January 9, 2004 2:13 PM   Subscribe

Hey! A thirteen year-old kid gets suspended for three days for using a DOS command to send a one-word message to all 80 computers on his school's network. Even more charming is that the computer teacher of his school apparently doesn't know much about the computicatin' machines.
posted by Ufez Jones (71 comments total)
posted by ColdChef at 2:21 PM on January 9, 2004

Good lord. I used to use the "net send" protocols to send "let's get lunch" messages to coworkers in 1997. ICQ was out, but this was faster and more invasive.

Sure it could become a problem but at worst I'd call it a temporary misjudgement on the part of the student. Calling it serious is a joke (is "hey!" a terrorist threat these days?). A competent network admin would be able to block messages on that port pretty easily.
posted by mathowie at 2:23 PM on January 9, 2004

The worst part about this is that as a young person, you don't necessarily know exactly how big a pile of BS this is. If you're not careful, you might begin to belive this is how the world works or even how it's supposed to work.
posted by Godling at 2:24 PM on January 9, 2004

"If they are allowed to experiment and do things on the computers that the teachers have not specifically given them permission to do, we would never get any computer education accomplished."

If she honestly believes this statement to be some sort of 'pillar of educational theory' then this story just became much, much scarier...
posted by mathis23 at 2:26 PM on January 9, 2004

this exact same thing happened to me, except instead of sending a message, i was merely playing a DOS-based game. me and my friend were banned from the school library (!) FOREVER and given a 2 day suspension. theoretically, we could have hacked into those oh-so-important 1997 vintage dos files, but who cares when all you want to do is play LEGEND OF THE RED DRAGON?
posted by oog at 2:26 PM on January 9, 2004

Oh yeah, P.S....

MetaFilter: Hey!
posted by mathis23 at 2:28 PM on January 9, 2004

You wouldn't even really need to port block these messages. Just disable the Messenger service in Windows. Done. It's not a necessary service anyway.

banned from the school library (!) FOREVER

Because the library is BAD BAD BAD. I hoped you learned your lesson.
posted by eyeballkid at 2:29 PM on January 9, 2004

I would have been in so much trouble in HS if this were true then.

(We used to make other people's machine's crash at inopportune
times with some obscure and unstable network command in PrimeOS
Obviously the teacher had no idea this was even possible.)
posted by milovoo at 2:30 PM on January 9, 2004

I worked for two years as the sole "technology person" in an educational collaborative. I dealt with teachers and administrators all the time. Countless times I'd be talking to teacher who obviously had no clue how to work the computer in her classroom. "The kids know more about them than I do," they'd laugh. It infuriated me. I really wanted to say to them "it's really not funny that you're incompetent to do your job".

I understand how quickly technology changes, and no one had computers when many of these teachers were themselves in school, but it is unforgivable that our kids know more about computing than many of their teachers. It's frightening, really.
posted by jpoulos at 2:31 PM on January 9, 2004

yeah.... remember WinNuke? Shit, I'd be in jail today...
posted by oog at 2:31 PM on January 9, 2004

How dare the taxpayers and parents criticize and look over the shoulders of the people who educate their children. Don't they know that educators know everything? That's why they're called "educators". Duh.
posted by tomorama at 2:32 PM on January 9, 2004

From the article:

"Do you know that this is serious?" she asked him, according to Carl.

"No," he replied.

Then she asked how he did it, and he showed her

Someone should suspend her for being unqualified to teach a technology class.
posted by Dean_Paxton at 2:40 PM on January 9, 2004

Way to take the joy out of learning, Beverley. I can't wait until the world is run by a generation of timid morons like you.

As a friend of many public school teachers who are "living in the real world of public education" every day, I constantly hear them complain about parents who neglect their child's education. Here a computer-savvy parent teaches his child something outside the classroom, and the system goes ballistic on them. Sometimes I just can't believe people.
posted by junkbox at 2:46 PM on January 9, 2004

"If they are allowed to experiment and do things on the computers that the teachers have not specifically given them permission to do, we would never get any computer education accomplished."

Seems to me the kid learned a whole lot about computers and "educators."
posted by ZenMasterThis at 2:47 PM on January 9, 2004

As much as I agree this is a severe over-reaction, I also think it's a shame that educators need to be on the defensive all the time.

Yeah, they're our tax-supported servants, but they're only BARELY supported given what we pay them, and just about everyone feels qualified to heap criticism on them when they make a dubious move. Teachers are just trying to keep a lid on a very crazy situation every day, and I think not enough citizens are willing to give them the benefit of the doubt, which is all the teacher was asking in her letter, albeit testily.
posted by ubermesh at 2:49 PM on January 9, 2004

I really wanted to say to them "it's really not funny that you're incompetent to do your job".

I actually did say this in a similar situation in my high school computer lab (Macs - all hail Talking Moose!). I'm not sure the Anal Retentive Computer Instructor manual suggests mandatory minimums or anything, but I got a stern talking-to by the vice-principal (who had his username/password on a post-it on his monitor) and a couple of days in-school suspension for mouthing off.
posted by phong3d at 2:53 PM on January 9, 2004

Actually this is relatively tame. If he lived in Ohio, he might have been arrested instead.
posted by homunculus at 2:56 PM on January 9, 2004

I can't wait until the world is run by a generation of timid morons like you.

:::gestures frantically about, raising an eyebrow:::
posted by rushmc at 2:57 PM on January 9, 2004

Heh. Good thing they're shutting down those 'leet hax0rs before they get out of control. For my part, I won the "Keyboardist Of The Year" award in high school for having the highest WPM the teacher had ever seen. The poor clueless woman could never *imagine* that I'd changed the typing test program (on a TRS-80!) to allow me to take the tests over and over until I had a near-perfect score. I suppose that would qualify me for expulsion in this day & age. But I *did* feel a little like Ferris Bueller. And I liked it.
posted by Banky_Edwards at 2:58 PM on January 9, 2004

Why does she note that he was expelled?
posted by grimley at 3:05 PM on January 9, 2004

Your cheating casts a dark shadow over all of us who won Keyboardist of the Year awards honestly through our own hard work*.

KRSS Keyboardist of the Year 1991

* And the fact that we had the same software on our home computer, and thus were able to take the test over and over again until ... well, you get the picture.
posted by jacquilynne at 3:09 PM on January 9, 2004

Good for the journalist to understand what the computer teacher obviously couldn't - that the kid didn't break into/hack/compromise all the computers. The schools reaction seems to have been predicated on the teacher's misperception that he somehow had.

NET SEND is a normal command built into the system. The kid should have been congratulated for knowing about something that obscure. Everyone could have had a laugh for the 5 minutes the class was disrupted, and moved on. If they don't want it happening again, just turn it off. It takes 2 minutes.

This isn't all that surprising, though. Computer teachers in grade school typically don't know anything about computers beyond how to run Office tutorials.
posted by tirade at 3:09 PM on January 9, 2004

I almost got suspended from high school (a short 8 years ago) for logging into one of the machines using a teacher's name and no password, and then printing 'Hi, $DeansName!' on the Dean's printer. They figured out it was me because there were only a few people who knew the dean well enough AND knew enough about computers to pull if off. They called us in one at a time and accused us. Everyone before me denied it. I didn't. Stupid.

Anyway, this is a teacher's account that he never gave a password to, and this network was completely separate from the one on which the grades were stored. I knew it, my friends knew it, but the administration didn't. So I got threatened with suspension, but instead ended up with 3 days of JUG (basically a tougher level of detention). In retrospect, it was dumb, but it is another example of overreacting by a school administration who knows less than the students.

Oh, and I failed a Latin test because I was in the middle of it when I got called to the Dean's office. And you can't makeup tests that you miss for disciplinary reasons.
posted by crawl at 3:13 PM on January 9, 2004

Sounds to me like the kid was suspended for being smarter than his teacher, an offense that cannot be tolerated.
posted by 2sheets at 3:19 PM on January 9, 2004

Jeebus Key-ryst.

You know in every company I've worked at some idiot has invariably typed in a net send command to the entire domain. This just happened most recently at my 1500+ employee company.

I mean I understand and even support to a degree a certain amount of discipline but this is bad all around. Aside from the fact that this is such a mild annoyance in the first place (apart from say knives and guns in class fer instance), discipline is really only effective when you outline the rules and punishment in advance. I mean this takes the freakin cake right here:

"Do you know that this is serious?" she asked him, according to Carl.

"No," he replied.

What rule was broken? When what the student warned? As a parent I'd be outraged because it really just smacks of a teacher and administrator on a mondo power trip because they are in charge of something they have no clue how to actually manage or control.

The evil bastard in me would love to see some real hackers show them what "Hacking" really is.
posted by aaronscool at 3:19 PM on January 9, 2004

it is unforgivable that our kids know more about computing than many of their teachers

It is unfortunate, but I think that 'unforgivable' depends on what subject the teacher teaches. I have close friends who both teach (he - English, she - History). The have computers in their classrooms because of the Maine Laptop Program, and only know very basically how to use them. But its ok, because they were teaching their very well before computers came, and would teach just as well without them.

But yes, I agree, its unforgivable if the computer science teacher knows less about computing than the kids....
posted by anastasiav at 3:23 PM on January 9, 2004

The villain here isn't the teacher, she was just incompetent, and I imagine if she'd known how harmless Net Send is, and how easily disabled, it wouldn't have been a problem.

The villain is the princple, who admits he didn't think it was a big deal, until somebody else told him how to do his job, at which point he decided to "make an example of" the boy (indeed, a flawless disciplinary method).
posted by Hildago at 3:24 PM on January 9, 2004

Beverly Sweeney's Richland Middle School page.

Well, she knows how to use an img tag.
posted by Joey Michaels at 3:25 PM on January 9, 2004

Why do you think some of us are fans of home school?

Stories like this make me want to spit quarters.
posted by konolia at 3:26 PM on January 9, 2004

"Beverly Sweeney's Richland Middle School page"

Sweet Christ, the woman is a menace to society. Turn down your audio before following that link.
posted by 2sheets at 3:35 PM on January 9, 2004

Has Beverly's page been hacked? I'm asking in all seriousness.
posted by Feisty at 3:55 PM on January 9, 2004

the animation on her technology page showing a caveman destroying a computer with the caption "sometimes this is how we feel!" clearly reveals where ms. sweeney sees herself in relationship to modern technology: technology is a frustrating pain in the ass which is beyond our capability to control, the only solution is to grin and bear it, and occasionally destroy it. this is what she's teaching the less astute among her students. here's a list of school email addresses.
posted by quonsar at 4:02 PM on January 9, 2004

I heard he also had a plastic fork in his bag lunch and had him booked as a terrorist.

And Beverly Sweeney is an incompetent autocrat hiding behind non-existant policies.

Side note, there was a reference to Ferris Bueller in the earlier comments. I wonder how long it would take for the government to arrest and detain Ferris if he tried to do a tenth of what he did in the movie? The protection for protection's sake is going to saddle us with an entire nation of timid and scared kids. Oh yeah, they'll be fat and unhappy too.
posted by fenriq at 4:07 PM on January 9, 2004

Mrs. Sweeney graduated from The University of Texas Austin with a BA in Sociology, a BA in Anthropology and an MA in Sociology.

She has recently completed her certification in Web Design, Digital Graphics, Desktop Publishing, Video Production, and Multimedia.

I wonder if she even knows what DOS is?

And with an MA in Sociology, I would have to give her an F on this assignment.
posted by poopy at 4:08 PM on January 9, 2004

Reminds me of the time I was in a public computer lab using QBASIC. The lab-cops had never seen it before and decided I was hacking and ordered me to stop.

Or the time, when was 14 and had my first account on a *NIX system and was playing with the shell, when the sysadmin found the file in my home directory with my Geek Code in it and decided it was some l33t h4x04 thing and suspended my account.

Or the time when my boss briefly shared a catch-all e-mail account with me and summoned me to her office for a stern dressing down for "receiving inappropriate e-mail on a work account." I had to explain the concept of penis-enlargement spam to her.

(And people tell me teachers are underpaid.)
posted by IshmaelGraves at 4:26 PM on January 9, 2004

As much as I agree this is a severe over-reaction, I also think it's a shame that educators need to be on the defensive all the time. Yeah, they're our tax-supported servants, but they're only BARELY supported given what we pay them

True, I'm very inclined to agree. However, I don't think increasing their salaries directly solves the problem. The problem is that the unattractive profession called teaching, which we've created, very often draws in the wrong individuals. These individuals won't magically become better teachers if we pay them more. Make the profession more rewarding (on several levels) and it will attract the right kind of people more often. Until then, I think it's fine to blast certain moronic educators, like this one. We've all had teachers we've loved, but we've also all had some tyrannical numbskulls. You should have seen the brain dead mofos lined up to take the CBEST exam with me last year. Yeesh. I got the impression somehow that word had gotten out among the fast food workers of the world that teaching paid a little better, you never had to empty the grease trap, and after 5 years they couldn't fire you.

In other words, yes, the good folks need more support, but the shitheads need to go out with the garbage.
posted by scarabic at 4:31 PM on January 9, 2004

When I read about things like this, I get two reactions. I get pissed off first. And then I mellow out and think about my experiences in school.

I've had my fair share of teachers with questionable character and judgment, but I can't help but think of the ones who were good to me, and who really cared about their kids. Lots of times, I was forgiven for generally being an ass and for doing a lot of things that, retrospectively, I could have gotten in much more trouble for. It's sad that many don't experience this in their education: genuinely concerned and competent people who are more devoted to teaching than wielding dubious authority over their students.

This poor kid's going to have a distrusting attitude towards his teachers from now on. Poor guy.
posted by Dukebloo at 4:37 PM on January 9, 2004

For the record, I am a teacher and "more support" doesn't necessarily mean higher pay. Sometimes more support means better facilities, better management, more time to plan and prepare, etc. Indeed, I would take any one of those things before I asked for a pay increase.
posted by Joey Michaels at 4:38 PM on January 9, 2004

Projects include:

* An interactive "video" game
* A study of one of the planets
* An interactive game
* A digital graphics art contest
* A study of one aspect of the Civil War
* The school's web site in an "electronic yearbook" format
* An Awards Ceremony slideshow for the end-of-the-year honoring of students
* Creating our own animated gif
* Using MSAgent capabilities in PowerPoint

I'm a big believer in computer education, but how about:
* the basics of computer architecture
* how the internet works (i.e. how data moves between programs on different machines)
* a simple programming language
* using search engines and other Internet resources
* spam, hoaxes, security, and general commonsense guidance
* (etc.)

I mean, it sounds like she's teaching application literacy rather than computer literacy. For example, I bet their website lessons don't teach HTML but how to use a GUI editor...and you could cover basic HTML in a couple classes. What I'm proposing might be a bit ambitious--I definitely think no one should graduate college without a bit of grounding in these topics, but I believe it's worth trying to teach them at a basic level in high school. For students to be truly well-equipped to deal with the world of the future (a.k.a. the present), computers (and the internet) shouldn't be black boxes whose buttons they know how to press; they should be systems they grasp at least in outline, know how to learn more about if they need to, and aren't going to be easily swindled by.
In saying this, I don't mean to come down too hard on this particular teacher--this does sound like a bunch of people in over their heads who overreacted due to what seems to be a pretty unhealthy educational climate. But I do think it's well within our means to create a curriculum which teachers could learn quickly and then pass on to students. (My class was the first in our high school to have an advanced calculus program; our geometry teacher took a college class and then taught us perfectly well...and the basics of computer science are way easier than calculus. Computers are logic machines; they make sense in a very human way all the way down to the hardware level, where physics takes over.)
Probably my longest comment ever, but I feel pretty strongly about this stuff. I think this "computing" thing is going to be big, and I'm pretty prescient about these things.
posted by uosuaq at 4:49 PM on January 9, 2004

Personally, I think raising salaries is part of the problem, not part of the solution. Lots of people are going into education who really have no business doing so, they just do it because it's easy and safe. The problem is that we have 1.) administrators who are not prepared to make good hiring decisions and 2.) a unionized environment where it's virtually impossible to get rid of bad teachers. I have yet to hear of any public school teacher fired for incompetence.

That, and I think schools should be more permissive than any other public sphere because it is somewhere you are forced to be, which is why the inevitable "well, you couldn't do this in a workplace" comparisons are irrelevant.
posted by dagnyscott at 4:53 PM on January 9, 2004

...teachers have not specifically given them permission to do....

that quote just kills me. Obviously he did have the permissions to net send all computers.
posted by dabitch at 4:56 PM on January 9, 2004

If you'd like to write her, Ms. Sweeney's email address is Beverley_Sweeney@birdville.k12.tx.us.
posted by ed at 4:59 PM on January 9, 2004

Personally, I think raising salaries is part of the problem, not part of the solution

Yer darn tootin! Let's pay 'em nothing at all—then you'll see some real edumacation!
*rolls eyes*

She taught Texas History before entering the computer world full time.

Yep, she's a well-rounded woman. From lies about the Alamo to clueless computifying.
posted by languagehat at 5:01 PM on January 9, 2004

Hey, I think they frown on lying about the Alamo as much as they do pissing (unless you happen to be a bum).
posted by john at 5:13 PM on January 9, 2004

You're talking middle school, uosuaq. I don't doubt that there are a few kids who could handle computer architecture at that age (heck, I was one of them), but what you're listing is better suited towards high school.

I have a certain degree of sympathy for her, as I'm the tech person in a middle school/high school. In my job, it's like trying to keep a Kleenex house standing in a rainstorm. The kids can be walking entropy machines with regards to how they treat PC's and just keeping things stable is a challenge. What I fault her for is not having a solid acceptable use policy and not choosing an appropriate punishment. Were I in her position, I'd consider hiring the student on as an aide.

With regards to faulting the teachers not being as technologically apt as the students: remember that the typical teaching week is normally in excess of 40 hours and as is normally done, doesn't involve using a computer except for a few minutes per day. The kids, on the other hand, use the computers for up to several hours per day. You can figure out who's getting more practice.

My own position involves teaching two classes, running two independent study programs, keeping all the computers and servers running in the district, training faculty, seeing to my own professional development, assisting in integrating technology in the classroom, dealing with parents, locker room duty, and advising the 11th graders. There are some days when I haven't checked email until I got home. In my spare time, I fight crime.

So yeah, I can see why teachers are a little short on computer skills.
posted by plinth at 5:43 PM on January 9, 2004

When I was at school, and I was a joint computer room prefect (why did I ever sit down at a keyboard?) our computer science teacher asked us what we should get for the computer room to replace the Research Machine 380zs. We said Macs because there was a good deal running on them at the time and we knew that they'd be usable for ages and were more powerful than the IBM PCs available. We came back from Christmas break to find a room filled with Acorn Archimedes, because he thought they were cool. Teachers never knew more than the students.
posted by feelinglistless at 5:44 PM on January 9, 2004

To me this is nothing new as far as kids trying to learn in supervised PC environments. I remember at least two times I've personally got myself into the same kind of trouble this kid, and the first was back in 1985. I remember using a repeat command to simplify a LOGO star drawing script in 5th grade...well, it rewarded me a sit out in the hall for "going ahead of the class" back then. Odd really, as I thought it was pretty neat I figured it out after numerous syntax errors...you know, kinda how many of today's programmers get it done. Now that I'm thinking about repressed memories...my future as a lucrative VB programmer was ruined...wonder if I can sue...

The second time was closer to what happened here. In 1996, I logged one of the teachers into a publicly known student library account to access library resources on a non-library classroom PC. (went way out of my jurisdiction baby) That earned me two days in-school suspension, each day requiring talks with the resident highschool policeman. I remember it was treated as a "breaking and entering" scenario as if I hacked into the library room. I though it was pretty obvious the library stuff could be accessed anywhere...well, was nice to find out how they perceived it I suppose...
posted by samsara at 6:00 PM on January 9, 2004

I recall getting in trouble in high school because we discovered that if somebody entered the wrong password in three times, the entire account would be frozen until the sysadmin manually re-activated it. I didn't get so much as a detention, but had my account disabled until I apologized (which I did, as we had an excellent computer science teacher and I hadn't realized how much work it would create for him).

As for keyboarding... I was exempt from doing it because I was already faster than the teacher! HA! Learned it all on that old Colecovision.
posted by synecdoche at 6:03 PM on January 9, 2004

You're talking middle school, uosuaq. I don't doubt that there are a few kids who could handle computer architecture at that age (heck, I was one of them), but what you're listing is better suited towards high school.

Sorry...didn't read closely enough. Thanks for pointing that out. For middle school, her curriculum is actually kind of impressive, although I'm still torn between giving kids that age some hands-on experience with our computer friends and making them learn the fundamentals first. I'm pretty sure that by that age I was playing with BASIC on my TRS-80, and at one point I tried to work through an assembly language book (probably in high school), but I didn't know what it all meant, and I wish there had been someone to explain it to me then. I didn't start to "get it" until I took an evening class after grad school....now, I'm a sysadmin. For kids that age...I don't know...I'd still teach them how to do research on the internet first...but I stand by my high school curriculum: we should be making a serious effort to make students get what computers are really about.
What actually happened (according to this story) isn't remotely proportional to the punishment, of course; in fact, it's simply not deserving of punishment. But (a) I try to be charitable, so I'm assuming the teacher and administrators just freaked out because the educational system is pretty freaked out these days and (b) I still think every teacher in her position could be given a basic course in computer science such that this one would have known the difference between what the kid did and "hacking" (I mean, hello, even the journalist did, and that's saying something).
posted by uosuaq at 6:09 PM on January 9, 2004

At my school, students regularly send broadcasts messages to the entire network as a modern version of the baggy pantsing. Generally, student A leaves himself logged in, student B sends a message to 200 workstations (or worse, e-mail to 1000 people) from student A's account.

Student A comes grovelling to me to re-enable his account. A valuable lesson is learned -- don't leave yourself logged in! This certainly wouldn't merit a suspension at our school, just an apology and a lecture about being responsible for one's account. I find it hard to suppress my laughter, though.
posted by MiG at 6:17 PM on January 9, 2004

Flowers are Red.

I guess everyone's got some comparable incidents they've suffered. I remember in grade 2, we used to be marched up to the computer lab full of Commodore 64s each week to play Treasure Island. That's all we did, week after week. The teacher made the mistake of telling us that computers could be used to "paint and draw" also, and one day I figured out how to stop the game, and started typing in PAINT, DRAW at the Basic prompt. I ended up picking up papers in the yard at lunch.

In highschool, we had those crazy computers that could be made to switch between Mac and PC (Windows 3.1) at the press of a button. My friend and I had a screenshot of the newly released Windows 95 on a floppy disc, and we loaded the image on the PC and scaled it to full screen to create a "fake" Windows 95 desktop. The teacher saw us "hacking" and we ended up picking up papers in the yard.
posted by Jimbob at 6:27 PM on January 9, 2004

The villain here isn't the teacher, she was just incompetent

Incompetence IS villainy.

But you make a good point. As bad as many teachers are (don't get me started), administrators have more responsibility and do more damage.
posted by rushmc at 6:34 PM on January 9, 2004

My father - who never has actually learned to use a computer, to the best of my knowledge, subbed for a high school computer class for an entire year. He does know the word "modem", which he promounces "Mo-DEM". He had the students teach themselves and just ignored the consequent mayhem.

I've no doubt his students were better off then the students of the case in point

I suspect that - given current rates of technological change - that I might be in his position in 30 or 40 years.
posted by troutfishing at 10:01 PM on January 9, 2004

"3 days of JUG"
A Basilian Fathers school?
posted by arse_hat at 12:06 AM on January 10, 2004

I have a savant-like ability with computer hacking. I got caught in school once only because my asshole of a "friend" (I thought he was loyal and intelligent, and was sadly mistaken on both counts) actually printed out my password lists, waved them around in the computer lab, and then proceeded to blame me - an incident that taught me much about human nature. Point being, I had the passwords of practically everyone in the entire school, and was quite ready to play with the networked grading computer, and there was extremely hard evidence of this, and I still didn't get expelled, and this was like a week after September 11th.

I think I started to really realize how uninformed most people are about everything when I heard people spouting out total b.s. about computers in the same tone of voice they use to discuss everything from politics to physics.
posted by Veritron at 3:36 AM on January 10, 2004

Heh. Reminds me of when I was in high school. We had a lab full of PC-XT clones with no hard drives, all booted off of about three or four DOS floppies. (Hand labelled by Mr. Gates himself I'm sure, as of course they wouldn't have broken copyright laws. Oh no.) Anyway, one day I was bored enough to flip open a manual and learn about AUTOEXEC.BAT and the PROMPT command. So I snagged all the boot floppies, and changed the prompts on each to read "This machine is posessed!" or "Who is Randy River, and why isn't he wearing any clothes?"

Confused the living fuck outta my teacher, of course, who thought the machines had contracted a virus or something.

Incedentally, the actual curriculum consisted of learning WordPerfect 4.2. Boy, there's a skill that aged well.
posted by arto at 4:13 AM on January 10, 2004

Aaaaah, you champion keyboardists: Kobayashi Maru to you all.
posted by alumshubby at 6:25 AM on January 10, 2004

I did this in my High School, just after they'd had a new massive network fitted, putting computers in most language classrooms. After discovering the NET SEND command, I did:

NET SEND * Big Panties!

And heard the beeps of a hundred machines echo down the corridors. I got a right telling off from the head of IT (Mr Westgarth; an Acorn user), but none of the other teachers cared at all ("At least he didn't send anything offensive.")

I, too, had to show the IT teacher how I did it, and he reasoned that there was nothing he could do to prevent it.

posted by armoured-ant at 6:47 AM on January 10, 2004

Little minds in adults fucking up potentially great minds in little people.

This SO brings back memories of the mediocrity (or worse) I encountered in public school. We should all write to this kid to voice our support.

Anyone know his e-mail address?
posted by ParisParamus at 7:56 AM on January 10, 2004

And does anyone know the principal's e-mail address...?
posted by ParisParamus at 7:57 AM on January 10, 2004

Give that kid a job...
um, wait, he's how old?
posted by tomplus2 at 8:38 AM on January 10, 2004

heh. People do net sends every once in a while on the dorm network here at school. Harmless fun.

But yeah, people who work the computers at high schools know much less about them then a good portion of the students. This, obviously, puts them at a severe disadvantage.

Anyway, a 3-day vacation from middle school. I don’t think I’d be too upset if I was the kid. Just chalk to up to adult idiocy and go on my merry way.


Also, I can understand the desire not to have kids do too much experimentation on the school machines. After all, they've all probably got PCs to play with at home.
posted by delmoi at 9:05 AM on January 10, 2004

arse_hat- Actually, Jesuit.
posted by crawl at 9:07 AM on January 10, 2004

The principal's address: Tommy_Rollins@birdville.k12.tx.us

I sent him and the teacher a link to the MS KB documentation on the net send command.
posted by ukamikanasi at 9:19 AM on January 10, 2004

Ya know, Birdville ISD isn't exactly the largest school district in the area. A bunch of relatively small sites appear to be covering it, but nobody big.

You guys do know that having your site slashdotted, farked, or otherwise receiving more requests than you can handle is functionally no different from a DDoS attack, right?

Not that I am suggesting anything. After all, it would be a shame to bring down the Birdville ISD server. And I certainly would not dream of suggesting anything which might bring reprisal against the young man who, after all, has only just now learned that teachers are not his allies.
posted by ilsa at 9:36 AM on January 10, 2004

"Dear Sir:

You suspended a young student for three days for a harmless (not even a) prank? How utterly absurd and disproportionate. Assuming you had to discipline him at all, couldn't you think of something more appropriate and creative?

Thanks for just confirming my impression of public school administrators as being horrid mediocrats....THOSE WHO CAN'T TEACH, ADMINISTER!
posted by ParisParamus at 10:08 AM on January 10, 2004

Holy shit, I agree with Paris on something.
posted by notsnot at 10:41 AM on January 10, 2004

For any high school kids reading this, you can put Mr. Boom on your computers at school and hide it by naming the directory Alt+255. Then you can play Bomberman instead of doing typing.
Bizarrely, the IT company hired by your school will never have heard of this incredibly old trick.
posted by sonofsamiam at 11:03 AM on January 10, 2004

it is unforgivable that our kids know more about computing than many of their teachers. It's frightening, really.

Oh c'mon. *Frightening* that kids know more than their teachers? In a limited sense, kids have always known 'more' than their teachers.

Teachers have a difficult job to do. Knowing a little everything isn't part of the job description. Becoming expert at every technology introduced into classrooms isn't either. There's no time to manage ill-designed networking features in a environment for skooters who, most of the time, are in testing-the-limits mode.

Kids have lots of spare time, lots of unchecked imagination, a yen for peer approval, and information sources the teacher is too tired to play around with when s/he gets home. When teacher goes back to college -- paying for it him/herself -- it's about upgrading teaching skills. Technology has become a part, but still a small part, of that skillset.

Kids -- the nasty little natural-born information rodents -- naturally know more (in a spotty and unstructured way) about new things. Teacher's job is to get them to learn more about old things.

Unfortunately teacher has to do that in a badly-designed environment (well, 'design' is overly kind) that has to be repressive in order to meet it's design spec. You want better schools, stop supporting shitty schools. They all are. Every day is bailing-wire and twine day. Ya don't need tea leaves.
posted by Twang at 11:19 AM on January 10, 2004

In middle school they hand out three day suspensions for squat. My poor daughter , not a troublemaker, made a comment at her locker, and the teacher decided to call it a "threat." Three day suspension. When I went to talk to a teacher about the crap we were dealing with at this school, I saw an unwrapped condom on the hall floor. Amazing how I had control of the conversation after mentioning it.

We were also called to the principal's office, not told why, had to miss work (back when I had a job) ...we got there to find out that the grievious offense was that my child accidently erased something on the blackboard. Mind you that the teacher HAD GIVEN MY CHILD THE JOB of erasing the board-my daughter simply accidentally erased the wrong thing . When we got there the assistant principal looked at us, we looked at her, and it was obvious all three of us had the same opinion...the principal's parting comment to my daughter was, "Next time, tell her to erase her own chalkboard." Priceless.
posted by konolia at 12:23 PM on January 10, 2004

Hmmm, an intriguing bit in my comments (self-linkage)... I found the same link on the other TrackBacked blog. Comments?
posted by Samizdata at 8:56 PM on January 10, 2004

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