All It Takes Is a Word in the Right Ear

Sometimes I can get someone else to do the bulk of my mischief for me.

This week, the students are studying something called Bioinformatics.  As far as I can tell, this is a weird hybrid of biology and computer nerdery.  Life-based number-crunching, if you like.

The students’ lab activities include querying a Large Government Database to look up information on “gene sequences” and “phylogenies” and something called “Nucleotide BLAST” which sounds very promising but which, disappointingly, has nothing at all to do with actual explosions.

I hate being cheated out of a good explosion.

Still, I’ve managed to find a way to have some mischiefy fun anyway.  All of the students have brought their own laptops and/or tablets to do the assignments, which results in a large number of nearly-simultaneous wireless log-ins. I suggested to the operators of the Large Government Database that all of the wireless log-ins to their site coming from the same domain must be a targeted Direct Denial of Service attack, or at least a malicious robot or hacking attempt.

Their response was to block ALL wireless access to their site from the university, resulting in this cheery little message for all attempted users:

NCBI--access denied

BLOCKED!  No Science for you!  Everyone is shut out–the students, the faculty, the multitudinous research personnel in every corner of the campus.  Ehehehehehe!  Campus IT is having to beg the Large Government Database to let them back in.

Of course, wired log-ins still work, and some clever students have figured out that if their phone has a wireless hot-spot, they can use that and get in, but even so, everyone has been massively inconvenienced, and all the panicky running around has been fun to watch.

Color me content.

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