The Robbery

Israeli computer hacker Moran Cerf won the Moth story telling competition for this story of when he tried to rob a small bank in Israel.

The moral of the story? If someone asks you to rob a bank, just say “Yes.”

Update: Moran’s CV seems to be evidence of this “Never say no” attitude.

professional experience
2009 – 2011 User Experience Consultant, Vivvva
2006 – 2009  Scientific consultant, AFI
2008 Lead prototype designer, Pharmaco-Kinesis
2003 – 2005  Senior security consultant, iMPERVA
2002 – 2003  Customer trainer, Product architect, TTI Telecom
2000 – 2002  R&D trainer, Check Point 
2000 Inventor, S.I.T
1998 – 2000  Software developer, Team leader , Log-On
1995 – 1998  Intelligence corps, Israeli Defense Forces

English, Hebrew, French
Basic knowledge of Chinese, Czech

honors and awards
2010 Artwork selected for the VSS program cover
2009 Selected as ‘hot topic’ in the Society for Neuroscience conference
2009 Good Clinical Practice (GCP), UCLA
2005 Writing competition in memory of Ofer Lider, Weizmann Institute of Science
2004  Awarded full-tuition scholarship for the year 2005, Tel-Aviv University 
2003  President Scholarship for Excellent Ph.D. students. 4 Years scholarship, Bar-Ilan University
2001  Master’s thesis, summa cum laude, Tel-Aviv University 

Number of publications: 17 (including 2 theses, excluding submitted papers)
Number of citations: 142 (source: Google Scholar, June 2010); n = 11, mean = 14.10, std = 17.44
H factor: 2
Impact factor: 13.04 (average, based on 5 journals with known impact factor); std = 21.77

Erdös number: 3 (via Harel, McEliece, Erdös)

2009 – 2011 NIH/NIDA, 1R21DA024423-01, $574,119
2009 – 2011 NIH/NIDA, 5R21DA024423-02, $551,561 
Nature, NIPS, Journal of Neuroscience, PLoS, Journal of Vision, Perception, Vision Research, European Association for Computer Graphics, Journal of Computer Science and Technology and others.
Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness, Society of Neuroscience, Cognitive Neuroscience Society, Skeptics Society, Vision Sciences Society, Nature readers panel

computer skills
Matlab, C, C++, VB, Python, Perl, PHP, ASP, Database administration, Unix system administration, Linux, networking; Photoshop, Maya, Flash, Premiere, After Effects, Illustrator, and others; Application penetration testing, Security code review, analysis, and auditing.

Mathers foundation, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Dana Foundation, National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)

2011 Marketing behavioral Ph.D seminar, Stern business school, NYU
2009 Cognitive Psychology 
2006 – 2008  Introduction to Neural Computation, Caltech 
2008 – 2009  Brains, Minds, and Society, Caltech
2006 The Neural Basis of Consciousness, Caltech 
2005 Neural Computation, Caltech 
2001 Internet Security, Tel-Aviv University 
2000 Theoretical Methods in Physics, Tel-Aviv University 

15 thoughts on “The Robbery”

    1. most hackers and security guys know unix

      not really clear on what he means by “networking” on his cv

      not really clear either on why he puts adobe stuff on his cv…dude is a security expert

      pretty cool that he can write too

    2. Yours truly uses Linux at home (and elsewhere if given the choice).

      I need a good command line, utilities and all. Cygwin just makes things bearable on my Windows 7 laptop, but despite the best efforts of Red Hat’s team, you really can’t create a seamless Unix environment on Windows. (Requests on my part at the workplace to be given a Macintosh, so as to be able to use a real BSD Unix, have so far been rebuffed.)

      Another thing, I want to stay away from all kinds of remote product activation on the one hand, and abide by the law (that means Jewish Law too—unauthorized copying of software or music or any other kind of copyrighted fruit of labor falls under gezel, deprivation) on the other. Win 7 came preloaded on my laptop, and the employer pays for the licenses at work, but my main machine at home stays both free and legal.

      As for Bill Gates, he did at least program a bit: A few BASIC interpreters in the late 1970s, some modified parts of MS-DOS after acquiring it from Tim Paterson, not to mention a nice GW-BASIC game featuring a race car that has to dodge donkeys on the road… Steve Jobs was nothing but a businessman. A brilliant businessman, sure, but he owed technical excellence to others, beginning with Steve Wozniak. The real lament must go to someone who died shortly after Jobs but got none of the fanfare: Dennis Ritchie, inventor of both Unix and the C programming language. Now there was a true inventor! Even Linus Torvalds, an achiever though he is, did nothing much but produce a functional clone of Ritchie’s pioneering design.

      I better finish right now because I can write hundreds of pages on these subjects…

        1. No, that’s going too far for a monotheist like me. But sure thing, he was one of the greatest the computing world has ever known. On a par with Donald Knuth, both higher than Bill Gates (sometime programmer and much more frequent businessman), Steve Jobs (businessman and little else), Linus Torvalds (programmer but no innovator) and Richard Stallman (a programmer devoted mainly to politics of the worst kind; filthy bearded hippie, Marxist pontificator and agitator, and of course—goes with the territory—one who uses his political blog for, among other things, telling the Jewish nation it has no right to build on its own land).

          Now, don’t get me wrong, being a businessman and trend-setter like Steve Jobs was is very important, and it’s infinitely better than advocating the abolition of property like Stallmarx does, but I think Ritchie should have gotten at least as much obituary tributes as Jobs did. It saddens me that showmanship and glitz have won the day. It’s like in software, you do a new release fixing tons of bugs and cleaning things up tremendously with a better design, but if you don’t change the user interface of the app in question, reviewers ask you, “Hey, what’s the new version number about? It looks the same app to me.” Superficial doofuses.

          Putting the stop sign again.

          1. except for the hackers, geeks and techies…almost no one noticed his passing…and that is sad

            i meant he was a god because…lets face it…there is no computer revolution without him

      1. Ritchie helped build UNIX, but I thought it was more Kernighan or one of the others. Ritchie has most of the credit for C, and he got the rocognition he would have cared about, I would think – from fellow programmers and hackers (in the old sense of hacker, not the criminal sense). I owe him a lot, I suppose, since I’ve been making a living as a “C” programmer (at least in part) since 1984; actually got to work at Bell Labs (not his part) for a bit.

        Microsoft mainly developed the basic compilers for most of the early “home computers”. But neither they not Apple invented the PC, neither did either invent the windowing computer. I suppose we can credit Jobs with the iPad, though.

        A little quiz – not fair using Google or Wikipedia –

        What did GW stand for in GW-Basic?
        What does “awk” stand for, aside from ones reaction on seeing the syntax?”

        1. “A little quiz – not fair using Google or Wikipedia -”

          Too late, I looked at those entries long ago. Even so:

          “What did GW stand for in GW-Basic?”

          In the old days I didn’t know, had no way of knowing and didn’t even care. All I wanted was a way to make that @#$% IBM PC accept BASIC lines like my old C64 instead of responding to “POKE 49152,169” with that blasted “Bad command or file name.”

          Before the disk-based GW-BASIC was released, I used the floppy-loaded BASIC A, which was launched as “BASICA” from the command line. I pronounced it “Bassica,” to rhyme with “Jessica.”

          “What does ‘awk’ stand for, aside from ones reaction on seeing the syntax?”

          This one I know from reading an issue of the (sadly defunct) Israeli PC Magazine back in the 1990s: Aho, Weinstein and Kernighan (that Kernighan!), its three inventors.

          Quiz for old C64 hands: What does the assembly language instruction JSR $FCE2 do? (Hint: Its functional equivalent in BASIC is well known.)

            1. “BTW, it’s Gee Whiz Basic.”

              If Wikipedia is anything to go by, that’s only one of three options. The others are 1) for Greg Whitten, its author, 2) for “Graphics and Windows.” I didn’t know about any of those expansions—in those days, as far as I was concerned, GW was probably the initials of the company that had made that BASIC interpreter for IBM.

              “Got me. I had an Atari.”

              Alright. JSR $FCE2 causes the CPU (the 6510, a derivative and compatible superset of the 6502 found in so many 8-bit machines of the day) to execute the subroutine in that address, a subroutine that performs a cold reset (like Ctrl-Alt-Del on bare MS-DOS) of the Commodore 64. In BASIC it’s done by typing SYS64738, which every former C64 user can tell you in his sleep. SYS executes machine code from the address given, and 64738 is decimal for $FCE2.

  1. Meanwhile, Hilary Clinton has come out for religious persecution of Jewish soldiers, like her Christian forbears did for thousands of years. And she probably had the religious Jewish vote for the Senate.

    Ironically, I was in Israel when Carter tied to register women for the draft, and the Congress stood up and declared, “you will not draft our women”. (I am not being literal.) To this day, Israel (according to the IDF spokesman) is the only country in the world that exploits its women this way.)

    1. Y’know, I think she’s changed my mind. Before this I preferred Obama to Paul. No longer. I will vote against him or her no matter who is put up agaisnt them.

  2. Actually, as Israel is relatively low crime, there was a period in which suddenly people realized that banks (as opposed to say, supermarkets) had no security, and there was a rash of bank robberies until things got tightened up.

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