Thursday, March 5, 2015

Hack Is A Good Thing?

Growing up, the word hack had negative connotations.  Aside from its formal meaning of a rough blow to cut, it meant someone who was not skilled.  For example, a hockey player who regularly took penalties, did not skate well, and was overly nasty might be called a "hack".

In my teenage years, when I got involved in computers and technology, hack had a similar meaning.  When a circuit or program was badly written or modified, it was called a hack.  We might remark "..we did not have the time and tools so we hacked that circuit board to try and repair it.."

A little later, as computers became ubiquitous, hack was further extended, but still with negative connotations.  A person who broke into a computer system with malicious intent was called a hacker and the act of breaking into a computer was called hacking.

Lately, I get emails with titles like:

  • Great Android Hacks You Should Know (Android security is a concern)
  • Bicycle Hacks You Should Try (sounded like a bicycle thief's dream)
  • The Best Financial Hacks for Tax Preparation (this could trigger an audit for sure)
For a while, I deleted all these emails, thinking they were spam or malicious.  It did seem curious that they were so upfront with their intent to hack, but better safe than sorry, so into the bit bucket they went.

Then I found out that "hack" is now a good thing.  It is synonymous with tip or hint or how to.  The urban dictionary online defines it as "a clever solution to a tricky problem".  Who knew?  From now on, my posts with useful information will use the cool new meaning of "hack", like Second Career Hacks Every 50 Year Old Should Try.

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