How Many Hackers Does It Take?

Renderman, 1/2/00

How many hackers does it take to open a bottle of wine? Answer: 3

Sounds like a bad defcon joke doesn't it? But it's an interesting question to ask, the answer shows how the hacker culture works.

Just after christmas 1999, the myself and my former associates were hanging out at one of thier apartments with a couple friends, drinking our usual kegs of canadian beer and various hard liquors. We had a bottle of wine that we wanted to get into, problem was, HC usually drinks from bottles with caps that twist or pop off, this bottle had a strange blockage called a cork. Now we don't deal with corks much so we didn't have a corkscrew in our tool kits, and a quick inventory showed no pocket knives with corkscrews. We wanted in and no way was a cork going to stop us.

How to open the bottle to get to the sweet alcohol inside? Well, we thought for a moment and we looked at the tools at hand and came up with a solution that Rube Goldberg would be proud of. (for more info on Rube Goldberg and his inventions: )

Using an electric screwdriver we drove a 4 inch robertson wood screw into the cork about half way into the cork. We tried using a pair of pliers with me holding the bottle and another guy pulling on the screw in the cork. This plan didn't last long when we realized that the cork was tight and if it did let go, I would go flying backwards and precious alcohol would be most likely wasted. So we changed plans slightly. I held the bottle upright on the counter, while the other guy grabbed the screw with the pliers from the side and used the edge of the mouth of the bottle as a fulcrum to lever the cork out. This worked well, except the cork was longer than the pier/lever could force it out. The cork was still tight in the bottle, now half exposed. So another guy grabs the bottle while I take another pair of pliers and put them around the cork on top of the bottle, increasing the height of the fulcrum so we could finally get the pliers/lever to pop the cork. And out it came, revealing the sweet liquor inside.

So in answer to the original question it takes 3 hackers to open a bottle of wine, along with 2 pairs of pliers, a wood screw and an electric screwdriver.

This situation is indicative of 2 things. First never get between a hacker and alcohol or we'll drive screws into you. Second, this was the true definition of a hack; finding interesting solutions to problems by any means necessary, no matter how simple or complex the problem, there is always a better way.

So the next time you perform your own hack that's worthy of Rube Goldberg, be proud that you accomplished your task and aren't limited to conventional solutions.

Renderman, 1/2/00

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