Strangers Have the Best Candy
Attrition's One Year Birthday Rant

And the folks at Attrition are quite strange. So strange as to run a weird web site that goes against the grain of all things deemed 'good web design'. No graphics, use of dark colors, no advertising or self promotion of services. Everything people associate with an evil hacker site. Despite this, we offer more information and more services than almost any other security site out there. Because of the red text on black background, our ethics and morals are constantly assumed and maligned.

We're quite used to that these days. Let the stuffy dogmatic atavistic twerps dare to evolve. While they are sitting at home enjoying their string beans and meat loaf, eating dinner with their significant other and 2.4 kids, we are enjoying our hedonistic lifestyles. Oh yeah!

While it isn't quite that extreme, the staff here are constantly reminded of this picture. Unfortunate that a few detractors tarnish the picture painted by millions of viewers of our site. I guess that is the nature of the pessimistic beast. Onward...

To be honest and up front with you, this article has no real value to the hardcore info-whore. Instead, we offer nothing more than a fun rant as a reward to ourselves for a job well done. We'll even include some choice quotes about Attrition and her staff that should provide a well rounded view of what type of degenerates run this thing.

Eleven months ago, Attrition was little more than a unix system with a handful of accounts that provided a stable place for email. Originally a quick web page with a handful of files carried over from Jericho's personal web page and not much more. Every day that passed, some new element of the web page begun. We quickly picked up a few more users and opted to focus on offering new sources of information.

Early on, there were ten to fifteen users on the system. You were either a shell user, or not. Eventually, questions were asked about who ran the system, who owned it, the meaning of life and more. At that point the designation 'staff' was brought about. 'Staff' is probably not the best word as it implies some greater sense of responsibility or obligation. What it really means is the person has the ability to change things (root), or is trusted to speak on behalf of the system. Not much more.

With the advent of the Attrition Mirror, the site has grown in exposure considerably. At first, mirrors were taken using wget followed by half a dozen commands to make them accessable to viewers. The past few weeks have seen considerable development in a custom tool called aget (Attrition Get) that automates about 90% of the mirroring tasks. It is our hopes that the next few months will see a finished version of aget that automates everything, including doing the laundry.

Perhaps the most consistant but low-key sections of Attrition are the text archive and crypto library. Receiving attention on a near daily basis, Modify and Wrlwnd spend considerable time and effort to bring viewers a well organized and comprehensive collection. Utilized by thousands of people a day, these two sections bring utilities and information to the masses.

Today, Attrition is udpated by less than ten people, in their spare time. A labor of love so to speak, Attrition is not a business or a requirement. Where it goes tomorrow is uncharted territory.

Voila! Here we are. Yes, that is the short history of things.

Technically and statistically, what is Attrition, and what does it do? Wonders. The main system is a P166 with 64 megs of RAM. The simple fact that the machine has not been reduced to a smoldering pile of plastic and circuits is simply amazing. 'forced' handles a considerable amount of traffic each day. Our busiest days see over 100,000 pieces of mail transfered and over 750,000 HTTP requests served. This makes for over 5 million hits per month on the web server, serving over 4 million different people. Not bad for a little pentium hosting a hobby site.

Things I Learned From Attrition

For the most part, net users are stupid, shallow, and petty. I know I know, that is not a nice thing to say, but being the negative person I am combined with the assault of stupidity we receive, it is difficult to think otherwise.

Net etiquette is dead. People can't seem to deal with their problems any more. Even hiding behind their monitor and keyboard, they still refuse to confront someone they think they have a problem with. Nine out of ten complaints about Attrition were sent to our upstream provider without even copying us on the mail as a general courtesy. Our upstream dutifully forwards the mail to us to get our side of things and goes on from there. Eight of those nine complaints are unfounded or we deal with them without the aid of our upstream. People could save so much time by at least giving us a chance to address any issues.

If I didn't know better, I would swear the net consists of almost fifty percent of cheap bastard lawyers that know as much law as they read on the back of a cereal box. We have been threatened with almost two dozen lawsuits so far. Not a single one made it to a phone call or paperwork. Each and every time it takes a few minutes to quote some relevant law, or explain things very clearly and the ignorant/hostile party backs down without much to say. In case it isn't clear, a threat of lawsuit will only make us treat you like shit. Grow up.

To the handful of people who have written in thanking us for our work, we thank you in return. It is those few shreds of appreciation that make us realize our work is appreciated. To the rest of you primates, if you don't like something about the site, you have two things you can do. The first is to give constructive criticism so that we may try to improve if we agree with you. To clue you in, constructive criticism does not include "fucking stupid", "wtf is that", or like comments. The second thing you can do is kindly fuck off and quit viewing our site. Don't like it? Don't look. End of story. We are not a business, we do not make money off you visiting, we do not need you.


One of the most often asked questions these days is something akin to "Where is Attrition going next?" To answer this once and for all, without equivocation, We do not know! Attrition has no grand plan or well defined map. Day to day we make decisions or brainstorm new ideas that lead to an overall picture of what the site is. We believe it is this lack of plans that helps construct what Attrition is.

Attrition exists for the users and viewers. Anyone who has contacted attrition staff in the past should realize this. We respond to almost every piece of email, regardless of content. If nothing else, we send acknowledgement that we received the email so that readers know we care about their comments. Pointers to typos or errors go answered in hours. Features or suggestions are almost always implemented, sometimes in a day or less. Thanks to our readers, serious refinement has been done to several pages. Our aget utility has receied many enhancements at the suggestions of our readers, and we thank you for it.

On top of the staff and viewers of Attrition, there exists another special group of degenerates that deserve special thanks and recognition. These are the individuals that have helped bring our name to the masses. First and foremost, we thank the Hacker News Network (HNN) for being the first to give daily links to our mirror, as well as special segments devoted to other sections of Attrition. Yes, that blue haired freak of nature Space Rogue is constantly helping us out in many ways. We love you!

Others like the 'skinhead' degenerate Netmask at Mindsec, our 'media darling' (barf) Ender at OSALL, and the foreign folks at Net-Security and 403 Security all deserve a round of thanks/beer. In recent months, professional sites like SecurityFocus and have also begun linking to us. Their links add a sort of professional validation to the work we do.

To finish this piece, we look to readers, detractors and staff for final comments. We asked people what they thought of Attrition, or what came to mind when they thought of it. To be fair, we sort of encouraged more obscure or esoteric answers. No, we can't be normal.

We'll start with the true foundation of Attrition. Asking the mothers of the staff members. What do you think of Attrition, or what does it mean to you?

        "The first time I looked at it, I thought you were
         all disturbed."        - Punkis' Mother

        " has changed my life - not in the way you
         might think - you see, is my grandchild in a
         bizarre sort of way. was conceived by my son
         and just as for any mother the journey into the role of
         grandmother is quite unique.  This grandchild,,
         has opened many doors for me.  This child shows me things I
         have never seen.  Sometimes it scares me with where it goes in
         the world of cyberspace.  Sometimes it brings me to tears with
         laughter.  It never ceases to amaze me.  Like any one year old
         I believe it is still finding its way. is the
         image of its father.  It is a brilliant star, a myriad of emotions,
         a wealth of knowledge, a whirlwind of activity.  I hope I am
         around for many years to come to enjoy, this one
         of a kind offspring who has come so far in just 365 days.
         Happy Birthday!!!"     - Jericho's Mother

Turning to the Attrition staff, we get the most.. disturbing answers.
        "'What does attrition mean to me....' I was recently asked to
         comment on this by cult_hero for attrition's 1 year aniversary
         piece and I have been racking my brains as to how I wanted to
         answer that, in my usual smart ass fashion or actually being a
         little serious for once. Mabey I will try a little of both.
         Attrition means a lot of things to me. For example ever since
         we have started mirroring web page defacements I have found myself
         saying "punkis, you picked the wrong year to quit sniffing glue..."
         Although it can be a giant pain in the ass to maintain I have
         always beleived it is a good resource. I guess thats a good way
         to sum up what attrition is all about, a great resource covering
         a very broad range of topics. Where else can you go to read
         security advisories, browse en excellent text archive, read
         music reviews, even read calimari reviews. We now even have
         pages demonstsrating how to properly and safely clean a variety
         of weapons.

         Attrition is a strange mix of freeks, geeks, hippies, poets,
         drunks, gun nuts, computer crime advocates (snicker) and generally
         unruly and rude people. Considering the site has always been a
         "hobby site" I think we have done a pretty good job of keeping
         the content fresh which can't be said about many sites. Like
         sites that have venture capital. I don't think I need to name names
         here...We have a lot of ideas on where we'd like to see attrition
         go so I think the site will grow to be more and more diverse as
         time goes on.

         We are the ones our parents warned us about. At night when you
         can't sleep and hear someone scratching on the wall, its us.
         Remember that time you went camping and saw those wierd lights
         in the sky? Yes, it was us. Read about that small government that
         was recently overthrown? We were probably involved. Roswell? We
         aren't that old....well except for cancer omega."
                                - punkis

	Being with Attrition is like being in a rock band.  We have a tendency 
	to cause a stir whereever we go, even though we're trying to be
	inconspicuous.  We travel a great deal and always have our equipment in
	tow.  Our best work is when we all sit down together, just pickin' and
	grinnin' like the old times.  Seems like someone's always trying to spy on
	us so they can get some kind of inside scoop on us; like they're trying to
	figure us out and can't quite wrap their brain around what we really are. 
	People either absolutely love us or absolutely hate us.  The people who
	love us sometimes hate us for the different things we do, and those who
	already hate us will continue to hate us no matter what we do.  The only
	difference is we don't have roadies or near as many groupies.  And at last
	count, nobody's rushed the stage when we gave a show. 

	That being said, there is nothing more to say. Viva Attrition!
				- Cancer Omega

        "I wish I could explain in words what Attrition has meant to
         me but that's rather impossible. However I've never been involved
         in a project that allowed me to immerse myself in a culture in
         less than 10 months.

         Being involved with Attrition is quite an experience. I love
         how none of the staff take any shit and each person adds their
         own perspective to the site.

         Of course, the minute I send this I'll have the Pulitzer-winning
         speech of a lifetime.

         Suffice it to say that I'm proud and honored to have some great
         friends like you guys, it really is great."
                                - McIntyre

The quasi-grandfather of Attrition (so said because he is two days older than dirt) came up with a few great quotes to mock the rest of staff.
        "Before I found attrition, I was all messed up on drugs.  Now
         that I've found attrition, I'm all messed up on attrition."
                                - McIntyre

        "Since I joined attrition, I'm my own hero.  And hers, too!"
                                - cOmega

        "I didn't know what to make of attrition until I visited Jericho
         and he showed me that he'd spelled out 'Have a Nice Day' with
         the skulls of Happy Hackers he'd decapitated.  Now I'm sold."
                                - Punkis

        "Attri-what?"           - Modify

        "Go AWAY!  I'm BUSY!"   - Jericho
Some of those seem to be quite accurate once you get to know the staff members! What are other members of Attrition saying?
        " is turning a year my my...what can one
         say about such an occasion? Well, from the beginning....wait..
         hold turning a year old and the millennium
         approaches? Is there a connection? Oh *cripes*....there must be.
         Why else would the government hold mal_vu hostage? They're
         working TOGETHER!!  Okay...this information must get out into
         the general populas...wait...there's a knock at the door....
         *bang*"                - WrlWnd

        "Attrition is a [joke/comedy] [played on/performed before]
         an audience too afraid to laugh."
                                - Munge

        "Where people with no friends hangout, doing weird shit, from
         warped minds and not giving a toss what others think. Where we
         get whipped and you get shit. The folks at Attrition once had
         social lives, were once popular, even had potential. Now they
         have minds of their own. Like we really care what you think?
         One year on: and getting stranger by the day. As time goes on the
         voice of attrition only gets loder, conforming to no society,
         having no real direction, just going with the flow of daily life.
         Finding a new freedom, pushing the boundries of each path it
         choses to partake in." - Blaise

Yes, they seem more thoughtful and well read than we do! How about
our affiliates? What kind words can they bestow upon us?

	" One of us owes the other beer I think." 
				- Space Rogue [HNN]

        "  Blergh.  It's esoteric, it's prostate,
         lamentable and regrettable.  In a word?  Love.  I love it."
                                - Ender Wiggin [OSALL]

	"Even though attrition uses the letters "FUCK" on its main 
	 page, i still link it from my "try to be" professional site. 
	 So maybe I am a hypocrite. whatever. Attrition has given me 
	 data to use as a filler on my main site, something to do when 
	 my boss says I should be working. Some of the staff members make 
	 me realise that EverQuest is an evil game, and will eat your
	 life away. This is why when I talk to jericho, he is always 
	 talking about killing spammers with his sword, and how they 
	 should know not to mess with any level 21 player. Honestly, 
	 Attrition went from a 'whats the point' type of thing to me, to 
	 a site that i respect, after I started to understand the actual 
	 point. It has also lead me to remember that some people, no matter 
	 how much you shit on them, and how many times you stabbed them in 
	 the back, they can throw together a "one more chance" type
	 of deal (Yes.. It is true.. Jericho and I haven't always been so
	 intimate^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H friendly. Either way, ill end with.. The 
	 site rocks, the work is good, these people are just like me, they 
	 have no lives.. and they are doing something without pay or profit."
				- Erik Parker [Mindsec]

	"If this is Attrition at one year, I can't wait till it 
	 reaches the 'terrible two' stage"  
				- C. Fennelly

        "Screw Attrition, them fools still owe me $50 for that
         last rock!"            - Bronc Buster

	"Your site is unique in its own right, and despite
	 what other egotisticle, idiotic, narrow-minded fools out 
	 there think, sites like yours are wonderful for the folks 
	 out there like me... who dont neccessarily take what we 
	 learn from your site and use it to our personal gain or 
	 anything else, but just for the simple reason of the
	 knowledge of it all."	- Nan

        "Because of the high dollar lobbyist donations to undisclosed
	 members of the Senate, we are still non profit!"     
				- Mal Vu

Spammers have quickly learned that unsolicted commercial email is frowned upon. How anti-spam are we?
        "People who send spam to Attrition Staff, beware!
         They say that there's a room where they keep the skulls
         of spammers, lined up in a row on a shelf.  They say
         that, late at night, they go there, and talk to them...
         They say the members of the Attrition Staff ask them,
         "Now tell us again, how *do* you make money fast?"
                                - Jay Dyson, de-spammer for NASA JPL

In conclusion, in case it wasn't readily apparent and beating you senseless... if you don't like what you see, don't look. Expect less and you will be disappointed less. That and a million other cliches.

As Mcintyre always says, "keep your sheep warm at night."

That is it. Until next year...

Copyright 1999

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