Your Guide to Crack Groups

 

Some Answers to Questions about Cracks & Crack Newsgroups


TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

 

CLICK on a topic below and JUMP to that section

 

  1. Introduction
  2. What exactly IS a "Crack"?
  3. Is this shit legal?
  4. What is "Shareware"?
  5. How is shareware protected?
  6. How do cracks work?
  7. Insults, demands, complaints, whines, and other forms of extortion, why not?
  8. Where can I find shareware for downloading?
  9. How can I find older versions of a program?
  10. What is Uencoding and MIME?
  11. Which newsreader should I use?
  12. How do I use a file with a .ZIP extension?
  13. Which UnZIPping program should I use?
  14. How do I use serial numbers to register a program?
  15. What is a "Key Generator" (keygen)?
  16. How do I use a key generator (keygen)?
  17. What's this strange file that was included in the crack archive?
  18. What if there is NO executable file in the crack archive?
  19.  Are you saying that somebody will crack a program just for me?
  20. What's the most effective method for requesting a crack?
  21. Why are some posted file so much larger than others?
  22. What are the most common mistakes made when requesting a crack?
  23. What's wrong with my request?
  24. Why should I follow somebody else's posting guidelines?
  25. What is "Spamming"?
  26. Is there anything that I should NOT expect to get in this group?
  27. Why isn't anyone answering my requests?
  28. What if the crack doesn't work?
  29. How does one most effectively report problems with a crack?
  30. What about Warez FTP Lists, great sounding promises, and "Me Too"?
  31. Why is everybody using fake e-mail addresses?
  32. Should I worry about viruses in these groups?
  33. Which antiviral scanner should I use?
  34. What should I do if I find a virus in a crack?
  35. How else can I guard myself against viruses and trojans?
  36. What can I do to improve the crack-related news groups?
  37. Should I / Can I / May I repost this CrackFAQ document?

 

 

Introduction 

This document was created in order to familiarize newcomers with the purpose, guidelines, and etiquette pertaining to crack related newsgroups. Although the following is generally true for all crack related newsgroups found within the "alt" division of Usenet, it has been composed with the two currently most popular groups in mind, those being alt.cracks and alt.binaries.cracks. These groups experience a continual turnover of a staggering number of members, many of whom are new to the cracking scene and perhaps new to Usenet alltogether. Most people first venture into these groups in hopes of finding something, be it a specific file, answers to questions, advice, or whatever. Due to simply not knowing any better, many newcomers post their messages and files in ways that violate basic Usenet protocol and tradition. As a result, such individuals become the targets of literary attacks (flame) instead of the recipients of assistance or files. Nobody likes being attacked and humiliated, especially when they don't expect it and can't understand what they did to deserve it.

 

Hopefully, a few minutes spent reading this document will help you stay out of trouble, or at least (for those of you who actually enjoy abuse) help you to understand why you're being abused. Those who've lurked around the alt "warez" groups (in distinction to "crack" groups) are probably aware of a well accepted and well written FAQ document (usually posted as WarezFAQ.html) that outlines the basic purpose, function, etiquette, rules, and goals of the warez related newsgroups. What you are reading now is not that document, and although the two share many of the same general guidelines and philosophies, they are not interchangeable.

 

Throughout this document I'll be making some references and recommendations concerning various software applications that are necessary and/or useful when processing Usenet messages and attachments. Please realize that such references do not constitute product endorsements, nor should they be construed as indirectly undermining the worth of programs not mentioned herein. Instead of giving you what I personally view as the "best" programs, I've referenced those that are among the most "popular" programs. While popularity is by no means a reliable indicator of value or functionality, using a popular program does increase a person's chances for receiving application specific assistance when it's needed. In other words, the more people who are familiar with an application, the more likely you are to receive assistance with troubleshooting that application.

 

What Exactly IS a "Crack"?

In the simplest terms, a Crack refers to anything that allows a software user to defeat a program's shareware-related limitations. A Crack may be an executable file, an encrypted key file, a Windows Registry file, or even a simple text file containing a serial number or user instructions. Admittedly, this definition is too broad to be of much enlightenment to a newcomer. In order to elucidate the defining characteristics of a "crack" (the hunter), one must first aquaint him/herself with the animal known to us as "shareware" (the hunted). So read on, and happy hunting!

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Hey, Hold on a Second.........is this Shit Legal?

I am not a lawyer, nor do I pretend to be knowledgable about copyright laws, international trade agreements, intellectual property rights, or anything of the sort. What little I do know pertains only to the situation in my own country (USA). So let's just stick with what's obvious and universally relevant. The question you are probably asking is this: Can I get into legal trouble if I request, download, or post cracks to a Usenet newsgroup?

 

As is stated in virtually every software licensing agreement that comes with virtually every piece of software, you are not permitted to duplicate, distribute, disassemble, reverse-engineer, sell, or alter the computer code of a software program that is not in the public domain. Does the act of using a crack breech this agreement? Clearly it does, as does the act of using a program known to be cracked, copied, or stolen. But obtaining software, distributing software, and using software are all very different actions. While the first two of these actions may be documented through your ISP, actual use of a program (modified or not) cannot be proven by an individual's Usenet activities.

 

Here's an analogous situation; In the United States, it's not unlawful to buy, rent, borrow, or own a commercial sized wood chipper. However, the courts have upheld that it is illegal to push your neighbor into such a contraption while it's operating. Clearly, there's a whole lot of legal terrain between the act of renting a gardening tool and the act of commiting premeditated first degree murder. Admittedly, this is not a totally valid analogy since a wood chipper can be considered to have a widely accepted and lawful purpose outside of it's potential utility as a meat grinder <g>. Nevertheless, I believe that it clearly (or at least graphically) illustrates the point. While creating/posting/requesting/downloading cracks may indicate reasonable intent to commit a crime, it provides absolutely no evidence that a crime has been, or ever will be committed. Furthermore, the files that are distributed in these groups (patchers, text files containing serial numbers, etc) do not themselves contain the copyrighted code. This type of activity is significantly different from that of posting a cracked or registered program (warez). With those activities, the files themselves (along with your ISP's recorded logs) provide evidence* of a copyright breech (although is doesn't necessarily prove intent).

 

So rather than concerning yourself with the sticky intricacies of copyright laws , it may be more useful to simply assess the potential risk based on current and past trends. If past trends are in any way reliable indicators for current risk (as pertains to cracking related Usenet activity), then you're really quite safe. To my knowledge, nobody has ever been sued for requesting, posting, or downloading a crack in these newsgroups. As long as you refrain from posting copyrighted code (programs) that has been altered (patched), and refrain from posting other people's valid registration information (stolen codes) you should remain safe within the legal loophole where cracks reside.

 

* There have been cases where individuals were successfully sued by software companies for copyright infringement that occurred when they posted copyrighted programs/code on their personal web pages. However, I am not aware of any instances where an individual was sued for posting copyrighted programs/code to Usenet. This is due in part to the fact that news servers knowingly allow massive daily postings of copyrighted material. This adds yet another significant twist to the nebulous legalities surrounding Usenet activities.

 

Realize however that the preceding discussion represents nothing more than the opinions and thoughts of one person (me), and that my assessments and conclusions may prove to be completely wrong. It's absurd to think that heeding the suggestions within this document will provide any guarantees of safety or immunity from legal actions. You need to assess the risks and decide for yourself which activities you will engage in. If you are not willing to accept any legal risk whatsoever, then you shouldn't subscribe to these newsgroups....period!

 

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   What Exactly IS "Shareware"?

Shareware refers to software programs that are available to the general public on a "Try Before You Buy" basis. This is in contrast to software programs that are commercially available as shrink-wrapped removable media (floppy disks, CDs, etc) via the well known "Buy Before You Try, and If You Aren't Satisfied Then Tough Shit" basis. How does this work? Well, let's suppose a part-time computer programmer writes a computer program in his spare time and decides to market it for profit. In order to get the program onto the shelves of the local computer stores, he/she would need to come up with at least a few thousand dollars so he/she could pay some graphics designer to create a snazzy box, and hire a lawyer to deal with patents, copyrights, vendor contracts, etc. This person would also need to secure the services of distributors, subcontract a company to process the orders, and so on. What this amount to is a rather large and expensive pain in the arse.

 

Fortunately for the multitudes of programmers that constitute "the little guys that Microshaft sprinkles on it's cornflakes each morning", there exists an alternative method of marketing, distributing, and selling software that doesn't necessitate taking out a second mortgage or assuming some other sizable financial risk. This method entails nothing more than uploading the product (the computer program along with it's associated licensing agreement and purchase information) to various publically accessible internet FTP sites. From there, the program gets spread around to FTP sites all over the world automatically and free of charge. Any user with internet access and a modem may log onto these worldwide FTP sites and download the program at absolutely no cost to themselves (other than applicable on-line charges from their ISP). The user may then install the program on his/her computer and be legally licensed to use the program for a certain length of time, as specified in the licensing agreement that is included with the program. If a user likes the program and decides to keep using it beyond the length of time specified in the temporary license agreement, then he/she is obligated to pay the author for it just as if they were purchasing it from a retail store in shrink-wrapped form.

 

This parallel world of software retailing is known as shareware. Many people wrongly believe that this method of commerce is reserved for "second rate" software programs that aren't good enough to compete with what's currently on the store shelves. This simply is not true. Shareware is an alternate but equally valid means of doing business and marketing a software product, it's not a statement about the quality of the goods. Indeed, many of today's most highly acclaimed computer programs are retailed exclusively as shareware. For the consumer, this seems like an unbeatable alternative to blindly purchasing nonrefundable shrink-wrapped software from a store that peddles software. The author gets his product to consumers worldwide with a minimum of effort, time, risk, and monetary outlay, and may instead use his time and resources to develop his productss. The consumer gets a chance to test drive everything for free without incurring the risk of having wasted yet another $40 on a mediocre program that doesn't live up to the shamelessly embellished claims on the flashy colorful box it came in. Whooaaah.... Peace, Love, Shareware, Big Bong Hits, and Yippy-Kie-Yae! Life is so COOL!. "So where's the problem?", you may ask.

 

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The Birth of Shareware Ushers in Cracking and Warez

When shareware first got started (see below), it involved the distribution of fully functional software programs, and relied completely on the "honor system" for enforcing licensing agreements and ensuring appropriate payment. Twenty years later, things are a lot different. Both the shareware authors and their consumers have become mutually paranoid about the possibilities of being taken advantage of by the other party (financially and otherwise). Each side alleges dishonesty, greed, and infringement (at least theoretically) of financial and intellectual rights. In response to these rampant suspicions there's been a bilateral escalation of "protectionist" practices aimed at preserving the collective rights of the respective groups. The [result]/[cause] is that shareware authors have almost unanimously lost faith in the honor system as a realistic or dependable market force, and have instead gone to using various methods of negative reinforcement to cajole potential buyers into making a purchase.

 

These methods tend to involve elaborate, often tactless, and sometimes offensive software protection schemes on the part of the program's creators. Hand in hand with these tactics comes a diminution of what authors consider to be a "reasonable" time period for evaluating their software products. Commonly, shareware products also have restrictions in program functionality. Together these practices create a strong push sideways towards the parallel phenomenon of retail store commerce that the authors were trying to escape in the first place. This push has brought about a "virtual" shrink-wrapping of more and more shareware, a process which returns buyers to the plight of shelling out money in exchange for promises. Hey Dylan, you're looking more like that Gates guy every day. What has [caused this]/[resulted from this] emphasis on commerce and money is the proliferation of interest in circumventing these program nags, limitations, time bombs, cripples, insults, threats, and other childish displays of mistrust. Enter cracking and warez.

 

History of Shareware

For info regarding the history of shareware, try one of the following sites (depending on how "hungry" you are):

Get a third person retrospective by way of this "history in a nutshell":

http://www.pslweb.com/history.htm

Or, for something more substantial, try this "history on the half shell" (An interview with Jim Knopf)

http://boardwatch.internet.com/mag/96/jun/bwm14.html

Or, for the "whole enchilada, including the shells" go right to the horse's mouth by visiting "The Father of Shareware" himself, Jim Knopf. He has a great site at:

http://www.halcyon.com/knopf/jim.html

 

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 How is Shareware Protected?

 The vast majority of shareware products contain computer code that functions to limit the usefulness of the program in one way or another. These "features" are intentionally created so as to provide the user with an incentive for purchasing the program. UNprotecting (cracking) a program basically entails various methods of circumventing these annoying "features".

OK, now this is important ......so read it carefully,

Some shareware "features" CANNOT be unprotected/cracked/circumvented/fixed/bypassed/etc.

 

Nag screens

These are dialog box that pop up in order to "remind" the user to register the product. Terminating these windows typically requires user input (usually a mouse click or key press). Most commonly, these screens present themselves each time the program is loaded and/or upon exiting the program. Realize however, that there are many exceptions to this rule. Nag screens may be programmed to pop up:

  • at regular timed intervals
  • at random timed intervals
  • upon accessing certain menu items
  • upon moving the cursor over certain areas of the GUI
  • after a fixed number of file operations
  • after a random number of file operations
  • upon Saving a file
  • upon Closing a file
  • upon Creating a file
  • upon almost anything else that the author may dream up

Nag screens with delay

Same as above except the nag window remains on screen for a fixed amount of time, during which it cannot be terminated due to temporarily disabled dialog buttons. When the delay period lapses, the buttons again become enabled and the nag screen may be terminated like a regular nag screen.

Titlebar Text Nags

Another common method of "nagging" the user entails the prominent display of a reminder message within the program's titlebar. This typically takes some form of the word "Unregistered", or the like.

Disabled Features

Programs that utilize disable features will tyically contain all the code necessary for full implementation of the given feature, but access to that feature has been intentionally restricted.

Limitation of Features

This refers to program features that are conditionally available to the unregistered user. A common protection technique is to disabled a feature after a certain period of program activity or a certain number of tasks. This forces the user to reload the program (or reboot the system) in order to reactivate that particular functionality.

Absence of Features

(Crippleware)

This is a phenomenon that you really do need to be aware of, in order to save yourself (and others) a lot of headaches. Some programs are simply missing the computer coding that's required for carrying out certain program functions. The pertinent code has been intentionally left out by the author. Such a program is said to be crippled, and is therefore referred to as Crippleware instead of Shareware.

Run Limitations

The program may only be run (loaded) a certain number of time, after which it may cease to function, begin nagging, lengthen delays, etc.

Fixed Load Time

The program functions normally for a fixed number of minutes/hours and then terminates. To continue using the program, the user must again load the program. This is a very common protection scheme for games.

Program Expiration

The entire program ceases to function after:

  • a certain time period, regardless of usage
  • a certain date, regardless of usage
  • a fixed number of times that the program is loaded
  • a fixed number of specific file operations (i.e. Save As...)
  • a fixed number of individual days of usage, regardless of date

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Where Can I Find Shareware for Downloading?

 

Windows95.com

http://www.winfiles.com/ - Large site for 32-bit Windows95/98/NT software only (100% remotely linked). Updated daily. Extensive software categorization and author descriptions. However, program info, links, file sizes, etc. are frequently incorrect and/or invalid. And they seem willing to post anything that's uploaded to them, regardless of quality. Receives in excess of 1,000,000 hits/day so it can get slow during peak hours. Onsite software search engine available (but it's pretty lame).

C|Net

http://www.download.com - Large site offering software for many Operating Systems and computing platforms. Onsite software search engine is dependable and fast. Files are all remotely linked to a worldwide assortment of mirror sites.

The Slaughterhouse

http://www.slaughterhouse.com - Moderate sized site that carries both 16-bit and 32-bit programs. Most files are remotely linked but the onsite collection keeps growing. Updated several times daily. Tends to deal only with the most popular programs. Extensive categorization and descriptions. Info and Links are typically reliable.

ZD Net

http://www.zdnet.com - Huge site that hosts all of the Ziff-Davis Publishing Magazines. The software library is just one piece of this gigantic puzzle. It's the Las Vegas of shareware sites; glitzy, animated, overdone, cluttered, and just chuck full of possibilities. Multi-framed pages in sundry fonts assault you with colors, java applets, animated GIFs, and flashing banners. There's 1,001 sideline "attractions" to keep you entertained. Links going off in every direction (and of course, most of them embedded in image maps so you've gotta see the show, whether you want to or not). But they do maintain an enormous collection of software, and ALL of it is linked locally! Whether you're looking for a new app, an old app, a popular app, or an app that nobody's ever heard of; whether it's freeware, shareware, or I-wouldn't-feed-it-to-my-dog-ware, it's probably at ZDnet. Now, finding it is another story. They currently sport a bare-bones string search engine, meaning that you're likely to spend a good deal of time staring at search results that read something like: "0 hits returned" or "20,000 hits returned - page 1 of 239"

SoftSeek

http://www.softseek.com - Large site that carries both 16 and 32-bit programs, all linked remotely. Programs are categorized into an extensive yet intuitive tree structure. They maintain pages of "Most Popular", "Newest", "Editor's Pick", and the "Top 100 Downloads" (weekly). Search results can be viewed either alphabetically or by date. Alternate downloading sites are offered for most linked files.

TuCows

http://tucows.mcp.com or http://tucows.tierranet.com (U.S.A)

http://tucows.cadvision.com (Canada, eh)

http://tucows.thebrain.net (Europe)

http://tucows.israsrv.net.il (Asia)

300 mirror sites world-wide and growing. Extensive collection of selected 16 and 32-bit internet applications (100% locally linked). Excellent categorization and file descriptions. Since all the files are local to each individual site, invalid links are rarely encountered. Good local software search engine.

 

If for some reason the above sites do not suit you, there are many more sites available to the public. For a frequently updated, reviewed, and commented page full of links to other good shareware sites, I'll refer you again to Jim Knopf's website. It's definitely worth bookmarking in your browser.

 

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 Finding Older Versions of a Program

Many software developers work on their shareware products during their free time and, like most of us, when they feel motivated. Since this tends to vary for almost everybody, there will be periods of time when a program goes through heavy development and frequent upgrading. This sometimes results in the release of several minor versions within the same week. At those times, it becomes a bit more difficult to obtain the correct version of the program for a recently released crack. By the time you download the crack and get on over to the program's homepage, there may be a newer version posted. What do you do? Well, this isn't a big problem if you're willing to do a little searching and know where to search. The first thing to remember is that the program's homepage is usually not the only place to obtain the program. There are a very few authors who do not actively upload their program(s) to public shareware sites, in hopes of controlling distribution. But even in these cases where the author has stated in the licensing agreement that the program is not to be distributed, the program will inevitably get distributed. There are tens of thousands of publically accessible FTP sites throughout the internet, many of which are automatically mirrorred (syncronized exactly) by other FTP sites. You can upload a file to single FTP site, and in a week it may exist on a thousand sites across the globe. If an author uploads an updated revision of his program to one of these sites, it will take at least a few days to reach most of the other mirror sites. Until then, the old version is available at those mirror sites. Even after all of the mirror sites have been updated, there are many independent FTP sites that are updated at the whim of the person who runs it. These are the sites where you can find almost any version of any program. You just have to be willing to hunt.

 

In order to do this hunting, you'll need either an FTP enabled web browser (pretty much all of them) or a bone-fide FTP client. This will allow you to sign on to FTP sites, browse the directories, and download files. Probably the easiest thing to do if this is new to you is to use your favorite web browser. This will also allow you to do search in a user-friendly manner. An excellent place to do searches is at http://ftpsearch.ntnu.no/

There are some utilities that allow you to do FTP searches right from your desktop. File Ferret from Ferretsoft is a decent choice for this kind of searching, although not nearly as configurable as the ftpsearch site engine.

 

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What Should I Do With This Strange Text File I Downloaded?

The crack files that are posted to these newsgroups are all Encoded files, and are therefore NOT useable by your computer until they are DEcoded. This particular type of encoding is a method whereby a "binary" computer file is converted completely into plain text (ASCII) and is thereby made suitable for posting to, and downloaded from, Usenet newsgroups. Realize that Usenet is a computer system that ONLY handles text, nothing else. It's this condition which makes text encoding necessary. The two most common methods of encoding are the UUE format and the MIME format. It's not important for you to know the specifics about these methods, but you will need a program that's capable of DEcoding these files. When you view a UUEncoded or MIME encoded file in your newsreader or in a text editor, you will see the equivalent of a tossed alphabet salad garnished with punctuation characters. To avoid the hassles of manually decoding every file with a separate decoding program, I suggest that you get one of the following newsreaders, each of which are capable of encoding and decoding files in the background, automatically and transparently (meaning that the user never sees it nor needs to do anything to make it happen):

 

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Popular Newsreaders

Agent Newsreader *

Commercial

http://www.forteinc.com

Free Agent Newsreader

FREE

http://www.forteinc.com

News Xpress

FREE

FTP search for "nx20"

Anawave Gravity

FREE

http://www.microplanet.com

* "Commercial" means that you are required to purchase a key for the program before you can even try it. In that sense, the marketing and sale of the Agent program is the same as purchasing shrink-wrapped "off the shelf" software. The only difference being that you may download the program from the internet instead of physically obtaining it on some form of removable media, like floppy disks. The usual practice in this group has been to download Agent from the ForteInc website and to then obtain one of the many user keys that get posted to the crack groups on a daily basis. This method of distributing Agent may soon be abandoned, in which case you'll only be able to get Agent from a retail distributor or from a warez board.

 

In choosing a news reader, you may also want to consider the availability of any "helper" applications for specific news readers. The Forte' Agent program has attracted the most development and there currently exists at least a dozen of these interesting applications, making Agent undoubtedly the most feature rich newsreader in the galaxy. An excellent place to learn about and download these Agent add-ons is Mad Hatter's web site at http://www.skuz.net/madhat/agent/

 

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Multipart Messages and Large Files 

Somewhere around 99% of cracks are relatively small and do NOT entail multiple-part messages when posted. Since most news servers have a limitation on the size of any individual message (32 Kb up to 1000 Kb), larger files (say, the size of one floppy disk) need to be posted in cut up pieces, and then put back together after all the pieces are downloaded. If you come across a posted file that's split up into several messages (identifiable by a numerically displayed fraction that's appended to the end of the subject line, i.e. 1/3, 2/3, 3/3) then the file is most probably NOT a crack. Typically, this will turn out to be an unregistered shareware program that somebody has posted to the newsgroup in hopes of getting cracked. Never download such a file from a crack related newsgroup because they are often incomplete and may be intentionally infected with a Trojan or virus. For the same reasons, don't ever post a program to a newsgroup in hopes of getting it cracked.

 

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How Do I Use a File that has a .ZIP Extension?

Once your downloaded file is decoded from it's text formatting, it still won't be ready to use. Most cracks (and the majority of shareware programs) are distributed as part of a data-compressed package known as an archive file. The process of archiving brings about two significant changes;

1.) Compacts data and thereby reduces the total disk space (total bytes) required to store the files.

2.) Unites many files (up to thousands) into one single easily handled file.

The tradeoff for this disk space reduction is that the files are NOT useable in a compressed state. Before you can use the file(s) that are packaged within an archive, you will need to DECOMPRESS them. Decompression is a process that restores the compressed file(s) to their original size and state, and renders them useable again. There are many different types of compressed archives, each based on a different computer algorithm. By far the most common type (>99%) of archive posted to crack groups is the ZIP archive.

 

If you don't already have a program that handles (compresses and decompresses) ZIP archives, there are many excellent Windows based programs to choose from. Regardless of which shareware site you routinely visit, it should have a category that deals with "compression" or "archiving". This is where you will find programs that handle ZIP files as well as many other archive formats. Probably the most popular Windows based archiving tool is WinZip, which is a thoroughly tested and "user-friendly" program that offers different wizards for walking you step by step through various archiving chores. WinPack Deluxe is another solid choice that handles even more archive types, allows conversion between types, and adds batch processing. However, it lacks the wizard interface option, and some releases have been quite buggy. If you'd rather work from the command line (DOS), you should obtain either PKZip from PKWare, Inc. or InfoZip. The latter set of utilities has the advantage of handling LFNs (Long File Names) and is distributed as freeware.

 

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Popular ZIP Utilities

WinZip

shareware

http://www.winzip.com

WinPack Deluxe

shareware

http://www.retrospect.com

PKZip

shareware

http://www.pkware.com

InfoZip

FREE

FTP search for "infozip"

UnPackEm/UPackEm

FREE

Posted regularly to warez news groups

 

Most crack archives come with some instructions in plain text format. This file often has an extension of NFO (*.nfo). In order to view these files, you'll need to create an "association" with a text viewer. Since most of these NFO files are less than 32 KB, you can use Windows Notepad. If you don't know how to create an association, you can simply open Notepad and then drag and drop the NFO file onto the Notepad window. Make SURE you read all the text files in the archive. If you see a file with a goofy extension, just assume that it's a text file and view it in Notepad or some other text viewer. That way you won't miss out on any necessary instructions about the crack.

 

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How Do Cracks Work to Defeat Shareware Protection?

The mechanism by which a crack brings about changes in program functioning depends largely on what type of crack it is. It's often useful to categorize cracks into two main groups, based on how they function. There are cracks that that work WITH the program's protection schemes, and there are other cracks that work AGAINST the program's protection schemes. A patcher is a (typically) small executable file that changes a specific number of bytes at one or more specific locations within one or more targeted program files. Crack patchers target areas that control functioning of the program's protection mechanisms, and in altering these areas they effectively bypass or inactivate the protection. Because patches must operate with great specificity in order to avoid disruption of program functioning, they are usually effective ONLY for one particular version, release, or build of a program. The user of a patch must therefore always pay close attention to version information and never use a patch on a program that has a different version number. Doing so will almost always elicit an error message, create a corrupt file, or lock up your system. Patches have extensions of either EXE or COM. Almost always you'll need to move the patch to the program's main directory prior to running it. You "run" a patch by double clicking on it from Windows, or by typing it on the command line from DOS mode or a windowed DOS session. Almost all patches are DOS executables that can effectively be run in a Windows environment. Running a patch will usually elicit a new DOS window that echoes its activity to the screen. The average patch requires less than 2 seconds to complete it's routine, and will automatically terminate the DOS session when it finishes. However the DOS window usually remains on screen so that you can read any confirmations, further instructions, or error messages concerning the patch.

 

Remember too that running the patch may be just the first step of a multi-sequence crack procedure. Again, you should be able to learn this from the NFO file or other ASCII (text) formatted documentation that accompanies the patch inside the compressed archive. Sometimes you'll need to type specific numbers into a registration screen, other times you may need to execute a Windows .REG file, sometimes you may need to do both. Given the fact that there are countless ways to protect a program, it stands to reason that there will also be countless methods of "cracking" these schemes. Every patch is different so never assume that you know how to use it correctly. Always read the documentation that comes with a patch before you execute the patch.

 

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Insults, Demands, Complaints, Whines, and Other Forms of Extortion

Have realistic expectations about what a crack "should" do, which is in effect asking that you appropriately consider your expectations for the cracker who wrote the patch. Often a shareware program will utilize several different types of protection schemes at different points in different routines, or even in different files. Some protection schemes use fixed intervals while others activate at random. Some programs have just one nag screen, while others may have 5 different nag screens that are called from 3 dozen different places in the code. Hell, there are a few programs that display nag screens after being paid for and registered!

 

So, don't get discouraged or critical if you end up with only a "partial" crack of the program. It most probably means that the program didn't manifest the nag/check/limitation when the cracker had it in the debugger. Instead of getting up on a soap box with a handful of mud, just assume that the cracker didn't know about it and see it as an opportunity to participate in the creation of a more useful crack. This you would do by posting an informative message in the newsgroup where you downloaded the crack. (see Reporting Problems with a Crack)

 

The subject line of such a message should call attention to the cracker or crack group that originally released the crack. They will usually cook up a revised crack that addresses the newly discovered protection.

 

Always remember that nobody in this newsgroup owes you anything except their adherence to Usenet policy. Requesting a crack constitutes a request for a favor from a complete stranger! I've been here long enought to know that the vast majority of requests come from individuals who will contribute nothing in return, ...... ever. And there's nothing wrong or shameful about that. The regular crackers/posters/contributors in these groups are not (to my knowledge) expecting anything specific in return for their services. But realize that when someone offers you something without any attached expectations for reciprocation, it's really not a favor, it's a gift. So when you make a request for a gift (crack, info, help, etc) do it in a respectful manner. I trust that there's no need for spelling out the absurdity inherent in making indignant demands for gifts or selfrighteously reproaching the gift giver for not delivering the gifts on your terms. If your request doesn't get filled right away, don't start whining or nagging or insulting. Wait a couple days and ask again. Better yet, you should ask yourself what you could do to improve your request. (see How to Properly Request a Crack)

 

You need to constantly remind yourself that the individuals who do the cracking, documenting, instructing, uploading, etc. are doing so as a courtesy to you, not as a service. This may sound trivial but it's not. They are under absolutely no obligation to crack anything.....EVER. Besides, it's not like these guys and gals don't have a life off-line. There's a whole lot of other stuff that they have to negotiate, things like being full time students, jobs, spelunking, changing diapers, pick-up basketball games, family reunions, grocery shopping, screwing, funerals, doctors appointments, sleeping-in, watching Seinfeld reruns, haggling with used car salesmen, eating Big Macs, etc. I doubt that these people try to "squeeze" this life stuff in between writing cracks for you ;-)

 

One of the most bogus protection schemes is the "crippleware" technique whereby certain portions of computer code are actually missing from the program. This results in a complete absence of certain program functions. Since the pertinent programming code doesn't exist, there's nothing to crack. While most crippleware authors make this very clear in their documentation, there are plenty of instances where this is not revealed directly by the author. In these cases you may be waiting for (or repeatedly requesting) a crack that just ain't never gonna happen.

 

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What About Serial Numbers?

Serial numbers are often the preferred method for cracking a program since they unlock the program in accordance with the original computer code. Serial numbers are therefore (theoretically) 100% effective and don't introduce the possibility of creating "bugs" in the program's functioning, as do patch type cracks. Also, as opposed to byte altering patch type cracks which are usually effective on only one specific version of a program, serial numbers OFTEN remain effective over several versions of a program. However, despite the theoretical advantages of using a serial number to crack a program, their use can no longer be considered "safer" than using an executable crack. The reason for this is simple. Serial numbers allow a shareware author to "booby-trap" his program to become destructive to your system when it encounters an illegally distributed serial number. While there have been very few instances of intentional trojanization of programs by shareware authors, many of them do like to scare, cajole, and threaten users of pirated registration codes.

 

Despite the theoretical advantages of using serial numbers, one has to remember that this method merely "appeases" the program's protection and does nothing to permanently defuse the protection. The program's functionality remains forever dependent upon the presence of that one specific serial number. Lose the number and you lose program functionality. As you may already know, the majority of all shareware registration information (including serial numbers) is stored in the Windows Registry. As many of you may already know, it's not at all uncommon for these large, frequently changing files to become corrupted, even on the most well-behaved system. Repairing and/or replacing these system files often results in data loss from the Registry. If that lost or corrupted data happes to contain registered serial numbers......POOF........those programs will revert right back to functioning in an unregistered manner (including expiration). This holds true even for many retail programs costing thousands of dollars. Serial numbers simply supress protection, hold it at bay. They don't defeat protection.

 

A patcher, on the other hand, can completely and forever deactivate a protection scheme by changing as little as one byte. Unfortunately, one improperly placed byte change is all that's required to transform any program into a useless, and sometimes hazardous, glob of X's and 0's.

 

When you install a program and use it, you ordinarily have no choice but to grant that program the privilege of being able to access your data and to change it without your direct supervision. About the only way to avoid this necessary proxy would involve executing every single command from within a debugger, stepping manually through thousands of commands that would normally take your computer only a few seconds to execute. Since this is impractical to the point of absurdity, we must simply make a "leap of faith" each time we run a program. Until recently, it was unheard of for a software author to intentionally and maliciously abuse this privilege. Unfortunately, such incidents are becoming more common. Although these "traps" may lead to little more than an angry plea from the author, they may involve attempts at rendering your entire system inoperable and/or deleting as much of your hard drive as possible.

 

Insofar as such coding intentionally aims to produce unwanted permanent changes on the users system, it represents a Trojan Horse in every sense of the word. Call me old-fashioned, but I'd be pretty upset to discover that I'd actually paid (registered) for the undisclosed privilege of regularly subjecting my data to such "catastrophic" code. Is the consumer of such a product expected to be placated by the author's self-proclaimed programming expertise, when in fact that author's most sophisticated attempt at protection consists of a crude low level DOS call? YIKES. Pulling off a stunt like that requires a complete lack of insight, innate paranoia, a badly distorted view of normal human behavior, and a slop-bucket-full-O-balls. Unfortunately for consumers, the creation and distribution of software is not something that requires a screening psychiatric evaluation or a criminal history check. Although this type of trojanization is still quite rare, it's highly recommended that you remove any old serial numbers and/or other registration related files before you install a new version of a particular program.

 

Serial numbers are derived in several different ways. Some are valid customer numbers that have been leaked onto the Internet. More often however, the numbers are in a way "extracted" from the program's code through a process called "debugging". By observing computer commands in a debugger, one is able to determine what values/characters the program is looking for during a registration process. In this way it's possible to determine working serial numbers which aren't even registered yet. As nifty as this sounds, it's definitely not easy to do.

 

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What's a Key Generator (keygen)?

Like a physical key that unlocks a door, an electronic registration key unlocks a program in one way or another. For purposes of discussing cracks, the term "key" can most often be used interchangeably with the terms "serial", "serial number", "registration number", "code", "password", "validation", and probably some others as well. It refers to a specific string of numbers and/or letters and/or ASCII characters (including spaces, dashes, brackets, etc.). Some programs will accept only one specific string when unlocking the program. Every registered user is therefore required to type in the same sequence of keystrokes, regardless of what the user's name is. A more sophisticated protection scheme is one that requires the user to type in a "User Name" as well as a unique code that has been mathematically derived from this string of characters. Different user names will require different registration codes for unlocking the same program. Such a mathematical relationship between two string values is termed an "algorithm". Once the algorithm has been "cracked", it is possible to create a small computer program that executes the required mathematical calculations when a user name is entered. Such a program is termed a "key generator" because it generates valid [USER NAME/KEY CODE] combinations for unlocking the program.

 

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How Do I Use a Key Generator?

There are several different types of key generators and how you use them will depend on what type it is. The 'standard' key generator simply creates a code that is dumped as text output to a DOS screen and can therefore be run from any directory, at any time. You just need to write down the code and enter it into the appropriate place in the program's registration screen. There is another type of key generator that is in reality a key FILE generator, in that it generates not only a code but also a specific file which contains this code, often in an encrypted form. This type of key generator can usually be run from any directory but the newly created file must be copied to a specified directory. This is usually the main program directory but may also be your Windows directory. A third type of key generator outputs the code to a specific file, and therefore must be run from the specified directory. You should be able to easily determine what type of key generator you have by reading the documentation that accompanies the executable in the crack archive.

 

By far the most common type of key generator you will find is one that simply generates a code. To use it just double click on the executable file after extracting it to any directory. You'll get a DOS screen that asks you for a name. Type in any name (but no more than about 28 characters which is the limit for most keygens). Then hit <ENTER> and the program will generate a code which will be displayed in the DOS screen. Write down the name and code EXACTLY as they appear in the DOS screen. Close the DOS window. Now run the program you are trying to crack. Bring up the Registration screen for the program. This screen can usually be elicited by clicking on 'HELP' from the program's main menu that runs along the top of the program's main user window and choosing 'ABOUT' or 'REGISTER' from the drop down menu that pops up.

 

But realize that with some programs, the registration screen will be elicited from a different menu item and you may have to hunt around to find it. Just go through all the menu items and look for a submenu command that refers to registration. Once you find this screen, enter the required info into the edit boxes provided. Sometimes there will be only one edit box for inputting the reg code you got from the key generator. Other times you'll need to also type in the name you used when running the key generator. Still others will require information such as company name, etc. It should be self-evident to you. After you register you can delete the key generator executable.

 

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 What's This Strange .COM File That Plays Music and Flashes?

Some cracking groups will include a "signature" executable in their archives. These are small executable files with a ".com" or ".exe" extension. Double clicking them will usually elicit a windowed DOS session that displays some ANSI graphics and sound. Running this executable will NOT crack the program and it is NOT necessary for carrying out the crack. Since many cracks are executable patches, you'll sometimes be faced with a crack archive containing two executable files. Again, the documentation within the archive will almost always specify the exact name of the patch file.

 

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What If There's No Executable File in the Archive?

If there are no executables in the archive, then the crack is generally going to be a serial number, and it's almost always going to be in the file with the NFO extension. You may need to look closely to find it, since many NFO files are highly decorative (using ASCII forms). If you can't seem to figure out what kind of a crack you have then look at the DIZ file (usually file_id.diz) that accompanies most cracks. Although you won't usually find instructions in the DIZ file, you'll typically find the name of the program it cracks, the cracker, the crack group, the version number, and a reference to the type of crack (i.e. patch, key generator, serial number, etc.).

 

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Warez FTP lists, bogus promises, and "me toos"

From time to time you will see some bonehead messages that promise to provide access to "giant FTP sites" or certain other desirable programs such as Eudora Pro and Partition Magic. The poster will typically ask you to respond to that message by posting your e-mail address. In turn this person promises to e-mail you either the site addresses or the entire program. Sounds good? It's NOT.

 

Be very careful about these messages. On rare occasions an innocent and generous person will post such a message with good intent. Typically however, it's the work of idiots who want to draw you into some scheme or prank by way of your e-mail address. Realize that once a person has your e-mail address, they are free to give it out to anybody they please, including the thousands of spammers who will flood your mailbox with advertisements, get-rich schemes, mail bombs, fake letters from the SPA and FBI, and god knows what else. These messages usually contain offers that sound legitimate and you may find yourself tempted to just type "me too - name@mail.com". DON'T do it! In addition to suffering the consequences of countless pranks and schemes, you will also be marked as a "Me-too Moron" which will usually get you onto a few blacklists aimed at ostracizing and/or harassing individuals who respond to these bogus messages. And listed or not, "me-too" responders will definitely get placed into the newsreader kill-filters of many individual group members, an action which renders the offender nonexistent to them. A kill-filter is an option on many newsreaders that allows the user to "tag" a phrase, a user, a nickname, or an e-mail address (real or fictional) and delete all the messages associated with these tags. The result: Your message is deleted before that person ever pulls up the headers for a newsgroup.

 

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Why Do So Many People Use Fake E-mail addresses?

In large part this is done in order to remain more or less anonymous. See the section above which discusses reasons for not giving out your e-mail address indiscriminately. The e-mail address posted in your messages can be virtually anything you like as long as it has a "@" character in it. Servers aren't picky about this. You can change this address by configuring your newsreader via it's "Options", "Preferences", or "Configuration" menu items. Wherever your newsreader asks for an e-mail address, you can use a fake one (except of course when filling in User Validation and Password information that may be required to gain access to your news server). By using a fake e-mail address you will prevent others in the newsgroup from sending you unwanted e-mail or distributing your e-mail address to spammers. But remember that this does NOT make you untraceable. Your news server logs each and every post and stamps it with an ID number so that any single post can be traced right back to you. Typically, your news server keeps this information confidential but will not hesitate to release information when it involves abuse or misuse of the account. About the only situation that will prompt another person to pursue this information (through your ISP) is when you do something really stupid or really rude (like posting a virus, repeated spamming, mail bombing, etc.)

 

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Are you saying that somebody will crack a program just for me?

Well.......maybe. But don't count on it. There has been a great deal of confusion in these crack groups concerning the mythical causal relationship between requests and cracks. There are hundreds of requests posted to these groups each day and sometimes there are hundreds of cracks posted (most of them reposts, as opposed to new cracks). Reposted cracks are often posted to the same thread as the original request and it's therefore easy to see the causal relationship between the request and the posted file. New cracks, on the other hand, are almost always posted as separate original threads and contain no references about whether the crack was created in response to a request, or whether the cracker simply happened to crack a program that somebody had previously requested. Therefore, no causal relationship can be surmised. The natural tendency, however, seems to be for people to assume that cracks come into being as a direct result of one or more requests that have been posted to a news group. This innocent assumption undoubtedly allows the requestors to feel empowered, and in the same stroke, portrays the crackers as receptive and responsive. So everybody's happy.....at least as long as the illusion holds up, that is.

 

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How to PROPERLY Request a Crack

How likely a person is to get his/her requests filled in this group has much to do with the manner in which the request is made. Simply stated; the more courteous, informative, and unambiguous your requests, the higher the chances of getting what you want.

The generally accepted (and most logical) format used in composing a request header (subject line of a message) looks something like this:

 

Subject Line ( Template ) 

REQ: Crack for <Program Name> < version# / beta# / build# > for <O.S.>

 

 < Program Name > = FULL name of program (no abbreviations)

< version # > = Version number of the program

< beta # > = Beta version number (if applicable)

< build # > = Build number of that version (if applicable)

< O.S.> = Operating System (i.e. Windows 3.1, Windows NT4, DOS 6.2, etc.)

 

The template above also illustrates the proper CASE for each part of the request.

NOTE: Version, beta, build information can almost always be obtained from either the program documentation or the program's ABOUT screen. The ABOUT screen for most programs can be elicited by opening the program and clicking HELP from the program's main window, then choosing ABOUT from the popup menu.

 

Example: Subject Line for a Request

REQ: Crack for SuperNeatoWhizzo v1.25 (32-bit) for Windows95/NT

 

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Body of Message - Required Info

The body of the message should elaborate on what you've written on the subject line, make necessary clarifications or caveats, and include any other info which might be helpful to the person cracking it. Many authors don't clearly state what limitations the shareware has. Often times, these limitations can only be ascertained by installing the program and using it for a length of time. You need to be as thorough as possible in this regard. Don't make a cracker have to putz around with the program and read all the documentation just to find out what needs to be cracked. Why? Because more often then not, they won't even download the program if you don't supply this essential information.

 

  • Describe exactly what it is about the program that bothers you
    • Does it have a Nag screen(s)? If so, where and when do they pop up
      • on loading the program?
      • on exiting the program?
      • only after expiration?
      • at random intervals?
      • when clicking on a certain menu item?
      • when performing certain tasks (such as Save, Search, Create, Edit, etc)?
    • Does the program have certain features disabled and if so, which ones?
    • Does the program time out after so many minutes and need to be restarted?
    • Does the program have an expiration or a limitation on the number of times that it can be run?

 

  • What does the program documentation say about registration? Do you receive a code when you register or does the author send out a disk or e-mail a file to you. In other words, if you purchased the program would you be able to convert your current copy into a registered copy, or would the author have to mail you the registered program?

 

  • Is the program a Visual Basics program, and if so, is it VB3, VB4, or VB5. If you don't know what this mean, don't worry about it.

 

  • A URL (internet address) where the program can be downloaded from. This is NOT optional. No URL means no chance of getting it cracked. Again, don't make the cracker have to go and search for the program. Ideally, you should yourself do an ftp and/or web search and come up with about 5 URLs for that program. Just directing a cracker to a shareware site such as http://www.shareware.com is not acceptable. And neither is including only the homepage for a program. Very often a person needs to navigate through many pages or even forms, before getting to the actual link for the program download. Again, this is just common sense and courtesy.

 

 

Example: Message Body for a Request

Please post a crack for SuperNeatoWhizzo v1.25 (32-bit) for Windows95 and NT-4.

The program can be downloaded from:

  • http://www.shareware.com/offline/snwiz125.zip or http://www.filez.com/win95/inet/neato_stuff/snwiz125.zip or ftp://ftp.garbo.com/win95/inet/utils/snwiz125.zip or ftp://argo.mono.au/windows/webtool/webutils/snwiz125.zip or ftp://ftp.yada.com/pub/yadayada/utils/snwiz125.zip
  • The program is an internet browser plugin for Netscape Navigator 3.02 and up, as well as MSIE4. It allows one to view SuperNeato graphics. The shareware version is fully functional for the first 30 runs but then the file 'SAVE' function becomes disabled. There's also a nag screen that pops up randomly and requires the user to type in "SuperNeato" and wait 10 seconds, at which time the "OK" button can be clicked and viewing continued.

    Thanks for your time 

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    Common mistakes in requesting a crack

     

     

    Why Are the Above Techniques Considered "WRONG"?

    I think most of these rules have self-evident justifications. Most of them simply entail common sense and some basic courtesy. But I'll spell them out here in case you have any uncertainty.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

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    Why Should I Adhere to Somebody Else's Posting Guidelines?

    My best answer to that is..........because these guidelines will maximize the liklihood of getting what you want. These guidelines are not just some arbitrary rules that I happen to have a fancy for. They were conceptualized from the viewpoint of a cracker. The requirements listed herein are based almost exclusively on the information that is required by any cracker who sets out to crack a program. One way or another, the cracker HAS to get this information. If you dump all of this info right into the cracker's lap, then chances are real good that you are going to get a crack for that program. If your attitude is "Fuck'em, I want THEM to do all the work, I just want my crack"...........well, as a cracker, my response to that is "Go fuck yourself".

     

    In short, you do NOT have to follow these guidelines, none of them. It's completely up to you. But it's very likely that you will reap what you sow, in this regard. One important caveat however; If you ask me personally (via posted request) to crack a program, I can guarantee that you will reap what you sow. You either include ALL of the requested information that is outlined in this document........or I'll go after you like a pitbull with hemorrhoids. I find it extremely insulting when a person singles me out, armed with the assumption that I will do all the scut work for them.


    Just Say "NO" to lamers - Help Spread the Word

    What follows here is a little check sheet I created and sometimes post in reply to those individuals who can't take a hint. Needless to say, it's never been very popular.....but it does work! These "rules" are not my own personal preferences, they are all pretty basic newsgroup etiquette and it's the way most people in here want things to be. Feel free to copy this list and send it out to those frequent offenders.

     

    You have posted inappropriately to this newsgroup.

    Please change your posting habits accordingly. Thank you in advance for your cooperation. Adhering to these guidelines will help ensure the future viability of this newsgroup, and will make this crack board easier to use for everybody.

     

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    Is it OK for me to repost this CrackFAQ document or post it on a web site? 

    Yes, definitely, affirmative, please do, without hesitation, every day, as you please, DO IT!

     

     

    What is "Spam" and "Spamming"?

    Spam is bad. Whether it comes to you via e-mail, in these groups, or in a can.......it's always distasteful. Although "Spamming" may be appropriate in the kitchen, it's a cardinal sin in any newsgroup and it constitutes legal grounds upon which your ISP account may be terminated.

    Spamming is the indiscriminate posting of messages to many newsgroups and/or e-mail addresses, regardless of the appropriateness or relevance of the message to those groups or persons. This tactic is used often by individuals pushing "get-rich" schemes or fly-by-night memberships to some Internet related "club". Then there's the pathetic lot who have nothing better to do than try to get a rise out of as many people as possible. This usually takes the form of some inflammatory statement concerning race, sex, religion, or anything else that might cause a lot of people to respond (referred to as trolling). These individuals are almost always aware of their crime and take precautions against being easily traced (although this is virtually impossible).

     

    The best thing to do when you encounter messages that have been spammed or trolled is to ignore them. True Spammers and Trollers generally won't read anything that's posted in response to their messages, they just send, send, send, jack-off, and send. I suggest that you learn about your newsreader's "kill-filter" or "bozo-bin" function, then filter out and delete the spam when you download headers. Another suggestion is that you reserve this fate only for the hard-core spammers, and give the "soft-core" spammers the benefit of the doubt. I'm referring here to the multitudes of people who post inappropriately out of ignorance. Most of these individuals, once they are informed, cease to post inappropriately and may become valuable members of the group. This whole phenomenon is what I like to refer to as "Pissing Puppy" spam. This is spam that's generated on account of the poster not being housebroken yet. Once housebroken (perhaps after being swatted with a rolled up copy of the FAQ) these individuals often make good pets........er, I mean......make good group members <g>.

     

    Many people just getting started in Usenet (commonly referred to as a newbie) don't yet understand how the Usenet system is set up, nor are they fully aware of what takes place when they hit the SEND button on their newsreader. Every popular newsreader allows the user to define a default list of newsgroups that will be automatically placed on the SEND line when posting messages, thus eliminating the need for manually entering them with each post. A common mistake is to use this default list as a sort of "hotlist" that contains all of the newsgroups that interest the user. In doing so, they inevitably (and inappropriately) post crack requests to newsgroups that focus on such topics as; "The use of chickens in maritime mythology", "Elvis Presley's favorite pancake recipes", or "Household cleaners that a human can smoke to get stoned". Imagine that you are a faithful member of one of these other groups, having a heated and satisfying discussion over, say......how many adult roosters it would take to carry Neptune to Atlantis. And out of nowhere comes this message about needing a patcher for HotDogPro! More than likely, the result will be that the crack groups become the recipients of some hostile flame from the chicken related newsgroups. I trust that you're getting my point here.

     

    However, simply confining your posts to all newsgroups with the word "crack" in the title is still not an acceptable practice, nor is it an effective means of obtaining the files you need. Doing so is truly unnecessary because there just aren't that many bone fide crack groups to start with, regardless of what's in the group name. For those of you to whom English is a second language, you should be aware that the word "crack" is used in the United States as a slang expression for 1.) a woman's genitalia, and 2.) the crystalline form of an illegal drug related to cocaine. I've seen newsgroups that pertain to these subjects and also utilize the word "crack" in the group name.

     

    Now even if you manage to distill your group list down to only those groups that pertain to software cracks, it will still contain unnecessary and/or inappropriate groups. This is because some of these crack groups are intended for some specific subset of cracking (O.S. specific, encrypted, discussions, binary, non-binary, etc.). Currently, it's just not possible to send a request appropriately to more than about 3 different crack newsgroups. Once you exceed this number, you're probably including some groups for which the request will be inappropriate. Furthermore, the message usually won't get through to all of them because most servers employ cancelbots that start deleting crossposted messages. There is currently a trend among news servers to cancel messages universally if the message header contains so much as one inappropriate group ("inappropriate" by the server's criteria - click here to read more about this subject). So choose your newsgroups with care because "more" is sometimes "less" (or even "none"). Oh, spam Ye not!

     

    Lastly, there's the issue of the frightfully contagious "Vector" spam. This is where a person responds to a spammed message without first removing the inappropriate groups from the SEND line. In this way a responder acts as a vector of the spam, disseminating it to others. There's nothing wrong with chastising a spammer, but if your rebuttal is sent to each and every group that the spammer included on his/her SEND line, well....., that's pretty stupid since you've now just doubled the spam. The bottom line here is that YOU are responsible for YOUR posts. This means that you have to look at the SEND line of each and every post you make, and edit the groups if needed. The fact that your newsreader automatically transfers all of the newsgroup names from a message header to your SEND line does NOT relieve you of this responsibility. If this is too much work for you then don't respond to spammed messages at all. A final caveat on this; If you have the misfortune of "vectoring" a spam to a group containing the word "slack" in the title, you WILL regret it. These people have zero tolerance for any type of inappropriate posting and they will aggressively seek you out and harass your ISP until your account gets terminated.

     

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    Short of this overzealous vindication, you can expect that even the most reasonable and tolerant person is going to kill-filter your messages if you repeatedly post in an inappropriate manner. And being "kill filtered" is kinda like Herpes, it's usually forever. Here are some terms and definitions that you'll need to know when discussing or reading about "inappropriate" posting habits (as they relate to crack-related newsgroups):

     

    Kill Filter

    A common newsreader feature that allows the user to automatically "tag" specific messages by 1.) E-mail address and/or 2.) Content of subject line and/or 3.) Message ID, and then be able to delete those messages immediately. If for instance, somebody filtered all incoming headers for the string "zulu", they'd be able to delete every message that I post, without ever having to even see the headers. I would essential cease to exist to that user, and there would be one less person to potentially fill my request. Are you beginning to see the light?

    Plonk 

    The act of placing a specific poster into one's kill-filter list, temporarily or permanently.

    Off-Topic posting

    Sending your crack-related message or file to any newsgroup that doesn't concern itself with cracks. Conversely, posting something NOT relating to cracks in a crack related newsgroup, is also considered to be "off-topic".

    Cross-posting

    In the strictest terms this refers to sending a message/file to more than a single newsgroup. For practical purposes (and the typical interpretation) this refers to 1.) sending a message/file to an inappropriate number of newsgroups within the same topic, or 2.) sending a message to newsgroups of significantly different topics. An example of the first type would be the act of sending a crack request to every newsgroup having the word "crack" in the topic name. An example of the second type would be the act of sending a crack request to a crack related newsgroup and a warez related newsgroup.

    Warez

    Posting of entire registered/cracked programs (usually retail). The exact definition of "warez" is not important to this discussion. What is of utmost importance is for you to know that any newsgroup with the word "warez" in the title is NOT an appropriate newsgroup for sending cracks or crack requests. Warez groups are very different from crack groups. Don't mix them up.

    Hacking

    Computer activities aimed at defeating security and gaining access to a restricted computer system. Note that this is very different from "cracking" which deals with defeating limitations of a computer program on your own system.

    2600

    This is essentially synonymous with "Phreaking" which has to do with hacking into phone lines. Anything with 2600 in the name is also NOT an appropriate newsgroup for sending cracks or crack requests.

    Encrypted

    Security encoding of messages and files using PGP and keys. Unless you are set up for PGP and know how to use it, anything with the word "Encrypted" in the title is not an appropriate newsgroup for sending cracks or crack requests.

    Slack

    Just run the other way.

     

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    All messages that you post are stored on your news server's hard drive for a period of time that varies from group to group and from server to server. Typically, this time period falls somewhere between 24 hours and 7 days, although you'll sometimes hear about servers that dump everything before 24 hours or servers that hold on to articles for more than 7 days. During the time that a message is present on a server it is obviously taking up some portion of that server's disk space. Because UUencoded binary files are typically so much larger than messages posted as text, they are of special concern to the people that operate and maintain the news servers that we use.

    Return to discussion about Spamming

     

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    What Things Should I NOT Expect to Receive?

     

     

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    Why Isn't Anybody Answering My Requests?

    You've done everything exactly as outlined here in this document. You've included all the pertinent information. You've included a URL where the program can be obtained. You've issued your request in a civil manner. Why doesn't anybody respond? In the best of all possible worlds you might receive a prompt cheerful reply via e-mail that clearly acknowledged the receipt of your request, and also included the name and e-mail address of your personal cracker. With this correspondence you would also be granted a guaranteed completion date for the crack and a toll-free number to call in the unlikely event that delays are encountered. Unfortunately, this is NOT the best of all possible worlds.......it's Usenet. This means that you're going to need a good bit of patience and a high tolerance for uncertainty. My advice is to continue posting your request several times per week. If you have an unusual request, or you've not obtained a requested crack within several weeks, then you can try to communicate with a known cracker by hunting them down on IRC. Most crackers belong to a group and these groups all have fairly stable open IRC channels that you can join.

     

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    What If I Use a Crack and it Doesn't Work?

    If a crack doesn't work for you, do NOT assume that the crack is faulty. More often than not the crack is effective, but the person using the crack has made some sort of mistake, such as; not executing the correct file, failing to type a serial number correctly, not reading and/or following directions precisely, applying a patch on the wrong version of the program, executing a patch in the wrong directory, forgetting to close the program before trying to patch it, etc. More and more frequently, people run into the problems associated with what is called a "RE-release" of a particular version of the program. This is often done by the author of the program, as a means of defeating the crack. These re-released revisions will often have the same version number, the same file dates, the same file sizes, etc. The only way to tell one revision from another is to do a byte by byte comparison, as it only takes changing a few bytes to counter the effects of a crack.

     

    Such re-releases have in fact, become quite common. As interest in these crack related newsgroup has grown sharply so has the surveillance of these groups by shareware authors. Some vigilant authors apparently discover cracks on the same day they are posted to Usenet and they are able to recode their program and get it posted in less than 24 hours! Unless you are equally vigilant about monitoring Usenet for new cracks, you'll fall victim to this scenario frequently. What happens is that the author of the cracked program downloads the crack, learns exactly how it bypasses his/her program's protection, makes changes to the program so that the crack will no longer be effective, and then posts this new "fortified" revision in place of the one that got cracked.

     

    Invariably, the file that you find posted on the author's website will be one of these fortified revisions. For this reason, it's my recommendation that you not depend on program home pages as primary sources of shareware. The vast majority of authors upload their program(s) to numerous shareware distribution sites and request that the program be freely distributed to other sites as well. Because there are literally thousands of shareware sites and FTP directories across the internet, there's simply no way for an author to update all (or even most) earlier releases of a particular program. This makes it possible for you to find an earlier release with very little effort. Doing an FTP search for a file is probably the most effective and efficient method of dealing with this frequent problem. Of course, the best way to deal with the problem of re-releases is to avoid the possibility altogether. By this I am referring to the practice of downloading a program before it ever gets cracked. With hundreds of new shareware files getting posted every day, it's certainly not feasible to download everything before it gets cracked. But I'm sure you have your own list of favorite programs which you continuously update and for which you seek cracks. It's these that you probably want to stay on top of.

     

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    How Does One Effectively Report a Problem with a Crack?

    Requesting help with a crack is appropriate, provided that you've already reviewed ALL of the documentation that came with the crack. Complaints about "non-working cracks" which clearly arise out of not reading the instructions are usually treated pretty harshly. Expect to get flamed if you do this. To maximize the likelihood of resolving a problem with a crack, make sure you adhere to the following guidelines.

     

    When you have problems with a particular crack and request help from others, it's imperative that you include in your message all the pertinent information that s required for solving that problem. This includes:

     

    Otherwise, it's about as helpful as writing to a car dealer and informing the mechanic "My car doesn't work, what's wrong with it?"
     

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    What About Viruses?

    I'm glad you asked! If you aren't a little paranoid about computer viruses, then you probably need to read about some of the more "lethal" ones. While most viruses tend to be rather benign in terms of their ability to cause irreversible damage to your data, there are many that possess the ability to pretty much trash everything on your hard drive in a very short time. Hundreds of new viruses enter the Internet every month, so even the most current antivirus software does not protect you fully. However, there are some steps you can take to significantly decrease your likelihood of acquiring one of these little beasts.

     

    First of all, you need to install some antivirus programs on your system. Most experts in the field of computer virology recommend using at least two different programs concomitantly, with one of them being capable of heuristic scanning. Heuristics is a method of scanning that does not depend on matching the code of a known virus. This method searches for nonspecific but suspicious looking code. It is therefore more sensitive and leads to many more "false" positive alarms (meaning that the program detects and reports a virus when in reality there is none). Popular programs capable of such heuristic scanning include Thunderbyte Antivirus, Dr. Solomon's Antiviral Toolkit, and Norton Antivirus (among others). Other excellent overall scanners include McAfee's VirusScan, F-Prot/F-Prot Pro, and the always-up-to-date AntiViral Toolkit (AVP). These programs may be obtained from most large shareware distribution sites or their respective websites.

    Personally, I scan all files with four (4) antiviral scanners including one that's configured for high level heuristics. That's probably excessive and it does lead to frequent false positive results. However, after 3+ years of daily Usenet downloading, I've yet to be stung by a virus. You decide for yourself what's excessive and what's prudent.

     

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    Some Simple Steps to Security

     

     

     

     

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    How Does One Intelligently Report A Suspected Virus?

     False positive reports of viral infections are common and can give rise to a great deal of needless anxiety, confusion, and wasted time when details are not considered and clearly stated. Always include the following items in a posted report concerning any suspicious files. You will probably not be able to trace all of this info, but do your best.

     

     

    Popular Antiviral Scanners

    AVP (AntiViral Toolkit Pro)

    shareware

    http://www.avp.ch/

    Dr. Solomon's AntiViral Toolkit

    shareware

    http://www.drsolomon.com

    F-Prot / F-Prot Professional

    shareware

    http://www.datafellows.com

    McAfee VirusScan

    shareware

    http://www.mcafee.com

    Norton Antivirus

    shareware

    http://www.symantec.com

    Thunderbyte Antivirus

    shareware

    http://www.Novastor.com

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    I will continue to improve and update this document as long as time permits. Currently, the entire content reflects only my own input, a condition which undoubtedly undermines it's usefulness and validity. This document is, has been, and will always be, intended as a collaborative effort by everyone and anyone concerned with this particular niche of Usenet. Any and all suggestions, criticisms, thoughts, brain farts, ideas, etc. are welcomed and encouraged. Just post a message in alt.cracks, alt.binaries.cracks, or alt.anonymous.messages (attn: ZuLu) and let me know what you think. This would also include the gang of thugs that bash this document with their juvenile opinions and then disappear behind their ever-shifting nyms. If you want to contribute, this is the time. Simply grunting "Fuck rules, fuck authority, fuck organization, fuck FAQs, fuck ZuLu, fuck everything except what I want"...........well, that's obviously not helpful and quite frankly, it's getting to be rather boring.

     

    Thanks and Good Luck,

     

    ZuLu