I recently bought lunch for my brother (as usual) and we ended up talking about funny things that we did at our respective colleges. At my alma mater, Lafayette College, the academic support IT department had a very inclusive way about it. We were given a LOT of rope and I took advantage of that at times.
Two my favorite memories relate to my good friend, Gabe. He had made the terrible mistake of telling people his freshman year that "I’m a freshman, but I have Sophomore standing" due to the various advanced placement classes he had taken, etc. Many of us were similarly situated but we didn’t talk about it so much. His senior year, when we introduced him to people, we’d say "This is Gabe. He’s a Senior, but he has Sophomore standing".
The college had some Sun workstation/servers running X-Window. They had gigantic monitors and the engineers used them for CAD and other boring engineer stuff. We CS people used them to learn programming and, of course, to play games.
We didn’t like the computer-helpless engineers to much so one of our favorite things to do would be to telnet to the box they were on and run X-eye on them. This would pop up a pair of eyes that followed the mouse around on the screen. You could pop up even more and have literally a dozen or more of the X-eye applications running. Try not to laugh out loud when a hapless engineer is trying to close X-eye after X-eye and muttering under his breath about it 🙂
We also played X-trek on those boxes. To do that, you had to download the source, get various dependencies wherever you could find them and build it. I wasn’t a sophisticated C programmer, but I could read header files. I was looking through these and found directives like "#DEFINE MAX_TORPEDO_DISTANCE 10". I played around with that increase range and power for phases and torpedoes, re-built it and then destroyed Gabe the next time we played.
Gabe was also a huge fan of a TV show called Blake’s 7. I had never seen it, but that didn’t prevent me from insisting that Dr. Who is the superior show. The arguments would get heated at times 🙂
One day, it occurred to me that I could probably guess his UNIX password. I sat down next to him one day and announced in a loud tone, "I’m going to guess your password right now, Gabe." "Yeah, right" was his answer. I then logged in, entered his user id, turned to face him, typed and said out loud, "I wonder if it’s B-L-A-K-E-7" ? Touch typing has never paid off as handsomely as it did that day.
Next week (or soon): More computer room antics from college.
Do you have any to share? Leave a comment or email me and I’ll publish them here.