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Is your son a computer hacker?

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OK, we give in: if we tell you how you can find out whether your son is a computer hacker, promise us in turn that you'll stop submitting us the original article.

Let's begin. In December, a site called Adequacy.org posted the piece by author T.Reginald Gibbons "How to tell if your son is a computer hacker."

Mr. Gibbons, model parent and patriarch of "the finest family in the USA" had his cosy world torn apart, as before his eyes his son Peter turned into a shifty computer geek.

"Peter was most entranced by the (PC), and became quite a pro at surfing the net. When Peter began to spend whole days on the machine, I became concerned, but Carol advised me to calm down, and that it was only a passing phase. I was content to bow to her experience as a mother, until our youngest daughter, Cindy, charged into the living room one night to blurt out: "Peter is a computer hacker!"

Based on this shattering experience, Mr. Gibbons offers a ten-point guide to help other parents identify hackers in their household.

Here is a flavour:

"Computer hackers are often limited by conventional computer hardware. They may request "faster" video cards, and larger hard drives, or even more memory. If your son starts requesting these devices, it is possible that he has a legitimate need. You can best ensure that you are buying legal, trustworthy hardware by only buying replacement parts from your computer's manufacturer.

"If your son has requested a new "processor" from a company called "AMD", this is genuine cause for alarm. AMD is a third-world based company who make inferior, "knock-off" copies of American processor chips. They use child labor extensively in their third world sweatshops, and they deliberately disable the security features that American processor makers, such as Intel, use to prevent hacking. AMD chips are never sold in stores, and you will most likely be told that you have to order them from internet sites. Do not buy this chip! This is one request that you must refuse your son, if you are to have any hope of raising him well."

People have been sending us this article since early December - at first because they thought it was written with serious intent. Most, but not all of you, since then have worked out that the deadpan piece is meant to be funny. We get the joke too - now will you let us be. ®

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