BASIC DECOMPILERS 
Author Message
 BASIC DECOMPILERS

Hello!

I would just like to know something. I've been told that there are
ump{*filter*} gazillion BASIC decompilers. Dumb hacker pieces
of......Well....Anyhow, although I do program some BASIC, I feel somwhat
uncomfortable in programming for languages (ANY language) where anything
you can make can be decompiled, have its source code altered, and
stolen. It's pretty pointless to make something secret and revolutionary
when people could just copy it off of you anyhow. Can you imagine how
degrading that might be to my son when he makes something that he's
proud of, sticks it on the Net, and sees it 4 weeks later with pictures
of {*filter*} women on it? So, what I am getting to is, are there really an
TRUE BASIC decompilers? (DOS or WIN95) Thanks in advance.

Sincerely,
Vincent



Tue, 28 Mar 2000 03:00:00 GMT  
 BASIC DECOMPILERS

Quote:
>I've been told that there are
>ump{*filter*} gazillion BASIC decompilers.

I haven't heard of a real decompiler for QB, or any other modern dialect of
 BASIC.

If someone wants to make enough changes to conceal his plaigerism, a
 disassembler would do, but it's not easy, since you get uncommented assembly
 language.

The really bad news is that if you come up with a great new algorithm,
 copyright doesn't even apply.  You can copyright text, or even machine code,
 but your only hope of legal protection for an algorithm is a patent, which can
 mean years and lawyer$.



Wed, 29 Mar 2000 03:00:00 GMT  
 BASIC DECOMPILERS



Quote:

> Hello!

> I would just like to know something. I've been told that there are
> ump{*filter*} gazillion BASIC decompilers. Dumb hacker pieces
> of......Well....Anyhow, although I do program some BASIC, I feel somwhat
> uncomfortable in programming for languages (ANY language) where anything
> you can make can be decompiled, have its source code altered, and
> stolen. It's pretty pointless to make something secret and revolutionary
> when people could just copy it off of you anyhow. Can you imagine how
> degrading that might be to my son when he makes something that he's
> proud of, sticks it on the Net, and sees it 4 weeks later with pictures
> of {*filter*} women on it? So, what I am getting to is, are there really an
> TRUE BASIC decompilers? (DOS or WIN95) Thanks in advance.

Somebody MIGHT (possibly could, but it wouldn't be easy) be able to write a
decompiler for a specific language compiler like QuickBasic, but you would
definitely lose all meaningful source code labels, at best.  Almost
certainly the only thing you could do is disassemble to get is a compilable
assembly language source with meaningless procedure and variable names.
Reverse engineering at this level is enormously time consuming.  Unless
your son writes something worth a LOT of money, or that is VERY interesting
to somebody like the CIA, it is very unlikely anyone would invest the
enormous amount of time necessary.  It is usually much quicker and less
expensive to design and write something from scratch.

Of course, if your son wrote something like a screen saver, which loaded
pictures from disk, it might be very easy for someone to substitute other
pictures.
--
Judson McClendon          This is a faithful saying and worthy of all
Sun Valley Systems        acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the

(please remove zzz from email id to respond)



Wed, 29 Mar 2000 03:00:00 GMT  
 BASIC DECOMPILERS

I'm way out of the ballpark of  a new algorithm, but thanks for the
info.

So, if I make something in QB or VB, a dissasembler wouldn't work?

Sincerely,
Vincent



Wed, 29 Mar 2000 03:00:00 GMT  
 BASIC DECOMPILERS

Quote:
> I wouldn't worry too much about de-compiling, but keep in mind that an
> algorythm can't be copyrighted.  Only source/compiled code and some
> graphics screens can be copyrighted.  Bresenans'(I think that's his
> name) line drawing algorythm can't be copyrighted, but it's everyone's
> fortune that he created it.  :D

Can't be copyrighted? Why not? An algorithm is your intellectual
property. That's why Symantec can sue Mcafee for using code; it's all
part of an algorithm, all copyrighted. You might mean the actual style
of it, I suppose you're right there. The code itself, however, can be
copyrighted.

--
Joe Drew
Anti-American extraordinare and QB programmer
Remove SPAMHATER from address in order to reply.
In development, website at http://webhome.idirect.com/~hosehead/
Don't click on any links, the files don't exist yet. :)

-----BEGIN PGP PUBLIC KEY BLOCK-----
Version: PGP for Personal Privacy 5.0

<encoded_portion_removed>
AJ9vUm1IQWeeF/nd+Q18lfB5zUueqw==
=HEs/
-----END PGP PUBLIC KEY BLOCK-----



Wed, 29 Mar 2000 03:00:00 GMT  
 BASIC DECOMPILERS

Quote:

>>I've been told that there are
>>ump{*filter*} gazillion BASIC decompilers.
>I haven't heard of a real decompiler for QB, or any other modern dialect of
> BASIC.
>If someone wants to make enough changes to conceal his plaigerism, a
> disassembler would do, but it's not easy, since you get uncommented assembly
> language.

This is kind of circulair. If someone makes enough changes, chances
are that his program is more authentic then yours. The fact that most
sources and discoveries underlying your program are probably "unknown"
to you makes no difference. If his sons program is considered
worthwile of making {*filter*}ografie out of it by someone else then
I would only mind about how his son discovered that ;))

Quote:
>The really bad news is that if you come up with a great new algorithm,
> copyright doesn't even apply.  You can copyright text, or even machine code,
> but your only hope of legal protection for an algorithm is a patent, which can
> mean years and lawyer$.

Allee Steve, you know as well as I that the chance of someone
discovering a new algorithm for DOS is probably worse then
winning the lottery.

Everything you can think of is already done. Sometimes things can be
ported from C to BASIC, sometimes youre program has a few
personalities in between, but mostly everything is there. Thats the
whole point of structural programming, and the more so of classes  and
OO programming.

So IMHO there is no m{*filter*}right to think you "own" a program, like
nobody can claim the "zeitgeist"(don't know english for that).

Commercially things are different of course. ms forces there
copyrights, just by hiding every thing they can possibly hide.

  R



Wed, 29 Mar 2000 03:00:00 GMT  
 BASIC DECOMPILERS



Quote:

>I'm way out of the ballpark of  a new algorithm, but thanks for the
>info.

>So, if I make something in QB or VB, a dissasembler wouldn't work?

>Sincerely,
>Vincent

Once you compile your QB4.5 code it becomes a set of Assembly
routines.  The source code disappears from the .EXE and Good Lord I
wish you could de-compile easily, because I've lost source code that I
wish I could get back.

I wouldn't worry too much about de-compiling, but keep in mind that an
algorythm can't be copyrighted.  Only source/compiled code and some
graphics screens can be copyrighted.  Bresenans'(I think that's his
name) line drawing algorythm can't be copyrighted, but it's everyone's
fortune that he created it.  :D

-------------------
David Sampson

-------------------
"Yeah I'm online, what's it to ya?"



Thu, 30 Mar 2000 03:00:00 GMT  
 BASIC DECOMPILERS


Quote:
(Vincent Florio) writes:
>I'm way out of the ballpark of  a new algorithm, but thanks for the
>info.
>So, if I make something in QB or VB, a dissasembler wouldn't work?

Any program. not matter what it's written in or how it's protected can
be decompiled or reverse engineered.....eventually.

However, there are some programs that are more easily decompiled
than others, Visual Basic v3/4 for Windows programs  for example.

Programs created with VB are not true EXEs but interpreted, if you
use a utilility like Dodi's decompiler on them then you can get 90%
readable source code out of them with most of the labels intact.

I really would'nt worry about it too much unless you're selling
your software commercially.

TTfn,

Craig___



Thu, 30 Mar 2000 03:00:00 GMT  
 BASIC DECOMPILERS



Quote:

>I'm way out of the ballpark of  a new algorithm, but thanks for the
>info.

>So, if I make something in QB or VB, a dissasembler wouldn't work?

for QB - not really. Garbled ASM is the best you could get.
VB, however, is something totally different. At least the older versions of
VB (don't know about 5.0) aren't real compilers, and from what I've heard
it _is_ possible to get back the original sourcecode of those programs...
(except variable names)
You can probably get more info on any of the 30+ VB-only newsgroups.
--
Marc van den Dikkenberg
-----------------------
The powerbasic Archives
http://www.xs4all.nl/~excel/pb.html


Thu, 30 Mar 2000 03:00:00 GMT  
 BASIC DECOMPILERS

But what if it DOES go commercial? What do iD and Symantec and Microsoft
and Borland and Apogee and other commercial companies that make up a
long list of names that should be separated by commas instead of the
word "and"  do to make sure their valuable source code isn't hacked into
and decompiled?

Sincerely,
Vincent



Thu, 30 Mar 2000 03:00:00 GMT  
 BASIC DECOMPILERS

Quote:
> Good God, Joe, that's quite a PGP key there. :D

Yes, I distributed it for one day - then realised that it's way too big
(also there were a few complaints) and now have changed my sig. Go
figure, people don't want to download the new PGP 5.0 100 line pgp
keys.. oh well. :)

Quote:
> Yeah, I requested the Library of Congress copyright documents and
> found out that algorythms and 'systems' can't be copyrighted.  You
> said it yourself, Symanted sued McAfee for using *code* but not
> algorythms.  When you submit your code to the LofC you have to send
> the first X lines of code(I don't remember how may lines) and the last
> X lines of code and a center X lines of your choosing, but you can't
> copyright an algorythm.

That's kind of strange; though I suppose it makes sense, there ARE only
so many ways to do things, and if, say, Microsoft owned the only
possible way to sort e-mail, then Netscape and Eudora, Pegasus (sp?) etc
would be screwed. Ok, so we've got this clear now: Books, programs etc
can be copyrighted, but algorithms themselves can't.

--
Joe Drew
Anti-American extraordinare and QB programmer
Remove SPAMHATER from address in order to reply.
In development, website at http://webhome.idirect.com/~hosehead/
Don't click on any links, the files don't exist yet. :)
My PGP key is available upon request, just send me an e-mail and it's
yours.



Thu, 30 Mar 2000 03:00:00 GMT  
 BASIC DECOMPILERS

Quote:
>Allee Steve, you know as well as I that the chance of someone
>discovering a new algorithm for DOS is probably worse then
>winning the lottery.

>Everything you can think of is already done. Sometimes things can be
>ported from C to BASIC, sometimes youre program has a few
>personalities in between, but mostly everything is there. Thats the
>whole point of structural programming, and the more so of classes  and
>OO programming.

New algorithms _are_ invented every year.  An algorithm isn't software, it's
 "etherware", a pure idea.  A given algorithm can be implemented in a
 programming language, an application-specific integrated circuit, or even in a
 Babbage-style gears-and-levers machine.  Copyright is about specific text
 (even if it's machine code).  A patent, on the other hand, can be granted for
 a "process".  Some patents do exist for processes intended to be implemented
 on a computer.  Most notably, RSA Data Security, Inc. holds patents that (it
 claims) cover all of public-key cryptography.  A pack of lawyers are still
 making money on that one.


Thu, 30 Mar 2000 03:00:00 GMT  
 BASIC DECOMPILERS



Quote:
>But what if it DOES go commercial? What do iD and Symantec and Microsoft
>and Borland and Apogee and other commercial companies that make up a
>long list of names that should be separated by commas instead of the
>word "and"  do to make sure their valuable source code isn't hacked into
>and decompiled?

Why do you think that even the best copy protections still get hacked?
There is a difference between obtaining the _original_ sourcecode, and
getting some complicated load of ASM - if you look close enough, the
algorithms are all in there. Just a matter of time before someone
can see through. The question is: how much effort do you want to put into
it. There is a huge difference between obtaining the entire source again,
and changing some trivial bits to skip a copy protection measurement...

virtually every game with a copy protection gets hacked within weeks -
there is no way to stop that.
--
Marc van den Dikkenberg
-----------------------
The PowerBasic Archives
http://www.xs4all.nl/~excel/pb.html



Fri, 31 Mar 2000 03:00:00 GMT  
 BASIC DECOMPILERS


Quote:
(Vincent Florio) writes:
>But what if it DOES go commercial? What do iD and Symantec and Microsoft
>and Borland and Apogee and other commercial companies that make up a
>long list of names that should be separated by commas instead of the
>word "and"  do to make sure their valuable source code isn't hacked into
>and decompiled?

All software can be decompiled and hacked, even software from
the above companies. The difference is that they can stand the
losses and have lawyers on their payroll who will be very happy to
prosecute anyone who infringes the software licence/agreement.

You could spend an awful lot of time and money making your
code harder to decompile but it's probably not worth it for a
20 groat program.
OTOH, if you have an application worth 2000 groats and your
livelihood depends on it then you really need to look into it more
seriously, maybe even a dongle or a util like CopyLock.

Even if your code is hacked then you can bring out newer
versions all the time, users will always want the most up
to date and flashiest version :-)

TTfn,

Craig___



Sun, 02 Apr 2000 03:00:00 GMT  
 BASIC DECOMPILERS



Quote:
>of {*filter*} women on it? So, what I am getting to is, are there really an
>TRUE BASIC decompilers? (DOS or WIN95) Thanks in advance.

There may well be one or more but rest easy. When a program in any language
is compiled to an EXE or COM file it loses all its "useful information" in
the sense of variable names, program source statements etc. and becomes a
long sequence of machine level operations. Since all that information is
gone from the executable version there is no automated process possible to
recover it. Decompilers do exist but their principle use is to recover
source code which will recompile onto another platform. The output from
them is at best a "legal" (meaning it will compile in a compiler) source
program but all its original structure, variable names etc. is not
recovered and unless the program is incredibly simple to begin with it is a
gargantuan task for any human being to analyze the recovered source and
figure out what and how it does things with an aim of changing it or
otherwise interfering with its operation.

People "hack" programs by inspecting the executable module and attempting
to figure out what they have to alter to stop it using copy protection or
other such things. They don't decompile the program since the result is
essentially even less helpful than the executable version for such
purposes.

Language implementations which work by interpreting source rather than
compiling it often store the program in what is called "tokenized" form
meaning the program is really essentially stored as source but in a more
efficient form than simple ASCII. Such programs could of course be
recovered usefully by a "token to text" translator program but that isn't
"decompiling" since the program is not compiled to begin with ;-)

-- Regards --

Sid Lee - Calgary, Alberta, Canada (51d N, 114d West)



Sun, 02 Apr 2000 03:00:00 GMT  
 
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