Always cleanup after you are done
If might have turned out completly differently if they would had moved their tools away.
They could have claimed not knowing who did it.
additonally they could have offerd to fix the machine for the hotel owner.
Greetings once again, gentle reader, to the confessional booth known as Who, Me? in which Reg readers unburden themselves with tales of things they shouldn't have done – or that they should have done, and didn't. We'll let you decide which of those categories this week's tale falls into, as a reader we'll call "Edgar" (because …
We had a similar tables when I was at college. Our fix was slightly different. The money you put in simply fell into a wooden box under the table, the bottom of which was simply a piece of hardboard held on with pins. We just removed a couple of the pins which allowed us to recycle the money.
A pub pool table I used to play on was similar, it used to take 2 x 20p coins to release the balls but with only one coin in the right hand slot it would still wobble the rack enough to drop the coins with a few attempts and return the coin, rather than take the p*ss we only cheated every other game so that the table still made enough money to stay.
When I was at college many years ago, it was common practice to scrunch up sheets of newspaper, then jam them into the pockets of the pool table in the common room. Hence every time someone potted a ball, the ball could be freely retrieved, thus allowing multiple games of pool without paying all the time. Needless to say, the college wasn't impressed after a member of staff eventually spotted what was happening and an edict was sent out informing all the students that tampering with the pool tables would result in a ban from the common room.
Still, was fun whilst it lasted...
Picking the lock on the coin box was fast and easy. Pinball machines and air hockey, too. Then Pong.
Recycling something as filthy as money is a good thing, right?
Or so I heard from a friend ... who claimed they never stole a dime. Which I believe. The machines took quarters.
Several of the students at the college I attended (not me, I hasten to add!) kept a sixpenny piece with a length of fuse wire soldered onto the periphery so that they could fish it out of the coin slot after releasing the balls. The wire was only soft soldered on in case the coin went too far down the chute and couldn't be pulled back past the mechanism. If that happened, the wire would unpeel from the coin and no evidence left behind.
Inlaws "acquired" a pool table that required coins to release the balls once sunk. I was asked to install a little hidden switch that bridged the coin contact. I'm guessing the Burrows crowd were more mechie than elecie.
My somewhat thrifty in-law decided to keep the coin action for parties, and it was a nice little earner. No need to reveal the little switch tucked up under the table ;-)
I was once in a house where a pool table had been inherited from a nearby pub that no longer wanted it.
It was old enough not to need a large amount of money (and had arrived with a small amount of cash in it), but nevertheless it got "hotwired" to play for free with a piece of tubing that meant operating the coin tray tipped the internal rack of balls without the need for coins.
While I was never that interested in getting any good, the types of shot I was good at changed noticeably with the practice I got.
Hmm. 45+ years ago I stayed with friends at a small hotel in Bournemouth. It had an attached restaurant, and the restaurant manager was a tallish, dark-haired man with a small moustache and an air of poorly-suppressed irritation (name unknown).
We invited a friend staying in a nearby hotel to dine with our party. Orders placed, we waited, and waited... After 45 mins one of our party ventured past the swing door, returning to report that the kitchen was full of smoke, but empty of staff.
Just then, the restaurant manager appeared, swanning his way through at a high rate of knots. Our guest put out and hand to stop him, and very politely said he feared there might be a problem, as we'd been waiting 45 mins for our starters. The manager fixed him with a baleful glare and said with emphasis: "Are you staying at this establishment?"
"This restaurant is provided solely for the convenience of persons residing at the hotel, not outsiders. If I have anything to do with it, you'll wait another 45 minutes!"
And flounced off with his nose in the air.
I have often suspected that there's more Bournemouth in Basil Fawlty than we've been told...
Back in the mid-1960's, when I was only fast approaching my teen years, we had a family holiday at a caravan park on the Hampshire coast. The park had its own cafe, bar and "social club" where families could go in the evenings. There were a few coin operated gaming machines, one being a simple "Find-the Lady" game. You put in your penny and lights flashed behind four illustrations of card deck queens. The challenge was to press the button below the one you thought the lights would rest on when they stopped - if you were right, you got two pennies as your prize (remember, this was back in the days when there were 240 pennies to the pound, and a pound would get change from a meal for our family of four, so doubling your penny stake was more than a token win).
After a couple of evenings there, I noticed a pattern to the wins: after a win, the next one would be the one to the right (or back to the first) - so, once you won once, you could carry on winning until the machine ran out of money. I also noticed a sequence to the "random" outcomes when there were no wins - I don't know why I did it, but I wrote them down and the sequence repeated after a 100 or so times. So, I was then able to sit and watch the mugs put their money in for a while and then step up with my own penny and proceed to empty it of its win pot - almost 5/- on a good evening. Since that was more than a week's pocket money, it wasn't a bonus to ignore!
I also discovered that when the machine was first powered on, it ran through a play sequence. Flick the power switch on the wall socket below the machine (it was wall mounted) and I got a free go. It upset the sequence but it gave me a free go - not too often, though, or the barman might notice!
Anon for obvious reasons.
Anyone remember banging the handset rest in old coin operated phone boxes - the ones with the A and B buttons - to "dial" numbers and get calls for free?
It also worked for longer distance calls - you just had to concatenate the local area codes to jump local areas to your final call destination.
So I am told.
Indeed, all the pulse dialling did was interrupt the circuit at a set rate* so as to trigger the mechanical bits at the exchange. With some skill* you can achieve the same effect by tapping the hook switch.
Some years ago I did get to work for a very short time on a floating premises which had a 200 line strowger setup. The guy that looked after it gave me "the tour" and explained how the different bits worked - I learned more in ten minutes than I'd ever learned about them before, and gained an even deeper respect for the people who designed them. Truly a work of art to create a mechanical device that can differentiate between the dialling pulses which ratchet the selector up or round, and the longer inter-digit delay that allows it to step on to the next step in the process. Truly mind bogglingly ingenious.
* The specs are actually quite strict on how the phone must work, both in terms of pulse rate, and mark/space ratio. So it does need quite a bit of manual dexterity to tap and release at ten pulses/second.
A mate of mine when we were at college in the Midlands laboriously worked out the sequence of local codes from there to his home near the south coast by driving along the shortest route and noting down the codes in the order of the telephone kiosks he visited along the way. I don't remember how many digits he had to dial, but it took him a seriously long time to dial home.
In my first year at a UK university overlooking Guildford, this was in the mid-80's, there was a BT payphone in each kitchen of the on campus accommodation blocks.
Someone in my house found that the lock on the coin box could be jiggled quite easily with a knife. I never stole money from the box but used to borrow a 10p coin and recycle it through the mechanism for the duration of the call. Jiggling the lock to refit flap resulted in a crime that went undetected for the whole of my first year.
A friend of mine described a way you could use a resistor across the two wires of a telephone line to stop the hook switch putting the call down.
Handily, my local phone box at uni had a short length of exposed (armoured) phone line at the bottom. Over a series of nights, I managed to hack off enough of the insulation to expose the two wires inside. I managed to attach two wires, run them up behind a board in the phone box and glued a connector in a hidden position. I even went as far as to paint my repairs in phone box red.
To get free calls, I only needed to put in the first 10p to start making a call (which I could retrieve as soon as the number was dialled). From then on, connect on my magic resistor and then every time the phone box decided my call was over, it would click off, and then back on again, and my call would continue. I'd miss maybe 1-2 seconds of the call as it did all this, so not ideal and my mum never got the hang of it, but it was easy enough to call my friends.
One time there was some sort of 0898 type competition, so I trotted out my trusty resistor and gave it a whirl. By some coincidence, the crucial part of the call where it told you the magic you needed always fell at the moment the phone box reset, so I didn't manage to get that particular thing to work to my advantage.
Not long after, Mercury came along, making calls so much cheaper that it was scarcely worth the hassle to do any of this, so I moved elsewhere. I'm sure at some point BT came to reclaim their phonebox and found my handywork.
" (also called table soccer or foosball)" - but only by barbarians.
In Oakland Halls at Salford University in 1987 there was a Rygar machine. It didn't take long for students to realise there was a spot halfway down the right hand side of the cabinet which, if thumped in just the right way (in an Arthur Fonzarelli stylee) would produce a credit. Never found out why that worked. Can't imagine they took many coins out of it.
At college there was an early dollar bill changer. I figured it was there to be tested by the students. So I took a dollar bill, tied a string around it, and placed it in the machine and slid in the slide. A fierce tug-of-war ensued resulting in a shredded dollar bill and a dollar's worth of change. I then carefully arranged the shreds of the bill on the slide. It took the pieces and delivered another dollar's worth of change.
A year latter I saw another dollar bill changer so I roughed up the leading edge of the bill (a technique I learned to cause jams in IBM card readers) and shoved it in. It took the bill but didn't give any change. I complained and the person in charge opened up the machine and saw that the bill had jammed in the mechanism but didn't fall to a micro switch that would release the change. So I guess they learned something.
Way back in the 6th form common room at School the "committee" got permission to hire in a pool table, on the strict condition that the school would not be liable in anyway.
All good for a month or two until the people who'd made the arrangements, and had the keys, did some mods for perpetual free plays - that (and the pool table) lasted until the next time the supplier came to empty the coin box and found it empty. I don't know how much the pupils concerned had to pay up to settle the matter but it was a significant sum.
When I was at uni we had a similar (but worse) problem in the common room. There was a subset of our year that had little respect for property - and so all the machines got taken out as they didn't take enough to cover the hire (or damages). Irritating as I would have liked to have got past the "can barely hit the cue ball" stage I was at back then.
We had a drinks machine at school.. It was, if I recall, 5p for a drink. Until somebody discovered that a particular foreign coin fed into it would get rejected and returned to you. But still give you the drink! For a while just being in possession of said coinage became a disciplinary offence.. Until the 20p coins came out and it did exactly the same thing. The machine was changed soon afterwards..
Sounds like we may have gone to the same school, or at least one with the same type of drinks machine!
My almost identical recollection is a bit further down the page, https://forums.theregister.com/forum/all/2023/07/03/who_me/#c_4690294...
According to my power lecturer, whose stories always started with "when I worked for the SWEB...", someone he visited to collect the coin meter contents did exactly that. No coins in the box (which was unexpectedly rusty) and a damp saucer underneath. He only worked out what was happening years later.
The worst bit, he said, was that they were stealing the electricity they used to freeze the 50p's.
It was an episode of Tales of the Unexpected, aptly named, "Lamb to the Slaughter," where the put-upon house-wife murders the husband with a frozen leg of lamb and then cooks and serves it to the policeman who turns up to investigate. Don't know why this reminded me of that...
Also, an episode of Murdoch Mysteries where (after the usual dead ends and diversions) he works out that the bank vault was actually broken into much earlier than thought, and an ice cube used to hold the alarm switch contacts open. Once that was established, the criminal's alibi vanished.
I'm sure there have been plenty of others, I bet there's been at least one story of stabbing or shooting someone with a weapon/bullet made of ice.
In the original Spanish version of Los Misterios de Laura (I haven't seen the Hollywood version and I don't know whether it kept the plots) there's a murder performed by arranging a heavy object to be supported by ice on a shelf above the landline telephone and then phoning the victim when the murderer calculates that the ice will have melted enough and the object is going to be about to fall and keeping them talking for long enough.
They all were (Dahl was the writer of Tales of the Unexpected). This one was apparently based on a conversation he had with Ian Fleming, and was also aired first as an episode of "Alfred Hitchcock Presents." That series predates me somewhat, so I'm more familiar with the TotU episode, although I have seen both, what with AHP being rebroadcast repeatedly on free-to-air commercial channels.
A friend of mine was teaching at an Open University technology summer school in Bath when they introduced a programming exercise which used dummy bank cards with PINs in a simplified version of a cash machine. By the end of the first morning's tea break, every single cash machine on the Bath University campus had locked itself out of service after deciding it was under attack from fake cards.
Day 2: All cards had to be signed out and kept in the lab.
At a place I worked many years ago, the fag machine took two 50p coins to dispense a packet. One enterprising machinist took a length of tungsten bar from the raw material rack and use the copy lathe to copy an actual 50p coin to give it seven sides. He then parted off several discs that were exactly the same thickness as the 50p coin, and used them to "buy" free fags, When the owner of the machine turned up to empty the coin box, he found several blanks, and complained to the management about these "worthless" coins. The Company had to reimburse him to the tune of the corresponding number of 50p coins, but no-one calculated the actual cost of the Tungsten or the machine time spent making them.
Some old arcade games had their service switches exposed and had the service menu printed on the back for easy maintenance. The risky part was loading the new configuration without the loud diagnostic chimes alerting the staff.
And then there was Tempest. I always got my initials in the top 10 list by hitting the player 1 button during the end-of-game animation. Nice Easter Egg.
Not going to say where but we had a pool table in a break room where we discovered if you lodged something in the coin slot to keep it half in the balls used to roll straight through and back out when you potted them. In hindsight, we probably should have only been doing it every other game as after a week of constant pool being played in the break times there were lots of questions about why the coin box only had about 50p in it lol
to do this with arcade games was to "git gud". I only managed to join the elite with one game (Centurion???). In 1985 or 1986. Those who knew how would run the number of games up to 9, then pass it off to the pleebs until it got down to two. We would be rather forceful in reclaiming the game so we could build the credits back up...
Pinball arcade overseen by a sleepy (liquor-induced) manager who snoozed in a little cubby in the corner. We would gently relieve him of the keys to the coinboxes and, rather than steal any quarters, simply tap the interior "free game" button a time or ten, just as gently returning keys to their owner. He never woke up or found out...place was called House of Gomes!
Similar here! Console video games, after the restaurant was closed. I managed to purloin a key to the coin drop. Never took a quarter from the machine, but I did flick the coin-drop lever a few hundred times. My buddies & I could actually 'afford' to play the (then epic) Gauntlet game together.
Back in the late 1970s in the halls of residence of a certain university in South Kensington, world renowned for science and engineering, there was a common room with an arcade machine. It also had a nylon carpet. It was discovered that by running across the room wearing rubber soled shoes and tapping the metal shaft of the joystick a mild shock would be delivered. And the machine would ring up 32767 game credits.
In my halls, half the rooms had just been refurbished including a desk with locking drawers. The lock was a tubular design with a key that also fitted in the the locks on the backs of the machines in the games room, so a goodly percentage of the students could open at least one of the machines and apply free credits.
Way back in the college days....
Working in a restaurant with a 45rpm record jukebox... Over the course of several late-night enhancements, it was eventually possible to push 'line 5' on the phone and get a free-play credit on the jukebox. On the technical side... Inside the jukebox was a simple free-play credit button, and the old analog 'square light-up button' phone system only used 2 lines. It was just a matter of probing the right wires and connecting them together.
But technology changed....
A later restaurant had a CD jukebox, with an electronic menu-driven free credit function. So no probing wires was going to fix that. One day the vendor left it unlocked...and the configuration manual was left inside. Somehow it was reprogrammed. $.25 got one song. $1 got five songs. And $5 got thirty songs....just like was normal back in the day. Except now a single $.10 got ten songs. Because who ever puts just a dime in a jukebox when the minimum advertised price for a song play is a quarter?
Ah, good times!
On this side of the pond in my youth, the power bill came with an IBM punchcard and there was many jokes about "do not bend, spindle, or mutilate"
Anyway, of course I sat down and deciphered that it was simply a debit record, and where the amount was, and I think I took it to school and punched a negative before it, just for fun.
Since the cardstock had the power company logo on it, it was too obvious to punch an entirely new card.
I was a little shocked the next month to see we'd been credited the amount of our previous bill (wot? I was right? that actually worked?) and decided that was not a good idea to try twice.
I'd had a bill with a punched card arrive badly mangled. It looked like the card went through the punch at an angle. I punched a new card on a machine at work and sent that in with the bill (no attempt to disguise I had done it; might even have included their botched card and a snide note). That was the last bill I got with a punched card. I'd wondered if the system could have been compromised and you just answered that. I may well have been prioritized for conversion to the new system. What an interesting architecture. Would callow be the right word?
While visiting Germany as a kid, you could use an old 5p instead of a Deutschmark in the coin ops. They were exactly the same size.
Given the exchange rate was about 3 Deutschmarks to the £ back then, it made for a cheap evening. Couldn't go back after the first night though as it was rather obvious where all the British coins had come from!
At school there was drinks vending machine where a Spanish 5 peseta was just the right size to trigger dispense if one timed the button press correctly, but also the wrong size to be retained by the coin mechanism. Less obvious in the short term, but soon rumbled once the secret was too widely shared...
Back in the 80's our engineers used to stay in in a major hotel next door to Wembley Stadium. The pay tv system in the room consisted of a small box, easily opened with a screwdriver. Inside there was a board with some random electrical bits, and a bank of dip switches. Armed with a knowledge of binary, it was easy to see that the dip switches represented room numbers.
A quick flip or two of the dip switches and it was possible to watch the errrrrrr.... adult films, and have it charged to another room, or a colleague's room if you were feeling particularly devious!
We had at various times a pool table and foosball table at my workplace. They weren't pay-for, I think we owned them outright. Both had rather old unreliable coin mechanisms (set so you didn't need to insert any coins, just push it in to release whenever needed). Over time, the pool table had its coin mech and the tray where the balls ran removed (and a piece of wood to cover the hole, which looked smart enough), and the simple piece of metal that held the balls in the foosball table was flipped over. Both had the effect of potted/scored balls running straight back to the collection area.
... have the tendency of showing overvoltage at the coin slot gap if you flick the on-off switch fast enough, often granting credits when the gap is bridged by a spark instead of a coin. Taking a look at the credit counter on the seven-segment LCD display while rocking the connector... you end up with a machine turned on and 4 credits, ready to go.
All the vintage largely eletromechanical pinball machines have this trait.