Im a "newbie" to this forum, but not to the game, if you want to call it that.

First, lets define hacker. Taken from the well known book Maximum Security, a hacker is anyone who fully understands several OS's and their short comings, writes code, and burns for more information.
A hacker is not a windows based script kiddie launching DOS attacks with his army of IRC Evilbots. Or the 13 year old scanning IP's for open 139's. These people have nothing other than malicious intent aimed at unseen faces behind an IP address.
As far as levels of hacking aptitude go, how can you judge that. In these days of broadband internet access for the masses you have more and more vulnerable static IP's poping up every day. How can you compare a newbie hacker to the old skool guy from the days of WarDialers and DEC vt100's. Though security protocals are being beefed up and exploits are patched rather quickly, it is my experience that the ocean of home networks has become a wide open gaping hole in the security of the "information super highway" . Expecialy with the plethra of "hacker coded" software out there that does the work for you.
In short, hacking is the new age graffiti. Its a common and nightly occurance. Some are cought, some arent. Thats that. I will however continue my efforts toward a safer networked enviroment for those of us who wish to be left alone.