Wednesday, September 11, 2013

War Games


I was watching War Games the other day and it reminded me of being a geek in Middle School.
Not that I am not a geek now.
There is a scene where Matthew Broderick cradles his phone onto the coupler of his trusty 1200 baud modem.
He launches a program and starts war dialing the whole prefix of Sunnyvale California to find the open line of a new gaming company called Protovision. I was blown away to see a computer finding all those open systems out in the wild.  Directly connecting to all the banks, schools, libraries, and in the movies case, a substation with a direct link to the Norad Command Center.
Of course it was only a movie.
The following summer I was invited to a party with my friend Mark and met a true computer geek. Not to say that Mark wasn’t. But living in Moore Oklahoma I never expected to meet someone that had as much computer equipment as this guy did.
He was showing off his 2400 Baud Hayes Smartmodem and was war dialing the 799 prefix in Moore. You could actually hear the modem dial the number, hear the pickup and someone say “Hello” then click and off to the next.
I was thrilled. It was really cool to prank call people with a computer, when you are a 15 year old geek.
Of course this also took a lot of time and we weren’t going to get any real information back till the next day. So we started talking about other things to do. and he mentioned he had swiped a calling card number from a radio station. We should call someone.
I later found out that Mr. Haas was in need of a heart lung transplant and was at the station to do an interview and get the word out.
My friend Mark said “Hey I have a friend in Australia we can call. I met him using the Hamm radio.” So we did, for 8 hours, on a stolen calling card number.
In the Movie War Games the characters see a news flash on TV that Norad had moved to Defcon 4 because of the little “Game” Matthews character was playing.
In real life, we heard the radio station throughout the week say that they got hit for a huge bill for a call to Australia. They were going to find out whoever did it, and call the FBI.
I ‘m sure they did. I don’t remember.
Consequences in life are not fun.
Doing stupid things as a kid that you can get in trouble for is exciting.
Even if it’s geeky.