back to article Beware the trainee with time on his hands and an Acorn manual on his desk

Monday has arrived once more, and with it a Model B Who, Me? as Acorn's finest takes centre stage. Our tale comes from "Drew" and is a blast from the UK of the 1980s, replete with Margaret Thatcher, Youth Training Schemes (YTS) and Acorn's (then) finest: the BBC Micro Model B. Young Drew was a tad sniffy when it came to the …

  1. Korev Silver badge

    Blown away by the delights of saving to 5 ¼ inch floppy disks (sometimes to both sides)

    I remember being staggered at how fast they were to load things having got used to loading from tape.

    We need a proper grey beard icon -->

    1. Dinanziame Silver badge

      staggered at how fast they were

      And now, they're punchlines:

      1. Si 1

        Re: punchlines

        I get that when I boot up my Dreamcast and because the clock battery is flat it always thinks it's a brand new console on launch day in 1999.

        1. Bronk's Funeral

          Re: punchlines

          Twenty years of booting up your—BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP—Dreamcast.

          1. Jedit Silver badge

            "Twenty years of booting up your—BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP—Dreamcast."

            Oh come on, it wasn't quite that slow.

            1. Blackjack Silver badge

              Re: "Twenty years of booting up your—BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP—Dreamcast."

              Unless you tried to use it online with the default modem.

              1. martinusher Silver badge

                Re: "Twenty years of booting up your—BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP—Dreamcast."

                >Unless you tried to use it online with the default modem.

                Mine worked OK (probably still does, for all I know). Its front end is IE4 so I don't think it would work that well these days.

            2. Baldrickk

              Re: "Twenty years of booting up your—BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP—Dreamcast."

              He's not talking about it being slow...

              The VMUs (Visual memory units (aka memory cards)) are pretty much mini gameboys - they have a screen, D-PAD, A, B, start buttons and though not used much could be used to play games.

              This meant they needed their own battery, which was a cell battery, like you might find in a clock.

              When the battery has run down, starting up the Dreamcast provides power to the memory card and it beeps loudly as it turns on.

              As almost no-one played any of the very few little games, no-one bothered replacing the batteries. So all Dreamcasts make a loud beep when turning on.

              Especially mine, which has three of them :-P

              1. Blackjack Silver badge

                Re: "Twenty years of booting up your—BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP—Dreamcast."

                I did care to replace the batteries .. once. Then just used generic memory cards. I even have an original Dreamcast memory card with the plastic warper still on, so it is in mint condition save the fact the battery most likely needs replacement.

                The Dreamcast memory cards were too expensive, is one of the reasons the console didn't go well.

                1. Baldrickk

                  Re: "Twenty years of booting up your—BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP—Dreamcast."

                  £40 iirc, which was also the same price as the controllers - I remember saving up for a long time to be able to afford one, so remember the price well.

                  That would be £70 now...

                  Wow. I didn't realise inflation had had that much of an effect.

                  Unlike the PS/PS2 memory cards though, I never managed to fill one. I have multiple due to getting them later on with additional controllers.

                  I literally had a stack of PS memory cards. They may have been cheaper individually, but they probably added up to be equivalent, and more annoying.

        2. This post has been deleted by its author

        3. Blackjack Silver badge

          Re: punchlines

          Eh, the battery is one of the easiest things to replace. They still make compatible models.

          Try running some games that are not Y2K proof on dosbox, like old versions of Math Blaster, is kind of hilarious.

          1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge

            Re: punchlines

            Try running some games that are not Y2K proof on dosbox, like old versions of Math Blaster, is kind of hilarious.


            The two I really want to work, Classic Tetris and a weird French game "popcorn", which my daughter LOVED, don't run right. popcorn was tied too closely to the processor clock, so runs blindingly fast no matter what I try, and Tetris doesn't think it has a speaker so you don't get that lovely 8-bit Russian folk song accompaniment.

            Maybe something has changed, so I should try them again.

            Ahhh..."popcorn" was written in assembler. That explains a lot. But apparently there's a recent rewrite.

            1. Andre Carneiro

              Re: punchlines

              Ah, yes! Popcorn. Lacral (Lacaze and Reinal?), if I remember correctly.

              <sigh> I know I’m getting old because I can remember useless details from 30 years ago but have no idea what I had for dinner last night...

              1. Thoy

                Re: punchlines

                OMG... I can remember what I had for dinner last night... BUT.. WHO WAS THAT STRANGE WOMAN THAT DISHED IT UP ??

            2. Blackjack Silver badge

              Re: punchlines

              Dosbox allows you to lower the clock speed and to emulate a Soundblaster sound card.

    2. Blackjack Silver badge

      I remember those things being quite durable. They sonetimes lasted more without damage than hard disks!

      Ah the good bad days of using a 286 computer. MS DOS 2.0 Orange was the new black (Actually orange was the only color you had on your PC screen) and playing the grandfather of snake (the mobile game and no, there was no plane!)

      1. Dave 15


        I had a posh screen, could have, orange or green... by a button on the vdu

    3. NightFox

      >> Blown away by the delights of saving to 5 ¼ inch floppy disks (sometimes to both sides)

      That just reminded me of cutting a write protect hole in the edge of a single-sided disk which made it a double-sided one. Of course there was always the understanding that you were taking a risk as "the manufacturer's didn't QC the 'unused' side on single-sided disks", or "they used double-sided disks where one side had failed QC". I'm not sure how true that actually was though, I don't remember ever having a problem with any of the B-sides.

      1. disaffectedofreading

        I did that once in Computer Science at school. My scissor work was below par, however and when I tried to extract the floppy, it got caught on the write protect switch - leading to a proper telling off from the poor teacher who had to get his screwdriver out to take the drive apart. Happy days!

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        cutting a write protect hole

        I have to admit I still have a square hole punch somewhere to do just that...

    4. NATTtrash

      Blown away by the delights of saving to 5 ¼ inch floppy disks (sometimes to both sides)

      So help me out here, have trouble recalling (who said something about beards?)

      Was it just the 3.5" disks that you could use on both sides when you drilled an extra hole in it, or did that also work for the 5¼? I think I do remember going at 5¼ with a hole puncher, but not sure whether that was constructive or just youthful vandalism...

      1. Andre Carneiro

        I think the extra hole made it 1.44MB instead of 720MB ;)

      2. Ahosewithnoname

        I didn't think you could put the 3.5" in upside down

        1. Danny 2

          You could only fit a 3.5" in one orientation. A 1.44MB 3.5" disk would work in a single-sided 720KB drive, but only at 720KB - you had to buy a dual head 'High Density' (‽) drive to get the full 1.44MB.

        2. Dave 15

          you couldnt

          They werent square so you couldnt fit it a quarter turn out and they had one corner cut off on the front edge so you couldnt put them upside down or back to front.

      3. Dave 15

        as I recollect

        Blank 5.25" had a cut out ready in hem (regardless of the 'size') and a pack of little silver tabs to cover he whole when you wanted to write protect it.

        The 3.5" had a sliding plastic clip which covered a hole or not (as I recollect covered meant you could write it, removing the plastic slider was supposed to make it permanently read only), again I dont recollect this read only hole having anything at all to do with capacity switching

        1. Kiwi

          Re: as I recollect

          Blank 5.25" had a cut out ready in hem (regardless of the 'size') and a pack of little silver tabs to cover he whole when you wanted to write protect it.

          "Disk notcher"s were a device you used on the 51/4 to cut a hole in the side of the smaller value disks so they'd act as a larger one. The original single-sided disks had this hole so they'd not work in the drive upside-down but it was believed the 'platter' had the same surface on both sides, so 'notching' it and turning it upside down meant both sides could be used.

 - note the text "Punch devices were sold to convert read-only disks to writable ones and enable writing on the unused side of single sided disks"

          And a spewboob vid I haven't watched :

    5. Dave 15


      Mag tape, or punched paper??? :)

    6. Dave 15

      tapes, discs... luxury

      compared to toggling in from a front panel

  2. chivo243 Silver badge

    Oh, the joys

    Net Send and students don't mix... depending on which viewpoint you take!

    1. Rich 11

      Re: Oh, the joys

      Get rid of net send or get rid of students?

      1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

        Re: Oh, the joys

        How about both?

    2. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Oh, the joys

      Who was in the business back when PC first got networked and didn't make an error with a net send intended for one that went to everyone?

      1. Tom 7 Silver badge

        Re: Oh, the joys

        I was fortunate enough to have played on 'proper' computers before net send came along. Running decayscreen or similar on other workstations meant that by the time net send arrived we were all under orders not to do that shit. So we didnt much - mainly because death could ensue.

        1. l8gravely

          Re: Oh, the joys

          xmelt on your friend's screens since they had done 'xhost +' since they didn't understand security... fun times.

          1. cream wobbly

            Re: Oh, the joys

            It's not as though you'd run a key logger. Nobody used passwords so there were none to steal, and consequently you get get into anyone's email to discover what they'd been writing. Or you could >ahem< send something on their behalf.

          2. Mark Solaris

            Re: Oh, the joys

            Finding a xpanic (HHGTTG-esque) that compiles these days is tricky, they went and changed the X11 server too much.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Oh, the joys

      Being able to eject the CD drive tray on other networked machines via management console was always fun too...

      1. cream wobbly

        Re: Oh, the joys

        Some drives supported loading the tray as well, so you could just run an "uneject" in a constant loop.

        Open tray, put CD... zzzwwkdk damn

        Open tray, put CD... zzzwwkdk dammit!

        opentrayputcdin... zzzzww DAMN YOU! wwkdk

        Open tray. ... zzzwwkdk

        Open tray ... zzzwwkdk

        ps auxw | grep eject


    4. Major N

      Re: Oh, the joys

      Whilst at Uni, someone discovered Net Send and started sending messages to random machine names (as each of the rooms had a naming theme, it wasn't difficulty, IIRC the room I was in had each machine names as an Element). Anyway, he sent some dumb message to the machine I was on. I politely replied, asking him to kindly refrain from messaging people in general, and my elf in particular. He decided to refuse, and started repeatedly sending my computer messages. After ignoring another request to refrain, I knocked together a quick loop script which sent him 20k messages. Each of which required clicking through, and would steal focus.

      He didn't net send again. I guess you could say he got the message(s).

      1. Anonymous South African Coward

        Re: Oh, the joys

        The inner BOFH approves.

        Have one.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Oh, the joys

        I politely replied, asking him to kindly refrain from messaging people in general, and my elf in particular.

        Very wise - I understand that elves can get very annoyed by this sort of thing.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Oh, the joys

        I also suffered some sort of that.

        CS lab where everyone knew root password of all machines -it was the same- with people discovering the joys of ssh + kill -9.

        Some people opted to change root passwords, which was against policy, a rather stupid one by the way. I put 4096 ASCII BEL on /etc/banner

        1. GrumpenKraut
          Thumb Up

          Re: Oh, the joys

          > I put 4096 ASCII BEL on /etc/banner

          Nice one!

          1. Mark Solaris

            Re: Oh, the joys

            Macs would load the bell sound file from the floppy disk, every single time, no caching.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Oh, the joys

              "Macs would load the bell sound file from the floppy disk, every single time, no caching."

              Umm. The original Macs only had 128K RAM but would happily go "bong" on startup before anything had loaded from disk. The system beep sound was a sound resource kept on disc. From what I understand of the early Macintosh System Software memory management techniques, they could have kept sound resources in RAM for repeat use. If in practice this did not happen, I'd guess it was due to the woefully small amount of RAM fitted.

              I suspect I've still got two floppy disc powered Macs, neither used for a very long time: a 4MB Mac Plus and a Mac 512Ke (1/2 MB).

              They both played their system beeps - a sound resource which is loaded from disc - without delay most of the time.

        2. MarthaFarqhar

          Re: Oh, the joys

          The write command and wall were abused horrendously in our labs as a student. Some of us sensibly set mesg to n, but even so, some of the abusers didn't get tire of this. cat core|write idiot was a suitable warning, as well as cat /dev/urandom | write idiot would tend to lock their session.

      4. Stuart Castle Silver badge

        Re: Oh, the joys

        At the uni where I work, we had to disable Net send. it always was a pain (every year a new group of students would discover Net Send, send messages to all and sundry. Most messages were fairly harmless, ranging from "Hello" to mild insults. Then one student started picking on random female students and sending them sexual messages. We dealt with him harshly , and blocked Net send from then on.

        1. WolfFan Silver badge

          Re: Oh, the joys

          Why would anyone downvote this?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Oh, the joys

            Probably an American Puritan because he used the word "sexual". Naughty!

            1. cream wobbly

              Re: Oh, the joys

              You got yourself 6 downvotes from old lady merkins!

              1. jake Silver badge

                Re: Oh, the joys

                Old ladies wear merkins? Post pics or .... wait. Never mind.

            2. jake Silver badge

              Re: Oh, the joys

              Probably a spotty teenager who doesn't realize or care that sending such messages isn't "fun" to the receiving party.

          2. noboard

            Re: Oh, the joys

            He's obviously the culprit

        2. chivo243 Silver badge

          Re: Oh, the joys

          When we changed platforms, suddenly the "say" command was a barrel of laughs. It was easy to spot the offender, his chair had a pool under it from pissing himself.

        3. swm

          Re: Oh, the joys

          On the original Dartmouth time sharing system we implemented a "DIAL" command that allowed TTY to TTY communications. We discovered than no useful work could be done because someone would always "DIAL" you when you were typing in a program intercepting all typing until you pressed "ESC" (or "ALT-MODE"). So we disabled the command - it was a neat piece of code though.

          I did once use the command from the master TTY to talk with coeds etc. before a big Dartmouth game (about 1965). Someone asked, "What will be the score of the game?" I quickly typed in some score which turned out to be correct. After the game there was a heated argument in the TTY user room with some claiming the computer could predict the score of football games in advance.

      5. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Oh, the joys

        Repeated "Pings Of Death" across the network to the visiting Microsoft Rep's laptop had the desired effect - we didn't buy any of their crapware!

        AC for reasons I won't concern you with.

    5. Imhotep

      Re: Oh, the joys

      Were in a classroom for a monthly meeting, lights turned down for a PowerPoint presentation. Saw a friend falling asleep, did a net send saying "Wake Up" as a joke.

      Every PC in the room dinged, everyone snapped awake and looked around guiltily.

      Oh God, I'd sent it to everyone in the room! Then panic: I'd sent it to everyone in the company!

      Thank God there were only classrooms on the router, and ours was the only one in use.

  3. KittenHuffer Silver badge

    A blast from the past!

    I happened to go to a school and a college that were in the pilot for the Computers for Schools project in the early 80's. This meant that I had access to a computer room with a dozen BBCs at a time when most schools only had a single machine.

    In fact, I was the programming part of (one of) the teams my school put forward for the launch event by the Conservatives of the Computers for Schools project. We went to the local college (along with other local schools) and set up our demos so that Maggie T could come down and view them all. That evening I found out that a picture of me demonstrating our lift, controlled by a BBC Micro, to the Iron Lady was used by the local newspaper when they ran an article about the visit.

    I later went to the same college, and became 'intimate' with their collection of BBC Micros. Ours were running ENet rather than EcoNet, which meant that they had a central (BBC Micro) server for the admin rather than allowing the 'admin' software to be run from any of the machines.

    We developed a password grabber, cracked the file storage system on the MASSIVE 20MB hard drive, and finished by obtaining a complete list of all user passwords!

    Ah, the joys of youth!

    1. William Towle

      Re: A blast from the past!

      > I later went to the same college, and became 'intimate' with their collection of BBC Micros. Ours were running ENet rather than EcoNet, [...]

      One of my schools had (IIRC) one or two EcoNet machine in various places, and I noticed one of my friends making a point of leaping onto the computer after the admin. It turned out he'd been disassembling the residual traces of system commands and had built up a library of rather interesting code routines :)

    2. Mark Solaris

      Re: A blast from the past!

      We regularly grabbed the password list every Friday, and used network primitives to write the fileserver screen to make it show a C64 display with LOAD "*",8,1 etc.

      Our CS teacher never did tell us who "joshua" was, his password for a whole year.

      1. gw0udm

        Re: A blast from the past!

        Well he'd obviously been watching 'Wargames', I always made a point of typing 'lets play global thermonuclear war' into any computer I got my hands on.

        1. applebyJedi

          Re: A blast from the past!

          I read the book first so the password was Joshua8

  4. Vin


    Damn, I went to an ITeC too, all the way down in Cornwall.

    We did our initial training on Sanyo MBC 555s, running MS-DOS 2.1.

    There were a handful of IBM XTs (with fantastic Cherry keyboards)

    I still remember when we got our first 286, with the turbo button! IIRC it ran at 12Mhz!

    We also got used to using Wordstar, with the trainers telling us that if we could learn to use that, we could use anything.

    Thing is, after having used it for a while, I got used to it and preferred it to anything else.

    Anyway, we had a great time, learning ms-dos inside and out, programming in PASCAL, and it set me up for a life in IT. Thanks for the memory.

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: ITeC

      re wordstar - before mice came along istr many apps had very powerful command line interfaces that were, due to the programs being written either by or very closely with the users, would be incredibly ergonomic and usable one you got into them. And as for Cherry - I could do with a DEV VT100 which IIRC were ergonomic too and in combination with the sensible programming of keys and keystrokes resulted in workflows that could only be repeated today if you were to look like someone off that bloody christmas jumper add.

      1. Anonymous South African Coward

        Re: ITeC

        Ahhh, wordstar... this reminded me of the Dosfish. (I don't know who the original author was, but thanks to whoever wrote it...)

        Long ago, in the days when all disks flopped in the breeze and the

        writing of words was on a star, the Blue Giant dug for the people the

        Pea Sea. But he needed a creature who could sail the waters, and would

        need for support but few rams.

        So the Gateskeeper, who was said to be both micro and soft, fashioned a

        Dosfish, who was small and spry, and could swim the narrow sixteen-bit

        channel. But the Dosfish was not bright, and could be taught but few

        tricks. His alphabet had no A's, B's, or Q's, but a mere 640 K's, and

        the size of his file cabinet was limited by his own fat.

        At first the people loved the Dosfish, for he was the only one who

        could swim the Pea Sea. But the people soon grew tired of commanding

        his line, and complained that he could neither be dragged or dropped.

        "Forsooth," they cried, "the Dosfish can do only one job at a time, and

        of names he knows only eight and three." And many of them left the Pea

        Sea for good, and went off in search of the Magic Apple.

        Although many went, far more stayed, because admittance to the Pea Sea

        was cheap. So the Gateskeeper studied the Magic Apple, and rested awile

        in the Parc of the Xer Ox. And he made a Window that could ride on the

        Dosfish, and do its thinking for it. But the Window was slow, and it

        would break when the Dosfish got confused. So most people contented

        themselves with the Dosfish.

        Now it came to pass that the Blue Giant came upon the Gateskeeper, and

        spoke thus: "Come, let us make of ourselves something greater than the

        Dosfish." The Blue Giant seemed like a humbug, so they called the new

        creature Oz II.

        Now Oz II was smarter than the Dosfish, as most things are. It could

        drag and drop, and could keep files without becoming fat. But the

        people cared for it not. So the Blue Giant and the Gateskeeper promised

        another Oz II, to be called Oz II Too, that could swim fast in the new,

        32-bit wide Pea Sea.

        Then lo, a strange miracle occurred. Although the Window that rode on

        the Dosfish was slow, it was pretty, and the third window was the

        prettiest of all. And the people began to like the third window, and to

        use it. So the Gateskeeper turned to the Blue Giant and said "Fie on

        thee, for I need thee not. Keep thy Oz II Too, and I shall make of my

        Window an Entity that will not need the Dosfish, and will swim in the

        32-bit Pea Sea."

        Years passed, and the workshops of the Gateskeeper and the Blue Giant

        were many times overrun by insects. And the people went on using their

        Dosfish with a Window; even though the Dosfish would from time to time

        become confused and die, it could always be revived with three fingers.

        Then there came a day when the Blue Giant let forth his Oz II Too onto

        the world. The Oz II Too was indeed mighty, and awesome, and required a

        great ram, and the world was changed not a whit. For the people said "It

        is indeed great, but we see little application for it." And they were

        doubtful, because the Blue Giant had met with the Magic Apple, and

        together they were fashioning a Taligent, and the Taligent was made of

        objects, and was most pink.

        Now the Gateskeeper had grown ambitious, and as he had been ambitious

        before he grew, he was now more ambitious still. So he protected his

        Window Entity with great security, and made its net work both in serving

        and with peers. And the Entity would swim, not in the Pea Sea, but also

        in the Oceans of Great Risk. "Yea," the Gateskeeper declared, "though my

        Entity will require a greater ram than Oz II Too, it will be more

        powerful than a world of Eunuchs.

        And so the gateskeeper prepared to unleash his Entity to the world, in

        all but two cities. For he promised that a greater Window, a greater

        Entity, and even a greater Dosfish would appear one day in Chicago and

        Cairo, and it too would be built of objects.

        Now the Eunuchs who lived in the Oceans of Great Risk, and who scorned

        the Pea Sea, began to look upon their world with fear. For the Pea Sea

        had grown and great ships were sailing in it, the Entity was about to

        invade their Ocenas, and it was rumored that files would be named in

        letters greater than eight. And the Eunuchs looked upon the Pea Sea, and

        many of them thought to emigrate.

        Within the Oceans of Great Risk were many Sun Worshippers, and they had

        wanted to excel, and make their words perfect, and do their jobs as easy

        as one-two-three. And what's more, many of them no longer wanted to pay

        for the Risk. So the Sun Lord went to the Pea Sea, and got himself


        And taking the next step was he of the NextStep, who had given up

        building his boxes of black. And he proclaimed loudly that he could

        help anyone make wondrous soft wares, then admitted meekly that only

        those who know him could use those wares, and he was made of objects,

        and required the biggest ram of all.

        And the people looked out upon the Pea Sea, and they were sore amazed.

        And sore confused. And sore sore. And that is why, to this day, Ozes,

        Entities, and Eunuchs battle on the shores of the Pea Sea, but the

        people still travel on the simple Dosfish.

        Read more:

        1. ibmalone

          Re: ITeC

          For a glorious moment, this post had votes 8+ 3-.

    2. Aussie Doc

      Re: ITeC

      "Thanks for the memory."

      Even if it was only about 640 kb.

    3. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge

      Re: ITeC

      You do know that the Turbo button was misnamed as it actually slowed the machine down.

      1. bombastic bob Silver badge

        Re: ITeC

        turbo buttons and frequency output [hard coded] on an LED display. yeah, kinda pointless.

        Early on games were written using a clock timer, and NOT the CPU speed, so you didn't need to turn OFF the 'turbo' mode.

      2. applebyJedi

        Re: ITeC

        you must have had the wires crossed

    4. Scott 26

      Re: ITeC

      Have an upvote for the Sanyo reference - that was our first computer, the 550 IIRC, circa Jan 1986

      Came with MSDOS1.25, shortly upgraded to 2.11

      School started a "proper" Computer course in 6th form that year, and one of the machines the "exit to DOS" menu option wasn't password protected.... "hey I recognise this" - my teacher just shook his head muttering something about "damn, he knows more than I do and it's only Week 1"

      Good times.

    5. Mary Hinge

      Re: ITeC

      I cut my teeth at the Fylde Coast ITeC. YTS placements on £27 per week didn't seem too bad back then, especially when compared to the going to sea or going to war!

      30 years later and I'm still stuck in the IT game, and thankfully earning more than £27 per week!

      Memorable old stuff....

      Word star


      New word

      ICL DRS300's



      ICL Quattro's

      ICL OPD


      ICL Series 39 Level 45 Mainframe

      Demon 4GL

      ICL M30's (8086 CPU's, running at 8MHz!)

      MS-DOS 2.0

      WIndows 2.0

      VT220 Emulators

      Happy memories!

      1. applebyJedi

        Re: ITeC

        Old enough for VME, too young for George!

  5. herman Silver badge

    Hmm, I used to send messages to the LCD screens of the company HP printers in other cities. Things like “Error 666. Hamster out of chips”. It annoyed IT no end...

  6. Andy Non

    Sending messages

    Brings back memories of when I was on placement with the Road Research Labs in Berkshire in the mid 1980's. One of my colleagues was developing mapping software on a graphics terminal. When the terminal received text that was prefixed with something like !# it took it to be a command to draw a line or whatever on screen. I had fun sending my "friend" random text messages comprised of such graphics commands or the occasional clear screen.

    1. Andrew Moore

      Re: Sending messages

      I think the Tektronics displays used to do that.

  7. Kevin Lomax

    Ah the good old days

    We had a school network of Beebs running over EcoNet. Basically each machine on the network had a number to identify it.

    Being nerds we decided to RTFM to see what it was possible to do over said network. We quickly discovered the *REMOTE command - this allowed you to specify the machine you wanted to control. So just work out which machine your mate was on and then *REMOTE him...usually followed by the "NEW" command (for those that don't remember Beeb BASIC, this would clear the program you were working on...)

    So you quickly learned to save often to the 5 1/4 floppy on the "server".

    And then we discovered the *PROT command - this would protect you from *REMOTE. However, in someone's infinite wisdom there was also a *UNPROT command that you could run to remotely unprotect another machine. Thus began an arms war of who could type *PROT followed by *UNPROT on their mate's machine, followed quickly by *REMOTE and NEW.

    And *then* we discovered that the "F" keys were programmable with macros. Now we could program a single key to carry out our attacks! The poor old teacher was some maths guy who knew less than some of us in the class, so he probably had no idea why we were furiously hammering away and glaring at each other across the room!

    Incidentally - the "ESC" key on a Beeb could also be programmed with a macro. And pressing the "ESC" key generated an error code. So it used to be fun on a Saturday to go into the local WH Smiths branch, program something that flashed "hello" or similar whilst beeping. Then set up the ESC key with a macro that included "ON ERROR RUN". So hitting escape would just restart the program. Then you would just type "RUN" and skedaddle.

    On the plus side, this sort of thing that my annoying 12 year old self did was a good precursor for a career in ICT!

    1. Craig 2

      Re: Ah the good old days

      God, the Econet * commands were so much (dangerous) fun..

      I played Elite soooo much but only made it to `Deadly` on the school computers. Countless hours wasted outside the station blasting endless Vipers.

      1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

        Re: Ah the good old days

        * represeented an OS or sideways ROM command, not just Econet.

        Basically, when the CLI parser saw a line starting with a *, it offered it to each sideways ROM in the system in the order of priority (I think it went from 15 down to 0), and if none of the sideways ROMs claimed the command, the OS checked against itself, and then looked at the currently active filesystem to see whether there was a command that matched in the current directory.

        Econet was implemented as just another sideways ROM, and also provided a filesystem type.

        Acorn did a really excellent job of designing the BBC Micro operating system, something it started in the System 2 and Atom days, and continued on into Arthur and RiscOS on the Archimedes and RiscPC.

        The only real problem with the BBC and Econet is that it was completely impossible to secure the network.

        There was the concept of a privileged workstation that had higher capabilities than the rest of the network. It was identified as having a station number of 0 (the station number was set either by soldering links on a location on the keyboard or fitting an 8 switch DIL switch in the same location (we used to call them DIP switches, can't remember why). This was read into a memory location when the BEEB was turned on, but unfortunately, the BEEB having no protected hardware, allowed the station number to be overwritten by whoever was on the system. This gave anybody the capability of becoming station 0.

        There was a similar byte that could be overwritten with the current user ID, which identified you to the network, allowing you to masquerade as anybody on the network!

        So Econet was good in principal, but unfortunately not so good in practice.

        1. irrelevant

          Re: Ah the good old days

          A good description of os commands. But the station number was set by removable links inside a Model B, or in the battery - backed CMOS RAM on the later systems. (The links or switches on the model B keyboard set things like default screen mode, FDC speed, auto boot, etc.) A copy of SetStn in an insecure location was fun if you were using Masters..

          I'm confused by the reference in the article to an Apple as fileserver, though. That's not a solution I've ever heard of before.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Ah the good old days

            Acorns, apples, both start with 'A', both fruits...

            1. Cavehomme_

              Re: Ah the good old days

              And lets not forget Apricot computers, never really caught on though.

              1. Anonymous Tribble

                Re: Ah the good old days

                Apricot computers? We had one of those. It was used for accounts and some simple word processing. It had a daisy wheel printer connected. I used it to print updates to the manuals for the software I was working on.

              2. /dev/null

                Re: Ah the good old days

                Don't forget Tangerine either.

                1. W.S.Gosset

                  Re: Ah the good old days

                  Hitachi Peach at our school downunder


            2. P. Lee

              Re: Ah the good old days

              Siriusly, how could you forget the Apricot?


          2. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

            Re: Ah the good old days

            Hmm. have to go back to my documentation. I don't remember setting links on the system board itself, I'm pretty certain it was on the keyboard for the model B, but you may be right about it not being the normal switch block, but links on the other side of the keyboard. I'm pretty certain you could put another 8 switch block, allowing you to set addresses from 1 to 254. 0 and 255 were special, and the documentation talked about having a special router node, numbered as 255 IIRC, probably a system 3 or 4, allowing multiple Econets to be linked together.

            I only set up one network with about two dozen stations, back in the early '80s. My network was mostly model B's with a couple of Master 128s added at a later time, and I believe one of the first Econet Level 3 fileservers (with a very early version of ANFS) sold, with a 10MB hard disk, and another model B acting as a print server. The fileserver was so new, there was no printed documentation on it!

            I'd take my BEEB apart if I had it with me, but I'm away from home at the moment.

            1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

              Re: Ah the good old days @me

              Bugger. I really ought to either read my posts more carefully before submitting it, or not read them after the editing time has expired.

              It was an early version of ADFS that we had, which allowed the support of hierarchical directory structures on a hard disk, not ANFS. It may have also had ANFS, but I think I first saw that on a Master128.

              Unfortunately, memory is fading on this time in my life!

        2. heyrick Silver badge

          Re: Ah the good old days

          " was identified as having a station number of 0"

          Wasn't station zero a broadcast address, not a valid station?

          Older versions of NETFS had the idea that certain stations (something like 230 to 254?) were always to be considered privileged, so *PROT would not work against them. Thankfully Acorn saw sense and fixed that, but that was of little comfort on a network with older NETFS and a bunch of students that tweaked the links in certain stations to make them nicely powerful.

          Don't get me started on the FileStore. It was dead easy to get SYST privs on that. Just take out the floppies, insert one of your own, open the flap, start it up, and then go into maintenance mode and format a disc with you as SYST...

          1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

            Re: Ah the good old days

            255 is send to everywhere (ie broadcast), 0 is listen to everyone (ie wildcard receive).

        3. J.G.Harston Silver badge

          Re: Ah the good old days

          "There was the concept of a privileged workstation that had higher capabilities than the rest of the network. It was identified as having a station number of [s]0[/s] [b]greater than 239[/b]"

          Only on early Econet systems (pre 3.36 from memory). It was very quickly removed.

          "(the station number was set either by soldering links on a location on the keyboard or fitting an 8 switch DIL switch in the same location ... This was read into a memory location when the BEEB was turned on"

          Nope, the low level networking code read the link hardware explictly. The code goes along the lines of:


          LDA adlc_data

          CMP io_hardwarelinks

          BNE notforme

        4. martinusher Silver badge

          Re: Ah the good old days

          >we used to call them DIP switches, can't remember why

          Dual In-line Package. Comes from the days when ICs were also available in round packs with long legs. (I think of DIL as more an ICL-ism -- DILIC was what they called an IC.)

        5. jake Silver badge

          Re: Ah the good old days

          "we used to call them DIP switches, can't remember why"

          That was "dual in-line package". We still call them that, so far as I know ... I can't remember ever hearing them called DIL. But then I can't remember anybody talking about them at all, outside of us old fogies.

        6. ITS Retired

          Re: Ah the good old days

          DIP = Duel Inline Pins

    2. andyL71

      Re: Ah the good old days

      >So it used to be fun on a Saturday to go into the local WH Smiths branch, program something that flashed "hello" or similar whilst beeping.

      In a similar fashion, I used to go into John Menzies computer department in the 80s and, through a combination of Print LOAD "" and a particular PEEK or POKE that made the screen borders flash yellow and blue like the loading routine, would dupe a gaggle of other kids into standing for 10 minutes waiting in front of the screen for the latest and greatest release to finish loading.

      I was fortunate enough to have a modem on my Spectrum with a subscription to Prestel, both of which [modem and subscription] I won in a Blue Peter competition. This was round about the time that Robert Schifreen hacked Prince Philip's Prestel account.

      1. NightFox

        Re: Ah the good old days

        Had a friend who won a weekly instant competition hosted on Prestel. He noted the page number that he'd been congratulated on, went back to that same page every week and voila - another win! Went on 'winning' for weeks until presumably someone noticed as it stopped working.

        The only one of his prizes I remember was the 12" of Cameo's "Word Up", which gives you some idea of the quality of his winnings in general.

      2. Gonzo_the_Geek

        Re: Ah the good old days

        I may have gone into PCWorld on one or more occasions, get a DOS prompt on a random demo machine, and type del *.* (IIRC) at the C: prompt, followed by a reboot. I was not a nice oik.

        1. MarthaFarqhar

          Re: Ah the good old days

          Ah, the goatse boot floppy was used by miscreants in Currys, PC World, Dixons...

    3. Martin J Hooper

      Re: Ah the good old days

      Don't remember doing thing like that but I do remember using a Ceefax/teletext emulator on Econet.

      In fact I can still remember how to login on an Econet BBC...

      * I AM <UserID>

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ah the good old days

      That brings back memories of the Tandy TRS80 series. Their Model 3 optionally included an EPROM blower. Their ROM was pretty dumb, and it was possible to persuade the EPROM blower to address the RAM. The machine would smoke a bit, emit a loud beep and die - permanently!

      A three line basic programme typed in to one of these machines in the local Tandy on a Saturday afternoon would delay for several minutes, giving time to move away, then the machine would die horribly.....

      AC, since Radio Shack probably still bear a grudge!

  8. Josco

    No one has mentioned Elite?

    I am surprised that no has commented on the fantastic Elite game shown on the screen. I lost many hours to that game.

    1. GlenP Silver badge

      Re: No one has mentioned Elite?

      I built a custom joystick for playing Elite. The man thing was it was very easy to match the spin by use of an unsprung analogue stick.

      1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

        Re: No one has mentioned Elite?

        The ultimate controller IMHO was the BitStik high precision joystick. The throttle was a twist on the joystick, and the extra buttons could be used to change the view.

    2. Andytug

      Re: No one has mentioned Elite?

      Me too, and my brother managed to get through all the universes and back to the original one again.(think there were 8 altogether?).

      1. Giovani Tapini

        Re: No one has mentioned Elite?

        Galactic Hyperdrives were 5000Cr each - you were profligate with them going through all 8 !

        I actually became an Elite commander on this version and I have no idea how long I spend in anarchy systems to get there though...

        1. P. Lee

          Re: No one has mentioned Elite?

          Disk Hex Editor. I'll have the military lasers too, thanks.

          I had a 286 with 1mb ram, the 12MHz turbo button, and "IBM" text display and a hercules card. Sadly, the system would only run either in 512/512 or 640/0 configurations and if you didn't have 640 base memory, the memory managers didn't seem to want to look for himem.

          Dungeons of Moria ruined my A-level results...

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I lost many hours to that game.

      Feel free to lose some more, playing the not entirely dissimilar Oolite... :-)

    4. NightFox

      Re: No one has mentioned Elite?

      Was so excited when Elite finally made it to the C64 and also played for hours - till I got totally overrun by Trumbles, something I don't think the BBC version had.

      1. Chris King

        Re: No one has mentioned Elite?

        I played it on the Spectrum, and Commander King was a serious Space Bastard.

        Most of my cargo was drugs, firearms or slafes. and anyone stupid enough to shoot first got added to the manifest as "Slaves 1t" if they ejected and I had space in the cargo hold. I even used the undocumented key to abort hyperjump and pick fights with the Thargoids in their own back yard (Witch Space) because 50Cr a bug-head and a reduced criminal status usually came in jolly handy.

        I also hit a weird bug (and not a Thargoid either) with one of the special missions - the one with the ECM Jammer. Normally, this is one hop to the system next door, the jammer kicks in and you loose off all four of your missiles at the hijacked station to destroy it. I had to make a 50LY journey, scooping fuel as I went and having to fight guns-only because I needed all four missiles for the station. That's no fun when most stars are patrolled by some nutter with with a bad dose of sunstroke telling you you can't have any of "his" fuel.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

        2. andyL71

          Re: No one has mentioned Elite?

          Lenslok on the Spectrum version of Elite. My God, it was an exercise in frustration for me to get that game loaded. Lenslok didn't work properly on the family's big TV, so I used to have to drag through my B&W portable just to get past the copy protection then switch over to the big screen. It was worth it though, I had waited a long time for Elite on the Speccy having looked on enviously at the posher kids with their BBCs. To my eternal shame, I played it for about a month before the Christmas when I was actually given it - my folks were never very successful at hiding the presents.

          1. Kiwi

            Re: No one has mentioned Elite?

            Lenslok on the Spectrum version of Elite. My God, it was an exercise in frustration for me to get that game loaded.

            It shows just how far ahead Sir Clive and Spectrum peeps were. A very early version of a USB (or even parallel port) hardware dongle required to be able to use the program/service. Not only that, they even came with the standard level of modern un-reliability and nuisance factor out of the box!

            I can't recall if the name was 'elite' or not, some form of jet-fighter game that I kept around even though I could never get it to work on my 21" screen. I still recall being shunted back to a 14" when that TV died and the sudden discovery that my light pen and my lenslock all worked.

            (--> Frikken eedjit - had 2 working machines, one with the Saga 1 Emporer keyboard, working microdrive (if they could be called that!) and interface1, various joystick interfaces (at least one with a slot for game cartridges), printer interfaces, a couple of home-built things I can't recall what they did, at least one ADC or DAC (maybe one of each?) And dozens upon dozens of barely used in original packaging cassettes (copied them, copied the copies, and used the copies of the copies to make new copies).. All packed away when I got much better hardware and some years later during a clean out all found a new home at the local tip. )

    5. WonkoTheSane

      Re: No one has mentioned Elite?

      Want to try it again?

      Frontier Devlopments (the purveyors of current version "Elite:Dangerous") offer a free download of the original version, together with an emulator called BeebEm.

      1. W.S.Gosset


        And here's the original assembler:

        Various old/remade/ported versions here.

        And the original programmer has heaps of stuff about/for it here, including source code, manual, and even a Text Adventure version:

        The Elite Home Page

        "Elite" was originally written in 1984 by myself (Ian Bell) and David Braben for the BBC Microcomputer. It has since been converted to many platforms. The best conversions were for the Nintendo Entertainment System and the Acorn Archimedes.

  9. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge


    Many moons ago we expanded from working purely on Windows and started using AIX. The setup was a big RS6000 box running everything, with developers accessing it using XWindows from their WinNT boxen.

    The trick with XWindows was that you set something for your session on the AIX box to tell it where to display to...IIRC it was a case of setting a specific environment variable to your IP address.

    Of course this soon got was far to easy to Telnet onto the box, set the XWindows output to a victim's PC and then doing something like running the command loads of times to fill their screen with graphical clocks.

    Fun times.

    1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

      Re: XWindows

      This could be prevented with the correct use of xhost to close down access to the X server, and if you had a shared filesystem could also be controlled quite easily using Magic Cookies.

      And of course, if you are really careful, you use X protocol tunneling in ssh, although there are ways of subvirting even this.

    2. bombastic bob Silver badge

      Re: XWindows

      I still use that feature of X Windows, probably its BEST feature, to run X11 programs on headless (and even the SAME) computers.

      If you do export DISPLAY=localhost:0.0 and enable TCP and 'xhost +localhost', you can THEN su to whatever user you want, and run X11 applications under a different user context.

      SO I can be logged in as 2 or 3 or more users on the same X11 desktop, much more easily than "run as": under windows.

      And then there's development on an something like an RPi. Use 'pluma' to edit your code directly on the RPi, and *NOT* have to struggle with a tiny touch screen or separate HDMI-capable display? I do that a LOT, especially with 'headless' RPis.

      But I think that this is most useful for web browsers. If you configure Firefox (for a particular user) to automatically purge ALL history, cookies, data, etc. every time you close it, you NOW have a stealthy browser that has NO history that could even POSSIBLY be abused by ANYONE.

      And you can run that browser in the security context of a user that doesn't matter. "Oh, that downloaded thingy just wiped out my home directory. Oh, well, so what. *yawn* [rebuild] no problem now"

      So yeah, the SINGLE BEST FEATURE of X11 is its inherent remote client/server configuration.

      (and Wayland cannot do that, nya nya-nya nya-nyaaaa nyaaaaa)


      20 years ago i was doing stuff with windows boxen. 15 years ago I decided that it was DEFINITELY worth doing a lateral to POSIX systems like FreeBSD and Linux, as it appeared that Windows was just simply going the WRONG direction in 2003 (and I know I was right).

      Guess what I stuck with? yep!

      30 years ago I was doing stuff with PCs, combining a process involving Lotus 123, Harvard graphics, Word Perfect, and a bunch of '.bat' files, minicomputer report scripts, downloading, and overall "process automation" to generate a multi-page weekly report on Monday AM that reflected the most up to date data and presented it in a manager friendly way. TOok about 2-3 hours to print so I started it at 6AM, showed up around 8 AM, made sure the paper didn't jam [or Id hav to re-run it], got it all copied and stapled by 9 AM, had it all delivered by 10 AM, and then said "Wow, my week is done. Now what do I do? I think I'll work on THIS today..." [and they let me - that report took a week to generate before I started, had less stuff in it, didn't look as nice, and was 4 days old data-wise when it was finally completed]

      NOTE: because I don't like doing data entry or futzing around with presentation on paper, I came up with a way for the computer to DO ALL THAT WORK FOR ME because I'm LAZY and I _HATE_ _DRUDGERY_. Worked out pretty nicely for all parties involved.

      1. Kiwi

        Re: XWindows

        NOTE: because I don't like doing data entry or futzing around with presentation on paper, I came up with a way for the computer to DO ALL THAT WORK FOR ME because I'm LAZY and I _HATE_ _DRUDGERY_. Worked out pretty nicely for all parties involved.

        Yup, I have much the same motivation which has led me to learning and doing all sorts of interesting things over the years :)

        Much more fun to work out how to automate a process than to just knuckle down and do it.

        (Of course, you have to be sure the time you spend automating the task looks good to management - if they realise it'll take you 50 hours to do and save you 5 minutes per year..... :) )

  10. Venerable and Fragrant Wind of Change

    ISTR it was as recently as the mid-90s that "xhost +" ceased to be a default, or that "cat fart.wav >> remote:/dev/audio" required privileges.

    Surely playing sillybuggers around the network is a rite-of-passage for students, bored hacks, and the like.

    Even today you can have a bit of fun. For example, type an RTL language (and charset) into IRC and spread confusion!

    ?זה יעבוד כאן

    کیا یہ یہاں کام کرے گا؟

    OK, no it won't work here.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      X11R5 jolly japes...

      You could grab people's mouse remotely ... and move it just out of window focus as they typed.

      Or you could have the cleaners be offended as they walk into the Uni machine room (JCMB anyone?) at 8am to a chorus os Sun 3/50s all playing the When Harry Met Sally orgasm scene through their speakers.

      Or xgrab the screen and paste it as the background and confuse the hell out of people.

      Or have techy traders grab their mate's screen, read their email and tell the rest of the trade floor their deepest secrets..

      Or capture a vocal trader's notorious swearing and be bribed to play it one his machine at the top of every hour. Every day. For a month.

      Or even con the traders into thinking that they're running on a windows box using fvwm95.

      1. ea49c395e4ec4dcbc6b1d3a3abb6d05af97897b8

        Re: X11R5 jolly japes...

        If you were in JCMB at 8am, you were either fixing your 4200 baud fileserver link to your APM, or finishing a shift running the MUD on Tardis ;-)

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: X11R5 jolly japes...

          "If you were in JCMB at 8am, you were either"

          Never done time in JCMB (either of them), but from experience elsewhere: or grabbing some machine time while the undergrads slept it off.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If you'd saved frequently, a swift break and old would do the trick. Otherwise, ouch.

    Uh? It's if you didn't save frequently that you had to rely on 'old' and the dreaded and unrecoverable 'Bad program' error that sometimes bit.

    If you saved frequently then a reload from disk would do you fine.

    You needed to be in mode 7 to use all the teletext like operations; but in the graphics modes (0, 1, 2, 4, 5) you could send vdu commands to plot lines and so forth. How we laughed until we got punched.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: If you'd saved frequently, a swift break and old would do the trick. Otherwise, ouch.

      My next task is to apply for a life.

  12. henryd

    In the days when your 'terminal' was a telytype machine, hence no on-screen corrections, you had to be creative when accepting input.

    I remember well when I had forgotten how to exit from a certain utility. I tried Exit, Quit, Bye etc all to no avail. Finally in desparation I typed F*** Off - bingo it worked!

    The savvy author of said utility only looked at the last 3 characters in input thus ignoring typos in the middle.

    1. W.S.Gosset

      > no on-screen corrections

      Our teletype terminals would explicitly print a backspace character. So you'd see on the page: your wrong character, the backspace character, then your replacement character.

  13. Lazlo Woodbine

    You could remap the BBC Keyboards

    I remember we had a whole computer lab full of BBC model B computers, all with a wonderful 14" Cub cube monitor, a couple had Ceefax adapters for downloading software. They were linked up to two printers, an Epson FX-80 and a golf ball printer that I think was an Alphacom.

    The first time we got into trouble was for racing the two printers, the Epson was fastest, but the golf ball was by far the most dramatic, sounding somewhat like a .50 cal machine gun at the back of the room.

    The next jape was when we found you could completely remap the keyboard, then store that map on an EPROM and load it onto a different machine, the teacher's machine for instance.

    We got a lot of lines for that one, and we got even more lines for getting the printers to do the first lot of lines for us...

    1. heyrick Silver badge

      Re: You could remap the BBC Keyboards

      "for getting the printers to do the first lot of lines for us..."

      Ah, yes. Getting bollocked for using a printer to do your lines is surely a nerd right of passage? It's a whole level above simply "doing a page" and then photocopying it.

  14. GtBFilms

    I used to enjoy livening up computing class at school by picking a random ID of one of our networked BBC Micros and using:

    *FORCE CH."Invaders"

    and sitting back to watch the fireworks as a confused lass mate explained yet again to the irate teacher that the computer "had done it by itself".

  15. Velv

    Net Send

    Not so much the victim than the unlucky detective who had to trawl event logs and compile the evidence.

    Early Noughties I was helping out second line doing desktop support for a large financial organisation, using my server skills to remotely fix issues users had logged for XP without having to actually get out my seat and visit them. Since I had admin rights I could remote load Event Logs on Windows and was checking one such log when I came across a "net send" entry that even in those days was unacceptable.

    The log file included the source machine, so I was able to load that log too, and started to find conversations between about 10 tech savvy people, some banal ("Coffee?"), some a bit disparaging of managers ("X is a dick!"), some totally homophobic, sectarian and racist.

    Showed my boss who set me the task of compiling the entire history. After two days I had about three months of history and we called a stop. Details were passed to the Executive first to pass on to HR. I don't think anyone actually got fired, but I do know some final warning letters were issued.

    And the moral of the story is - beware of having fun with the simple tools, even they can leave an audit trail.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Big Brother

      Re: Net Send

      We have a spook among us!

  16. Rainer

    Our university lab had somehow enabled xhost+ or the equivalent

    Because we could send the output of xview to other screens in the lab.

    It was 1996 or 1997 and people didn't have internet in the dorms, so they couldn't enjoy pictures of pretty ladies they downloaded from the internet from the comfort of their own room, mostly. So they did it in the lab.

    That usually didn't go unnoticed, but most didn't care.

    A friend hat the idea to make a banner, a collage of a stop-sign and other icons found on the internet with the words "Stop. Internet-Police. You've been caught watching porn" - or something like that (I cannot remember exactly).

    When we spotted somebody enjoying a set of naughty pics, we sent him the banner via xview.

    They'd usually straighten-up (having been thrown out of their porn-trance abruptly and without warning), close all browser windows, log out and leave the lab immediately.

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge

      Re: Our university lab had somehow enabled xhost+ or the equivalent

      there use to be 'flash bombs' like that - self-spawning copies all screaming "HEY - THIS GUY IS LOOKING AT GAY PORN!" or something equally embarrassing. Funny when you see it on your home machine. VERY embarrassing when it happens at work or in a school's computer lab...

  17. Evil Auditor Silver badge

    Those unsecured Linux workstations on campus... Remote login, <shutdown -k> quickly followed by a <shutdown -r now>.

    Oh, the fun... until they discovered the logs.

  18. theblackhand


    *PROT fixed ASCII text problems.

    No...the fun began when you found OSBYTE and OSWORD calls...

    1. Giovani Tapini

      Re: ASCII?

      [LDA &21



      to theblackhand

      I think that's roughly right for your comment (but memory has faded a bit in the 30 years since... )

  19. Anonymous Tribble

    BBC Networks were fun. We had about six networked Beebs in my office. I had endless fun with taking over the keyboard on the MDs Beeb as he was trying to update stuff. Also randomly switching screen RAM contents from one machine to another so no one had a clue what they were working on :)

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    post timeout on forums

    "Ever been the victim of a witty network message mid-workshop? Or maybe you sent a few yourself?"

    This is close to the end of 2019 and we still have stupid forums, some of them about IT that timeout after 15 mins.

    This is why I'm usually writing posts in notepad/textedit before they expire.

    I'm still baffled some forums admins are configuring their forums for only some 10 chars posts, and anything longer would timeout ...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: post timeout on forums

      Are you sure the timeout is caused by the forums and not a setting specific to your Internet connection?

      I regularly write long posts, often being interrupted by actual work and have never noticed a timeout.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: post timeout on forums

        "Are you sure the timeout is caused by the forums and not a setting specific to your Internet connection?"

        Yes. Happens on only some forums, others being fine. And I always post from the same laptop ...

        It is infuriating when your page long post goes timeout when you press submit !

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: post timeout on forums

          Multiple laptops and PC's, multiple OS's (Win7/10, OSX and Ubuntu) with multiple different Internet connections, firewalls and security software and I've never seen the time out you mention.

          Does it happen on devices other than your laptop? My first guess would be an anti-virus/anti-malware/privacy application removing session cookies.

          (I've left this post sitting for 40 minutes adding one word every minute with no timeout issues)

  21. jake Silver badge

    I was the guy who lobbied long and hard ...

    ... to keep the network-aware version of talk out of 4.2BSD, to the point of getting kicked out of a couple so-called "steering committee" meetings. I failed, alas. So I simply nuked it on every machine that I had root on (which in those days was a lot of 'em ...). Made a few folks mad, but surprisingly few ... and that went away after a couple weeks.

    I have always hated the incessant, interrupting awfulness of instant messaging. To this day I refuse to use SMS and the like.

    1. Venerable and Fragrant Wind of Change

      Re: I was the guy who lobbied long and hard ...

      Talk ceased to be intrusive as soon as it could be confined to a window, which could then be attended to at my convenience. So about 30 years ago. But maybe that relies on the talker not being the boss-from-hell - I never had a talk-happy boss.

      As for SMS, where's the problem? So long as you turn off any silly noises that notify you of them at moments not of your choosing.

      1. Kiwi

        Re: I was the guy who lobbied long and hard ...

        As for SMS, where's the problem? So long as you turn off any silly noises that notify you of them at moments not of your choosing.

        For someone with Jake's purported computer skills and history, you'd think he'd've learned by now how to silence SMS alerts on something as basic as a phone! :)

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: I was the guy who lobbied long and hard ...

          I do silence them. I have no idea if anybody has even bothered contacting me that way in years. Couldn't care too much less, either. Totally fucking useless technology ... I have several telephones, call me if you need to chat. If you prefer text, you know my email address.

          Everybody who needs to get ahold of me knows how ... and many of those people are also shunning SMS and the like these days.

          1. Kiwi

            Re: I was the guy who lobbied long and hard ...

            Totally fucking useless technology

            Wow, defensive much? :)

            Given the millions of people using it at any hour around the world, I guess we've found some use.

            Interesting you complain about how 'intrusive' SMS messages are, yet say people should call you.. With a text you can generally ignore it till later whereas with a call you need to respond pretty much straight away (I only explain as it seems you're rather unfamiliar with the technology :) )

  22. tehcurrymonstah

    Errm.. On after a BREAK or CTRL-BREAK on a BBC Micro, one could simply type "OLD" to "recover" one's program regardless of whether one had saved it or not.

    Unless some smartass had trapped a vector (&0287 springs to mind, BICBW) to an erase routine.

    It was far more fun to drop an ISR that incremented a long countdown, and once that had timed out, sent CTL-G occasionally, and dumped a random character into the input buffer, output buffer, then to trap &0287 to the setup for the ISR. On a disk based machine one could hide the code in the cassette buffer. >;)

    Given that pretty much everyone (misguidedly) considered a CTRL-Break equivalent to a power cycle, this could be particularly fun.

    Best computer ever!

    1. Wilseus

      You don't need to trap any vector to wipe the memory on CTRL+Break, IIRC there's a *FX command that will configure the OS to do that. I think it's *FX200, something but I can't remember exactly.

      1. Soruk

        Yep, *FX200,2 will wipe the memory on BREAK.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          *FX200,3 (wipe on reset)

          CALL &D9CD (reset)

          Notice also that commands were in CAPS hence why CAPS hate it a relatively new thing

          1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

            No, CALL !-4. Go via the defined vector, not to a random address only valid for one particular installation.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Then bloody M1cro$haft came along and ruined it for us all.

  23. quattroprorocked

    £25pw? LUXURY!

    Your modern spotty oik is expected to work for free on a series of "internships" and "work trials".

    And back then beer was about 64p a pint, so 25 quid was well worth having :-)

    1. Caver_Dave Silver badge

      Re: £25pw? LUXURY!

      Yup! I worked for most of the F1 teams in the early 90's and they thought it was such a privilege to work for them that I earned £6000/year. I built the first in car telemetry, test day timing systems, on-car monitoring hardware, etc. - in the days when one person was allowed to do the whole job.

      It's given me some anecdotes, but I had to leave to get a properly paying job when I got married!

  24. Wilseus

    VDU 21

    'Until the fateful day Drew discovered "an ASCII code that disabled output to the terminal."'

    Ah, good old VDU 21. You could also use that to hide part or all of a BASIC program. What you did is use the ? operator (the equivalent of POKE on other systems) to insert that character into the BASIC program in a part that was ignored by the BASIC interpreter, such as the text after a REM command.

    When the LIST command was typed to show the program listing, it would only output up to the where the ASCII 21 was inserted. You could re-enable output later on in the listing with the ASCII 6 character.

    For example entering the following listing:

    10 REM Hello Earth

    20 PRINT "This is hidden code!"

    30 REM Goodbye World!

    Then typing:



    PAGE is a system variable which holds the start of BASIC workspace. Typing this would cause the LIST command to output:

    10 REM Hello World!

    I just tried this on a BBC emulator :)

    1. Will Godfrey Silver badge

      Re: VDU 21

      I was one of the sneaky spoilsports that wrote a listing program in assembler that would do a normal list with all those codes as numbers in square brackets.

      Incidentally, did you know that using the SPOOL command with a text file on disk, you could assemble 16k sideways ROM images on an ordinary BEEB

  25. Boufin

    In the 80s (yikes), I was in a lab with some networked HP machines connected to assorted measuring equipment over HP-IB. But I digress. The network "printer" was a repurposed Teletype Model 43, placed right beside the single lab telephone (a GP0 700 series). I wrote HP BASIC program to stream BEL characters to the printer and make it ring like a telephone. Amazing how many people I could get to stand up and walk over to the phone to answer it. What fun.

  26. Chozo

    Gloucester IteC

    GItec was a weird experience for me to start with as the "campus" was my former infants school but the shock of students being shown the computer room for the first time was universal. In the days when most schools computer clubs had three maybe four machines and a waiting list of years to even get near one seeing twenty BBC-b's with all the toys was mind blowing. I wonder where all those PFY's are now. I know Errol runs his own electronics business, JHR does upgrades for Aston Martin's, Proff disappeared inside the MOD and I got myself a little server farm.

  27. Captain Scarlet Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Digitiser reference

    Have a thumbs up, am also a viewer of the current YouTube show.

  28. Sideways

    Ahh the beeb.. great memories.

    We had dozens of them at the secondary school i went to, one day we made a fake boot screen that looked identical to the normal one you got when you switched on a bbc micro and it went to basic.

    This one of ours though logged all the text so people were putting in there *i am .... login and password. Our program logged you in as normal but secretly stored the login info in a file on another network account.

    We got practically the whole school with this over time, including the admin account who was a computing teacher. Once he figured out this was going on he did a ctrl-break before logging in.

    1. heyrick Silver badge

      "Once he figured out this was going on he did a ctrl-break before logging in."

      Then you just need to up your game a little, and sniff the data directly off the network. It's completely clear text.

    2. DavCrav

      "Once he figured out this was going on he did a ctrl-break before logging in."

      Nowadays it's "Once he figured out this was going on he referred the matter to the police, under the Computer Misuse Act. The children involved were arrested and expelled.".

      1. heyrick Silver badge

        "he referred the matter to the police"

        Yes, the eighties were an entirely different era. In chemistry class, we used to play table football with beads of mercury...

  29. gannett
    Black Helicopters

    Xroach - such fun we had.

    I guess the evolution of net write was sending X11 output to someone else's workstation.

    Anyone remember xroach that would hide cockroaches under windows that would scatter and go under other display windows ?

    XROACH 1 "Release 4" "X Version 11"


    xroach - cockroaches hide under your windows


    B xroach [-option .,..]


    Xroach displays disgusting cockroaches on your root window. These

    creapy crawlies scamper around until they find a window to hide

    under. Whenever you move or iconify a window, the exposed beetles

    again scamper for cover.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Xroach - such fun we had.

      xroach seems to still be here on my slackware box. Needs a patch or two though, the roaches now seem to move at something approaching lightspeed! (the speed argument can be made small, but that's not the whole problem...)

    2. jake Silver badge

      Re: Xroach - such fun we had.


      Options are always good:


      Enables roach squishing. Point and shoot with any mouse button.

      -rgc roach_gut_color

      Sets color of the guts that spill out of squished roaches. We recommend yellowgreen.

  30. HandleAlreadyTaken

    Fun with assembly

    My first job was in the data center of a building company, who had a PDP-11 clone, running RSX-11. The data center team consisted of a number of data input operators, and a couple of IT guys that handled system administration, running the accounting and inventory suites, and sometimes writing some small custom programs for the data input people. Having too much time on my hands, I went and studied PDP-11 assembly and the OS system calls. I thus discovered that, when the ABO (ABORT) command is issued for a program, the OS calls a particular entry point into the program - and, using assembly, one could hook into the system call and return a code that rejected the abort.

    The evil plan was thus hatched; I wrote a small program that wrapped the "Dungeon" game; when the wrapper was run, it started the real game, but remained resident. Every few minutes, the program would write a line to the console ("Hello, this is the teaser") and would beep. When the operator tried to abort the teaser, it would reply with an angry message and refuse to quit. I was still a nice guy then, so I added a solution: if the operator ran ABO three times, the teaser would exit (after complaining bitterly about feeling unloved).

    I gave the tape with the Dungeon game and my wrapper to a friend in a sister company; he ran the wrapper, and ended up beeped every few minutes. He didn't discover the 3 times ABORT trick; instead he turned off the console and went to play the game on a different one. Other folks in the team (his team was bigger then ours) saw him playing Dungeon, and tried it too, with the same result - my friend told me the afternoon ended up with all consoles beeping randomly ("it was like birds singing", he said), and they finally rebooted the computer to get rid of all the teaser instances.

  31. irrelevant


    My school computer room was fitted out with Tandy TRS-80 Model 1s. The network consisted of individual links from the cassette ports to a Model 3, with a giant rotary switch box to select the one it would talk to. You shouted to the teacher your wanted to save, he'd select your machine, and you CSAVE'd... No high speed network here, it took ages!

    1. Elfoad Regfoad

      Re: Tandy

      Back in the day, I took a university 6502 assembly language class that used tiny AIM65 computers (tiny keyboard, oneline display, 2.5" wide printer roll). It used a cassette tape for storing your projects. The cassette player had a speaker, so I'd put music on one side and save my data on the other side of the cassette.

      1. Dwarf


        I too had access to a Rockwell AIm65, that was where the slippery slope started for me, figuring out binary and 6502 machine code.

        Thanks for the nice memory - even if it was only 1K :-)

  32. ricardian

    Back in the 1980s I took a day release course at the local tech college. It was supposed to teach "C" but the notes all appeared to have been cobbled together during a lunchtime pub session and the network in use was dire. We were forbidden to shut down the editor (think early version of EdLin) in any way other than the "official" way which involved half a dozen key strokes; any other shutdown would lock up the network. Fortunately I discovered another course at a nearby tech college where the instructors knew their stuff, produced decent handouts and the network was (relatively) stable.

  33. earl grey

    we didn't have none of that

    back in the cave days. you kids.

  34. I Am Spartacus
    Paris Hilton

    Fun on Old IMB Mainframes

    AT Uni we ran a couple of old IBM 360's but they didn't run TSO or CICS, they ran the Michigan Terminal System MTS. This was an OS designed for connecting a whole load of dumb terminals to a central processor and act as a timeshare system.

    That's all well and good, but they gave us access to the OS source code. Computer Students, beer at 17p a Pint, time on our hands, and source code: What could go wrong?

    What went wrong was when we found an undocumented command that allowed us to send messages to the central operators console, an IBM 3270 connected directly to the processor. So, a bit of experimentation with IBM control characters, and we sent the commands to clear the Ops console and write four words to it: BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING.

    Who knew that the operators were unionised, and in a dispute with the University? They just got up and walked out.

    And we got our knuckles severely wrapped for that jape!

  35. Number6

    When it comes to Y2K, I remember being asked if my Rugby MSF clock code was Y2K compliant. Given that MSF slow code doesn't transmit century digits, I said yes, but if it happened to be running in 2100 and wasn't receiving MSF at the time, it would wrongly tick over to 29th Feb and that they could call me nearer the date if it was a problem to them.

  36. Zed Zee

    Ah, yes. The days of Econet.

    I was on one of those YTS iTeC courses as well. Drew wasn't in the Southall branch, was he?!

    Anyway, the coolest thing I managed to do (this was back in 1987/88) - having already proficient skills on the BBC Micro since I had purchased one when it came out - was to write a FOR...NEXT loop that would scan memory pages (of a certain range) and print out any ASCII characters found there that were in the alphabet character set range, filtering everything else out.

    This was not a program. This was a loop written on the command line, raw, there and then, each command delimited by " : " or " ; ", I can't remember now - preceded only by a *FX200,3 command at the prompt, which wiped all memory at the press of the BREAK button, so no one could see the code I had written, if they tried stopping the loop.

    ESCAPE then OLD then LIST? Nope! Remember - it's not a program - it was just written on the command line. BBC BASIC was that frikkin good! I did sometimes hide it in a Red Function key, though, cos I could not be bothered to type the whole loop, whenever I wanted to hack a student or lecturer. And it meant, I could go back to it again, after lunchtime and keep trying. ;-)

    Now, why would I be printing pages and pages of memory? Well, because the Econet module stored your log-in password for your account in plain text, somewhere in those particular regions (according to some Econet User Guide I had picked up at one of those computer shows, down at Ally-Pally!)

    And if there were no lecturers around, I could quickly write that loop and *NOTIFY it (I think that was the command to send messages) to the machines in the Econet network and have other students run it and watch the screens, looking for any silly/unusual words that might come up that don't belong in those regions of memory. Once found - such as a lecturer's password who had just logged off of that machine - I could log back in again as them and give my account Master privileges (I think it was called), create new Master accounts for myself and tuck them for a rainy day, delete students accounts that had fallen out of favour with my mates, love poems to any girls we fancied, as a log-in greeting etc. Result = king of the jungle!

    When the lecturers found out that I was too clever for their establishment, they shipped me off to IBM, for the practical experience part of my YTS course!

    1. heyrick Silver badge

      Re: Ah, yes. The days of Econet.

      "When the lecturers found out"

      I got promoted to managing the network because the competent CS teacher was replaced by an IT teacher who was so useless he spent half a lesson trying to explain what a database was, unaware that we'd all written one the term before.

      As part of my expected bollocking for hacking the network, it became clear that the main reason that I did so was so the thing would keep on working (because Chuckie Egg) because the IT teacher did NOT have a clue and managed to often screw up user accounts, lose data, lose discs, and my personal favourite - end a lesson by flipping the switch on the fusebox on the wall above the door. Yup, he just forcibly power cycled everything between lessons. Granted, it reset the stations, but the server wasn't too happy. Especially if it was in the process of saving something to disc.

      I only thank God that back then harddiscs were so expensive that we never had one...

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There is tech savvy and there is ....

    For every Tim B-Lee, Billy Gates or Mr. Jobs, there are 20,000 tech geniuses that miss out because they are zero on the fiscal IQ scale, and just out for a lark. Back in the late 80's, I and two friends had an idea for a business venture involving a data base of all our state's insurance agents that people could access..........and now there is Esurance. So close to the right idea, but without a clue about the approaching internet, we could only sigh and get real jobs.

    1. Kiwi

      Re: There is tech savvy and there is ....

      , there are 20,000 tech geniuses that miss out because they are zero on the fiscal IQ scale, and just out for a lark.

      Yup. If I had a buck for every brilliant idea I've had that someone else has been able to get to market because I was too slow/lazy/unmotivated/forgetful, well I guess I'd have an extra 10 bucks.

      But there's been a few that I was too early on (the infrastructure etc wasn't up to it), too under-resourced (didn't have money for necessary kit/domain names etc), or got stuck on some engineering/coding issue that someone else solved. Or those ideas that got buried by life, only remembered when I see someone else had a very similar idea and managed to succeed.

      <oblig XKCD - I wish>

  38. Mark Solaris

    We had a Cyber mainframe at uni, and the process for signing up to it was to use your student number, date of birth and full name to authenticate. Of course the CS dept employee (an introverted grumpy bastard - very BOFH) left the data file readable in his home directory briefly so we scored a copy quick smart and had unlimited accounts, (cpu quotas, disk space etc) for years.

    The dodgiest part was one day I decided to print it out to have a hard copy, just in case. At the time we had huge fast drum printers and an Operators room where you went to collect your print jobs. That day the employee in question was staffing the print out desk and I watched with dreaded fascination as he went down the stack of printouts (1/2 meter tall usually), flicking back the cover sheet with our student numbers and fanning down to the next one to seperate out each job. My all-students-in-the-uni print job was about 20cm high, and to this day I don't know how he didn't ken to the fact that it was that particular file from his home directory I'd just printed. It was a phenomenal waste of paper which you'd at least glance at the contents to see why someone had 800 pages of output.

    Getting away with that in that fashion has always been one of the funniest memories from that institution, and it leveraged a lot of shenanigans for years on end. The students had the keys to the kingdom and we damn well used them.

    1. Kiwi
      Big Brother

      and to this day I don't know how he didn't ken to the fact that it was that particular file from his home directory I'd just printed.

      TBH, the job probably blinded him to the contents of the pages after a relatively short while.

      I discovered that as a SysOp with a BBS. Sure, I could sit and watch users on any node I wished but.. It got boring quickly and I'd only do it when I actually wanted to chat to that person (watching for them to finish a game or message etc).

  39. TFL

    "Net send" vs unprotected X11 defaults

    I was on a co-op work term in uni, when I found out that X programs could as easily write on another display as one's own.

    A fellow co-op student was parked in the server room of this Canada gov ministry's computer room, so I'd routinely send the nastiest pics to his HP workstation display. Usually strongly unattractive people, sans clothes. Especially due to the lack of privacy, he learned to keep a large window open that he could immediately bring to the front on his screen, then calmly deal with the offender once he was sure nobody was looking.

  40. MrNigel

    Riyadh Winter Darts League 1983......

    .....was my Model B finest hour. I had a B maxed out with all the add-ons (Z80, CPM, EEPROMs, speech synthesizer etc) and they all came together in one magnificent solution - A Darts Scoring Program That Spoke Your Shot-outs. I could only use it for home matches as it was too bulky (with an Epson FX-80 printer) to take to away fixtures, but what fun it was although I must admit all my older colleagues didn't quite share my enthusiasm. Still it was the foundation for a stellar career in IT consultancy...... ;-)

  41. Andy3

    Oh the BBC-B. What a treat it was! I started off on a ZX81 (being a fan of all things Sinclair) and learnt BASIC on it. Despite its slow speed, I even wrote some simple games, including a somewhat tardy version of Space Invaders which was stripped down to just one invader and a gun that had to be fired in advance of what you might expect... Anyway, BEEB fever got hold of me and WOW what a machine! It went like the clappers and once I'd bought the floppy drive (hey, 100k on one disc!) I was in Micro Heaven. Sunday Mornings watching 'Making the Most of The Micro', what memories. Still got it and I fire it up every now and then to prove it still works. Bee-Beeep!

  42. Simon Beckett

    Sparc laser mouse mats

    When I was at uni in the mid 90s we had a very closely guarded suite of Sun workstations... I remember something about being able to rotate the mouse mats and the cursor would travel at an additional 30 degrees to the direction of travel of the rather snazzy laser mice. Now I'm wondering if I dreamt that.

  43. Simon Harris

    "an ASCII code that disabled output to the terminal"

    ASCII code 21 - one of the first special Acorn ASCII codes you had to learn if you put assembly code in your program and didn't want it listed to the console as it got assembled - it was the same on the Atom too.

  44. ukchrishowell


    I started off in the good days of 1986 at the local ITeC too, we were taught how to use SuperWriter as well as WordStar. The fun came when we all got called in to see who was going to own up to hex editing the SuperWriter disk to SuperW**nker. It only came to light when they ran an evening class!

    Fond memories of the BBC though, we spent a lot of time back then ripping off eproms for our BBC's at home ;-)

  45. iker


    "During my time," he told The Register, "the going rate was £25 per week."

    Thats around £70 per week in todays money. If you got the chance of an decent placement in that era as a 16 year old with say a computer servicing/builds company you were being given a great lift up and may have been the beginning of a career that led to bigger things. In more recent years it would more likely have led to an intensive 5 minute course on shelf stacking and then helping multimillionaire owners of highly profitable businesses to increase their piles through the tax payer covering his wage bills.

  46. ukgnome

    Ahhh happy days - I am a fellow product of a YTS from the Grimsby ITEC

  47. applebyJedi


    I was at the ITec with Andrew and I can confirm that his story is complete balderdash.

  48. XKCD_Fan

    Net Send on a Submarine.

    Back in the 80's worked on a multi terminal system onboard a US submarine. This system would post status messages at the bottom of the screen. Most of these messages were ignored, but I was bored one evening shift and posted a message to a fellow operators screen about the failing of the AN/UYK-44 Computer and that the entire unit needed replacing (which was absurd since the computer was modular and parts would be replaced not the entire unit).

    Not seeing a response from the other operator I shrugged it off and went to bed.

    Six or so hours latter i'm being shaken awake by the supervisor asking if I had sent the message. Seem the other operator did see the message and had been tearing thru manuals looking for the proper part number all night long so that we could order the entire computer and have it delivered to our next port.

    Was a good laugh, but the other operator never mentioned it. And I certainly never brought it up

  49. Simon Millard

    Ah, yes, I remember it well!!

    I was and YTS ITeC trainee in the 80's.

    Those were the days - listening to various mixes of Frankie Goes To Hollywoods Two Tribes.

    I managed to do both software and hardware curriculum's in my year there.

    I too played around with BBC B's and even built an interface to connect a Beeb to a Commode PET.

    We have memories of popping capacitors into prototype stations and blowing them up with the pleasant smell of burnt shredded wheat.

    Setting of the CO2 fire extinguishers with the lights off just to see the static discharge.

    Last two weeks our entire year group was invited to Ullswater for an outward bound adventure. Note, when sitting on a raft in the middle of the lake, don't let one of your daft mates start to undo the ropes holding the things together.

    However, on a positive note, a few years later, I was working for the local NHS and invited some of the current ITeC trainees to come for works experience and ended up making them permanent employees

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