5 days ago by elengyel

I'd like to clarify that my code was running only on machines that were otherwise idle. Not many people were in the lab late in the evenings. MPQS processing nodes could be added and removed dynamically, so if somebody needed a computer that was part of my cluster, they could just quit my program and everything would go back to normal.

Also, once the number theory professor learned of what I had implemented, he worked out an agreement with the lab manager to give me legitimate access to the machines. :)

4 days ago by jcims

Right about that exact same time I commandeered an entire lab (30-40?) of SGI Indigo 2's at Ohio State to do distributed raytracing. Wasn't nearly as educational or diplomatic but I did have fun with it until I got shut down for essentially using twice the storage in my home directory as the entire rest of the class. Between that, usenet (of course) and trolling cuseeme reflectors all over the world from the odd smelling Mac lab, I didn't get much studying done.

Good times.

4 days ago by nonbirithm

I hadn't heard of CU-SeeMe before. It's videoconferencing software from 1992 (!), around the time the Web had just barely been formed.

There seems to be a lot of interesting history surrounding it: https://sattlers.org/mickey/CU-SeeMe/internetTVwithCUSeeMe/c...

4 days ago by jcims

It was pretty awesome. I commuted to school and my 2400 baud modem wouldn’t cut it. But lots of students would run clients or ‘reflectors’ from their dorm rooms and i would stay in the labs until the wee hours just hanging out. I never got into MUDs but ‘talkers’ were similar in concept. Just themed text chat. I would hang out on one called ‘Oceanhome’ and make dumb faces on cuseeme. It felt like another universe

People weren’t that much different na back then then they are today.

This provides a per good impression of what it was like. This was 30 years ago.


3 days ago by gdubs

30-40 Indigo2’s must have be one expensive lab.

5 days ago by Someone

> I could enter that program in the system monitor, but I needed a way to run it.

The simple way: in that mini debugger, the ‘G’ command (for ‘Go’) takes an optional address and jumps to it. “G 40F6D8”, for example, continued execution at address 40F6D8.

5 days ago by elengyel

I don't remember the exact details, but I did try the G command, and it didn't work out. The problem was something like the program had nowhere to return to, so just ending with RTS would crash, and ending with a call to ExitToShell() would just restart At Ease and put you right back in the secure environment. I had to trick the computer into executing the program as a subroutine from inside another running program, which is accomplished by using the drag hook.

4 days ago by Someone

I thought the _Launch call to start a new program killed the current program, so I didn’t consider how to return to the original program. However, they my have changed that when MultiFinder was introduced.

I guess the proper way would have been to JMP to wherever a bare ‘G’ would have returned, not an RTS (if there is a proper way to do this kind of thing. I’m not sure the system guaranteed what you could do at that time. You might be in a memory manager call, which meant any drawing calls were off limits)

Fun memories.

5 days ago by undefined


4 days ago by wiredfool

sm 0 a9f4 g 0

4 days ago by bdwjn

Ah, good times. Our lab ran sshd on each workstation, so I launched cli processes on every system, at daytime, with dozens of students still working on their project. I thought running as "nice -n 19" would be safe.

Wrong. My program ran out of memory, systems started thrashing, desktops froze up. Confused students, panicking about unsaved changes, swearing, rebooting. Meanwhile I was frantically trying to kill my processes, but even sshd became unresponsive so I couldn't stop the madness. They never found out it was me :)

4 days ago by Agnolo_Giotto

Would be cool if you tried running this on the Golem network now. https://www.golem.network/

5 days ago by a3n

In 19 and 82 or 3, I worked at Lockheed Shipyard in Seattle, in a sort of tech writing capacity on a Navy ship building project, based on my recent experience in the Navy. The business closed with completion of the ships.

We had to fill out lots of forms that documented what we called "analysis," and we'd often have to change them based on some factor changing. One change could cascade through the whole form.

Paper forms. Green see-through plastic letter guides. Whiteout. Lots of whiteout.

We had access to a department mini computer, don't remember what it was. The language might have been Basic-like, but I didn't know enough to recognize it as such.

I figured out how to write and run programs, someone showed me how to print, and I wrote a program that would accept values for all a form's fundamental values, and cascade those through calculations for the dependent values, and print out the filled in form. You could save it, update a new value, re-cascade, and print it out again. No more whiteout.

Part of the calculation involved sorting. I didn't know anything about sorting, so I implemented what I later learned was bubble sort. Because that's obviously how you'd do that.

The system administer noticed more load when people ran my program. He found me, and told me not to do that again.

I learned that there was a thing called a system administrator. He might have given me a better canned sort, don't remember.

I eventually thought it would be a good idea to quit and go to school, so I did.

(I took a number theory class, but had to drop it. I don't have the math nature.)

5 days ago by WalterBright

In the same time frame, I worked at Boeing doing design work on the 757. I didn't know how to do complex numbers using drafting tools, but I knew how to use a computer. The only computer in the building was an '11 in a special locked room with raised floor and A/C. It was under the control of Boeing Computer Services, a totally separate division from Boeing Commercial Airplane Company, which I worked for.

Anyhow, I befriended the sysadmin and he on the sly gave me an account and the code for the door. I wrote a bunch of numerical integration matrix programs, and showed the results to my lead, who told me computer results were all bullshit (he'd gotten bad numbers from them before) and called over his best draftsman, and told him to show me up (all in a friendly way, he was a great fellow).

The draftsman worked for two days, and came up with a sheet full of numbers to 3 significant digits. Mine were to 6. We compared, and one was wrong. He said my number was wrong. I knew it wasn't, because continuous functions don't have anomalous behavior. He good naturedly agreed to redo that one, and in a while came back and said my numbers were right. After that, my lead trusted my work, and I got all the math work in his group.

Eventually, some manager in BCS discovered I was making unauthorized use of the '11, and went several management levels over my head to demand I be censured. My lead (one of the engineering treasures at Boeing) went to bat for me. That went many levels up, and the BCS manager got a smackdown and was ordered to legitimize my usage.

In another incident, I got the job of writing some test plan specifications. The usual technique was to hand write them and hand them off to the secretary pool to type up. I get writer's cramps after handwriting 5 or 6 words. The secretary pool was in a special doored room full of Wang word processors. All women, and the supervisor was a woman. I asked for access to a Wang, as it was faster for me to type than hand write. She said ok, but I'd have to take the 2 week Wang course first. I asked if I could just have a look at the manual. She laughed and said sure. She was sure I'd fail.

I looked through it for a few moments, fired up the Wang and started editing. It was, after all, just a text editor. The supervisor was annoyed, but she kept her word.

If I'd stayed at Boeing I'd have likely been the first engineer to bring in my own PC for my desk, at my own expense.

4 days ago by eitland

A friend of mine did something similar, although in a tax office.

Ploughed through weeks of works in days (he is really fast at typing too).

When he came back with his work the manager of course wouldn't belive him, set two men to verify it for weeks and they concluded it wasn't only correct but even had less errors.

After that he was "promoted" to a customer facing job (since he was "unqualified" to program).

My dad told me this story when I was a kid. It's how I ended up as a developer and why I still am.

Delighting customer by making weeks of boring work vanish into empty air is still fantastic.

Edit: I've been luckier than him. It is not always that people can be helped but I was never punished.

5 days ago by a3n

> In the same time frame, I worked at Boeing doing design work on the 757.

After I graduated I worked at Boeing in a test group, and wrote control software for test rigs, mainly to test Fuel Quantity Indicating Systems on the 57 and 67, 47-400, and 77.

That was in Les Carpenter's group, and they still had some test rigs lying around built with relays mounted on wooden boards.

4 days ago by bane

I just came to say I'm really enjoying this trip down memory road. Please keep the great stories coming!

4 days ago by dreamcompiler

> hand them off to the secretary pool to type up

This brought back a memory. In the late 80s I got a job at a very high-tech science and engineering firm. A colleague told me to be careful about writing code. His supervisor had walked by his office one day and saw him writing code on a terminal. He chewed him out for "typing" because "typing is for secretaries." Apparently the correct procedure was to hand-write your code onto a paper form and hand it to a secretary for entry into the computer. I assumed my colleague was joking but checked out the official procedure and it was true.

After that, I shut my door when I wrote code.

4 days ago by WalterBright

When I started using the Wang, I did get a bit of ribbing for doing "women's work". I laughed at that, and it didn't happen again.

Heck, I'd been using a computer to write my papers in college (using DECUS' runoff program, similar to Unix's man formatting program).

I can't remember the last time I hand wrote more than a few words.

4 days ago by plausibledeny

Worked for a medium-size software company in the 90s. When our company got a new CEO someone at an all-hands asked him to describe his experience with computers. He was very clear that he didn't use them, wouldn't have one in his office and that he had an executive assistant for that sort of thing.

3 days ago by ngcc_hk

I were tasked to migrate a pool of wang ladies to wang pc. It was horror (as the wang pc is not as good as their wang processor). The meeting turned into a nightmare for me. As some of these are also typist for all the top guys in the group the wang pc does not end up well. I survived. But still have dark feeling of a room full of wang ladies.

3 days ago by WalterBright

> But still have dark feeling of a room full of wang ladies.

They all either ignored me or were nice to me.

The interesting thing is the supervisor, who sat facing the workers like a teacher in a classroom. When she found I could use the Wang as well as anyone by just looking at the manual for a few minutes, she realized that her fiefdom was doomed. Her moat had been the 2 week training course.

I kind of felt sorry for her.

5 days ago by yumraj

And now you’re a semi truck driver.. how did that happen from soft developer to semi truck driver?

5 days ago by a3n

Anger and poor impulse control led me to rage quit a job. And I wasn't the best developer. I don't think any job was ever sorry to see me go.

4 days ago by chris_wot

How do you deal with idiot drivers though?

5 days ago by mxcrossb

Great story. I wonder if somewhere on a site like the daily wtf you can find the sys admin’s retelling where he relays in horror how a bubble sort almost brought down the system!

4 days ago by kqr

It sounds like you essentially invented the spreadsheet. Nice work!

> Part of the calculation involved sorting. I didn't know anything about sorting, so I implemented what I later learned was bubble sort. Because that's obviously how you'd do that.

I would like to politely contest the authenticity of this specific detail. In my fairly strong collection of evidence, people just do not bubble sort without being told how to do that.

People's natural mental sorting algorithm is most often insertion sort. That's what you use when you hold a hand of playing cards, for example. Sometimes something else (radix sort with monopoly money, for example), but I've never seen anyone invent bubble sort without first being told about it one way or another.

(Which is a good thing because bubble sort is just such a stupid idea I don't know why we teach it. In my life, I've only ever been notified of one single good use case for it: you need to slowly converge on an order but the minimum amount of computation is necessary for each step of the convergence.)

4 days ago by gsliepen

> I would like to politely contest the authenticity of this specific detail. In my fairly strong collection of evidence, people just do not bubble sort without being told how to do that.

I taught a C programming class for first-year students for a few years at the end of the 90s, where one of the tasks was to sort an array of words, with no hints given as to what kind of algorithm they should implement. Most students came up with bubble sort. Insertion sort was much less prevalent, and the few students who did typically did a kind of out-of-place insertion sort. (I also saw a O(N^4) algorithm once.)

4 days ago by BlueTemplar

I "trolled" the professor by doing a random sort...

4 days ago by someguyorother

> I would like to politely contest the authenticity of this specific detail. In my fairly strong collection of evidence, people just do not bubble sort without being told how to do that.

FWIW, my first sort was selection sort. "Find the smallest element, place it at the start, repeat" seems like the obvious way to do it, without the fussing about with shuffling already sorted elements out of the way that insertion sort requires.

Perhaps it's a thinking top-down vs bottom-up kind of thing? People who think bottom-up stumble on bubble sort, people who think top-down stumble on selection or insertion.

4 days ago by kqr

I just now realised that when I talked about insertion sort I really meant selection sort. How embarrassing of me to lecture others and then go on to make such a basic mistake myself!

4 days ago by a3n

> I would like to politely contest the authenticity of this specific detail.

> People's natural mental sorting algorithm is most often insertion sort.

[embarrassed panic]

[trip down wikipedia lane]

No, it was bubble sort. Data and loop management for insertion sort wouldn't have been something I would have thought of back then.

4 days ago by kqr

What confuses me is that isn't the data and loop management for bubble sort even more complicated?

Insertion sort is literally just "keep track of the index beyond the last sorted element, then scan for the next smallest element and swap it in, repeat until you have gone through the entire array." This is about as simple as a comparison sort gets. (And it's what literally everyone I've watched does when they get dealt a few playing cards.)

Bubble sort, on the other hand, requires you to reason about consecutive adjacent swaps, keep track of whether the current iteration dirtied the array, and so on. (Just the idea of bubble sorting playing cards gets me sweaty. It would take long, be cumbersome, and hard to keep track of.)

Edit: who is embarrassed now? What I'm describing is apparently not insertion sort but selection sort.

4 days ago by kqr

I did not expect that, but sure enough, makes sense when I look at it. Thanks!

5 days ago by thaumaturgy

Ah yes, good memories. I'm having a really hard time right now remembering the name of that program that blocked access to the Finder; I think it was "Easy"-something. Google fails me on the name too. Breaking it was a hobby.

Some school labs had left access to Hypercard available through that program, so you could just pull up Hypercard and make a new stack that would tell the program to quit.

The other way to get around it -- or around many other misbehaving programs in the cooperative multitasking system -- was to bring up the programmer's interrupt like the author describes, and enter "SM 0 A9F4", followed by "G 0". This would set memory location 0 to the _exitToShell function in the OS ROM and then resume execution from there, which immediately terminated whatever was in the foreground.

The rest of the system would often be a little unstable after that though, so you only had a few moves left before a restart would be needed.

To youths with curious mindsets, an anti-authoritarian streak, and seemingly limitless amounts of free time, little restrictions like these only improved our skills. Systems with challenging but imperfect security are a great way to foster new young talent.

5 days ago by munificent

> To youths with curious mindsets, an anti-authoritarian streak, and seemingly limitless amounts of free time, little restrictions like these only improved our skills. Systems with challenging but imperfect security are a great way to foster new young talent.

I miss the days when the stakes for testing boundaries and experimenting were lower.

4 days ago by Tepix

I setup a MAC based internet filter at home, secretly hoping my kids will figure out how to bypass it.

4 days ago by withinboredom

Most OSs don’t let you change a WiFi’s MAC address these days. Sometimes even the hardware doesn’t support it.

4 days ago by reasonabl_human

Love it. Could be fun to toss up a WEP ‘secured’ SSID in an untrusted DMZ VLAN that has doesn’t have filtering. Figuring out how to use the aircrack suite on an ancient thinkpad to bust an SSID was what really got me interested in computers as a kid.

4 days ago by tonyedgecombe

Yes, I have a feeling I would be dismissed now for some of the things I've done in the past.

4 days ago by undefined


5 days ago by tbrock

The name of the program was "At Ease". It had two big folders with icons that looked very much like a precursor to iOS's springboard we know today.

The two folders were labeled "Applications" and "Documents": https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/At_Ease

You could also trigger the NMI via Apple key + power button and I remember the magic code to set the memory to zero and crash finder being: SM<space>0<space>A964<return>G<space>O<return>

5 days ago by thaumaturgy

Close. Usenet for the tiebreaker:

> At the ">" ROM debugger prompt, type the following lines, pressing Return after each:

> SM 0 A9F4

> G 0

> In the first line, the "SM" stands for "Set Memory", the "0" signifies memory location "0", and the "A9F4" is the trap number for the "ExitToShell" trap. This line puts "A9F4" at memory location "0". In the second line, the "G" stands for "Go" and the "0" stands for memory location "0". This line tells the computer to execute the instructions starting at memory location "0". Since "A9F4" is at memory location "0", the "ExitToShell" trap is executed.


4 days ago by microtherion

In the late 1980, we did some Mac consulting for a largish ad agency, and one lower tier executive wanted to demonstrate the importance of his work by having us install some password protection on his Mac.

Suspecting that this would not end well, I installed a very light weight solution; he promptly forgot his password within a week, called me in again, and I bypassed the password prompt with the above NMI+ExitToShell() method. He was suitably impressed and asked me to write down the magic incantation on a post-it note that he attached somewhere to his desk...

What can I say? They always promptly paid their bills!

5 days ago by TimTheTinker

My school's computer lab ran Windows 3.1 for Workgroups on top of DOS. The network login prompt was in DOS. There were some hackers in upper grades who had installed games like DOOM, Descent, Duke Nukem 3D, etc. in a folder named Alt+255 on many of these computers, which looked like a space in DOS but was invisible to Windows Explorer.

The lab manager found out about our Ctrl+Break hack and put in an event listener/handler for that keycode in the DOS login program. So I spent several hours trying other key combinations and eventually figured out that Alt+3 sent an ASCII character that had an effect that was equivalent to Ctrl+Break in DOS -- and we were back in business.

5 days ago by Severian

Wow, so this is very close to what we did in school. Us being the 'hackers'. By chance was this in Ohio?

4 days ago by TimTheTinker

No, it was on the west coast... but I bet a lot of places were running similar setups. Network admins at the time (at least the good ones) were likely receiving the same periodicals and reading the same books.

5 days ago by valyagolev

Apart from using hacking to overcome imposed limitations such as these, I am amazed by the number of times I had to use my chops to overcome what was simply a bug. Opening the web inspector is such a normal moment of dealing with other people's websites, I have no clue how people manage without it.

I was very... surprised when I managed to productively use "javascript:(some code)" in the URL bar of the browser of my phone once when I was stuck in the airport probably like 10 years ago and needed to do something that just wasn't working normally. Now that we're used to smart phones it probably sounds quite basic but it was absolutely weird back then.

5 days ago by evanreichard

About a year ago I was attempting to book a room through the Hilton payment system but my card kept getting declined.

Opening up the web inspector revealed that the JS was stripping any leading 0's for the CVV. I ended up manually crafting a curl request to hit the GraphQL endpoint and was able to successfully book the room.

I did reach out to a Platform Architect on LinkedIn describing the bug, but never heard back about it. Was a total shot in the dark, though, so no surprise there.

5 days ago by gambiting

>>Opening the web inspector is such a normal moment of dealing with other people's websites, I have no clue how people manage without it.

As a C++ programmer who has absolutely no idea how to even open the dev console in browser - I just close the website. If I can't scroll it, if it has stupid popups that I can't dismiss, if it lets me get halfway through checkout and then misteriously empties my basket? I'll maybe give it one more try and then just close the website.

5 days ago by grogenaut


5 days ago by atat7024

Or right clicking on, and "Inspect" on the specific element that you're trying to work with.

5 days ago by StavrosK


4 days ago by rvba

On the phone?

5 days ago by toomanyducks

The web is broken. Someone's website wouldn't scroll (I don't remember the details, and I don't think I wanted to find out --- maybe it was overflow: hidden, but it could've been something else), and the only way I could figure out to deal with it was to open up the devtools responsive design mode and pretend the screen was bigger than it was so that the full page could show, and then use the browser's scrollbar from within that view.

5 days ago by elliekelly

I’m one of the few weirdos who actually seeks out and reads the ToS & privacy policy posted on sites I visit and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve run into a site with infinite scrolling and a footer (with all the “important” legal stuff) that a user will never see but for a fleeting moment. A feature or a bug? I’m never quite sure.

5 days ago by valyagolev

In the footer, there's also sometimes the language picker, the "desktop version" link (often acting as a button with same urls, so you can't just save it), and the dev docs links. There's a site where I have to specifically open a page that is not infinite to make sure I enabled the desktop mode before going back to whatever I actually came to do

4 days ago by onion2k

The web is broken.

When an app on your computer or phone doesn't work well do you say Windows or iOS is broken, or do you say the app is broken?

A broken website doesn't mean the web is broken.

4 days ago by toomanyducks

> When an app on your computer or phone doesn't work well do you say Windows or iOS is broken

Yes. All the time. A good platform supports that which builds upon it.

4 days ago by throwaway77770

The grain of the web is so that it's much easier to write something broken than something that works.

That's true of all development, granted, but doubly so the web, so yep... the web is broken.

5 days ago by nabakin

I remember the DSI bookmarklet community that utilized "javascript:". That was so long ago and I was so young, I don't even remember how I found out about them.

5 days ago by wheybags

I did a nasty hack a little like this when I was in college. College wired internet had all sorts of filters on it, I can't remember the details exactly. The important thing was it didn't allow the upd ports for counter strike from the wired connection we had in a society room. The computer science department had their own web proxy, which was only accessible from inside their network. Cs students could SSH into special lab machines running linux, which were on the cs network. Crucially, you could connect to them from the general college network, not just another cs network ip. These machines had a series of predictable hostnames, iirc lg12l$hostnumber (lg12 was the labs name). So, the solution was in two parts: first, ssh tunnel to the cs dept proxy, second: connect to openvpn on a vps somewhere using a mode that openvpn has which allows use through a http proxy. This happened on a machine running a dhcp server, which then acted as a nat router for the whole room.

The lab machines I was using were physically accessble to students, who could reboot them, shut then down, whatever. So I wrote a script that would iterate through the hostnames until it found one that it could SSH tunnel through. Mostly it used lg12l0, the first host. One day I got an email from the cs dept sysadmin telling me that lg12l0 was a test host in his office, not a real lab machine, could I please use another one? And no complaints over what I was actually doing with it. I still wonder if he noticed. This setup was running for at least a year, maybe two. Sorry about that mate :D

4 days ago by TchoBeer

Was running counterstrike through two computers really faster than just using the wireless connection or did that one have weird filters too?

4 days ago by jtms

Wifi from those days wasn’t nearly as good as a hard wire. Also, it might have just not been available. It wasn’t nearly as ubiquitous 20 years ago as it is now.

4 days ago by wheybags

This was more like 10 years ago, but yeah, WiFi was still crap (and still is :v). In particular, the signal in that room wasn't great.

4 days ago by mikefallen

Play counter strike on wireless? Hahaha no way man. CS is a highly latency sensitive game (as is any competitive fps). Wifi is much too prone to disturbances and packet loss, so you will experience lag/jitter/loss.

4 days ago by wheybags

WiFi was crap, wired we could pretty much saturate our gigabit NICs. And WiFi had similar, but different filters iirc.

5 days ago by dsr_

Everything interesting on twitter takes more than one tweet.

I wonder if there's a place for "fast Usenet", where you can write a message of arbitrary length with some markdownish syntax, let it be flooded to anybody subscribed to that group, and automatically drop into a searchable no-new-comments archive after, say, a week.

4 days ago by exikyut

Curious why your comment got collapsed, it's very interesting.

Genuine question: why archive?

While I don't really have a substantive list, I very often come across archived threads on here and elsewhere that I'd like to respond to. "Wow this is awes--" "oh it's from 2016".

I guess I just don't understand the hate against necroposting. If there's a thread out there that has exactly the context and disposition I was looking for, _let me respond to it_. In a lot of cases I don't actually care if any reply(s) take 4 years to come through!

4 days ago by dsr_

Why archive? Because history is good.

Why the anti-necroposting provision? Because if it's really relevant, having you jump through the additional hoop of quoting the good bit and copy-pasting into a new thread not only forces you to put a little bit of thought into it, but also prevents threads from being months or years (or decades) long and thus only being accessible to people who have read the whole darn thing.

In my experience in Usenet, conversations go off topic remarkably quickly.

3 days ago by neop1x

Maybe HN should append [twitter tale] or something like that to the title as they do for [video] and [pdf]. Then I would first try to find a one-page transcript in a comment...

4 days ago by FabHK

Single page, and accessible without JavaScript. Thanks.

4 days ago by MayeulC

I also like nitter for this. Of course, you have to use a non-ratelimited instance, but there are a few to pick from.

5 days ago by 2sk21

I have a similar story but I was not quite so clever. Back in 1990 and 1991, I used a cluster of IBM RS6000 workstations in my university to train neural networks. I had previously tried to get backpropagation to work on a Connection Machine but found it too frustrating to work with. The cluster of RS6000s actually ran my code (written in C) very fast and was able top get some good results and graduate with PhD. I built a distributed queuing system to ensure that each work station would pull the next job from a central queue.

4 days ago by exikyut

Do you remember why the CM was so frustrating? That's a very ironic story right there.

4 days ago by 2sk21

Main problem was that it was hard to get time on our CM2 to run jobs. You had to sign up in advance and it was a nuisance. Also debugging the parallel version of C for the CM2, called C* was pretty hard to debug as well.

4 days ago by eps

There used to be something called PVM - Parallel Virtual Machine - a fairly simple library for distributed computing. Had to use it once back in Uni, it wasn't bad.

Edit - http://www.csm.ornl.gov/pvm/

4 days ago by 2sk21

Yes PVM would have been great had it been available but as I recall, it came out later, in the mid 90s.

5 days ago by Jtsummers

For anyone still at or associated with a university, how would they react to behavior like this today?

When I was in school (circa 2000), the IT offices were starting to crack down on students (with some threats of expulsion) for activities like this, though it wasn't yet typical or uniform. I know at GT there were a few computer labs that, if you paid a bit of attention, you could easily get ssh access to every computer in the cluster, and then using nohup or screen (this was pre-tmux) you could have your program run as long as the system was up. I had to ssh in a couple times because I'd forgotten to logout and didn't want to get "baggy pantsed".

5 days ago by hervature

In a public lab that is used frequently, I believe this would be viewed quite negatively. Not from a "you hacked our systems" perspective but a "it could have been damaging to other students' education if things had gone wrong". To make the differentiation somewhat more clear, filling up a bucket of water from the bathroom sink to clean something vs. removing all the shower heads and making a super funnel of hoses to spray wash your car outside. The former activity is clearly much less likely to cause issues with other students. If the computer lab was in some basement used by 3 students throughout the year, I don't think anybody would care.

Building on that, many universities have computational resources for any level of needs as long as they are justified. Free network storage to last a lifetime and access to computer clusters that comes with your university email. Upgraded computer clusters for class projects, personal research (like this), or really any legitimate need (as long as you don't say something like "I want to mine bitcoin") is an email away from the university IT. The next level would be the university's super computer that generally needs a short proposal to justify the academic purpose. When these systems are in place now, it is kind of hard to justify these type of things.

Edit: The author of the post put a comment basically confirming that things haven't really changed. He was being respectful (low usage lab, allowed people to stop his programs if they needed a computer, low impact to others, etc.). He was given access to more legitimate resources afterwards at the request of the professor. Not as easy as it is now, but that's Moore's law.

5 days ago by vuciv1

I graduated last year, and I worked for my colleges IT department. We used to have to come knocking at the door if a student even had their own printers set up.

It definitely would not go well.

That being said, I did know people who clogged the cs department's machines with batch jobs to train really expensive ML models that did God knows what. Its not the same as bypassing a security system, but it is an instance of people having the ability to run whatever code they'd like in certain circles.

5 days ago by pmiller2

Funny, because I remember bypassing my university's print quotas in grad school a few years ago simply by printing directly to the IP of the printer. I didn't set out to do this. It was just an unintentional side effect, and one I never abused, but I did happen to notice that whenever I printed, my quota allotment never went down.

4 days ago by mindslight

I did this out of pure convenience, and actually never experienced the university's Windows account system at all (would I have had to sign up for an account? who knows). I had a list of strategically-located printers in my printcap, chose one on the way to whatever class I was headed to, kicked off the print job, and collected it as I passed by to class. In class I would get the previous week's assignment back, take the staple out with my pocket knife, and reuse it to staple the current week's homework before turning it in.

5 days ago by yardie

LPR is a pretty ancient and basic language. And it has 0 security!

5 days ago by ecshafer

I couldn't imagine a situation where if someone knocked on my dorm room door asking if I had a printer in there, I would not have told them off with very unflattering language and telling them to perform fellatio upon themselves.

How many students are just rolling over and saying sorry? I would imagine most would give you a very hard time.

4 days ago by alibrarydweller

When I was in university IT ~2008 our main concern was people accidentally serving their own DCHP onto the network and colliding with ours, generally by plugging in a router LAN port out. I could imagine a decree with this goal saying "no personal devices" to keep it simple.

4 days ago by mywittyname

> How many students are just rolling over and saying sorry?

Probably most/all. IT infrastructure is critical and there's a very good chance that the IT staff have a process in place for dealing with kids who won't let them do their jobs. And it's probably a pretty effective process that has been refined over the past decades.

4 days ago by JCharante

Replying all gets you booted off the school network for a certain amount of time, it's in the TOS so they can do it. I imagine people value network access over having their own printer.

5 days ago by 908B64B197

> We used to have to come knocking at the door if a student even had their own printers set up.

What's wrong with having a printer?

5 days ago by tgbugs

If I had to guess the wording of completely insane contracts signed with companies that provide campus wide printing.

5 days ago by ohazi

> if a student even had their own printers set up.

Students aren't allowed to have a printer? O_o

5 days ago by dsr_

Printers used to be expensive and noisy.

In 1993 I was one of about 3 people on a dorm floor of ultraturbonerds who had a printer in my room; it was a Canon BJ130, I think, which had the distinction of being a tractor-fed 300dpi black-and-white inkjet, and thus much much quieter than my friend's IBM ProPrinter 24XL. How much quieter? It wouldn't wake up people in the next room.

5 days ago by vulcan01

From what my college-going friends tell me, some colleges want students to pay for a higher print quota instead of having their own printer. More money for the college that way.

5 days ago by tantalor

Some universities provide distributed computing resources.

Example: https://www.psc.edu/resources/allocations/

A primary mission of the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center is to train students, including undergraduates, in high performance computing. To this end, PSC offers Coursework allocations which are grants of free supercomputing time to supplement other teaching tools.

Typically, Coursework allocations have been used in heavily quantitative subjects, such as numerical methods, computational fluid dynamics, and computational chemistry. But we encourage all fields, including the social sciences and humanities, to take advantage of Coursework allocations.

5 days ago by prof-dr-ir

I think that it totally depends on the definition of 'behavior like this today'.

If 'behavior like this' is creatively toying with lab equipment that you have been given physical access to, bending the rules a little bit in the process, to participate in an academic challenge? If it would be up to me then a slap on the wrist would suffice, now just as well as presumably in 1993.

But if 'behavior like this' means breaking into computers, which nowadays are essential parts of a university's infrastructure, in straight violation of rules and conventions on hacking that have been in place since before you were born (say 2000), just to get some computer time to, say, mine whatevercoins? Then a little more than a slap on the wrist would be completely fine by me.

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