Adrian had a passing romance with a friend of mine, and thus ended up traveling through the city I grew up in. This was long before Chelsea Manning, etc.
I was a super shy, rather awkward teenage girl. I suppose the teenage part has changed.. but I digress. I loved the idea of mischief, but at the same time, I was a habitual rule-follower. I get nervous walking through the retail store detectors placed at entrances.. even though I've never stolen anything in my life. I remember listening to social engineering phone pranks -- the sort where people would talk their way into being put on the store-wide intercom at Walmart. At the time, I think I really wanted to be so confident that I could do such a thing, versus the reality, which was mild anxiety over something so simple as placing a legit pizza order over the phone.
I knew who Adrian was in a peripheral sense. I was a community leader and eventual employee on AOL in years prior, and I had an interest in how to break things as an inverse of being curious how they're built.
I had a car, while my friend did not, and Adrian had traveled via transit, so I spent the day with them hopping around town. At one point, we were downtown grabbing food in one of the larger complexes -- Adrian breaks off for a second and asks a retail store employee a bunch of questions about working there, saying he was just hired at the cafe. We then ended up going into what was clearly an employee-only area -- GUYS WE AREN'T SUPPOSED TO BE HERE WHAT IF WE GET IN TROUBLE OH GOD -- we duck into a fire escape, hike up to the upper level where he picks the lock to the door with roof access, and there we are, highest point in the city. After a few minutes of me suggesting that MAYBE we go back down since this was cool BUT REALLY WE SHOULD GO, Adrian told me I'd miss the sunset if I kept worrying.
It was dumb. I'm sure I could've been arrested. But watching the sunset with the two of them from the top of that building remains one of my favorite memories. It was the first time I'd taken a step out of my shell, I suppose. Adrian was a troubled guy, and I don't forgive what he did to Manning, but I appreciated him for that moment in time.
I think hackers reveal the unexamined difference between how people use something and what it does. E.g., people used copyright to give exclusivity to a particular publisher. But copyright itself doesn't "do" exclusivity. It instead gives the author the power to license the work as they see fit. So even if the license is a legal restatement of the golden rule, it is still backed by the full force of U.S. copyright law.
This is probably how myths, if not entire religions, get started. A grain of truth wrapped in a larger web of deceit, spun by an insignificant spider who doesn't even know, herself, how far it will ultimately reach.
(That aside, the site guidelines encourage its users to presume good faith, so I'm inclined to do so unless there's some actual evidence that whichwalrus's story isn't on the level.)
(tbf, I wouldn't believe a random story on the internet from an account created that day either.. ah well.)