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Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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LIFEHACKS: You can just take all the luggage off the airport conveyer belt and leave with it. They don't check that it's yours at the door!
Title text: LIFEHACKS: You can just take all the luggage off the airport conveyer belt and leave with it. They don't check that it's yours at the door!


Cueball in this comic, as is often the case, is some sort of programmer or at least logically minded person. He reads through the terms that are handed to him, and finds some sort of loophole. This is a play on the fact that programmers often find loopholes in programs and code, and exploiting them is nothing more than a "cool find" or an interesting idea. More importantly, programmers try to prevent loopholes, which is why it is important to be able to identify them.

The insurance agent foresees this, and explains that this "cool hack" is actually just an instance of insurance fraud, which is highly illegal. The comparison here is that exploiting a program's faults can be regarded as interesting or fun, while exploiting the faults in a legal document will often result in some sort of legal repercussions (however, sometimes legal loopholes are exploited by individuals or corporations in ways that are not illegal).

The insurance agent is also already prepared for the following question - how he knew Cueball would be looking for loopholes, and it's because many programmers visit him.

The title text provides another example: While airport luggage security certainly is exploitable, walking out with every piece of luggage from the conveyor belt would be easily noticeable and would result in being arrested for theft.

This relates to 1469: UV

Lifehacks vs. IT hacks

The term hacking in IT is ambiguous and goes from code development (in particular in the opensource community) to the fact of "using a hack". A hack would then refer to a tricky piece of code doing the intended job in a way that the framework or project in which it is inserted was not intended to. To the general public, 'hacking' a system would normally refer to some illegal way of acheiving a goal against the will of the original developers of the system, like getting a copy of all the data available or taking advantage of some unwanted behavior, but a more distinctive term for such an exploitation (maliciously or after an invitation to perform legitimate penetration testing) would be 'cracking'.

This comic is making fun of what IT hacks would look like in real world. Surely, taking many luggages from an airport is technically possible and probably not so difficult, but first, it looks weird, and second, it's also obviously illegal. The weirdness of such behavior is more obvious in real life than in IT.

It is worth noting that it is currently popular on social media sites to share small tricks to make one's life easier. This is called "life hacking", or "hacking your life".


[Cueball is standing in front of a desk, which a man sits behind. The man is presumably an insurance agent, and is handing Cueball a paper.]
Insurance agent: Here's a page explaining the terms of your new fire insurance policy.
[Zoom in on Cueball as he reads the paper.]
[Cueball starts to ask the insurance agent a question when he hands Cueball yet another paper.]
Cueball: Hey, what if I -
Insurance agent: And here's a page explaining that the "cool hack" you just thought of is called "insurance fraud". We already know about it and it's a crime.
Cueball: Oh. Right. How did -
Insurance agent: I see a lot of programmers here.

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