Knowthing Zine #1
Knowthing Community
Spring 1992

Knowthing Zine #1 was the first official magazine publication of the Knowthing collective. It was released on both 5 1/4" and 3 1/2" floppy disk and mailed out to various members of the collective primarily in Westbury, CT. The disk spread widely from user to user on BBSes and computer enthusiast meeting groups, as well as through Knowthing parties.


Please note that Knowthing Zine fully endorses the illegal activities described within this diskmag. We take complete responsibility for any harm caused by it and fully support the articles as a mechanism of destroying an anti-egalitarian, anti-meritocratic global economo-political system.

Credit Card Cracking
by Slomo

I'll say it right off the bat. I was on the development team for one of the most popular credit card terminals at the time. I was specifically in charge of integrating the hardware circuitry [which inside the Gnyragb (rot13 it) is a thing of madness] with the rudimentary software. Initially, I had suggested that Gunyrf (rot13) build a touchscreen interface to control both the POS rep's CC entry and the administrative side of things (MID, new software downloads, etc.), but the touchpad technology was thought by my managers to be far too expensive at the time to be able to distribute on a mass scale. One more example of how corporate control of production encourages innovation in favor of exploitation of both resources and consumers, in this case merchants themselves.

Basically, I wanted to build a badass credit card processing system. Everything was going to be transmitted wirelessly using 802.11a technology being developed at the time. In the end, I lost the debate with my manager, who was outspokenly in favor of quantity rather than quality.

Because of excessive argumentation about this, I ended up getting fired and went to work at one of the large credit card processors. At this point, in favor of furthering the cause of Openism, I have to temporarily turn it off. Just know that I was working at one of the largest credit card processing companies on the globe. (Tybony Cnlzragf, you know what to do.)

Now this was an easy, easy job, but there was a shit-ton of data entry and monitoring that needed to be done, so they gave us early model Thinkpads and a number to dial in for network access, somehow thinking we would all be good worker bees for Queen Visa. And their bets usually paid off, but not with me.

Now, I'm not admitting to any kind of wrongdoing, but in this article, I'm going to go into detail about how you can really fuck the credit card industry up. Y'know, just in case you little Knowthing script kiddies really intend to wreak some havoc someday in the name of meritocracy.

Things you will need

A little background: credit cards are usually 3 1/8"x2 1/8", and they were popularized in the '20s when hotels gave them out for services guests used during their stays. Diners' Club cards started in the '50s, which is when the majority of businesses started accepting them in lieu of cash.

Here's how credit cards work. You swipe your card. The machine transfers your card number, its own terminal number, the store's information, and how much the payment was for over a phone line. They use a protocol similar to Gopher or HTTP called SCMP. From there, the information is routed to a payment gateway to the card processor. Afterward, the information goes to your bank to verify you have enough money in your account to complete the transaction. Then, if you have a Visa, AMEX, or Mastercard, those companies either authorize or deny the transaction.

This all happens in a matter of seconds. The receipt prints out, and you sign. Then, the issuing bank transfers your money to the store's account. At the end of the day, the store "batches out," or cashes all of the money in the terminal. It works, and it seems like they've thought everything through, right? Wrong.

What they forget is that the enormous databases are available to anyone who dials into a phone line and has access to a computer and an account.


Doing the deed: if you are a Knowthing script kiddie who is interested in exploiting this security flaw for monetary or spiritual gain, I would highly advise either getting a gig at a credit card processor or having an extremely strong technical background with preparation for additional study. These places have a high turnover rate, and they're usually desperate for anyone that can type 25 words per minute. If you're able to get a job there, you'll have access to more information about this system to see if you're actually up to the task.

Here are numbers for accessing these systems. USE AT YOUR OWN RISK.


You can telnet in after connecting, but you'll also need a UNIX password cracker or a stolen username/password. After you get in, it's pretty self-explanatory. Some of the software is a little arcane, but there are instructions on how to operate the software, thus the self-explanatory nature of the thing. You can make small changes quickly, but to wreak serious havoc, you're going to need to use scripting.

I haven't card this script, but I know how I would. Essentially, you could change the merchant ID numbers associated with terminals very earily. If these numbers were jumbled around in a credit card processor's database, it would take the processors weeks to put things back in order. There are tons of scripting tutorials on basically every BBS: if you don't know already, live and learn.

Write me at Knowthing Zine if you have any questions.

__________ /____________ _________
__ ___/_ /_ __ \_ __ `__ \ __ \
_(__ )_ / / /_/ / / / / / / /_/ /
/____/ /_/ \____//_/ /_/ /_/\____/

Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Park
by James Turgenine

One dusk in Kansas when the power company shut us down due to "repeatable non-payments for services" after we owed them ten lousy bucks, we said fuck the radio and thought it would be a nice idea to have a little symphony seance. The general idea is that seances only work if people believe. Belief is best demonstrated through effort, and playing a symphonic piece requires extraordinary amounts of effort. So there you have it: the best way to perform a seance is with a big ass orchestra behind you, oboes and violas and shit. And what's the best piece to accompany a seance? Strauss' "An Alpine Journey," originally composed under the cheery working title "Antichrist."

There was only one problem, right? There were four of us living in the house. That wasn't a problem in and of itself, but in his specifications for the piece, Strauss stipulates the minimum number of players: an orchestra of 123 people. Where the fuck were we going to find 123 people to play this piece? We needed to find musicians, and we needed to find them fast, because these were the requirements for the piece:

4 flutes with 2 doubling piccolos, 3 oboes with 1 doubling cor anglais and heckelphone, 1 E-flat clarinet, 2 B-flat clarinets, 1 C clarinet with a doubling B-flat bass clarinet, 4 bassoons with 1 doubling contrabassoon, 8 French horns with 4 doubling Wagner tubas, 4 trumpets, 4 trombones, 2 bass tubas, 2 harps, 18 1st violins, 16 2nd violins, 12 violas, 10 cellos, and 8 double basses.

Not only that, but offstage, you had 12 horns, 2 trumpets, 2 trombones, a timpani with two people playing it, a celesta, a pipe organ, and 3 people playing percussion, which consists of glockenspiel, cymbals, bass drum, side drum, triangle, cowbells, tamtam, wind machine and thunder machine.

It would be easy to get that many people, but Strauss said he also wanted the harps and some of the woodwinds to be doubled. We weren't looking for minimalism here. We wanted bombast, and so I thought it was necessary to find the number of orchestral players necessary. Spared no expense.

I have some friends who are in the Topeka Philharmonic Orchestra, but there are a bunch of other players in the group who have sticks up their asses, so they refuse to play Strauss. Apparently it isn't as down-home as Aaron Copeland performed by Leonard Bernstein or whatever bullshit they're used to listening to. We did manage to get 20 people from the Philharmonic on board after ludicrous amounts of cajoling, bribery, and blackmail, but we needed 102 more to play the piece.

So we started brainstorming. What's the easiest way to get people to do something? Give them free alcohol. So we planned a party the next night and meanwhile called the local instrument rental place to try to get all the necessary instruments for the next day. We weren't really concerned about the skill of the instrumentalists or whether they played music. My friend Yocto had a lossless copy of the first CD ever produced, which was incidentally the Alpine, and we were going to play a recording once so all the rest of the non-musical musicians could play it by ear.

So we called the instrument rental place, and they were pretty helpful, I guess. Since we had a huge bulk order, they were going to give us a discount, but after we told them we needed the instruments by the next night, they added on a rush charge that was more than double the discount they gave us. The good news was that we had almost all of the instruments we needed now. The bad news was that we still needed to track down a cor anglais, heckelphone, contrabassoon, and a theremin that Yocto wanted to conduct with. (Yocto was an expert thereminist but somehow didn't have access to one.)

So what did I do? I started praying to Strauss.that he would make this shit happen somehow. If he was aware of the ridiculousness of playing a piece with this many instruments, which he must have been, then he would talk with some of his friends (or enemies) in the spirit world to make all of it happen.

Of course, I'm a Satanist in the LaVeyan rather than Crowleyan sense, except without LaVey's bullshit. I don't fucking read Ragnar Redbeard and Ayn Rand, but I do believe that the overwhelming power of ritual is enough to convince people to venture out from under the umbrella of absurd modes of belief. Most ancient societies, as far as I know, didn't create these rituals because they believed gods would descend. They were the root of semiological systems of experience. Through imbuing words with experiential impressions, they could wield power. People believe in rituals instead of concepts, so if you want someone to believe a concept, tie it in with a ritual.

This doesn't exactly sound like my most logical moment, but I figured that praying to Strauss was the same way. I believed in the concept that our group could get their shit together, and so I tied it in with a ritual, a bullshit ritual praying to some higher force other than myself. In this case, it was Strauss, but it wasn't really that important that it was him.

So we slept through the night with blankets, because it was cold as hell, the season in Kansas between autumn and winter. The next day we woke up to fifty partiers at our door. They had heard about the ordeal, I guess, and we had to run out and get a few handles to satisfy their alcohol needs. At least we had the number of people we needed. Yocto was out breaking into some company's office so he could Xerox a bunch of copies of the score along with the individual instrumental parts. Eventually, it came time, and we played, and spirits were conjured.

I can't really tell you anything about the night, as I'm sworn to secrecy. Let me just tell you all, though, it was a damn crazy great time.