Reality Bytes

The White House-cracking cybergang is gone. Now Houstonís most notorious hacker hopes to reboot his life and return to his love: computers.

Gregory says the woman from the adoption agency showed him a picture of the adoptive family's big house and yard. It was more than he could provide, so he didn't think twice about giving the child up.

When asked about the baby's gender, he says, "I believe it's a girl."

His own focus appears to be squarely on another due date: December 2004, when he'll be delivered from the court-ordered exile from the world of computers.

Gregory's mother visited him regularly in prison.
Daniel Kramer
Gregory's mother visited him regularly in prison.
Gregory's mother visited him regularly in prison.
Gregory's mother visited him regularly in prison.

That countdown comes with ample apprehension as he shoulders Sheetrock and studies trade publications to prepare himself for re-entry into cyberspace. Gregory wants to go back into the computer security field, but he's wary of the same fate that befell master cracker Kevin Mitnick.

After Mitnick served more than four years in prison, he tried to make an honest living off his immense understanding of dishonesty. But so many crackers targeted his Web site, just because of his notoriety, that his security business was just about destroyed.

"Once I do get out there, just because of who I am, they're going to be attacking me all day long," Gregory says. "That's like Saddam Hussein trying to go out there and get a job…Everybody in the world is gonna be like, 'Well, Patrick Gregory's on the computer…He ain't shit, you know?' "

But Buhles has more faith. She sees her son turning his life around once he's allowed back online. After all, he was so damn good at what he did.

"I know he'll take up computers again," she says. "Sometimes I'm not sure he doesn't have a computer chip in his head."

And maybe one in place of his heart. All the problems -- the criminal record, the personal conflicts, the romantic relationships that crashed -- may be impossible to delete when he finally reboots his life in front of the computer screen.

However, nobody can mistake what Mosthated most loves.

"I probably like my computer better than probably anything in the world," he told an interviewer. "It don't talk back to me, it just sits there. I can turn it on when I want to."

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