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Progressive Era Hacker Griefed Marconi Demonstration 147

Posted by samzenpus
from the trolling-through-the-ages dept.
nbauman writes "In June 1903, Gugliemo Marconi and his partner Ambrose Flemming were about to give the first demonstration of long-range wireless communication at the Royal Institution in London, which, Marconi said, could be sent in complete confidentiality with no fear of the messages being hijacked. Suddenly, the silence was broken by a huge mysterious wireless pulse strong enough to take over the carbon-arc projector and make it sputter messages in Morse Code. First, it repeated the word 'Rats' over and over again (abusive at that time). Then it tapped out, 'There was a young fellow of Italy, who diddled the public quite prettily.' Further rude epithets followed. It was Nevil Maskelyne, a stage musician and inventor who was annoyed because Marconi's patents prevented him from using wireless. It was the first hacking, to demonstrate an insecure system."
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Progressive Era Hacker Griefed Marconi Demonstration

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  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @04:36PM (#38518870)

    That's not a joke, BTW. So every time you really have to defecate and some greedy business or city has installed a pay toilet, you can thank John Nevil Maskelyne [wikipedia.org]--the noble inventor who pioneered the idea of charging people a penny to take a shit.

    And, as an American, god bless you Committee to End Pay Toilets in America [wikipedia.org]--for keeping this scourge mostly out of the land of the free crapper.

    • by Fned (43219) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @04:38PM (#38518896) Journal

      I live in SF. There are NO free toilets. The only public toilets AT ALL are the pay ones, which are very, very few.

      Before they put those in, there were simply no public toilets at all...

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        That's probably why the homeless crap on the streets there.

        • by Fned (43219)

          That's probably why the homeless crap on the streets there.

          Duh.

          • by EdIII (1114411) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @05:22PM (#38519280)

            When you got to go, you got to go.

            Expecting a homeless person to hold for an hour or so till they find somebody willing to let them use the toilet is expecting too much. Are they going to walk around with signs, "Will work for a place to shit?".

            Reminds of the story with Gerard Depardieu peeing on the plane. He is an older guy, and when you got to go, you really have to go. Waiting 20-30 minutes is not optional. He whipped it out and just started peeing in the aisle. Better than peeing in his own pants sitting down for certain.

            Bottom line is that if you don't give a human being an option on where to to put "it", "it" is just going to be put anywhere.

            • by ArsenneLupin (766289) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @06:47PM (#38520316)

              He whipped it out and just started peeing in the aisle.

              Actually he discreetly attempted to pee into a bottle while still seated. Nobody could see his wang except his seat-neighbor who was a good friend of his (... and who incidentally lent him the bottle...). However, being an "elephant" as he is, the bottle overflowed, and the rest is history.

              No standing up in the middle of the aisle, and demonstratively peeing at the stewardess' feet. That was just pure journalistic fantasy.

              ... and he even offered to clean up the mess after the bottle (a "mini Evian" bottle) overflowed.

              Bottom line is that if you don't give a human being an option on where to to put "it", "it" is just going to be put anywhere.

              Indeed. I happened to be at a "Quick Hamburger Restaurant" to have a small snack after a drinking spree, and suddenly I had to go. Unfortunately all loos at that place were paying (... even for customers!). But fortunately there was a trashcan suspended at exactly the correct height...

              • by EdIII (1114411)

                No standing up in the middle of the aisle, and demonstratively peeing at the stewardess' feet. That was just pure journalistic fantasy.

                Well that was the story going about over here in the US. I got to admit, I like that story better. Gerard defiant in the aisle, manhood in hand, screaming, "I piss for France!".

                It's just funnier that way. In any case, I support him. When you have to go that bad just let the person go to the bathroom in a dignified manner. From the story I heard he did explain how badly he needed to go and that he would not be able to hold it.

              • Everyone knows you need at least 20oz capacity to pee in a bottle. I guess he never peed in a bottle before!

        • And I'm vaguely interested in those disappearing toilets the British have.

        • Don't shit where you sleep. The pay-for crappers here have the nickname "Nickel Hotel" amongst them. Take a wild guess why.

      • by elrous0 (869638) * on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @04:44PM (#38518948)

        I live in San Fransisco.

        I said in America.

      • by alen (225700) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @04:54PM (#38519026)

        in NYC the public toilets are called Starbucks

        • by LoRdTAW (99712)

          In NYC the bums just drop drawers, squat and pinch one off. Saw it with my own eyes once and know two people who have witnessed it first hand.

          And we dont have pay toilets.

          • As a young child I'll never forget stepping over streams of pee on the sidewalk while walking through New York city.

            • One time I was competing in an mirrorkhana event in a mall parking lot. The place was PACKED with spectators. Crowds had to part for cars to move to and from the driving area and we were powersliding inches away from packed crowds.

              Anyways, there weren't nearly enough bathroom facilities for the number of people there, and only one area offered any shred of privacy. Had a good 3m wide river of piss going eventually x_x

        • Well, since they got rid of phone booth's, anyway.

      • by sjames (1099)

        Even the restaurants have pay toilets?

        • by Pharmboy (216950)

          When I flew into Brussels (yes, not USA), we then drove to Hasselt, and stopped for coffee and breakfast at a nice clean roadside "buffet" (European style, not American style). Can't remember the name, but it's a chain, nice clean place. Anyway, if you don't eat there, they charge you to use the bathroom, like half a Euro. They have an attendant there who checks your receipt or charges you if you don't have one. My American friend and I were dumbfounded. We live in the Carolinas, where pay toilets are

          • I'm from NC. I had never even heard of a pay toilet before my first trip to Italy. Don't think I've run into one in the US.

            • by drinkypoo (153816)

              The only place I've seen pay toilets in the USA has been in bus stations and in fast food restaurants. The fast food restaurants have a token to give you if you buy food.

          • by Nyder (754090)

            When I flew into Brussels (yes, not USA), we then drove to Hasselt, and stopped for coffee and breakfast at a nice clean roadside "buffet" (European style, not American style). Can't remember the name, but it's a chain, nice clean place. Anyway, if you don't eat there, they charge you to use the bathroom, like half a Euro. They have an attendant there who checks your receipt or charges you if you don't have one. My American friend and I were dumbfounded. We live in the Carolinas, where pay toilets are almost unheard of, even in the city.

            Weird, because where i come from (Seattle, yes, in the USA), those places say RESTROOMS FOR CUSTOMERS ONLY.

            Granted they don't have someone standing there checking to make sure you bought something, but they normally do NOT let non paying customers use they restrooms. Why? Because having homeless and junkies using your bathrooms are bad for business.

            And honestly, do you want to go use a bathroom where anyone can go and use it? Ya, those anyone's usually are the homeless and druggies.

            For example, in Sea

          • I am from Europe, but believe me, this ain't the standard over here either. Sure, in subway stations or rail stations, pay toilets, but in restaurants... I am not sure, but maybe there's even a law against something like that in some of the saner countries of Europe...

            • It's not all restaurants, just the ones that otherwise would have lots of people passing through just to use the toilet. I don't think it's so strange, it annoys paying customers when there's a lot of people breezing through and the facilities aren't free to operate either (water, electricity, cleaning, etc.)

          • Pretty standard in Belgium. They also do that in the toilets in shopping mals and stations and the like.

            • by Pharmboy (216950)

              That is what our Belgian host told us, that they were common in Belgium in public areas. Here in the US, acceptance wouldn't be so forthcoming, particularly in the Southern areas. We expect a degree of that in urban bus stations and the like, but not if a Stuckeys or Cracker Barrel (our more common highway side eateries) did that, people would be pissed off and leave. Even truck stops won't do that here. Keep in mind, I'm talking about places that aren't urban (both here and in Belgium) so I'm not sure

      • You just have to know where to look.
        I'm not homeless, but I essentially LOOK homeless. When wandering SF I use the nice plush bathrooms at the Palace Hotel, among other places.

        That's the thing about SF - you can be dressed in jeans with holes but you're just as likely to be a millionaire guest in the penthouse of the Palace Hotel as a homeless person.

      • We Europeans go to McDonald's. I'd never eat there but I'd spend a free penny.

        I hear that in the US too there are one or two McDonald's.
    • by Venner (59051)

      There is (was?) a pay-restroom right by the western end of the Charles Bridge in Prague, presumably to fleece the high volume of crossing foreign tourists. You pay the big beefy man sitting at the window, he hands you a few squares of toilet paper, and gives you a big thumbs up and a "Good luck!" What service. Ah, free enterprise.

      Yeah, definitely not cool from the standpoint of visitors, but still highly amusing.

      • by craash420 (884493)
        This is quite common in Bulgaria; if only they'd use the money to maintain said toilets!
        • When travelling in Europe, I find that the most consistently clean toilets are at McDonald's restaurants... when you *really* gotta go and can't get back to your hotel, it's worth the cost of a small coke.

          • by Anonymous Coward

            In France there's a company called Relais that operates pay toilets in high-traffic sites like subway stations and shopping centers. Different prices for different services; the dumper costs more than the pisser, and so forth. They also have showers. And they sparkle...matter of fact, Yank tourists are often a bit bemused to see a female attendant working her way past with a mop as they stand at the pisser. Free toilets are usually nearby, sometimes adjacent...they aren't so nice. It's the Invisible Hand,

      • by EdIII (1114411) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @05:11PM (#38519178)

        Try visiting China. Went through 20 different cities and rural areas.

        Toilets are free, or at least everyone I saw was, but there were no toilet paper rolls, paper towels, etc. You brought your own paper napkins and toilet paper with you everywhere.

        Visited a factory and the public bathroom was a nightmare. You had running water, but were expected to have your own soap and paper. The executives handed me them.

        It was just normal there. We took around handiwipes with us everywhere.

        The only exception were the 4-5 star hotels that catered to westerners. Only time I had a "regular" toilet that I could sit on with a toilet paper roll right next to me. Rest were the squat type.

        I hear India and other places are not much different.

        • by steelfood (895457)

          You'll see the same at restaurants, where you have to bring your own napkin.

          Free napkins and toilet paper are mostly subsidized by the cost of the food. This is made possible because the commodity is so inexpensive, and the primary product is priced sufficiently high enough to cover the cost of the commodity.

          In places like India and China (and numerous other places), natural resources (per capita) are relatively expensive, i.e. the cost of a roll of toilet paper or a stack of napkins or other such is signif

        • My friends tell me that Chinese toilets are like Mexican toilets, in that you can pee in them but you have to throw your poopy toilet paper into an adjacent wastebasket or you'll back the whole system up. Is that true?

          I've seen American companies have problems with the F.O.B. Asians actually standing up on the(American-style) toilets and then squatting to crap, causing damage to the toilets and prompting management to leave angry notes saying not to stand on the toilets pasted on all the stalls. My brai
          • My friends tell me that Chinese toilets are like Mexican toilets, in that you can pee in them but you have to throw your poopy toilet paper into an adjacent wastebasket or you'll back the whole system up. Is that true?

            I've seen a similar thing in a French mountain hostel. The wastebasket for the TP was mounted to the door. The whole stall was so small that you kept bumping your knees into the wastebasket. And, when done, bringing your hand holding the stained TP from the back to the front without staining your clothes proved to be an interesting puzzle... And no, just passing your hand from the front to your ass was not an option, because spreading your legs enough for the hand to pass was just not possible in that minus

          • That describes toilets in some Greek islands I've visited. The second thing the holiday company rep said was not to flush your toilet paper, because the sewer system isn't able to take them and tends to clog very easily.

            The first thing the rep said was not to drink the tapwater.
          • by Ihmhi (1206036)

            You're thinking of Turkish Toilets [wikipedia.org], also called "Squat Toilets".

            Pros: Squatting is better for getting the waste out of your bowels. Sitting on a toilet like a chair is actually unnatural. In the last 5 years or so physicians have been advising that people raise their feet on a stool on seated toilets to help with bowel movement.

            Cons: They can clog with toilet paper, so there's that. Also, they don't have standing water as sitting toilets do, so the stench can be rather pervasive.

    • by arth1 (260657) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @04:48PM (#38518988) Homepage Journal

      That wasn't the guy who hacked Marconi, it was his father.

    • by roman_mir (125474) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @05:02PM (#38519104) Homepage Journal

      ORLY?

      Pecunia non olet (supposedly 70CE).

    • John Nevil Maskelyne (of the pay toilet) was Nevil Maskelyne (the man in the article) 's father. Not sure if you knew this or not, but it might be ambiguous or confusing to others.
    • Oh so appropriate for your subject.

    • That's not a joke, BTW. So every time you really have to defecate and some greedy business or city has installed a pay toilet, you can thank John Nevil Maskelyne [wikipedia.org]--the noble inventor who pioneered the idea of charging people a penny to take a shit.

      And, as an American, god bless you Committee to End Pay Toilets in America [wikipedia.org]--for keeping this scourge mostly out of the land of the free crapper.

      So the guy was the first troll as well.

    • A story about the first hack of the world, and half the discussion is about toilets and taking a dump. Which just happens to be slightly, very slightly, topical, but still...

      Gotta love /. these days.

      • by elrous0 (869638) *

        Gotta love /. these days.

        Yes, because there was a time when conversations on /. didn't immediately turn to shit.

        It was back in 1923, and everyone on /. was serious, I tells ya. There were no lame memes or potty-mouthed jokes in those days, kiddo. Back in them days, we was all behind Cool Cal for President and everyone just sat around smoking fine cigars and having serious discussions about the markets. We had our hot grits plain in them days. Natalie Portman wasn't even a gleam in her daddy's eye. And we liked it, dagnabbit!

    • Where is it written that someone has the sacred duty to provide services to you for free? If you use someone else's toilet it's only fair that you pay for it.

    • Many cities simply just stopped having public restrooms entirely, thanks to CEPTA.

  • I believe the first hacker was actully the guy that shaved the messangers head.

    • Sure, if you count steganography as hacking. Which is arguable, but defendable.
      • The system could be broken with an obvious form of hacking: Simply hack bits of the messanger off until he tells you how the message is hidden.
  • What the world would look like if this hack would have resulted in the equivalent of "Cyber threat/war" concepts we are seeing nowadays [slashdot.org]?
    • Re:I wonder... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jd (1658) <imipak @ y a h o o .com> on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @05:26PM (#38519332) Homepage Journal

      I suspect you'd have seen much of the same cult leader tactics employed by Edison and Tesla in their fights with each other, ending in the pointless and stupid destruction of one protagonist and the adoption of a highly inefficient technology for the sole purpose of denouncing a rival's. When feuds are settled amicably, you tend to get best-of-breed hybrids and an incentive to move forwards. When feuds are settled at gunpoint (real or metaphorical), politics and Not Invented Here take over, leading to regression and an irrational desire to not move forwards lest the "other side" win.

      • by Catbeller (118204)

        There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Market.

      • Well, to be fair, if the REALLY worse system had won out, we'd now have a lot of small power plants littering the country with DC to the homes. That was, IIRC, Edison's plan.

  • Ah, those were the days:

    Marconi: Is-a too low, idiota. Too low. Bring up-a!
    Fleming: Fine weather we're having Mr Macaroni, wha?
    Marconi: Marconi! Macaroni is a pasta.
    Fleming: Yeah, whatever you say, Madoci.
    Marconi: Macaroni!
    Marconi: Batteria!
    Marconi: Connect the battery-a.
    Marconi: Santa Lucia!
    Marconi: Today, we make history-a!
    Marconi: Mamma mia!

    • by dwywit (1109409)

      Channeling Spike Milligan, there.

      • by khipu (2511498)

        A moderator who doesn't get the reference and total non-sequitur. Gosh, you guys should have your geek cards revoked.

        • by dwywit (1109409)

          Hmmm. I have no mod points today, so that makes me a commenter, not a mod. -1 for you.
           
          I obviously didn't get the reference you intended, so -1 for me.
           
          It seems you haven't read SM's WWII collection, so while it was an incorrect reference, it wasn't a non-sequitur. Call that even. BTW, I'd be flattered if someone compared me to Spike.
           
          You haven't read SM's WWII books? -1 for you.

  • Wasn't FIRST POST!?!?!?!

    Does that mean we should all start posting RATS! instead?

  • by Chas (5144) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @05:08PM (#38519158) Homepage Journal

    A-freakin'-MEN!

    Not saying that resorting to mischief is ALWAYS the right solution. But in these days of rampant complacency, you sometimes need to resort to something spectacular to draw attention to very real problems. Otherwise, people are just too busy keeping their heads down and their asses covered to give a damn.

    And before some shit-for-brains tries to draw a parallel with Anonymous or "Occupy". This was a person pointing out a flaw in a technology and doing it in such a way that it didn't break anything, do any damage (other than to someone's overblown arrogance) or violate any laws.

    • by c0lo (1497653)

      And before some shit-for-brains tries to draw a parallel with Anonymous or "Occupy". This was a person pointing out a flaw in a technology and doing it in such a way that it didn't break anything, do any damage (other than to someone's overblown arrogance) or violate any laws.

      Well, seems those times were showing more common-sense than today - no so hasty to come with new laws [slashdot.org], but fixing what's broken or working within constraints [wikipedia.org].

    • " But in these days "
      stop romanticizing the pasty. This is haw the vast majority of people have ALWAYS been.
      If anything, there is less complacency.

      It is the same thing in principle. The damage was minimal because it was one person hacking ONE thing.
      Oh, they did break any laws in a time when the tech was too new to have any laws? I shocked, simply shocked.

      BTW your statement implies that the laws are correct and should never be broken.

      Think about that for a minute.

  • Then it tapped out, 'There was a young fellow of Italy, who diddled the public quite prettily.'

    When Marconi tried to reply, all he got back was, "Sorr can't.. hea.. u ... goin... throu.. tunne..." followed by a cryptic message: "NO CARRIER".

  • by ThePhilips (752041) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @05:22PM (#38519278) Homepage Journal

    Why we never hear "patent allowed," but instead always we hear this:

    [...] a stage musician and inventor who was annoyed because Marconi's patents prevented him from using wireless.

    • Re:Never hear... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by LordLucless (582312) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @06:05PM (#38519834)

      You used to.

      That was because patents were supposed to be awarded for things that people couldn't figure out how to do without looking at the patent. That's why we (ostensibly) require patents to be novel, and non-obvious. It's supposed to be a trade-off: in return for showing people how to do stuff they couldn't figure out on their own, you get a limited monopoly on that concept. Over all, such a system should broaden human knowledge and capability.

      Of course, nobody pays attention to obviousness or novelty any more - now we are awarding patents for things that are immediately obvious to people familiar with the art. And, surprise, surprise, we're finding that patents are impeding advancement.

      • by geekoid (135745)

        "out how to do without looking at the patent"
        wrong.

        The people not paying attention are people like you who have never read patent law, it's history, why it's in the constitution to begin with or the definition of obvious.

        • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

          by LordLucless (582312)

          Wrong. You're an idiot.

          See, I can argue like you too! It's really easy when all you ever do is insult people and never make any actual points or provide information.

          You're a dick.

          Look, I did it again. I'm getting good at this. You should subcontract your commenting out to me - I can provide meaningless posts calling people names for a very reasonable fee.

    • Because the times when patents did what they were supposed to do, i.e. promote publishing, ended with the first patent being issued.

  • by Whiteox (919863) <htcstechNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @05:46PM (#38519626) Journal

    There is no way that Marconi invented anything. He was just an early Steve Jobs, so no wonder someone rained on his parade.
    There are too many references, but check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inventor_of_radio [wikipedia.org].
    My favourite quote about this was Tesla when he said: "Marconi [... was] using seventeen of my patents"
    The first transmissions were around 1872, with most of the work done by Mahlon Loomis with his 'wireless telegraph'.

    • by cusco (717999) <brian,bixby&gmail,com> on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @06:16PM (#38519982)
      The full quote, which Tesla said when informed by a reporter that Marconi had managed to transmit a wireless message across the Atlantic, was "Marconi is a good fellow. Let him continue. He is using seventeen of my patents." IIRC, he then informed the reporter that if he had received the funding he had requested to build a receiving station in France he would have done the same thing five years earlier.
    • by SuricouRaven (1897204) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @08:33PM (#38521270)
      If you want a good historical Jobs, try Edison. He was a decent-but-not-great inventor, like Jobs. He was also a business genius, like Jobs. And, like Jobs, he realised the power of personality in marketing - building his empire largely by taking the ideas of his anonymous underlings and branding them as his own, creating the image of himself as an uber-inventor of superhuman intellect in order to better sell the inventions.
  • Not a musician (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @06:07PM (#38519870)

    Maskelyne (of the famed duo Maskelyne and Devant) was a stage magician, not musician.

  • There were several Maskelynes. I believe the one mentioned in the summary was a stage magician not a musician.

  • by Maow (620678) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @06:45PM (#38520288) Journal

    From TFS:

    Nevil Maskelyne, a stage musician

    From TFA:

    a mustachioed 39-year-old British music hall magician.

    Having said that, he may also have been a musician, but the magician part was how he used his interest in wireless technology:

    He would use Morse code in "mind-reading" magic tricks to secretly communicate with a stooge. He worked out how to use a spark-gap transmitter to remotely ignite gunpowder. And in 1900, Maskelyne sent wireless messages between a ground station and a balloon 10 miles away. But, as author Sungook Hong relates in the book Wireless, his ambitions were frustrated by Marconi's broad patents, leaving him embittered towards the Italian. Maskelyne would soon find a way to vent his spleen.

    Also, I've highlighted the most-relevant part to today's world: he was frustrated by overly-broad patents.

    Plus ca change...

  • ...the Analogue Millennium Copyright Act.
  • http://www.cracked.com/article_19170_6-insane-stories-magician-who-helped-win-wwii.html [cracked.com]

    And that's where we have to leave it. One way or another, Jasper Maskelyne was a fascinating man, and there is no question he helped the war effort. But the real details have been blurred by secrecy, lost documents, exaggerated war stories and the fact that time has killed off almost everyone who would know for certain.

    But we admit: We want to believe it's all true. The idea that one man and his gang of rogue theater rats

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