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8th Grader Suspended for Using 'net send' Command 499

HRH King Lerxst writes: "The Fort Worth Star-Telegram has an article detailing how a middle school student was suspended for three days for 'hacking.' His hack? Sending a popup message to the other computers in the school...from within the shcool." The 8th grader in question used the "net send" command to send a single word message ("Hey!") to the 80 machines tied to his school's network. How this can be construed as "hacking", I leave up to you.
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8th Grader Suspended for Using 'net send' Command

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    If it's OK for this little bastard to do this, then it is OK for the big firms to do this and also send spam and virii and junkfax.
  • School days (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Sklivvz ( 167003 ) * <.marco.cecconi. .at. .gmail.com.> on Wednesday January 07, 2004 @12:53PM (#7904154) Homepage Journal
    This does remind me of my school days, I got apprehended because I was playing with a magnet during lesson. It also reminded me what school (well, Italian school to be precise) seems to be all about: taking away the fun away from culture.

    Because that's what hacking is, it's a form of culture and fun. And that 13 y.o. boy is a hacker, or at least he has a hacker attitude, which is good! Honest fun with computers should be encouraged by the school, not reprehended.

    And did you read the email from the teacher? "Before you make comments you should be a teacher". Quite typical. Using the same argument I would then say, well, before calling someone a hacker, you should be a hacker too, right?

    Oh, by the way, when I was his age I was hacking my Speccy... fortunately for me, it was not in that school otherwise I would have got expelled!

    Now for the karma whoring: "It's Micro$oft's fault! If they used Linux then there wouldn't have been any chance of NET SENDs" :-)

    By the way, what would have happened if he did launched a batch file like this (say it's called a.bat)
    net send foo Hey!
    call a.bat

    ? That IS annoying... ;-P
    • Isn't it called "wall" in *NIX?
    • Yea, at that point (linux) he probably would have been logged into the central server (where everyone else logs into) and typed *wall*. :)

      Hacking at it's finest, indeed.
    • by stienman ( 51024 ) <adavis@NoSpAM.ubasics.com> on Wednesday January 07, 2004 @01:19PM (#7904456) Homepage Journal
      By the way, what would have happened if he did launched a batch file like this (say it's called a.bat)
      net send foo Hey!
      call a.bat
      ? That IS annoying... ;-P


      You're right, that is annoying. You'd run out of call space and the batch file would stop running (error out to the command line after a few dozen sends). Try this instead:

      :loop
      net send foo Hey!
      if exist a.bat goto loop

      Then you could stop it by deleting the batch file remotely (assuming it's run from a networked drive).

      -Adam
    • <IT>Bella frate... ma le tesine scopiazzate dall'enciclopedia dove le metti? A me che non lo facevo mettevano votacci... chi copiava invece... le lodi! Ah, secondo me il liceo e stato il peggior periodo (culturalmente parlando) della mia vita; ci ho messo anni a scrollarmi di dosso le pessime abitudini acquisite...</IT>

      He's right, italian schools suck!
  • by Ophidian P. Jones ( 466787 ) on Wednesday January 07, 2004 @12:54PM (#7904162)
    Most schools have a usage policy to which all students must agree before using computer resources. The article doesn't state whether use of the "net send" command is permitted or not.

    I know it's not hacking, but it can be seen (incorrectly, of course) as a subversive activity by paranoid faculty. Imagine if the student were Arab-American, and was sending "Hey!" in Middle East-speak. All hell might break loose.
    • It would seem this school's definition of "hacking" is "Doing anything that isn't on the lesson plan / assignment for the day".

      If anything a 'disrupting class' argument could be made by sending that message; if everyone in class started playing with that it would get very hard to get work done.
    • the article states they no written policies about computer use whatsoever.
      • Exactly.

        Wasn't that the point of the entire article? To point out that there was no real policy on misuse of school computer resources?

        At best, I would have liked to see the kid get a slap on the wrist. But, if I knew then what I know now, I would have taken the 3 day expulsion and enjoyed it. Permanent record indeed.....
    • The article doesn't state whether use of the "net send" command is permitted or not.

      Did you read the same article [dfw.com] linked from the story?

      Carl did not send out a dirty word. Carl received no warning. No written policy prohibits what he did.

      In case gets slashdotted, here is the full text regarding the incident:

      Hey! Where's the problem?
      Dave Lieber IN MY OPINION
      Star-Telegram

      Hey!

      On its face, that expression is neither offensive nor disturbing. "Hey!" is an informal way to say hello. It indicates kindne

      • Beverly Sweeney, a computer teacher and campus computer liaison with the district, entered Carl's computer class and quickly figured out where the message originated and who sent it.

        According to Carl, Sweeney asked him, "Did you do this?"

        "Yes," he replied.

        "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.

    • by Blkdeath ( 530393 ) on Wednesday January 07, 2004 @02:02PM (#7904922) Homepage
      Most schools have a usage policy to which all students must agree before using computer resources. The article doesn't state whether use of the "net send" command is permitted or not.

      ObRTFA. {smile}

      According to the article, there was no stated policy, and this student was "made an example of";

      Rollins told me that students had been using campus computers in unacceptable ways, and he hoped to make an example of Carl. The Birdville school district does not have a written policy on what to do in this kind of situation, so the decision rested with the principal.

      I, myself, have been caught in this short-sighted level of computer administration by business teachers masquerading as computer/LAN administrators. A typing teacher of mine, named Ms. Noah, once strolled past my workstation (in, I believe, grade 7 or 8) while I was opening a document in WordPerfect (5.1 - the latest and greatest at the time). At some point prior to this occasion, a folder called "Noah" had been created in my network home directory, presumably for the purposes of distributing assignments et al. I ignored it and selected my document. Without accepting any explanation, she demanded that I re-open the file/open dialog at which point she determined, with the help of the other sysadmin, that I was "hacking" and had, in their estimation, entered Ms. Noah's home directory. This was an unquestioned, no exception suspension offence. Thus began my downhil road where computers were concerned, and I was thereafter labelled as a "trouble maker", which went so far as to see my high school warned about me which gave me very limited (and supervised-only) access to school computers, and removed several opportunities for advancement in my chosen field.

      Other such examples included;

      • Dropping to a command-prompt to set the date (to the current decade {cough}) to ease my work in which I required the date/time macro several times. In short, with the date incorrect, it was faster to manually enter the date each time, which led (and contributed) to the next point;
      • When our class was in the library inputting work into the computer, the students realized that assistance from me was more comprehensive than that of the teacher. They would therefore 'look busy' until the teacher left, satisfied that the flock was hard at work. Vis, I would inevietably find myself assisting other students to the point where my own work would suffer, which in part led to my ability to type faster than all my peers. 15 minutes to enter a document that took others upwards of an hour will do that to a person. ;) In the end, I'd be constantly penalized for not doing my work, and the natural suspiscion of the staff led them to believe I was spending my time 'hacking' rather than performing my required work. I wonder if, when I was removed from the computers, they noticed the degradation in work/quality from the remainder of the class. (I'm surprised they managed to print or save their assignments, letalone apply stylistic changes)
      • Using applications that were buried 2-3 sub-menus deep in the school's own menuing system was considered a 'hacking' offence, as the students were not implicitly instructed on their use (or existance).

      For years, and due to past 'behavioural' problems (ie; I am a hands-on person faced with almost entirely book/written work, which caused me to fidget), my parents, both working full time jobs, had no reason to disbelieve, or no inclination to investigate each offence. As a result, I was completely at the mercy of unqualified, nay, ignorant instructors who believed they could do no wrong.

      A lesson to all parents; investigate why your son/daughter is being penalized. You could save a lot of strife for yourself in the next few years of their education, and save them the hassle, embarrassment, and future behavioural problems associated with placement in any number of behavioural modification classes as a result of poor educators.

      • Wow.
        That reminds me of something similar which also happened to me during high school. I took a "computer science" class which was actually nothing but a word processing class. Since I typed so much faster than everyone else, I would finish my assignments much earlier, then spend the remainder of my time in class working on various PHP projects.

        One day the teacher demanded to know what I was doing when she saw me using my syntax highlighted code editor along with windows explorer for ftp. Not understanding
  • After some kids realized that net send was annoying and unblocked the district decided to punish all that used it (and got caught of course).

    But, all they had to do was disable windows messenger service...

    This really shows the naivety of some of our schools towards technology, which in my school, was always a huge problem. Teachers could NOT keep up with the kids in computer classes, which left a whole slew of kids "left behind" per se (thanks Bush).
    • This really shows the naivety of some of our schools towards technology, which in my school, was always a huge problem. Teachers could NOT keep up with the kids in computer classes, which left a whole slew of kids "left behind" per se (thanks Bush).

      Thanks Bush? Which Bush? What did he do to deserve your thanks?
    • Bush didn't have anything to do with teachers being so behind the kids when it comes to computers. As a student I got into trouble for messing with their now retired Novell system along with a few other friends. It was the same back (92-93).

      They even hired me after I graduated (98) and it was the same then, the teachers were always behind and didn't understand how it worked.

      Interestingly enough the ones that did know what was going on were long time Mac users who were pissed when they were told they cou
    • by Dr. Bent ( 533421 ) <ben@i n t . com> on Wednesday January 07, 2004 @01:51PM (#7904841) Homepage
      Teachers could NOT keep up with the kids in computer classes, which left a whole slew of kids "left behind" per se (thanks Bush).

      Maybe it's me, but this sounds to be more of a problem with the teachers (and possibly the local school board) than anything Bush has done...

      The federal government somehow gets blame or credit for the condition of public schools, but people forget that public schools are really local institutions. Only about 7% of Elementary and Secondary education funding [census.gov] comes from the Federal government. School policies and curriculums are set at the local and state level; The Federal government can ususally only make recommendations or support specific programs.

      If your school's policies are stupid, chances are your local government is the responsible party, not the federal government. The good thing about this, however, is that it's pretty easy for you to go voice your opinion at your local school board meeting. Flying to D.C. to have a chat with the President is a little more difficult.
    • Thanks Bush? wtf?

      How the hell long have you been in (or out) of school? Clueless computer teachers have been around for a LOOOONG time, and this has nothing to do with the current president.
  • by Smidge204 ( 605297 ) on Wednesday January 07, 2004 @12:56PM (#7904187) Journal
    ...because the people in charge (Teachers, parents, school board, etc) don't understand what's going on.

    It's just that simple. Whenever someone does something with a computer that they don't understand, it's hacking. A High School friend of mine got accused of 'hacking' by downloading Netscape once.

    Fear and ignorance, ignorance and fear...
    =Smidge=
    • There were a few linux machines in the computer lab at highschool (well, one, by the time we were gone), and a clever ruse was to ssh and "eject", making whoever was working at it (or preferably, next to it) stare as the thing opened and closed it's CD-Rom try by itself.
    • It's true though, hacking arround with a device trying to get it to do interesting things. You might hack together a few electronic components and build a radio, or you might hack together a sledge out of an old table.
    • by Monkelectric ( 546685 ) <slashdot AT monkelectric DOT com> on Wednesday January 07, 2004 @08:21PM (#7909063)
      Actually you're right but you don't know why. Although I am not a teacher, there are 5 teachers in my immediate family so I am pretty well acquantied with the subject.

      In a nutshell, the reason the educational system has gone to hell is that teachers have *NO LEVERAGE* over students. Teachers have no way to *make* kids do anything. The only options teachers have for disciplining kids is to have them removed from the classroom (suspension, on campus retention, etc). Guess what, the kids don't care :) Most of the time when a teacher calls a kids parents the parents yell at the TEACHER and threaten to sue and whatnot. The teachers are in an impossible situation. A family member of mine once called a girls mother because she didn't write an essay. A whole *stinkin* half page essay. The assignment was to research something about apples and write it in essay format. The mother (who was black) came down to the school and screamed at said family member, "You're a racist! Black people don't eat apples! Apples are white people food. If the assignment was on sweet potatos then my daughter could have done it! Black people eat those!"

      Since you're reading slashdot, I would wager a large portion of you have not been exposed to *THIS* America. That is the real face of education. And in that context, educators deal out punishments like the net-send kid got to try and maintaim order and leverage over students. The message is not "netsend is hacking" it's "don't demonstrate our ignorance infront of students causing further loss of control".

      • Dead on. (Score:4, Insightful)

        by PotatoHead ( 12771 ) <{doug} {at} {opengeek.org}> on Thursday January 08, 2004 @01:18AM (#7912036) Homepage Journal
        The control issue is real. Why?

        I think it is all the lawyers. When I went to school, things were not as bad. The staff had a lot more options compared to today.

        Schools do not teach ethics and citizenship. Afraid they might offend somebody. In fact, most of the problems today boil down to lame procedures designed by lawyers to maintain a high level of "liability managment."

        The schools would not have to go through the crap they have to today, if the parents were more involved. Nothing worse than a problem kid with rich, uninvolved parents willing to sue the school when something happens to their kid.

        I have 4 kids and stay right on top of what they are doing in school. Takes a lot of time most of my peers are not willing to give. As they get older, the differences are beginning to show.

        As an involved parent, I am qualified to say this would not happen with my kid. The suspension is bullshit plain and simple. Schools are supposed to be places where we build new citizens one kid at a time. Giving smart kids the smackdown because the staff is too uninformed to understand their behaviour is sensless.

        The schools work for us. They don't often want to admit that, but the truth is they do. With this particular kid, they have just sent a message and shaped a couple of values in his mind that are unacceptable at best, scarring at worst.

        In this case, both are at fault. The school being driven by its lawyers and the state instead of its responsibility to society, and the parents for letting this crap stand.

        I know the schools have it tough, but if this were my kid, I would be in the office that day, and would stay until the suspension was revoked. Clearly the educators need to get some education themselves, and I would press this point hard.

        Nobody wants a lawsuit over something this small, but we don't want our kids becoming compliant drones either.

        In my experience, once this is explained to the staff, this sort of thing goes away pretty quickly. When they realize they are going to deal with a parent who knows the rules and the law and cares about their kid, they back off and pester the other kids whose parents don't care.

        Another thing about this that burns my ass: I would be happy to work with kids in school for a few years. I have a lot to give, practical experience, and enjoy the subject matter. Plenty of other people I know are in a similar position.

        You would think the State government would have programs in place to take advantage of this for technical subject matter, but they don't. Sorry if I offend a teacher or two, but the truth is most grade / high school computer educators really have no clue. I am sure they are fine people, working hard to make the best of the situation they are in, but still it sucks to know my kids could be getting much better...

      • The message is not "netsend is hacking" it's "don't demonstrate our ignorance infront of students causing further loss of control".

        Then perhaps the correct response would have been to kick out the teacher, rather than the pupil. A teacher who is not on top of the subject stands no chance of maintaining any level of respect and control and should go out and get a job they are more suited to.

        I remember a sports techer being pulled in to teach us when a math teacher was unexpectedly off sick. A guy who had


  • blah blah blah.

    But, really, all we had was a mainframe with paper teletypes terminals.

    The most subversive things we did was use the banner program to print dirty words in large letters.
  • the principal suspended him for misuse of the computer and disruption of school - and only for 3 days. it's the teacher trying to say he was "hacking," and the columnist sounds off against her on that. she indicates her misunderstanding of 'hacker' terminology in an email to the paper, so she'll certainly read this column.

    however, what the kid did was wrong, and that's that. his punishment was overkill, and we'll all (/.'ers, that is) agree. detention or a mandatory essay was probably more appropriate.
    • Re:overreaction (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Asgard ( 60200 ) <jhmartin-s-5f7bbb@toger.us> on Wednesday January 07, 2004 @01:03PM (#7904258) Homepage
      One wonders if using writing as a form of punishment could be giving kids the impression that writing is an unpleasant task, which would diminish their desire to spend effort on any future writing tasks.
      • look at this way: if a kid wants to do something wrong, he gets a few days out of going to school. majority of troublemaking kids already dont like school, so getting into trouble for them only helps their cause. giving them somethign else to do suddenly makes them think twice, doesnt it?

        a lot of schools have significantly cut down on fights and arguments by introducing peer mediation programs. i feel the main reason is because they're suddenly forced to think about the actions that led up to the fight
        • Re:overreaction (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Firehawke ( 50498 ) on Wednesday January 07, 2004 @01:38PM (#7904706) Journal
          Sure, but I wonder if paper/detention/whatever is really WARRANTED. A verbal warning should have been MORE than sufficient, considering the incident is so absolutely minor as to be worthless.

          Maybe I'm biased, though.. I nearly got suspended for miskeying ctrl-something or another years ago on an old Apple 2 wordprocessor. The thing beeped, the instructor freaked, and I was accused of hacking. I was just lucky that someone with a CLUE caught the situation and defused it before it got all the way to the top and I ended up suspended..

          One thing's for sure-- I think the fearmongering amongst the ignorant teachers and administration needs to stop. This has been out of control for a long time..
          • ok, so an essay for sending "hey!" probably isn't necessary.

            as for fearmongering, most schools are in check because they have to have people there who know what's going on. someone to maintain/administer the network, etc. you're forming an opinion of all schools based upon a small handful of isolated incidents.

            i once (in a 9th grade computer class) missed the letter F when typing the word Shift for something in the class. The teacher didnt mind (she only knew enough to get her teaching done, not much e
    • by Cliff ( 4114 ) * on Wednesday January 07, 2004 @01:46PM (#7904786) Homepage Journal
      however, what the kid did was wrong, and that's that. his punishment was overkill, and we'll all (/.'ers, that is) agree. detention or a mandatory essay was probably more appropriate.
      Sorry, jeffy. I'm afraid I disagree. First off, there were no written policies against this. No teacher told the kids that the "net" command was offlimits. All of the machines were configured to let this through.

      He learned this command from his father and decided to experiment with it at school. Are educators now in the business of making children afraid to experiment and learn?

      Back when I was in elementary school we were encouraged to experiment with computers as long as we followed the guidelines. If we encountered an issue where the guidelines were unclear on, our teacher told us what we did that may proove to be problematic later and the guidelines were updated.

      It would be interesting to note if the school has updated their guidelines on this topic and have take the (simple) steps necessary to insure this doesn't happen again, but saying that what this kid did was wrong is borderlining on the dangerous.

      Is it any wonder why some people grow up afraid to learn computers? I'd hazard to say maybe we'd do well to have better trained educators and more concise guidelines rather than knee-jerk suspensions and "computer educators" that don't know how to secure their own networks, nor how to handle the children whom the parents put in their care!
      • maybe no specific written policy, but they usually include a catch-all statement somewhere in case something new happens to justify punishment. sometimes falls under some sort of common code of discipline that loosely defines what is acceptable rather than what is not.

        what this kid did was disruptive, anyone at a terminal when that "Hey!" message popped up were unnecessarily distracted from what they were doing, even though most probably brushed it off (like the principal). you certainly dont like gettin
    • Writing assignments sure helped me out - I was an ass in high school and, as a consequence of my frequent and lengthy detentions, I'm now on my way to earning my Masters degree in English literature.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Richland Middle School [k12.tx.us].

    Possible illegal use of trademarked/copyrighted picture on Principal's homepage [k12.tx.us].

    Homepage of the author of the letter to the Star Telegram: Mrs. [Beverly] Sweeney, Social Studies [k12.tx.us]
  • by karnal ( 22275 ) on Wednesday January 07, 2004 @01:00PM (#7904229)
    I did this once in high school (probably around 10th grade -- 13 years ago?..)

    Sent a message "hi" to the cafeteria terminal (with the name of the "lunchlady" on it.) Apparently, to my chagrin, it actually froze the cafeteria application that was running. I did it outside of normal cafeteria hours, so it didn't cause too much fuss, but my account became suspended... stupid me for using my own account and not a "student" generic id at the time.

    I was never spoken to about it, and just accepted the locked out account as punishment... a few months later, after an upgrade, my account was unlocked. I learned to not do stuff like that again, or if you do do it, just to think first and act later... use an anonymous account, from a machine that's used by more than a few students a day...
    • sounds familiar. when I was in HS, they started using ID cards with barcodes on them to handle students who get free/reduced cost lunches, to record that someone ate lunch that day. the rationale was that students on a free/reduced plan no longer needed stamps or anything, and the district was trying to fend off complaints from parents that their kids aren't eating. (they were probably also seeking to control theft of cash by the cashiers) (interestingly, class cutting during lunch periods was a somewha
  • Proof-positive that there's an opening in Richland Hills for anyone who knows how to disable windows messenger.

    Get your resumes ready!
  • by mivok ( 621790 )
    Happened to me a few years back for almost the same reason (except it was just chatting to a friend, not bulk messaging). It just motivated me to write a program that changed the name of the sender. They got confused when they tried to ban an empty computer from using the facilities.

    Seriously though, while its not hacking, it is bulk messaging, which I'm sure they could suspend the kid over. And while 'Hey!' might not be a 'F*ck you all!!', if they let it slide, the problem will get out of hand until there
  • by Mr. Darl McBride ( 704524 ) on Wednesday January 07, 2004 @01:02PM (#7904257)
    His mistake was in not using the samba version of the command. There, you can manually specify the name presented for the sending party. Sending a message from the headmaster asking if any teachers could bum a smoke? Now that would have made the three day suspension something to be proud of!
  • My take on this (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dauvis ( 631380 ) * on Wednesday January 07, 2004 @01:03PM (#7904266)
    From the article the teacher was quoted as saying, "Hacking into a system should be highest on the list of tampering violations. I believe the other students are now aware that the district takes this seriously and will not tolerate such misuse of our equipment." In addition to "Rollins told me that students had been using campus computers in unacceptable ways, and he hoped to make an example of Carl."

    It looks like to me that the teachers can't/won't secure the computers and decided to throw the book at the first kid to do something that they were able to catch in hopes that it scares the others into submission.
  • by borgboy ( 218060 ) on Wednesday January 07, 2004 @01:05PM (#7904282)
    The writer seems to get two important things - that using net send is certainly not hacking, and deeming it so is demonstrative of the school district's lack of understanding of a subject area they purport to teach.

    How about emailing [mailto] the principal of that school and telling him what you think of his actions?
    • by NanoGator ( 522640 ) on Wednesday January 07, 2004 @01:21PM (#7904498) Homepage Journal
      "How about emailing the principal of that school and telling him what you think of his actions?"

      ooo Good Idea!! I can embed an image hosted on my server, watch the logs, and get his IP address. Then, I can net send him until he capitulates!

      Very clever!
    • Well, I am not saying that the student should have been suspended by any stretch of the means, but he did affect 90 machines and presumably disrupted 90 students on those machines (yes, middle school students are very easy to disrupt, and a simple message probably put them all in an uproar of sorts). It was not malicious, but it was also unwise. For those of you who think this is an ok thing to do, try pulling something similar at work. You wont get fired, and prob not sent home w/out pay for a day, but y
      • by Sylver Dragon ( 445237 ) on Wednesday January 07, 2004 @02:32PM (#7905223) Journal
        For those of you who think this is an ok thing to do, try pulling something similar at work. You wont get fired, and prob not sent home w/out pay for a day, but your boss and others will most likely come in your office and be like umm... wtf?

        Maybe I'm special, but I would probably just get a chuckle out of most of my co-workers. The last guy who sent one of these out domain wide, by mistake during a test, just got razzed for it a bit.
        Seriously, the kid was experimenting with a command he had learned. He was actually trying to further his own education by playing with stuff on his own. God forbid a student actually be interested in learning and try to go beyond the approved ciriculum. Yes, it can cause problems, but this should be anticipated and some pre-emptive measures taken. For example, why the hell was the computer lab on the same LAN as the actual school network? Forget disabling the messenger service, it should be there to experiment with, but the computer lab should have been on a separate VLAN, which is not routed to the normal school network, and had all internet traffic logged, with some good outgoing firewalling and URL/IP re-direction. Also, have a central image server (which is powered off all day) and at the end of each day, just multicast a pure image back out to all of the clients. This way the students can actually try things and learn on thier own, and even if they screw a system, it's ready to roll the next day.
        So yes this is a case of "oh god teachers have no clue.", whoever set that school's LAN up needs a good whack from the clue stick. Sure, what the kid did was disruptive, but only because the school failed to plan for students who actually want to learn,and god forbid, actually experiment. If anything, this type of thing should be encourged, the whole "think outside the box" idea. But no, schools are now more interested in churning out mediocre students who are good citizens and don't think for themselves.

    • Letter time (Score:5, Insightful)

      by phorm ( 591458 ) on Wednesday January 07, 2004 @03:50PM (#7906100) Journal
      Dear Mr. Rollins,

      Before continueing, I might want to inform you that the following article has appeared on a major internet website, one visited by tens of thousands of technicians and other professionals a day. You may want to prepare your inbox.

      http://www.dfw.com/mld/dfw/news/columnists/dave_ li eber/7643262.htm

      As per the content of the article, it may be biased, but I am writing to assure you of the following:

      The "net send" command is in no way a 'hacking' tool. "Net" is a command used by windows/windows-users for many network tasks, and "net send" is a communication command which does not adversely affect any machine.

      Furthermore, the punishment for this "offense" seems neither fair nor warranted? You may not think that I have any cognisance of the type of things that occur in schools, but I can assure you - as an IT support technician/admin for a school-district - that I know a great deal about it. This problem would have been easily dealt with, and any issues caused by it not warranting such a punishment.

      Furthermore, the student - in investigating parts of computing that are obscure to many - seems to be showing promise and intelligence. To attack the natural curiousity of the student is to stifle his natural inclination to learn and investigate. Rather than punishment, you should consider giving the student materials to learn about computing in a way that might be more productive and advanced than "net send."

      Certainly I myself did a certain amount of investigating and playing with such commands when I first gained interest in computing. As my teachers promoted my curiousity I eventually found a lucrative career in both computer programming and administration. Had such a punishment been meted to me, it may have impaired the drive which brought me to my current employment.

      Please consider that while the commands used may be obscure to many, they are not highly technical nor dangerous in nature. An offensive action taken against the unknown is neither ethical nor mature in nature, and such reactions should be the bane of modern education.

      Sincerely,

      (my name here)
      IT Support Administration

      (and yes, I do work in educational IT support. suspension for net send would be laughable in comparison to the other things students try to do or do here)
  • Typical ignorance... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jafuser ( 112236 ) on Wednesday January 07, 2004 @01:06PM (#7904309)
    Most of the people who run our public educational system are, unfortunately, not very well rounded. Often they are too quick to make presumptions while drowning in ignorance.

    Back in my computer class in high school, I often finished my assignments way ahead of schedule, so I had a lot of free time.

    We had a Novell network where I managed to gobble up 25% of the network storage space by hiding my files in a directory with a difficult-to-type name.

    The teacher couldn't figure out how to delete my files, so he wrote me up (without even asking me to delete them).

    Since the school didn't have any classification for this kind of "deviant" behavior, they decided to call it "computer vandalism", and gave me the same punishment as regular school vandalism, three days suspension.

    If they had asked, I would have just deleted the files.
    • I managed to find out the root password of a computer when I was in grade eight and changed it to something else... the comp teacher called me up that night in order to ask me what the password was :) I told him, of course. No detention, no suspension, nothing of the sort. Cool guy, but boy, was he pissed! (especially when he found out that I changed the p/w to the name of his wife!)
  • A bit excessive (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Pyromage ( 19360 ) on Wednesday January 07, 2004 @01:07PM (#7904326) Homepage
    It certainly warrant some action, though most here would argue against it. After all, it does affect every computer on the network, and you and I would hang the kid if the message was spam.

    But a suspension? A three day suspension? Friends of mine have been suspended for less for bringing weapons to school. That one was bullshit too, but at least was a bit more understandable. Now this, a kid is suspended for doing something not forbidden (oh, they have rules against 'hacking'? Then it's their responsibility to understand the term).

    And as for that teacher, she's right. Most people have no idea what the inside of a classroom is right. Of course, it seems she doesn't either. Any competent teacher should recognize that experimentation leads to the most learning.

    Second, it doesn't sound like he did it during a class. It may warrant a detention if the child habitually ignored the teacher for his own experimentation, however this doesn't seem to be the case.

    The primary problem I see with education is that it is nearly impossible to evaluate teachers. If good teachers (and there are a lot of them) could be supported and not interfered with by others, it would be great. But this isn't the case. The good teachers out there are more than offset by ignorant policies, moronic teachers, incompetant administrators, and yuppie families.

    If I were only looking at education, the future would look really bleak. Fortunately, kids seem pretty good at surviving their schooling.
    • "Now this, a kid is suspended for doing something not forbidden (oh, they have rules against 'hacking'? Then it's their responsibility to understand the term)."

      Just playing devil's advocate here, he did disrupt EVERYBODY using a computer. It's doubtful that typed that in not knowing what the result would be.

      I dunno if 3 days is really the right punishment, but the severity of it is understandable. The whole point with using a computer network is to allow the computers to talk to each other. By its ver
      • I agree with you totally. Action against the student is necessary, but I believe that three days is excessive compared to other offenses. Consider my buddy who brought weapons (nunchucks, as I recall. Probably also some caltrops and throwing stars, I imagine) to school. That got him 3 days also, and he was suspended as a danger to other students. A nuisance and a danger are two differenct categories entirely.

        Now if that school has different standards, i.e. expulsion for the above offense, then perhaps it i
        • Out of curiosity, did he actually threaten anybody with them, or did he just bring them?

          I ask because I remember a situation with a friend of mine back in 1990. (I mention that because this is before Columbine etc, not sure how relevant that is...) His brother borrowed his coat and left a plastic chinese star in it. He discovered it at school and turned it in to a teacher, the point was to stay out of trouble. He was suspended for a day or two over it, believe it or not. I think turning it in was what
  • Years ago when BITNet was the only connection to the world from campus, a friend and I using the library VAX stumbled upon a way to use PHONE to contact people at another campus. Unfortunately for us, the person we contacted was an operator and within twelve hours those permissions were revoked without a word.
    • This is exactly how this situation ought to have been handled. You find a hole, someone notices it, closes the hole. This is a vastly better solution than suspension, which will only publicize the openings and the ignorance of the district.
  • This is exactly what's wrong with our education system. The computer teacher said in an email to the reporter, "If [the students] 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." Experimentation *is* a form of education, arguably the most effective form. If I had a student in her class, I would demand her resignation.
  • Messenger and Alerter services are stupid and useless, just as 'wall' is. Maybe they should turn off Remote Registry and administrative (C$, D$, etc) shares too. I wrote a script that can remotely disable all this junk and secure a machine for public network usage. The default XP, 2000, NT configuration is dangerous to use OotB.
  • After reading the article all I can say is that I hope she gets a little "personal time" herself. She's a pretty good example of what is wrong with today's educational system (here in the US). A high and mighty "I know best" incompetent.
  • When I was a senior in high school they finally added high speed internet to our computer classrooms, mounting the modem and router inside a cabinet inside the classroom. On a whim, I telnet'd into the gateway IP and got a password prompt. First thing I tried ("admin") worked right off the bat, and I was in the configuration screen. Pfft.

    Not to mention every machine in the class was infected with SubSeven.
  • by linuxwrangler ( 582055 ) on Wednesday January 07, 2004 @01:28PM (#7904588)
    I've never known anyone who is really proficient user to say nothing of becoming a programmer or administrator who doesn't experiment. It's the people who are afraid to touch anything on their computer who drive me nuts. You can't teach them anything because they are to afraid they will damage something.

    Take a kid with a bit of curiosity using a command that the school made available to him and saying nothing more than "Hey" and expelling him for being curious and experimenting with things. This is a really sad statement on how this school is run. And the pundits lament the low numbers of students who go into science/math/etc. With curiosity beaten out of them it's no wonder.

    Disclaimer: I couldn't get the article to load so I'm only going on the posted message. There may be more to the story than I know.
  • Junior year of high school--I showed a few classmates in my AP Comp Sci class (which was a large Mac lab) how to bypass the "At Ease" security program (Apple's then-answer to problem of keepings Macs in a public space from being trashed).

    I hit a keystroke, dropped into the debugger, typed "gfinder" (I believe) and it took you to the full featured Finder.

    I didn't do any trashing myself, but the kids that I taught this to told others and someone trashed a Mac. So I got suspended for 3 days. They couldn't sp
  • Eric Raymond, compiler of The New Hacker's Dictionary [tuxedo.org], lists five possible characteristics that qualify one as a hacker, which we paraphrase here:

    1. A person who enjoys learning details of a programming language or system
    2. A person who enjoys actually doing the programming rather than just theorizing about it
    3. A person capable of appreciating someone else's hacking
    4. A person who picks up programming quickly
    5. A person who is an expert at a particular programming language or system, as in "Unix hacker"

    In the a

  • omg... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Vaevictis666 ( 680137 ) on Wednesday January 07, 2004 @01:45PM (#7904778)
    "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."

    No, if they are allowed to experiment and do things ANYWHERE that they have not been given specific permission to do, it's called learning. Why should computers be any different?

  • Heh heh (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Txiasaeia ( 581598 ) on Wednesday January 07, 2004 @01:45PM (#7904780)
    When I was in ninth grade, I went to my school's measly computer room (all of ten computers) at lunch time and put passwords on all the screensavers in the lab. Little did i Know that there were several seniors writing papers over the double block (one class before, one after lunch)... holy crap was I in trouble! Not only that, but my best friend ratted me out to the admin... I can still see the scene: i was called to the computer room after lunch, and as soon as he saw me my best friend pointed at me and said "He did it!" Ah, those were the good ol' days.
  • But more troubling is the notion that Sweeney does not believe that the rest of us have any right to question the decisions made by public educators.

    This is the thought process of those people that George Bush and his cronies love so much and would do anything for, like giving them a job in government.

  • "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinquishable from magic." -Arthur C. Clark
    It's this kind of ignorance in high places that got a lot innocent people killed after the Salem witch trials.

    The teachers and adminstration at this school should be embarrassed at their ignorance but their inherent status prevents them from being exposed to that risk. I think we know from experience they're not worth the breath to clue to them in.

  • by JoeSmack ( 540377 ) on Wednesday January 07, 2004 @02:10PM (#7905010)

    Good thing I am not as young as this kid. I have played plenty of net send pranks.

    I remember my first CS lab where the TA had his computer hooked up to the projector. I kept sending him messages that the network was going down in five minutes. He sarcastically responded, "Uh oh, guess I better do as the computer says".

    If I was 10 years younger it'd be me getting suspended in Junior High. I guess that is a big difference about college. No hand holding. Nobody cares if you are not learning crap, so you are best learning and experimenting as much as possible on your own.

    Later on when I was a lab assistant. I put my junior programming skills to the test and built a GUI in front of netsend to make it more like a AIM. Pretty soon most of the lab assistants were using it to message each other and broadcast messages informational messages to the users, like the lab was closing. From what Beverly Sweeny was saying, that is exactly what she does not want the kids to do. The kids should not experiment, only do what she says. That way she can proliferate the next generation of retarded users.

  • by LWATCDR ( 28044 ) on Wednesday January 07, 2004 @03:43PM (#7906005) Homepage Journal
    Maybe slashdot should get some sponsors to send that boy a prize. How about a Mac G5 or Athlon-64 loaded with Linux. Throw in a bunch of O'Reilly books for fun. The new annual I was punished for being smart award!
    Okay how about a GBA SP?
  • Hacking? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by joto ( 134244 ) on Wednesday January 07, 2004 @03:49PM (#7906069)
    Oh, so who care what you label it. I'm sure you are more 31773 than most non-computer people, and feel superior for your technical knowledge. The net send command isn't exactly "hacking", it's a useful tool, albeit one that is also too easy to abuse, especially in a school setting.

    Should the student have done it? No. He was probably feeling just as clever and superior for his technical knowledge of the net send command. And he probably did it for showing off. Nothing bad about that, but at the same time, he knew that he would annoy a lot of people. He shouldn't need a written policy to tell him to not annoy 50 people through the net send command. He should be able to deduce that from common sense.

    Is it right to suspend him? Maybe. I'm not sure I understand all these crazy american school policies anymore, but a fair comparison would be with graffiti or tagging, but without the economic damages. I am not sure being suspended for three days is over the top for that. But it sure isn't way beyond reasonable imagination. Move on, I'm sure you are able to find better examples of injustice than this.

  • Expected ignorance (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Ih8sG8s ( 4112 ) on Wednesday January 07, 2004 @03:54PM (#7906137)
    I expect this type of reaction from school boards. Let's think about it...

    What competent person capable of landing a decent job programing or in IT would settle for teaching computer courses at the middle school level.

    Sure, I might find the odd kid who is geeky enough to be enjoyable teaching, but I don't think it would be enough to keep anyone challenged.

    A computer teacher is still a teacher, with teacher's credentials and training. I doubt you can find truly competent people (competent in real IT/development fields) who would teach grade 8 students to use Microsoft Paint.

    At the board's "liaison" level, I would expect more perhaps, but we can see that this is not the case, at least not within the board mentioned.

    This is a case of someone placed into a position at a board level who SHOULD know a deal more about IT and "hacking", but they do not. This woman reacted on fear and ignorance. And in her ignorance, she fails to be an educator at all, with a nice healthy dose of arrogance towards questoins, with another big ignorant cherry on top by falsely claiming that the right decision was made.

    She doesn't even realize that she's ignorant in the first place.
  • Appalling (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ciphertext ( 633581 ) on Wednesday January 07, 2004 @04:42PM (#7906725)

    "Students should not be of the opinion that it is acceptable to abuse the privileges that are afforded them by the taxpayers. 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.

    I think that "abuse" is a strong word to use. Did he receive permission to send a communication to other systems? Probably not. This could have been handled by the instructor in the classroom. A simple "Please refrain from messaging all systems on the network." would have sufficed. Definitely, this child is a hacker, though not in the definition espoused by the media. He did not crack any system. Had this Sweeney individual been intelligent enough, she would have isolated the computer lab from all systems on the net to prevent such an occurence. Perhaps she should be supsended for her dereliction in security practice! Furthermore, in this instance, who taught who? I don't believe that this Sweeney character deserves the respect that the moniker "teacher" commands. She may have been a public educator for many years, but that does not make her a "teacher". She isn't "teaching" anyone, she apparently squashes the already difficult-to-encourage motivation for learning that her pupils displayed. I would imagine that she rotely follows her lesson plan making small changes as the "fads" develop. Her "experimentation" that she frowns upon is precisely what drives a child's desire to learn. Not the tedious hum-drum that is today's modern class. I wonder why American education is not where it should be in relation to other industrialized nation, and then I read an article such as this that anwers a lot of my questions. Thank you educator Sweeney for setting the example for poor instructors!

  • My experience (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MrWa ( 144753 ) on Wednesday January 07, 2004 @04:44PM (#7906751) Homepage
    Back in high school we had a computer lab using IBM XT compatible boxes, learning COBOL. Having the computer to play with after getting our lessons done was probably the best learning experience I had. Figuring out how to edit the Autoexec.bat file and put semi-scary messages for the next student was a blast...until I went too far.

    The message was something along the lines of "The harddrive is going to be wiped in 3 seconds. 1 ... 2 ... 3 ... Wiping harddrive..." And then it would blank for a couple of seconds and wait for a keypress. Obviously the next student freaked out and called the teacher over.

    In today's environment I would probably be suspended. Instead, the teach editted the file and put a message about experimention being wonderful but to be careful because we would be held responsible for any damages. Basically getting caught (she knew it was me) but only getting a warning (and the fact that the teacher had the same level of knowledge) was a good learning experience.

    I think the problem is partly because teachers today, for the most part, have lost the inquisitive nature and don't know enough to keep up with the students. That makes the teachers afraid: both because they are being outpaced in computer learning and because they can't control or understand what the students are doing.

  • The Larger Problem (Score:4, Insightful)

    by stanwirth ( 621074 ) on Wednesday January 07, 2004 @05:15PM (#7907115)

    The way I see it, this is just a symptom of the larger problem: that of non-programmers who literally do not know ANYTHING about computers per se defining "computer literacy" as being able to run a few M$ pointy-clicky apps--because that's all they know how to do.

    Now it's not a problem if these people stay in the f-ing typing pool, graphic arts sweatshops, stupid little bookkeeping jobs, or teaching history where they bleeding well belong. It does become a problem when the Beverly Sweeneys of this world get positions of authority which they're fundamentally unqualified to fill, and find themselves feeling threatened by anyone who knows more than themselves--and acting on their feelings of inadequacy with high-handedness.

    Having a Beverly Sweeney teaching Integrated Technology Applications because she got a cert or two in running a few pointy-clicky M$ Applications is like hiring someone as a music teacher because they know how to play CDs on their stereo, who then busts students who play an actual musical instrument in class -- because it's not "an approved application". Sheesh!

  • by Alsee ( 515537 ) on Wednesday January 07, 2004 @05:32PM (#7907371) Homepage
    Just look at her CompLit/TechApp webpage. [k12.tx.us] In particular notice this image [k12.tx.us] where she adds the label: "Sometimes this is how we feel !!!" She apparently finds computers difficult and frustrating.

    Someone who finds math frustrating is obviously a poor choice to teach calculus. Someone who finds computers frustrating is obviously a poor choice to teach computers.

    According to her bio she seems well qualified in "social" fields, but she's just not a techie. She thinks the ordinary use of the net send command is "tampering" and "hacking". The certification program she took in computers didn't mention it therefore it must be "evil hacker black-magic". Sorry lady, it's not tampering and it's not hacking.

    If they want to reprimand the kid for "being disruptive", fine. What he did was no more disruptive than sticking his head out in the hallway and shouting "Hey!". That warrants a warning, or at most detention.

    -
  • by Crypto Gnome ( 651401 ) on Wednesday January 07, 2004 @07:43PM (#7908791) Homepage Journal
    And the princpal.

    Instead of over-reacting and lynching the kid for being criminally-inclined they could easily have made this a stern warning and a lesson to the kids.
    • A lesson in socially acceptable behaviour on The Net
      (yeah that was kinda cool, but rude)

    • A lesson in privacy (and the lack thereof) on The Net
      (look how easily and instantly we found you)

    • A re-education on how to show off "new and cool" to the class
      (know something cool about computers? bring it to 'tech show-and tell'... be cool without getting suspended)
    This could have been a great opportunity to turn disruptive behaviour into constructive learning experiences, but instead they stuck their head in the sands and cried "hacker" (which is actually unfashionable, these days they need to be crying "terrorist").

    Unfortunately the education system is geared to teaching children, as opposed to helping them learn.
    (ie remember all the things we tell you, but above all else remember that thinking for yourself is not permitted)

    "I'm sorry, that information is not a part of our curriculum. You're suspended."
  • Personal experience (Score:3, Informative)

    by nlaporte ( 116203 ) on Wednesday January 07, 2004 @09:15PM (#7909499)
    I had this exact same thing happen to me. I was fooling around, and decided to see what would happen if I did a 'net send * foo'. Of course, it worked. Too well. Apparently, the message popped up for each person, the first time they logged into their Win2K account afterwards. The next day, the principal hauls me into his office and reprimands me for "harming" the network, and tells me that it took the three tech guys hours to "track down" what I had done, find out "what special program I had used" and "remove the message from the network."

    I cheerfully explained to him that I refused to believe that what I had done was harmful, that I didn't use a special program, and that they knew for years that the NetBIOS messenger service was on, and that I would have been happy to show them how to turn it off if they wanted to know.

    Apparently, some teacher was logged on when it happened and panicked, screaming that someone had "hacked the network!" This was, apparently, reason enough to decided that I had "caused harm," so what did I get? Two weeks' suspension from the network. Of course, since I had helpful friends, it meant nothing, but still...

    Incidentally, the same week that this happened, someone brought in a laptop with a virus (I think SoBig, but could have been Blaster or something else) which managed to bring the whole network to its knees for two days. They knew whose laptop it was, but did he get punished at all? Of course not; that was an innocent mistake, despite the fact that it cost at least an order of magnitude more man-hours to fix.

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