• Beautiful hacks

    From Bob Worm@21:1/205 to All on Sat Oct 21 14:20:14 2023
    While I was out walking the dog during the week I suddenly had a flashback to a trick we occasionally played back in the dial up / IRC years.

    Some bright spark noticed that if you sent a CTCP ping to a user through IRC containing "+++ ATH", their client would echo that back and, more often than not, it would hang up their modem.

    In theory, after the "+++" puts the modem into command mode, any further data arriving within 1s is meant to bump it back out of command mode again - presumably to stop exactly this type of jape. It turns out a *lot* of modems didn't implement that, especially the cheap internal soft modems we all had in our Windows 98 machines :)

    I love the 10/10 elegance of this one, plus the warm nostalgia hit thinking about the "click". That and the fact that the self-styled Internet guru we mostly used it against never figured it out.

    Anyone else got any beautiful hacks / bodges that fill them with delight?

    BobW
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  • From Ben Collver to Bob Worm on Sat Oct 21 11:55:14 2023
    Re: Beautiful hacks
    By: Bob Worm to All on Sat Oct 21 2023 14:20:14

    Some bright spark noticed that if you sent a CTCP ping to a user through IRC containing "+++ ATH", their client would echo that back and, more
    often than not, it would hang up their modem.

    I recall this hack. One simple "hack" that we did on the DOS machines in
    our high school computer lab was use unbreakable space characters in file names. This made the file "invisible" in the directory listing. We used Alt+255 to enter this character at the command prompt.
  • From Spectre@21:3/101 to Bob Worm on Sun Oct 22 06:26:00 2023
    Some bright spark noticed that if you sent a CTCP ping to a user through IRC containing "+++ ATH", their client would echo that back and, more often than not, it would hang up their modem.

    Didn't know that one, we just used to ping flood clients eventually the
    server would disconnect them.

    Spec


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  • From esc@21:4/173 to Ben Collver on Sun Oct 22 11:59:35 2023
    I recall this hack. One simple "hack" that we did on the DOS machines in our high school computer lab was use unbreakable space characters in file names. This made the file "invisible" in the directory listing. We used Alt+255 to enter this character at the command prompt.

    This reminds me of a silly computer lab hack that I'm proud to have come up with myself back in the day :P

    We had computers with Windows 95, IIRC. They were all on a LAN. The filesystem naturally wouldn't let us run command.com or anything, but the web browser (Netscape Navigator) let us put in the telnet application manually. I pointed to command.com. Then, from your browser, just type "telnet://" and instant command prompt :P We played a lot of LAN DOOM back then while the teacher was in the front of the class and couldn't see our screens.

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  • From Bob Worm@21:1/205 to esc on Sun Oct 22 22:34:48 2023
    Re: Re: Beautiful hacks
    By: esc to Ben Collver on Sun Oct 22 2023 11:59:35

    Hi, esc.

    This reminds me of a silly computer lab hack that I'm proud to have come up with myself back in the day :P

    Love the home grown stuff :)


    We had computers with Windows 95, IIRC. They were all on a LAN. The filesystem naturally wouldn't let us run command.com or anything, but the web browser (Netscape Navigator) let us put in the telnet application manually. I pointed to command.com. Then, from your browser, just type "telnet://" and instant command prompt :P

    I briefly worked in a school where they'd implemented loads of stuff like this. No access to cmd.exe, but command.com worked fine. I'm pretty sure copying it to a new file name also worked. No floppy drive listed in the file dialogue but you could just type a: in the filename box and it would open up as usual... so many half baked "security measures"!

    We played a lot of LAN DOOM back
    then while the teacher was in the front of the class and couldn't see our screens.

    This brings back memories... The 4 player serial networking mod linking the design tech prep room computers together for a quick deathmatch - you'd have to put the very best two computers in the middle because only they had enough horsepower to run two serial ports at once!

    BobW
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  • From Bob Worm@21:1/205 to Ben Collver on Sun Oct 22 22:41:56 2023
    Re: Beautiful hacks
    By: Ben Collver to Bob Worm on Sat Oct 21 2023 11:55:14

    Hi, Ben.

    I recall this hack. One simple "hack" that we did on the DOS machines in our high school computer lab was use unbreakable space characters in file names. This made the file "invisible" in the directory listing. We used Alt+255 to enter this character at the command prompt.

    I've never heard of that one before - did any file with that character in it turn invisible? How do you turn them back visible if you don't know the names?

    BobW
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  • From Bob Worm@21:1/205 to Spectre on Sun Oct 22 22:55:55 2023
    Re: Beautiful hacks
    By: Spectre to Bob Worm on Sun Oct 22 2023 06:26:00

    Hi, Spec

    we just used to ping flood clients eventually the
    server would disconnect them.

    I mean, that also works... I seem to remember the Scandinavian guys doing that a bit - probably helped that they were on 100M fibre while we were still stuck on rubbish dial up.

    On that note I just unlocked another random memory - having to hang up and re-dial a few times before Quake matches until you got on a decent modem rack... because the extra 500 baud would definitely improve *my* quake.

    BobW
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  • From Phigan@21:3/171 to esc on Sun Oct 22 18:00:26 2023
    This reminds me of a silly computer lab hack that I'm proud to have com with myself back in the day :P

    The mention of computer lab reminds me of a story. This wasn't a hack or anything, but one day a classmate asked me how to spell banana... while
    he's at the login screen. So, derp.. next time I'm in there I log in as
    him with that password, and it works. I decided to play a trick on him
    and rename Paint to Write and Write to Calculator, things like that. He
    was pretty confused when he finally logged in and had to ask the lab
    person for help. They were also confused :). "I'm clicking on Write but
    it's opening Paint." They didn't pay attention to the icons.

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  • From esc@21:4/173 to Phigan on Sun Oct 22 21:31:12 2023
    The mention of computer lab reminds me of a story. This wasn't a hack or anything, but one day a classmate asked me how to spell banana... while he's at the login screen. So, derp.. next time I'm in there I log in as him with that password, and it works. I decided to play a trick on him
    and rename Paint to Write and Write to Calculator, things like that. He was pretty confused when he finally logged in and had to ask the lab person for help. They were also confused :). "I'm clicking on Write but it's opening Paint." They didn't pay attention to the icons.

    Ha! That's great. :P

    This actually reminds me of yet another goofy thing I did. A friend and I were overseas working for a company and he spilled a drink all over his laptop and fried it. We had two colleagues coming to join us for some meetings and they brought him a new Macbook. The computer had a sticky note with the local login credentials that my friend was supposed to use until he was able to get back stateside and do the real IT setup. I managed to snap a photo of the sticky note before he took it off the computer. #security lol

    So anyway, we're in a room all on the same wifi and I ssh to the computer and login. I write a script that does the following: turn the volume up to 100%, randomly change the voice, and then say in the random voice "F*** you, Sam!". If it wasn't clear, Sam is the name of the guy with the laptop.

    I set the script to go off on a cronjob every minute. That...was pretty hilarious. For a guy that liked to joke around a lot, he wasn't really amused. Oh well. I was. :P

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  • From Bob Worm@21:1/205 to Phigan on Mon Oct 23 12:37:44 2023
    Re: Re: Beautiful hacks
    By: Phigan to esc on Sun Oct 22 2023 18:00:26

    Hi, Phigan.

    I decided to play a trick on him and rename Paint to Write and Write
    to Calculator, things like that. He

    Oh this reminds me of two similar japes...

    1 - While my mother was working on her dissertation about international trade, I set Word to auto-correct "Europe" to "Eurovision Song Contest". The first few times it happened she genuinely thought she was just tired, but eventually called me over to show me this strange thing that the computer was doing every time she typed "Europe".

    2 - As a special treat for the resident computer expert in our student accommodation, a housemate let me set up a trick with his computer. We took a screenshot of his Windows 98 desktop & task bar, set that as the wallpaper, moved all the icons off to the very edge of the screen, moved the task bar to the right so it covered the icons, set it to auto-hide and then adjusted the CRT so even the little slither couldn't be seen. Then the resident expert was called in to help figure out why none of the icons or the start button responded to being clicked...

    I think he was about ready to format it when we let him in on the secret, but he took it quite well :)

    BobW
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  • From StormTrooper@21:2/108 to Anyone on Mon Oct 23 13:13:07 2023
    This reminds me of a silly computer lab hack that I'm proud to have co with myself back in the day :P

    The mention of computer lab reminds me of a story. This wasn't a hack or

    We used to dream of computer labs with networks. What'd we have a handful of Apple IIes and another handful of Microbees. The microbes had some serial based file sharing system, which worked for all of 1 term before someone ran off with the network interface from the server rendering all of them useless.

    So nothing much in the way any hacks... one day we got somewhat bored, reefed all the keys off a IIe and rearranged them to read get forked across the home keys.

    ST

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  • From Ben Collver to Bob Worm on Mon Oct 23 10:43:26 2023
    Re: Beautiful hacks
    By: Bob Worm to Ben Collver on Sun Oct 22 2023 22:41:56

    This made the file "invisible" in the directory listing. We used
    Alt+255 to enter this character at the command prompt.

    I've never heard of that one before - did any file with that character
    in it turn invisible? How do you turn them back visible if you don't
    know the names?

    No, that character displays as a space. So if the filename is only
    comprised of that character, it would show up in the directory listing
    with the date, file size, etc, but the name would be blank. If the
    name contained other characters, it would look like a file name with a
    space in it.

    Getting the names is tricky. In plain DOS it could be done like so:

    dir >lis.txt
    debug lis.txt
    - d 100
    ...

    And keep pressing enter until you get to the end of the listing.

    -
    0CE8:0680 20 4C 4F 50 48 45 52 2E-42 41 54 0D 0A 4D 45 4E LOPHER.BAT..MEN 0CE8:0690 55 20 20 20 20 20 49 4E-49 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 U INI
    0CE8:06A0 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 20-20 33 32 34 20 30 36 2D 324 06- 0CE8:06B0 32 32 2D 32 30 32 32 20-20 32 3A 31 35 70 20 4D 22-2022 2:15p M 0CE8:06C0 45 4E 55 2E 49 4E 49 0D-0A FF 20 20 20 20 20 20 ENU.INI...
    0CE8:06D0 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 20-20 20 20 20 20 20 20 20
    0CE8:06E0 20 20 20 20 20 20 31 30-20 31 30 2D 32 33 2D 32 10 10-23-2 0CE8:06F0 30 32 33 20 20 38 3A 33-32 61 20 FF 0D 0A 20 20 023 8:32a ...
    -
    0CE8:0700 20 20 39 20 46 69 6C 65-28 73 29 20 20 20 20 20 9 File(s) 0CE8:0710 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 31-30 2C 31 31 31 20 42 79 10,111 By 0CE8:0720 74 65 73 0D 0A 20 20 20-31 36 20 44 69 72 28 73 tes.. 16 Dir(s 0CE8:0730 29 20 20 20 20 32 36 39-2C 31 34 34 2C 32 36 30 ) 269,144,260 0CE8:0740 2C 36 30 38 20 42 79 74-65 73 20 66 72 65 65 0D ,608 Bytes free. 0CE8:0750 0A C6 C6 C6 7C 00 00 00-00 00 00 C6 00 7C C6 C6 ....|........|.. 0CE8:0760 C6 C6 7C 00 00 00 00 00-F6 62 64 60 60 60 62 66 ..|......bd```bf 0CE8:0770 FE 00 00 00 00 00 76 32-34 30 30 30 30 30 78 00 ......v2400000x.

    Notice on line 0CE8:06F0 there is the hexadecimal output:

    "20 FF 0D 0A"

    This shows that the file name is a single hexadecimal character FF,
    which is a single non-breaking space. This method can be used to
    display any 8+3 combination of non-breaking spaces.
  • From Bob Worm@21:1/205 to Ben Collver on Mon Oct 23 20:51:32 2023
    Re: Beautiful hacks
    By: Ben Collver to Bob Worm on Mon Oct 23 2023 10:43:26

    Hi, Ben.

    No, that character displays as a space.

    Ah, I got completely the wrong end of the stick. I thought it triggered some weird bug where it just hid the file completely.

    I'm sure there's some real nuisance value possible by adding one of those to an innocent looking file name, e.g. CONFIG[0xFF].SYS so that it looked like the file was there in a DIR listing but you would get a "file not found" any time you tried to view or manipulate it...

    Quality use of DEBUG there, by the way :)

    BobW
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  • From Ben Collver to Bob Worm on Tue Oct 24 11:23:54 2023
    Re: Beautiful hacks
    By: Bob Worm to Ben Collver on Mon Oct 23 2023 20:51:32

    I'm sure there's some real nuisance value possible by adding one of
    those to an innocent looking file name, e.g. CONFIG[0xFF].SYS so that
    it looked like the file was there in a DIR listing but you would get a "file not found" any time you tried to view or manipulate it...

    That would be a clever use of that 0xFF character. :-)

    The university admins in the 90's set up a system that used ghost to re
    image each lab PC on reboot. This was probably an effective mitigation
    for these little nuisances.

    I listened to a podcast by Jason Scott where he mentioned clever little
    hacks and documents such as the anarchists cookbook. He explained that
    teens of that era did not want to actually construct bombs. They lived
    perhaps in oppressive environments and wanted to feel empowered. These documents and hacks felt empowering in a way.

    Quality use of DEBUG there, by the way :)

    Thanks! I like that DEBUG can take its commands from STDIN. It can be scripted from a batch file to patch binaries.
  • From Spectre@21:3/101 to Bob Worm on Thu Oct 26 18:28:00 2023
    No, that character displays as a space.

    The old Apple DOS3.x so there was 3.2 3.2.1, and 3.3 would all allow you to
    use any ctl characters as filenames. You could use a name like hello and
    then pop in 5 x ctl-j and the name would actually disappear from the catalog.
    There were a number of variations on this, different control characters also having cursor control.

    Spec


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  • From poindexter FORTRAN@21:4/122 to Ben Collver on Thu Oct 26 09:00:00 2023
    Ben Collver wrote to Bob Worm <=-

    I listened to a podcast by Jason Scott where he mentioned clever little hacks and documents such as the anarchists cookbook. He explained that teens of that era did not want to actually construct bombs. They lived perhaps in oppressive environments and wanted to feel empowered. These documents and hacks felt empowering in a way.

    We also wanted to separate information from action. Reading about how
    to create a bomb or a surveillance device is mildly entertaining, but
    it was important that the information was free. Actually creating a
    bomb or surveillance device and *using it* was rightfully a crime.

    Especially when BBSes were getting raided for having information that
    was already available at the Library of Congress.



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  • From tenser@21:1/101 to Spectre on Thu Nov 2 09:59:46 2023

    On 26 Oct 2023 at 06:28p, Spectre pondered and said...

    No, that character displays as a space.

    The old Apple DOS3.x so there was 3.2 3.2.1, and 3.3 would all allow you to use any ctl characters as filenames. You could use a name like hello and then pop in 5 x ctl-j and the name would actually disappear from the catalog. There were a number of variations on this, different control characters also having cursor control.

    Steve Bourne used to keep a directory of zero-byte files that
    were given names according to each representable 8-bit byte in
    his account at Bell Labs. This apparently was famous for
    tripping up various naive scripts and tools that walked across
    the filesystem.

    I always thought that was a clever hack.

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  • From Bob Worm@21:1/205 to tenser on Wed Nov 1 22:47:35 2023
    Re: Re: Beautiful hacks
    By: tenser to Spectre on Thu Nov 02 2023 09:59:46

    Hi, Tenser.

    Steve Bourne used to keep a directory of zero-byte files that
    were given names according to each representable 8-bit byte in
    his account at Bell Labs. This apparently was famous for
    tripping up various naive scripts and tools that walked across
    the filesystem.

    I always thought that was a clever hack.

    I'm not sure which aspect I like the best:

    a) that he figured out that it would upset scripts
    b) that he then left it in place just to annoy people

    Bravo :)

    BobW
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  • From HusTler@21:2/150 to tenser on Wed Nov 1 20:49:37 2023
    Steve Bourne used to keep a directory of zero-byte files that
    were given names according to each representable 8-bit byte in
    his account at Bell Labs. This apparently was famous for
    tripping up various naive scripts and tools that walked across
    the filesystem

    Ya mean the Linux guy?

    ... I do not fear computers. I fear the lack of them.

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  • From tenser@21:1/101 to HusTler on Fri Nov 3 01:04:04 2023
    On 01 Nov 2023 at 08:49p, HusTler pondered and said...

    Steve Bourne used to keep a directory of zero-byte files that
    were given names according to each representable 8-bit byte in
    his account at Bell Labs. This apparently was famous for
    tripping up various naive scripts and tools that walked across
    the filesystem

    Ya mean the Linux guy?

    No, Bourne probably uses Linux now, but this was in the early
    Unix days. Steve is famous (rightfully so) for writing the
    Bourne shell, usually called "sh" (`/bin/sh` on Unix systems)
    that was the default in 7th Edition Unix in 1978/9. Bash, zsh,
    ksh, etc, all largely retain the syntax he pioneered.

    Fun fact: Bourne came from the UK, where he'd worked in Algol-68.
    He wrote pre-processor macros that made the dialect of C he wrote
    `sh` in look somewhat like Algol; this, and the version of
    `finger.c` from 4.2BSD, became the inspirations for the International Obfuscated C-Code Contest. The syntax consumed by `sh` is somewhat
    reminiscent of Algol, as well.

    Here's a representative example of Bourne shell code: https://tuhs.org/cgi-bin/utree.pl?file=V7/usr/src/cmd/sh/cmd.c

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  • From Bob Worm@21:1/205 to tenser on Thu Nov 2 20:03:15 2023
    Re: Re: Beautiful hacks
    By: tenser to HusTler on Fri Nov 03 2023 01:04:04

    Hi, Tenser.

    Fun fact: Bourne came from the UK, where he'd worked in Algol-68.
    He wrote pre-processor macros that made the dialect of C he wrote
    `sh` in look somewhat like Algol; this, and the version of
    `finger.c` from 4.2BSD, became the inspirations for the International Obfuscated C-Code Contest. The syntax consumed by `sh` is somewhat reminiscent of Algol, as well.

    I wonder whether that offended him or filled him with pride?

    I know one guy who would do exactly this kind of thing, it made perfect sense to him so why worry about whether anyone else can understand or even read it? Except these were production systems, maintained by a team...

    BobW
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  • From Atari8Guy@21:3/171 to Bob Worm on Fri Nov 3 23:12:10 2023
    I don't remember the details, but we used to change people's color theme
    to Hotdog Stand it Win 3.1 and then deleted the control panel....

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  • From Bob Worm@21:1/205 to Atari8Guy on Sat Nov 4 07:44:06 2023
    Re: Beautiful hacks
    By: Atari8Guy to Bob Worm on Fri Nov 03 2023 23:12:10

    Hi, Atari8Guy.

    I don't remember the details, but we used to change people's color theme
    to Hotdog Stand it Win 3.1

    That brings back memories... Perhaps not beautiful in the literal sense but a lovely mixture of harmless yet annoying.

    and then deleted the control panel....

    To be honest I didn't realise this was possible. Seems like a terrible design decision by the Windows team! I'd have loved to have known that when I was in school :)

    BobW
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  • From StormTrooper@21:2/108 to Bob Worm on Sun Nov 5 00:51:45 2023
    I don't remember the details, but we used to change people's color them
    to Hotdog Stand it Win 3.1

    That brings back memories... Perhaps not beautiful in the literal sense but a lovely mixture of harmless yet annoying.

    Given Win3.x was like a second though over the top of DOS not many files had any sort of protection. Used to be a thing for the misguided youth to vandalise demo systems at PC shows here....

    Must've been about 95-6 I was working in a call centre with a Win NT network. We had a, what I'd call non team member.. I managed to replace the network login splash image with one captured from a Monty Python game of the time which had a boss key they took you to a pretend website "Goat Love".


    ST

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  • From Bob Worm@21:1/205 to StormTrooper on Sun Nov 5 22:29:58 2023
    Re: Re: Beautiful hacks
    By: StormTrooper to Bob Worm on Sun Nov 05 2023 00:51:45

    Hi, StormTrooper.

    Given Win3.x was like a second though over the top of DOS not many files had any sort of protection. Used to be a thing for the misguided youth to vandalise demo systems at PC shows here....

    Yes, indeed. And, I suppose, it was quite useful to remove the Control Panel icon from school computers and the like. You only had to run "cpanel" to get access to it anyway so it was a bit of a weak protection but probably deterred some vandalism :)

    Must've been about 95-6 I was working in a call centre with a Win NT network. We had a, what I'd call non team member.. I managed to replace the network login splash image with one captured from a Monty Python game of the time which had a boss key they took you to a pretend website "Goat Love".

    I'm not familiar with that one - the "Goat Love" part, anyway. I shall Google it with caution!

    BobW
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  • From StormTrooper@21:2/108 to Bob Worm on Mon Nov 6 06:45:32 2023
    I'm not familiar with that one - the "Goat Love" part, anyway. I shall Google it with caution!

    Hmmm can't find a reference image for it... used to pop up in google searches, if you went looking for monty python holy grail goat love. All that seems to show up these days is a few other in game screen shots.

    It sported a white Doe in suspenders and a bra with suitably rouged cheeks, posing front legs on a rock... fairly timid really...

    ST

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  • From Nightfox@21:1/137 to StormTrooper on Mon Nov 6 08:54:16 2023
    Re: Re: Beautiful hacks
    By: StormTrooper to Bob Worm on Sun Nov 05 2023 12:51 am

    Must've been about 95-6 I was working in a call centre with a Win NT network. We had a, what I'd call non team member.. I managed to replace the network login splash image with one captured from a Monty Python game of the time which had a boss key they took you to a pretend website "Goat Love".

    When Windows XP was still around, I found a program that culd replace the Windows XP boot screen with a different image of your choosing. A co-worker of mine at the time said at a previous place where he worked, he replaced his Windows XP boot screen with one that said "Windows XP: Pirate Edition" (I had seen that one, and it had the Windows logo with a skull & crossbones), and he said co-workers who didn't get the joke gave him dirty looks and commented that he shouldn't be pirating his software..

    Nightfox
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