• deekay (unregistered)

    The Dead Guy's Comment is First ...

  • Jeff (unregistered)

    WTWTF?

    (Where's The WTF?)

    This sounds like a routine day at the University to me. Consider yourself lucky it had a working CD drive.

  • wbu (unregistered)
    Instead, he advised Michael to contact the former Building-G admin: a recently-retired professor who likely still lived in the area. "Chances are," he added, "that old coot will remember the password."

    However, there was a problem with the admin’s suggestion - Michael had attended the professor's funeral two weeks earlier.

    The suggestion was valid: make contact with the professor. Maybe the admin is a necrophile or a hippy. He could even be - dare I say it - a religious type...

  • GvG (unregistered)

    Perhaps the reason that the USB drive wasn't recognized would be that NT4 didn't support USB? USB support was only introduced in Windows 2000.

  • stewie (unregistered)

    I think its implied that he used the brute-force-found password and the knoppix CD to get the files out

  • connect_to_reality (unregistered) in reply to GvG
    GvG:
    Perhaps the reason that the USB drive wasn't recognized would be that NT4 didn't support USB? USB support was only introduced in Windows 2000.

    I thought 2000 had plug and play support for USB, while NT could run USB as long as the drivers for the USB software was installed. Am I wrong?

  • Osno (unregistered)

    First: Win NT4 doesn't have out-of-the-box usb drivers, but the drivers do exist. The guy needed an admin user to install the drivers. He did, got the data out, problem solved.

    Next: If someone calls me off regular hours and fails to identify himself, no way I'm going and leaving my post! He can hung up all he likes, his problem not mine. That's how social engineering ends peoples jobs.

  • GCU Arbitrary (cs) in reply to Osno
    Osno:
    If someone calls me off regular hours and fails to identify himself, no way I'm going and leaving my post! He can hung up all he likes, his problem not mine. That's how social engineering ends peoples jobs.

    This. Especially if the caller is like the tard in this article and speaks all in caps.

  • Mr. Shiny & New (unregistered)

    Why would you try to install patches on a computer so old and so obviously broken? A relic like that is good for one thing only: doing exactly what it is doing until you build a proper replacement. Don't waste time fixing it, a new PC is like $300 from Dell.

    Anyway, I don't know why he didn't just download the data files in the first place. Some user account created those files, that user account could decrypt them.

  • Code Dependent (cs) in reply to Osno
    Osno:
    If someone calls me off regular hours and fails to identify himself, no way I'm going and leaving my post!
    Agreed. But I'm thinking that was a bit of fantasy obfuscation added by the editor.
  • cjmac (unregistered)

    Old, badly configured system exists in educational institution. Students need to get data off that computer. Tech uses some readily-available Linux password tools to recover password and retrieves said data, thus doing his job. Said tech then documents what he did, in case more of the same happens.

    This is supposed to be "curious perversions in information technology", not "stuff that happens to every tech every day".

    If it IS thedailyShitNooneCaresAbout, here's my submission:

    Chris walked down the hallway to the foyer. Noticing the fire panel's flashing "evacuate", he turned to the building maintenance team standing beside him and asked if anything was wrong. "No", they replied, "it's just malfunctioning". Having now reached his destination, he reached into his pocket, his fingers grasped his well-worn wallet. Taking out a small note and inserting it into the machine's slot, he first pressed the button marked "B", then "6", then waited for the machine to vend his well-earned candy.

    Returning to his desk, Chris paused to ponder the day so far. It had been rather busy, interrupted by several reminders about the new cover sheets for the TPS reports. Once the chocolate was gone, he threw the wrapper in the bin and stared at the phone, waited for the next support call to come in.

    SEE?! NOONE GIVES TWO FLYING HOOTS ABOUT MY TRIP TO A VENDING MACHINE! And that's really only mildly less WTF-ey than "I used Knoppix to get some files off a dying PC". ENOUGH ALREADY!

  • Andreas (unregistered)

    Me, I would have stopped at the "Contaminated" sign. Glad to hear that other people are more advenurous.

  • Wonz (unregistered) in reply to cjmac
    cjmac:
    Old, badly configured system exists in educational institution. Students need to get data off that computer. Tech uses some readily-available Linux password tools to recover password and retrieves said data, thus doing his job. Said tech then documents what he did, in case more of the same happens.

    This is supposed to be "curious perversions in information technology", not "stuff that happens to every tech every day".

    If it IS thedailyShitNooneCaresAbout, here's my submission:

    Chris walked down the hallway to the foyer. Noticing the fire panel's flashing "evacuate", he turned to the building maintenance team standing beside him and asked if anything was wrong. "No", they replied, "it's just malfunctioning". Having now reached his destination, he reached into his pocket, his fingers grasped his well-worn wallet. Taking out a small note and inserting it into the machine's slot, he first pressed the button marked "B", then "6", then waited for the machine to vend his well-earned candy.

    Returning to his desk, Chris paused to ponder the day so far. It had been rather busy, interrupted by several reminders about the new cover sheets for the TPS reports. Once the chocolate was gone, he threw the wrapper in the bin and stared at the phone, waited for the next support call to come in.

    SEE?! NOONE GIVES TWO FLYING HOOTS ABOUT MY TRIP TO A VENDING MACHINE! And that's really only mildly less WTF-ey than "I used Knoppix to get some files off a dying PC". ENOUGH ALREADY!

    I find your story absolutely fascinating! Please do tell us more.

  • nico (unregistered)
    a large overhead sign flashed CONTAMINATED over and over again. "Don’t worry about that," Jeffrey said casually, "that's just the alpha radiation detector. It's been malfunctioning all week." It wasn't all that reassuring.

    Well alpha radiations are not so dangerous anyway, they won't even pass your skin. Would have been nice if it were gamma radiations. The guy could have changed into some weird superhero, like SuperKnoppix or something like that.

  • campkev (cs) in reply to nico
    nico:
    a large overhead sign flashed CONTAMINATED over and over again. "Don’t worry about that," Jeffrey said casually, "that's just the alpha radiation detector. It's been malfunctioning all week." It wasn't all that reassuring.

    Well alpha radiations are not so dangerous anyway, they won't even pass your skin. Would have been nice if it were gamma radiations. The guy could have changed into some weird superhero, like SuperKnoppix or something like that.

    Actually, I think being exposed to gamma radiation while he was carrying a Knoppix cd was how Micah got his powers on Heroes.

  • Blitz (unregistered) in reply to Mr. Shiny & New
    Mr. Shiny & New:
    Why would you try to install patches on a computer so old and so obviously broken? A relic like that is good for one thing only: doing exactly what it is doing until you build a proper replacement. Don't waste time fixing it, a new PC is like $300 from Dell.

    Anyway, I don't know why he didn't just download the data files in the first place. Some user account created those files, that user account could decrypt them.

    As much as I would love to agree with you, having worked at those labs (as both the scientist and the tech) I can tell you with 100% certainty that most of the software for these instruments are incompatible with Windows XP and later. Yes, you read that right: this software has not been updated to work on a 6 year old operating system. Not to mention that even if you did just throw on the old operating system, it probably still wouldn't work. The setups are incredibly finicky; they require very specific drivers that you have to request a floppy diskette for (no CD and no online repository) and some proprietary PCI card to interface with the instrument whose warranty you void as soon as you open the box. And a new one will run you several thousands of dollars. All told, it's too much of a pain to get these old instruments working with new computers, but I think the Windows XP versions just came out in the last year...

  • JayC (unregistered) in reply to Mr. Shiny & New
    Mr. Shiny & New:
    Why would you try to install patches on a computer so old and so obviously broken? A relic like that is good for one thing only: doing exactly what it is doing until you build a proper replacement. Don't waste time fixing it, a new PC is like $300 from Dell.

    Anyway, I don't know why he didn't just download the data files in the first place. Some user account created those files, that user account could decrypt them.

    Did you even read the article? And it's not tech support's job to doll out $300 dollars because somebody's too cheap or lazy to buy a new computer

  • mr_smith (unregistered) in reply to connect_to_reality
    connect_to_reality:
    GvG:
    Perhaps the reason that the USB drive wasn't recognized would be that NT4 didn't support USB? USB support was only introduced in Windows 2000.

    I thought 2000 had plug and play support for USB, while NT could run USB as long as the drivers for the USB software was installed. Am I wrong?

    You are right but service pack something or rather was needed. I never did try it - I didn't have any USB devices at that time.

  • ian (unregistered)

    Don't those old machines usually have floppy drives? I'd think it'd be much easier to just copy the data onto a floppy and then figure out how to get it on the USB pen drive on a newer machine.

  • pjt33 (cs) in reply to stewie
    stewie:
    I think its implied that he used the brute-force-found password and the knoppix CD to get the files out
    So what role does the CD have in this? The only scenario I can see where it would continue to be relevant after cracking the password is if the admin password allowed him to run the decryption program and the Knoppix CD then allowed him to copy the decrypted files to the USB drive. If that is the case then it really needs to be explained in a tad more detail.
  • incassum (unregistered) in reply to GvG
    GvG:
    Perhaps the reason that the USB drive wasn't recognized would be that NT4 didn't support USB? USB support was only introduced in Windows 2000.
    I'm sure NT supported USB. Hell 95 (sp something-or-other) had basic USB support.
  • my name is missing (unregistered)

    Apparently dead men do tell tales.

  • Warren (unregistered)

    Truly chemists are a strange bunch. They want computers to be fully functional at a moment's notice, but only trust ones that are badly put together, and won't let anyone take them away for fixing.

    Are they sure that "Contaminated" sign is malfunctioning?

  • Neil (unregistered)

    Yawn. I guess the punchline was supposed to be that the guy who knew the password was dead (hence the title), but a forgotten password (whether the user is dead, gone, or absent minded) is pretty mundane.

  • Tzafrir Cohen (unregistered)
    Comment held for moderation.
  • Anon (unregistered)
    the password was likely L&28A34G#$%GH1 or worse, something insane that somehow used non-printable ASCII characters.

    I was expecting the password to turn out to be "password". Disappointing story.

  • Anon (unregistered) in reply to Blitz
    Blitz:
    Mr. Shiny & New:
    Why would you try to install patches on a computer so old and so obviously broken? A relic like that is good for one thing only: doing exactly what it is doing until you build a proper replacement. Don't waste time fixing it, a new PC is like $300 from Dell.

    Anyway, I don't know why he didn't just download the data files in the first place. Some user account created those files, that user account could decrypt them.

    As much as I would love to agree with you, having worked at those labs (as both the scientist and the tech) I can tell you with 100% certainty that most of the software for these instruments are incompatible with Windows XP and later. Yes, you read that right: this software has not been updated to work on a 6 year old operating system. Not to mention that even if you did just throw on the old operating system, it probably still wouldn't work. The setups are incredibly finicky; they require very specific drivers that you have to request a floppy diskette for (no CD and no online repository) and some proprietary PCI card to interface with the instrument whose warranty you void as soon as you open the box. And a new one will run you several thousands of dollars. All told, it's too much of a pain to get these old instruments working with new computers, but I think the Windows XP versions just came out in the last year...

    QFT. Scientific hardware is notoriously finicky about what they'll talk to and incredibly expensive to upgrade.

  • SR (unregistered) in reply to incassum
    incassum:
    GvG:
    Perhaps the reason that the USB drive wasn't recognized would be that NT4 didn't support USB? USB support was only introduced in Windows 2000.
    I'm sure NT supported USB. Hell 95 (sp something-or-other) had basic USB support.

    Certainly MS never released native USB drivers. If they had I might still be using it

  • proster (unregistered)

    i don't care if it's all lies, this was brilliant.

  • Alister (unregistered)

    IDE to USB to portable, and unless they've encrypted it's easy. Hell that'll take the the sam database too

  • bigbird (unregistered)

    Several years ago I installed a combined access control/card payment system for a well known financial firm in London who have recently had to be bailed out. The only username/password they insisted on having for use by the security desk - which allowed creation of "access all areas" passes and loading of unlimited funds to payment cards? security/security - the irony!

  • Anon (unregistered)

    Should have read: "IT Support gets socially engineered into helping steal research."

  • Wells (unregistered)

    sigh

    No, Windows NT never had official support of USB from Microsoft. Remember, NT came out BEFORE Windows 95.

    There were some 3rd party vendors that had some USB equipment that would work with NT, but they provided the drivers themselves, and those drivers typically only worked for that particular device, and nothing else.

  • pscs (cs)

    TRWTF is that everyone seems to have forgotten about floppy disks.

    I'm pretty sure NT4 supported floppy disks.

    Even if the file was too big to put on one, there are small programs which will fit on one which can be used to split big files into little files just for putting on floppy disks.

  • SR (unregistered) in reply to pscs
    pscs:
    TRWTF is that everyone seems to have forgotten about floppy disks.

    I'm pretty sure NT4 supported floppy disks.

    Even if the file was too big to put on one, there are small programs which will fit on one which can be used to split big files into little files just for putting on floppy disks.

    Given the guy's shock at seeing an NT4 workstation I guess he's not from the generation that remembers pkzip -&

  • drachenstern (cs) in reply to cjmac
    cjmac:
    Chris walked down the hallway to the foyer. Noticing the fire panel's flashing "evacuate", he turned to the building maintenance team standing beside him and asked if anything was wrong. "No", they replied, "it's just malfunctioning". Having now reached his destination, he reached into his pocket, his fingers grasped his well-worn wallet. Taking out a small note and inserting it into the machine's slot, he first pressed the button marked "B", then "6", then waited for the machine to vend his well-earned candy.

    Returning to his desk, Chris paused to ponder the day so far. It had been rather busy, interrupted by several reminders about the new cover sheets for the TPS reports. Once the chocolate was gone, he threw the wrapper in the bin and stared at the phone, waited for the next support call to come in.

    How much did you pay for the candy, and which one did you get? B6 around here is a sack of crisps, so that doesn't sound like well-earned candy...

    Also, if you're doing support, why do you need to fill out TPS reports? That's confusing, although the fact that they are wasting your time on TPS reports when they don't concern you sounds like a good wtf. Lastly, why are you eating candy's now? That's both bad for your sugar levels and for your wallet. Wait a little bit longer and eat a good lunch.

    So, keep us informed, what you had for lunch, that would be good...

    And you could always just not make sarcastic posts? Although, yours is starting to sound as good as some of the others... ALEX - I nominate this post for inclusion in one of the short TDWTF entries, like we had yesterday!!!

  • Timmy D (unregistered) in reply to pscs

    You forget the part where the files were encrypted. Otherwise he would have been able to put them on a USB stick from Knoppix, like the article says.

    I still don't get why he still needed the Knoppix CD after cracking the NT password.

  • pitchingchris (cs)

    I'm no expert on NT4, but I'm sure he could have got a CD burner working with a lot less trouble. Not as portable as a USB pen drive, but would have easily gotten the data and then they can copy it to the pen drive with a laptop

  • Timmy D (unregistered) in reply to pscs

    Oops, forgot to quote.

    pscs:
    TRWTF is that everyone seems to have forgotten about floppy disks.

    I'm pretty sure NT4 supported floppy disks.

    Even if the file was too big to put on one, there are small programs which will fit on one which can be used to split big files into little files just for putting on floppy disks.

    You forget the part where the files were encrypted. Otherwise he would have been able to put them on a USB stick from Knoppix, like the article says.

    I still don't get why he still needed the Knoppix CD after cracking the NT password.

  • Timmy D (unregistered) in reply to pitchingchris
    pitchingchris:
    I'm no expert on NT4, but I'm sure he could have got a CD burner working with a lot less trouble. Not as portable as a USB pen drive, but would have easily gotten the data and then they can copy it to the pen drive with a laptop

    Again, encryption.

    R>C>P

  • Anon (unregistered)

    If universities had to comply with the same kinds of safety and procedure standards that many industries (that do the same kinds of work) did... they'd never get anything done.

    Consider, just for a moment, only the broken contaminated sign. If that sign were in an industry setting, all work would stop in the area, the sign would have to be fixed/replaced immediately, and no-one would be allowed in the area until it was.

    And alpha radiation can still affect you, it's just far less likely - and your exposure level would have to be high iirc.

  • Malenfant (cs) in reply to Timmy D
    Timmy D:
    Oops, forgot to quote.
    pscs:
    TRWTF is that everyone seems to have forgotten about floppy disks.

    I'm pretty sure NT4 supported floppy disks.

    Even if the file was too big to put on one, there are small programs which will fit on one which can be used to split big files into little files just for putting on floppy disks.

    You forget the part where the files were encrypted. Otherwise he would have been able to put them on a USB stick from Knoppix, like the article says.

    I still don't get why he still needed the Knoppix CD after cracking the NT password.

    Sheesh, I hope you guys never run support anywhere near me, it's all obvious. The file is encrypted. He cracks the NT password, logs into NT system and decrypts the file, which he then saves on the hard drive. Still can't copy onto pen-drive from NT, so he shuts down, then boots from Knoppix CD to save the now decrypted file to the pen-drive.

  • Georgem (unregistered)

    Passwords are fallible.

    That brief enuff??

  • Lupus.Umbrae (unregistered) in reply to nico
    nico:
    a large overhead sign flashed CONTAMINATED over and over again. "Don’t worry about that," Jeffrey said casually, "that's just the alpha radiation detector. It's been malfunctioning all week." It wasn't all that reassuring.

    Well alpha radiations are not so dangerous anyway, they won't even pass your skin. Would have been nice if it were gamma radiations. The guy could have changed into some weird superhero, like SuperKnoppix or something like that.

    Or this weird computer could have been an artifact from the zone...

    Also, I remember that I had a Windows 95 CD with "WITH USB SUPPORT!" printed on it... And if I'm not mistaken, NT4 was released after 95. How ever, this CD was from '97, so... Oh, what the hell am I talking about anyway? Like somebody cares...

    I'll go reanimate my 98SE box, have a nice day.

  • veniam (unregistered) in reply to Anon
    Anon:
    If universities had to comply with the same kinds of safety and procedure standards that many industries (that do the same kinds of work) did... they'd never get anything done.

    Consider, just for a moment, only the broken contaminated sign. If that sign were in an industry setting, all work would stop in the area, the sign would have to be fixed/replaced immediately, and no-one would be allowed in the area until it was.

    And alpha radiation can still affect you, it's just far less likely - and your exposure level would have to be high iirc.

    Alpha radiation is quite bad if you inhale the particles. They tend to stick to your insides and stuff.

  • Ozz (unregistered) in reply to cjmac
    cjmac:
    Chris walked down the hallway to the foyer. Noticing the fire panel's flashing "evacuate", he turned to the building maintenance team standing beside him and asked if anything was wrong. "No", they replied, "it's just malfunctioning". Having now reached his destination, he reached into his pocket, his fingers grasped his well-worn wallet. Taking out a small note and inserting it into the machine's slot, he first pressed the button marked "B", then "6", then waited for the machine to vend his well-earned candy. <snip>
    Were you the script writer for MFD?
  • valerion (cs)

    Worst. WTF. Ever.

  • squizzar (unregistered) in reply to Lupus.Umbrae

    IIRC Windows 95 OSR2.1 had USB support, and I believe was an 'upgrade' you had to pay for from previous versions. They were both released in 96.

    Alpha radiation is only really dangerous if you get a source of it inside you, other than that it's pretty safe.

    Story was pretty boring, it would have been much more interesting if he had been eaten by a grue.

  • ATimson (cs) in reply to Lupus.Umbrae
    Lupus.Umbrae:
    Also, I remember that I had a Windows 95 CD with "WITH USB SUPPORT!" printed on it... And if I'm not mistaken, NT4 was released after 95.
    Windows 95 had USB support added in OSR2.1--that is, OEM Service Release 2.1, meaning that you had to buy a new machine to get that support.

    And yes, NT 4 came out after 95, though NT 3.1 (and I believe 3.5) came out before.

  • Patrick (unregistered)

    what did you expect, "hunter2"?

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