Thank you VERY much for this. A thoughtful answer is appreciated.
I know hacking isn't all about breaking people's systems. It's (to me) breaking into
systems, legally of course. I absolutely love computers and am good at web design and gaming and stuff, and I have never used anything but Windows before, and I played with software and manipulated it like a hacker before I even knew what one was. And I think hackers approach every day problems differently than regular people. "Outside the box", if you will. Even when I got my first computer, I messed around with it and played with all the functions that I could find. I went from a Windows 95 desktop to a Windows 98 desktop to a Windows XP laptop. I am now going to get a dell laptop with Ubuntu linux installed. Because Ubuntu is free, the 'tops are very cheap. A pretty good one costing ~$500. Sounds good to me. I also got the BackTrack LiveCD linux thing yesterday, and am playing around with and and experimenting. I like "db_autopwn" with metasploit
Some people define hacking as all about programming stuff with nothing to do with security. Just using things like they weren't made for. Others associate hacking with illegal operations, credit card stealing, password stealing, and the like. I define hacking as doing exactly what black hat hackers do to break into systems, without all the stealing and messing up people's lives that black-hats throw in. If you do it with someone's permission, it's fine, to me. Without explicit permission, even if you don't steal anything or do anything bad, it's cracking. Cracking is the term I use to define illegal hacking. That's it. I also invented (I think) a new term: jacking. I use it for people who run botnets. Jackers are bad. Like A-Z, he's a jacker.
I practice on another computer that runs on my router. I learned how to Telnet today (booyah) and I made some files, renamed them, deleted them, made a new user account (Win XP) and gave it administrator access, it was all-around fun.
I'm going to buy some books about programming languages, namely Python, C, C#, Perl, PHP, MySQL, and two books called Wi-Foo II: The Secrets of Wireless Hacking, and Hacking: The Art of Exploitation. Anyone who wants to add onto the list of books I should get may do so. Also, I want to remind everyone that I do NOT put my own knowledge above other's. I am absolutely willing to learn from ANYONE who wants to teach me something.