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    On our uni we could ssh to basically any lab computer, so we would log in on random computer in class and then eject and close CD-ROM tray many times. To this day it’s pretty magical to me that command line utility has such physical output :D

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      I have had the same experience of doing something over a network that has a physical effect on reality and finding it almost magical, even though it is technically unremarkable. I think it’s because in some sense it breaks implicit mental abstractions that we create to facilitate our interactions with technology. When we shell into a remote, we often cease to consider it as a physical device, but instead view it as a sort of virtual machine. No wonder the success of the cloud, then; in a way, it gives truth to the flawed abstraction we had already constructed in our minds.

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        I had a daily cronjob which sent my org-mode agenda to the printer at 6am each morning. It was a similar experience having that piece of paper waiting to be read over a morning cup of tea.

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          We had a similar setup. I enjoyed SSH’ing in and using mplayer to find out which computers had a speaker on board, while giving the other students enjoyable background music for their work.

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            When I was an undergrad, we had a few 32-bit SPARC machines that we used ask dumb X servers. They had floppy disk drives with no eject button and a power button where people expected the eject button to be. The only way to eject the floppy was to log in as root and run eject. For extra fun, they took ages to boot, so someone who hit the power button thinking it was eject had to wait five minutes and find someone with root access who could log into the machine and eject the disk for them.

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            Hah! My high school’s IT department was unable to disable this for, well, reasons? Instead, the network admin would watch for the “offender” to strike and phone the teacher in the room where it came from, and have them yell at the class about misusing school computer resources and disrupting classes. Also, what amazes me to type now – none of the students had their own logins – it was one shared username/password, and as a result no one ever logged out.

            Because of this highly secure setup, ahem some of us took to creating batch scripts that we could load & would sleep until the teacher had their planning period, then wake up and periodically send random messages across the school.

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              The pop-up at the end was a nice addition XD

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                I totally did this in class too. I remember when XP came out, I was visiting a prof who was annoyed because her computer was now getting spammed by net send messages from the Internet.

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                  Lol, pretty much the exact same thing happened to me, wildcard and all, in high school. I did get caught, though, and the IT team was pissed… they already knew I was up to no good as I was notorious for setting up proxies to bypass their web filters. I believe I tried to frame it as me doing them a favor, pointing out a gaping vulnerability in their configuration with a harmless message (mine just said “test”). They weren’t amused! I wonder how many other software people did this as kids.

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                    Ahhh, the heady days of early 2000’s WinXP networking defaults. I fondly remember the semester in undergrad where my entire university’s network was taken down by the Blaster and Sasser worms.

                    I have a friend who, one way or another, remoted into a teacher’s presentation laptop during a lecture and took over the session, so they saw the teacher’s screen and the projector showed the display from their own laptop screen. They would mimic the teacher’s motions and text quite accurately for several minutes, then do something bonkers like close the presentation, open a text document and type a bunch of text, then go back to mimicking the teacher. It was skillfully done and the poor teacher nearly had a nervous breakdown.

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                      I fear that it was the last truly magical era of computing. The phreaks had their fun, the old-school hackers had their fun, we had our fun with NET SEND , but does the next generation get to have any fun?

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                        They’ll find ways, just like every single generation before them back to the dawn of humanity.

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                      it’s got that scene in Wargames vibes 😁

                      sadly my school had a good IT guy and stuff was pretty locked down, but I do remember hiding all sorts of fun widgets (mostly screenmates) in the globally shared drive that anyone could access after I figured out you could make folders hidden!

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                        At some point, around 8 years ago, during my technical high school we had to follow a 3 week training on the IBM AS400 operating system / mainframe. Don’t ask me why we had to do it, it was probably regarded as something “very cool” by the professors but it was a miserable experience.

                        The ONLY thing that I remember to this day is the SNDBRKMSG command, which would show a pop-up similar to this on all the various consoles connected to the mainframe. I don’t know why the trainer shown this command to us, but we spent the rest of the training having fun with this message, until when at some point it was disabled.

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                          In my high school typing class, we had Windows 95 machines with Word, and I’d do everyone a favor by replacing the toolbar buttons with useful shortcuts like changing the save button to “close without saving” via VBA Script / Macros. I also had a “smiley face” button that I’d add that would choose a random action. I remember one of the actions was removing all of the ‘z’s from the text. Others were probably similar, but then it would display a dialog with an encouraging “Hope you’re having a beautiful day!”

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                            Oh man I love this.

                            All I used to do is create batch scripts that would open bunch of error boxes that couldn’t be closed, inside a while loop. This of course rendered the computers useless pretty quick.

                            Luckily those computers had some software that when restarted, they would reset their state and all the crap I made would be gone. :)

                            It was pretty funny to replace the Tetris shortcuts with these scripts that went “ERROR PERKELE” on people, though. And harmless as well since the restart removed all the problems.