Joel Dare

That Time I Built a Crack for Nearly all Shareware

It was in the ’90s and shareware was still cool. I had written a couple of small shareware programs and I was worried about bugs related to dates and times.

So I wrote a new program called DateDesist.

DateDesist allowed me to test how my program would behave on specific dates. It was a fairly simple command line program. What it did was change the date on the machine, execute the program to be tested, wait a few seconds, then restore the date and exit.

It worked incredibly well for testing date-based shareware and making sure that programs expired when they were intended to.

I found it useful for my own testing and wanted to release it for other developers. So I package it up and released it on a bunch of shareware sites such as Tucows, SoftSeek and Freeware Home.

Sometime later I went looking for a crack for a piece of software that I was having trouble getting. I pulled up HotBot (my preferred search engine at the time) and quickly found what I was looking for. I downloaded the archive and took a look at the files inside.

There, I found the typical readme file with a short description of the program it was intended to crack and some ASCII art with the name of the cracking crew. Also included was a copy of my original DateDesist executable and a batch file to launch the target program on a specific date.

Now curious, I searched the web again for other cracks made by the same crew. To my surprise DateDesist had been used in dozens, maybe hundreds, of different cracks that were released by this group. I checked other cracks from other groups on the same sites and found DateDesist used in a significant number of them.

Written by Joel Dare on December 5th, 2020