Introduce yourself

 Joining “NetworkChunk”  discord server, there was a channel for introducing yourself. I began writing and it turned out to be a short story that i can’t even message in the channel anymore 🙂 

Hello guys,

I don’t know if its really necessary for me to do that (introducing myself, because I don’t think it would matter much) but I guess I am doing it for me 🙂

so, I am from Giza, Egypt and my name is Mohamed (like the other 90% in the Egypt) and here is how things got crazy.

I have been into computers and technology all my life. Maybe it’s the idea of spending hours alone trying to figure something out…it’s the “what if” that drives us I believe. Can I call myself a nerdy geek? Because I think that is what I am. I would spend hours reading books, learning about astronomy and making chemistry experiments (and getting yelled at when I turn the air white in the house)…any way, a big reason was my dad as he liked technology and was very interested in getting a computer early on after I was born (I am almost 30 now) so back then, it wasn’t as common as today as some of you would understand. They were expensive at the time and with a new-born…not so easy. I remember he would get disks (floppy that is) and save them until we got a computer. I remember watching TV shows where they would show new computer games, programs, or some computer related stuff.

I don’t remember the exact timing, but it has to be late 95 as I remember Windows 95 was new at the time, and we got the computer…all off-white(y) and glorious. Furthermore, I wasn’t allowed to use it on my own, but when my dad was around he would let me on it. The keyboard was hard for me at the time, so I would rather play games using the mouse and there was nothing much to play except I would fire up paint and create masterpieces (not really) and I would have a blast. 

I remember we would spend hours and hours playing Doom and Heretic together…he would move, and I was the designated space and Ctrl presser… I was important.

The internet was expensive as well. With a dial-up connection and you had to pay for a subscription to get an account to some dial-up service, then you also paid the telephone company when dialing up. I remember spending unneeded time just sitting watching my father on mIRC, and I wasn’t able to read all the English or read Arabic all that fast (not that there were a lot of Arabic) but I was also important as I was responsible for (oh you are not typing in the box). The free dial-up service were soon the thing after that (you still would pay a lot for the telephone company), but let’s not get ahead of our-selves. I was getting older. My dad’s work would make him travel for the most part of the month and I had to get access to the computer and that is when I tried to memorize the login password. I would catch a few letters every time, and I would later on try to figure what the words were and that’s it…one time when my father left for work… I turned on the computer and typed the password (“kingtut” and yeah I still remember it) and I had the computer to myself, but what to do? Not only that, but I can’t access the internet just yet and if I didn’t know what to do…so it was games for me. Playing Doom all by myself…jumping scared now and then (I was maybe 5 by then?) and every time my father returned home, he would know I used (or tried to use) the computer…it would drive me crazy.

I remember one of the earliest time when I got to shutting down the computer for the first time alone and when you would be represented by the options to shut down, restart and so on, the desktop would get a little darker and the icons would appear as if they were being deleted (or erased for better accuracy) and I think that might be maybe Windows 98, because I would have seen it before from all that time sitting beside my father… I don’t really remember, but when it happened, I ran and unplugged the power cord.

After that, I got better hiding my tracks. I would memorize where the mouse was positioned and how the keyboard was and how empty the recycle bin and hide my game saves, paint files. etc… and it worked. Or maybe it worked as my father didn’t ask or confront me after that. I even was able when the time was right, to connect to the internet as the dial-up service had the same password (kingtut). 

In my first grade at school, we had computer class, where the computer was a black screen with white letters…WTH was that…where is the mouse pointer? Why is it different from what I had at home. This taught me a few things and I might have done a couple of things I wasn’t supposed to.

Fast-forward a couple of years and I was playing with everything computer related, but not as I should have been. HTML, phpbb, vbulletin, ftp, JS, photoshop (hell yeah, I am the coolest kid on the block) and did anyone want to install windows? I have the disk carry case and I have my trusty startup disk (that’s a floppy disk that was needed to get the computer install from CD-ROM drive). Cybercafés were a big thing, and I was all about it (RATs for life, but just for fun with friends and place owners who ere my friends)

Another leap forward, I got into an exchange program to the US and the first thing I was looking for when I got there, is a laptop because I am on the move now. I am ashamed to say that back then i used pirated software programs, so now I wanted something safe, alternate, and free…oh yeah I know about Linux and I had a mini CD (this was cool) with some version of knoppix that I was not able to do anything with because back home, the DSL connection used a USB modem, and it was a nightmare trying to get this thing to work. 

As you might imagine….this is the part where Ubuntu shines its light on you with some godly music in the background. shipit? give me give me. One thing I am glad for, is that not everything worked out of the box. I still had to figure things out and that was a big reason for getting comfortable with the Linux kernel and the all the software that comes on top. The terminal is your best friend.

During or slightly after that time, I was hooked on a YouTube channel called HAK.5, and they taught me a very important lesson that shaped me as a teenager, (no, not to trust my techno lust) they taught me that hacking in the first place was learning and then what if. The same what if that has always been with me from the beginning. Being a nerd, learning was also so much fun. I would try to copy what they were doing back then and play with networks I had access and permission to play with (I was back in Egypt by that time).

I went to college in a different field…accounting. Got my degree, worked at one of the big four, burned out and left, went into the tourism industry (still doing auditing and controlling), and all the time working on small side personal projects, tinker with stuff, doing electronics, home assistant, servers, breaking stuff, I even tried doing bounty haunting one time, picked a target that was on hackerone (porn hub actually, because I thought it would be fun) and got something, but sadly after reporting it they said it was reported before, and they were on the works of fixing it…oh well.

I burned out yet again as I was not enjoying what I did and with COVID-19, the tourism industry was at a stand still. They were letting people go and that just broke my heart and loyalty to where I was working. They still needed me, and were not going to let me go, but I was not working with all my heart anymore. I wrote a post on my fb and my blog talking about all of that and how I feel. How hard it is being newly-wed, not enjoying work or getting paid as I should be because of the COVID-19 situation and the industry.

Remember the exchange program part? I had one of my friends I met there who was on the same program from another country reach to me after my post saying that her husband might use someone like me working for his company remotely doing web development, and coding stuff, and she would like us to talk. One thing led to another, and I now left my traditional job and I work from home remotely and looking forward to better enhance my skills and me…still kinda lost, but I am working on it.