Utica College is a satellite campus of Syracuse University, a little farther east down the Mohawk Valley (and along the general path of the Barge Canal formerly known as the Erie Canal) in upstate New York.

They were my first internet provider.

for some amount of time in the 1980s, their IT department assigned new students with accounts on the computer system every semester using first initial last name for the usernames and a default password of the same thing.

in the 1980s, there was little to no use for most students of the textile arts classes to use computers for, so those accounts often went untouched.

grades were posted in hallways on printed lists, though, throughout semesters.

a textile arts major entering as a freshman could have a completely unused account that stayed valid yet unspoken for for four years or more.

my mother finished her english lit degree at Utica College.

sometimes I'd tag along for some lectures. I was a nerd and some of her profs were cool.

it did not take me long to figure out the whole idea, but I was pretty surprised when it worked and no one showed up from some imagined campus cyber police squad that wouldn't exist for another decade at least.

that was my first experience with vax and vms. I didn't have any docs but I had the new user files on the server and there were references to accessing other systems over telenet and tymnet. and access phone numbers.

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fun fact: in the 1980s, there were computers connected to the internet-to-be that didn't even really bother doing user authentication.

they just kinda dropped you at a prompt when you connected.

I learned a lot about networking and different operating systems and how scary it was if a screen full of text came back from a government server of some sort.

but I never got in trouble for any of it.

I probably caused a system operator grief here and there with unknown workloads running that didn't make much sense because I didn't know what I was doing, but it wasn't intentional. I was just figuring stuff out.

if I was growing up now I'd be hosed.

those kids that are self censoring their exploration of the world they inhabit with the rest of us because they're afraid of getting jacked up by armed thugs, I feel for them. I know they're out there. What a spot.

if you happen across them, try to steer them towards outlets. they're around. libraries, maker spaces, ham radio clubs. you know the types. some of you are the types.

mentoring isn't just for the office. get an interested kid into systems programming via reversing the OS of some old mini at your hackpad. drop some old books on pascal on 'em and a pi. point 'em at the good stuff.

code camps and all the focus on stem and comp sci are great and all, I guess, but it's about finding a way to make a living, not about exploring the possibilities of technology. we've gotta foster that ourselves.

@djsundog I’m glad I’m not the only one who thinks that stuff misses the mark.

@djsundog idk I think the drive on kids to find interests that can get them a job when they reach adulthood is less awesome than giving them a tool box and encouraging to think of what they would like to do with it.

"See if you can make an accounts database!" is not why I got into computers. "Hey I wonder if I could make it do _____!" is why.

@dlek @djsundog I dropped out of CS because I didn't want to just spend my days sitting in a cube farm somewhere writing yet another word processor module to make some rich white dude even richer.

@djsundog I have a horrible time teaching my kids about dangers that would have destroyed my future if they had been present when I was a kid.

“you’re not allowed to do this, that can make you lose your account, no you cannot just screenshot a cool image and upload it to your classroom chat! I mean, yes, you can, but that can cost thousands of Euros. If we’re lucky.”

That’s what’s left from the generation of cultural Freedom → draketo.de/politik/generation-
😢

@djsundog just found that the article had some broken links — fixed now.

@djsundog Makes me wonder how many of the next generation are even aware of The Hacker Manifesto.

@djsundog In the mid-late '80s I ran two HP-UX hosts for the CS department at orst.edu that were dedicated to community access. It was part of my first job as a SA.

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