Ishai Sagi, a fourth-year student at (where else) WTF-U, was in a bit of a bind. It was an early Saturday morning (translation: 1:00 PM) and Ishai had set aside the next forty or so hours to finish up (translation: start) a major assignment for his senior-level programming classes that was due on Monday. The problem was that the code libraries required for the assignment weren't available on the professor's web page as he said they would be.

He called a few of his classmates only to find that they too were unable to "finish up" the assignment. There's nothing surprising with that: I recently read (translation: made up) some statistics showing that 99.86% of students never actually read assignments until the night or weekend before they are due.

Ishai's friends took this as a blessing. They figured that the professor would *have* to give them an automatic week extension. This meant that the forty hours planned for the assignment could go to a better cause, such as World of Warcraft.

Ishai didn't trust his professor to give that extension; the class was supposed to be working on the assignment in conjunction with lectures from the past six weeks. He tried emailing the professor. No luck. He tried voice-mailing the professor. No luck. As a last resort, he tried MSNing(*) the code library's name. Bingo!

Finding the code library on the Internet was a strange surprise. It was developed by the professor and was not part of any publicly available code. More surprising was the fact that, not only was the library there, but so was a complete solution to the assignment. WTF-U has a very strict anti-cheating policy -- they've been known to expel students for asking homework questions on message boards -- so finding the entire project was really unexpected.

Even more strange was how the assignment got on the Internet. When installed, a popular P2P file-sharing software automatically publishes the shared files though the machine's web server (IIS). Most users savvy enough to understand this choose to disable this behavior: nothing says "sue me, RIAA" more than a website hosted from your computer that makes all of your unlicensed music available for download.

This particular user chose instead to register a domain name for his computer. And then share his entire C:\ drive. This is what made available all of his WTF-U projects. And all of his personal photographs. And all of his personal letters. And all of his "scanned receipts." And all of his saved bank statements.

Being the nice guy that he was, Ishai emailed the fellow and told him how "open source" his computer was. The guy immediately shut it down and added that he didn't think a search engine would be able to find his computer ... even though he registered a domain name for it. 

Now if you're thinking, "big deal, so a P2P user exposed himself," keep in mind that this was a fifth-year senior, studying Computer Science and Systems at WTF-U.

He is our future.

 

* My legal team (traslation: Groklaw) has advised me to follow Google(TM)'s request and not verbify (**) their trademark.
** My editor (translation: clearly, no one) has advised me that this is actually a word
*** And if you were wondering, Ishai did use the library he exposed, but took one look at the solution and threw it away. Too many "isTrue"-ish functions for his taste. He got an 'A'