]
- shing shing
- Mrs. Roberts: Don't let them provoke you, dear.
- Men: We don't want to hurt you, Ma'am.
- Mrs. Roberts: Don't by silly. Record company employees can't just go into houses and slice people up.
- RIAA Man: Ah, so you haven't read the DMCA.
- MPAA Man: Title IV, Section 408: Authorization of Deadly Force.
- [Voice comes from off-panel.]: Hark!
- [Everyone looks surprised. Mrs. Roberts stands.]
- [Richard Stallman enters, bearing two katanas.]
- Richard Stallman: Cease this affront to freedom, or stand and defend yourselves!
- MPAA Man: Stallman!
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