December 14th 2019 - Potsmoke from FHCF calls in!

Hi! From time to time I Google around to check out something specific, and one thing often leads to another, and before you know it you have your head digged deep into something totally different than you started out for. Thatís exactly what happened this week as well, but this time I ended up at zor.org and got nostalgic. So here I am, sitting in front of the computer at zor.org, starting my day with a cup of sweet chili tea and a slice of bread with egg and bacon. It sounds like the beginning of a good day :)

I remember the day I started cracking with a demo version of W32dasm and a copy of HIEW back in 1999. I can still see that tiny software with the yellow icon in front of me, called Sweet little piano, which was the first software I ever cracked. And I still remember the feeling I got when I saw the text ďThank you for registering!Ē for the first time, and me jumping around in the house in ecstasy like a retard. What a feeling! Cracking was a pure drug for me that is hard to describe, like a possession or addiction. One Saturday I was out partying with lotís of friends and some nice looking girls, being drunk, having fun, and all I could think about was that freaking beloved debugger called Softice that I wanted to go home and cuddle with.

Believe it or not, but the day I cracked Sweet little piano was the day I decided that I was going to start a cracking group, heavily armed with a demo version of W32dasm and a copy of HIEW ;) It was like I had gotten a call from above, even though Iím not religious. What makes this even more absurd is that I started out with computers about 10 years later than most people. I almost knew how to crack software before I was able to install Windows, and some of my friends are still making fun of me because of that :)

I canít think of one single moment in my life that gave me the amount of goosebumps Iím currently feeling and Iím simply just reading a website called zor.org, or am I? Well, I am, but at the same time Iím going through 20 years of history - technology, learning, pushing limits, competition, friendship and so much more. Iím re-living the last 20 years of my life and it feels good! All those goosebumps is my body saying ďThank you, Zor!Ē. Iím by the way shocked to read that people manually translated the news into 12 different languages. Thatís pretty hardcore if you ask me.

Thank you for zor.org and to everyone that contributed to the website and the scene.

Thank you so much for bringing me back to the good old days and for all the good memories.

Thank you for supporting me and FHCF.

Iím also very grateful for all the people that made both FHCF and #cracking.no on IRC EFnet possible.

FHCF was of course not the best group in the world, but when I look back on what we did, I must admit that Iím still proud. We keygenned Palm software like no one else as far as I know. We released lotís of crypto keygens. The last few years we were a keygen-only group and most of the keygens were made in pure assembly. I remember releasing one of my keygens under another group and they asked if there was something wrong with it because it was only 3kb in size while they were used to 200kb+ keygens :)

Personally I pushed my limits way beyond what a human being should. Itís easy to see that now, but Iím not sure if I saw it back then, or maybe I just didnít want to see it. When I was unemployed I usually cracked software until the sun came up around 06.00 in the morning. I often had very long debugging sessions and at one point I decided that it was better to only sleep every second day to get more time for cracking. I did this for quite a period of time until I started seeing shadows in my side vision, shadows that wasnít really there. It got worse and worse, so one day I had to change my sleeping pattern back again and start sleeping like most people. It turned out I wasnít a super hero after all. If that wasnít enough I once noticed that I hadnít opened my front door for three weeks Ė THREE WEEKS! And when I did, I met a world that felt so strange that it was almost unreal. Iím not particular proud of this and think Iíve only told the story to one or two of my friends.

I feel so utterly humble to see my nickname mentioned on zor.org and I feel just as humble and thankful for seeing my good old group FHCF mentioned on the right side of the website. Iím also extremely thankful for all the offers I got from other groups when I retired, from groups that I looked up to, to groups that were my heros, and they will always be. I would have accepted some of the offers if I could, but it was too late, and it slightly hurts saying that 13-14 years later.

Zorís Crack News will never die, neither will Potsmoke and his beloved FHCF, at least not in the heart :)

If you stumble across some Norwegian crackers feel free to point them in this direction → www.fhcfreunion.net

I guess Iím done with the breakfast and itís time to get going. Thank you very much for everything! Wish you all the best and I hope you are all good.


August 13th 2019 - Celebrating 21 years of zor.org

"For quite a few years through the late nineties and early 2000s I was one of thousands of people across the world who started the day with a coffee and a visit to Zorís Crack News. Checking out what crack sites had been updated, what new cracks were out and what the big crackers were up to was a great way to start the day. So what was Zor's Crack News? It started way back in 1995, the golden age of the net. The mid to late nineties was a time when the corporate world wasnít all that interested in the net, when it was all about free sharing of information. The only companies making money off the net in those days were the software people, and the way they did that was much the same as they do today. They'd release time limited or Ďcrippledí versions of their software on the net, free to download. If you wanted to use the software permanently you purchased a key from the company or programmer. When you entered that key into the software it became registered and its limitations were removed.

But there have always been smart guys who could figure out how to turn the trial software into a full version. Maybe they'd write a small piece of code that would make the software think it was registered. Or theyíd poke around in the program and crack the algorithm that decided if the key you entered was genuine, then overwrite that so the program would accept any key you entered. Whatever the method, and thereís plenty more, that small file for a particular program that turned it into a full, registered version was known as a crack. And cracks were magic.

In the mid 1990s the crack scene was pretty much an Ďinvitation onlyí one. Cracking groups usually werenít real interested in releasing their cracks to the masses, often distributing them on password protected sites or other hidden away places that only a few people had access to. There were good reasons for this of course: any of the hosting companies around at that time would immediately remove a site that distributed cracks, and the software companies monitored the net and launched action whenever they saw a crack published anywhere for their software.

But the net was growing - it was blossoming. By the mid nineties the number of internet users was exploding and light was being shone on many of the net's small dark places. And the person who dragged the crack scene into the mainstream internet world was Zor. Zorís Crack News provided information on cracking groups, crack websites and, most importantly, listed a selection of the best, right up to date cracks that had just been released. And with crack sites coming and going, and new cracks coming out every day, Zor's Crack News was updated on a daily basis. Each and every day for more than ten years! The site was compulsory reading for so many of us and had a massive following. Anyone across the world who was interested in the cracking scene HAD to visit Zorís Crack News. There was no place like it on the net.

Zorís Crack News developed into much more than a directory of crack sites. Zor was in direct contact with many of the best crackers from around the world and gave them support, publicity and practical assistance, including by giving them a zor.org/yourname redirector (or even a domain name) and arranging hosting. For the latter, Zor partnered with 'hacker', a guy from USA who ran his own private server in Kentucky and would host any crack group that was personally recommended by Zor. A home for a crack site - the crack world exploded!

Until the inevitable happened.....As Zor tells the story, Cokebottle, one of the worldís most expert (and notorious) crackers, rang Zor at 4am one morning to break the news that an FBI team had raided hackerís house and dragged his ass to jail. As well as the crack news site, about fifty of the world's best cracking groups immediately lost their hosting.

But despite the setback, Zor's Crack News, and the crackers, recovered and thrived. By this time Zor's Crack News had its own Discussion Board, with an unbelievable 80,000 members at its peak, and an IRC channel. The daily news was translated and published across the net daily in 12 different languages (done manually by native speakers of course - this was years before google translate!)

Of course the software sites had Zor permanently listed as public enemy number one, with Adobe in particular doing all they could to track him down and stop his promotion and ditribution of cracks. They never found him!

But by the early to mid 2000's the net was rapidly becoming a different world. The corporations had taken over, it was all about services, all about making money. The old days of the net being defined by free sharing of information were coming to an end. And the crack world was changing too - the old world of 'honor among thieves' was coming to an end. Some cracks started to be released with viruses or adware, the sort of thing that would NEVER have been tolerated back in the day.

The huge, but friendly and closeknit, crack scene was rapidly coming to an end and Zorís Crack News was becoming a bit of a dinosaur, an anachronism, a quaint reminder of the netís wonderful early days. After more than 12 years of operation Zorís Crack News closed in 2007, with this site left as a museum piece for anyone interested in the history of the internet crack scene. It's awesome clicking on the many links and checking out the wayback archives of the crack sites as they were presented in the old times. It's a fascinating window into a very different internet world.

Zor is still around (and still can be reached at zor@zor.org!) I tracked him down a while back and he was kind enough to relate the amazing story of Zorís Crack News. I wrote this brief summary from what he told me and said Iíd be honored if he would use it on the 21st anniversary of the year the zor.org domain was created.

Thanks for the memories - Zor's Crack News will never die!"



December 17th 2017

So how good was it to get an email today from one of the best crackers ever, the famous Alpha1 from TnT. Still rocking! Totally out of the scene for years of course! It was sure fun to reminisce with Alpha1 about the old times. If anyone else is still out there, drop me a note and say g'day......... zor@zor.org


March 8th 2016

Yeah, genuine museum piece here dudes!  A slice of retro to remind the youngsters what the net was like 20 years ago in 1996, when Zor Crack News started. (And of course way before cell phones - don't waste a second trying to view this site on anything other than a full size desktop computer monitor!)

So in 1996 we started up our dial-up connection - 28.8 kbps unless you were one of the rich blokes who could afford a 33.6 kbps modem. We'd fire up Netscape Navigator and first stop of course would be Zors Crack News, one of the 100,000 or so websites that were on the net in 1996 (less than ten years later there were around 200 million sites.)  We might download a few cracks, hoping that no one would ring the phone and disconnect the dial up connection.  That'd mean we'd have to start the download again, which was not only inconvenient but pricey.  We were paying for the net by the minute.

After checking out the new cracks we might head to the main internet portal of the day. Up until a year ago we knew it as "Jerry's Guide to the World Wide Web" and we still found it hard to get our heads around the new name, Yahoo! Maybe we'd stick with the tried and true AOL, with its bells and whistles like chat rooms and email.

We'd probably head to our favorite search engine, maybe Altavista, WebCrawler or Lycos.  Or even Dogpile, which was an aggregate site that gave lists from a whole heap of search engines.  Most of the sites we'd see, even business pages, were housed by free hosts - Geocities, Xoom or Tripod were the biggies.

No Google of course (google.com was registered two years later), no youtube or paypal, in fact very little ecommerce. A small online bookshop by the name of Amazon was doing OK though...

This thing called the net was starting to drive PC sales too. My next door neighbor managed a computer shop and took every opportunity to tell me of the beast of a machine he had in his home.  I still remember the intense jealousy when he told me he'd just 'taken home to try out' a 100mb hard drive. "Yeah I know I'll never fill it mate, but it's nice knowing I got all that space."  Asshole....

August 13th 2008

10 years ago the zor.org domain was registered

The Crack News you're reading now started two years before that, around mid-1996. But let's commemorate August 13th 1998, the official date the zor.org domain was registered. That means the zor community has been going for ten years solid.

The oldest page I have is from July 26th 1998 - check it out to see the sort of world we lived in then!  Thanks to Hayn for digging that one up.....

The crack sites to your right have been amended to list some of the great names and groups over the years.  I know there are many sites that could be there, but those listed were selected on the basis of all having been on the news page for extended periods of time - most are from around 1999.

Most of the sites are displayed from wayback machine links - they're a great reminder of when the net belonged to US, not the corporations. If you're keen to do some more reminiscing, click on any active link and see where it takes you.

And of course the zor.org redirector is still available, and the yourname@zor.org email address is still ticking along.  But most importantly, the Discussion Board is as active now as it has ever been.  Click on the link above and check it out if you haven't been there.  The 10th anniversary celebration saw many people, including some great names of the past post their reminisces and recollections of the past ten years:

Bloodtales: Congratz and all the best !!!!  The most fascinating fact for me were the daily news and the Top 10 list of good workin' groups. That was like a daily newspaper and just great. It wasnt just some news board, it was a real community with irc channel, great gfx artists and a lot of fun

Alpha1: Happy 10th year Zor. I wish you all the best from your friend Alpha1 at TnT

JohnC: Congratulations to Zor - 10 years is amazing

Bubba Zenetti
: I think the first time I ever heard about Zor's was back in the #1 Texas Crack Site days when the only way to access a lot of the top crack sites was through Zor's.
Talked to Coke for the first time in awhile a week ago, nice to catch up with him. Remember ThndrKiss and S2K? Haven't heard from him in some time

Nitrox: Best wishes for another 10 years

Fisben: Lets not forget peeps/groups like Mysfyt, ringer, Pvtctzn, TKC for the early tuts serials 99 crew, the oscar team, hambo, Keygen Studio, Zutphen, Sir Greg, Leonardos World, The Egoiste, Nitallica, F.O.S.I, COR, Cosmo Conner, yoshi, flying raichu, SirDream, Butterflylady, raye, and may others that have slipped away over the years

Kritter: Wow, has it been that long? Happy anniversary! Been around since the crack news page days, bout 1997 I guess

Harryperatestes: Ten years already? Where have they gone...
Seeing the names of all the fine folks mentioned brings back all the good times

Hetman: Well happy Birthday Zor. Damm it's great to see all the old nicks all in one place again. And its great to remember some of the members that are no longer with us. Damm I remember tracking Antizor across the net for hours/days on end what a asshole. ZOR & BAMAFATS legends in there own time

Thanks for the kind words guys.  As we head towards the next 10 year anniversary, just a few people I'd like to thank personally for their contribution.  First up the three people who were exceptional in the early days, Cokebottle, Bamafats and Netking.  Expecially worth remembering since I'm not sure if either of the first two are still with us.....

And others that come to mind - sorry to those I miss - who did the hard work to keep the newspage or discussion board a vibrant and fun place include: Pvtctzn, Cyclopz, hacker, Dark Gypsy, Naq, Bubba Zenetti, Crack King, Gogol, Raye, Cyclops, villan, alfa, Shad, Ringer, Scarecrow, Mysfyt, Russ97, Osmooms and Leonardo (yes, he was a real person!)

Finally, a special thanks to the people that made it all work, the crackers.  I don't like to single people out, but do want to to pass on my personal thanks to some individuals: Doit4Kicks, Raybiez, Krobar, Flying Raichu, Mr White, Alpha1, Sir Dream and Potsmoke I'm still as impressed with your work today as I was back in 1998.