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The Almighty Buck

College Pranks Go Commercial 113

Anonymous Coward writes: "The MIT/CalTech prank rivalry is legendary. Who else could put a cow on a domed roof? And it inspired the Geek Classic Real Genius. Apparently the folks at RPI are into it as well, as evidenced by the DropSquad. What caught my eye was the commercialization. They're selling mousepads with photos of various objects that have been subjected to 'gravitational modifications'. When this hits MIT, I want a Cow on the Roof coffee mug!"
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College Pranks Go Commercial

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  • by luge ( 4808 ) <> on Friday April 28, 2000 @07:59AM (#1103629) Homepage
    But would it kill you guys to search for "dropsquad" before you post? It was cool the first time it was on /.... in 1998. []
    ~luge(I love /., but even I have my doubts sometimes...)
  • The is much more to the MIT hacks than just getting something onto the dome. The firehose water-fountain, the fact that the campus police car that was assembled on the dome had a "Dunkin Donuts" box on the front seat (complete with crumbs) and the bumper sticker "I brake for Donuts" on its bumper, the fact that the Telephone Booth on the dome rang its phone when the campus police were up there, etc. It is the fine touch that makes a truely great hack versus just a mundane one. Gravitational modification is ok, but it has to be more than that...
  • Over at the dropsquad site, I don't see a single toilet, sink, or dishwasher. No empty beer kegs either. IYAM, NU Kennedy Hall's Air Shaft Bombing Crew of the early-to-mid 90's was much more daring. I hear the 1996 post-Crew finale (and well-synchronized) performance of The 1812 Overture on Boom Box and Dropped Beer Bottles was a fitting end to the air shaft bombing years there. SporkBoy probably has earlier memories of those local pioneers of the art.

    'They' (NUASBC) don't have pictures, but that doesn't mean anything. It just means 'they' were more interested in not getting caught than they were in becoming cheap-shot net.legends. (Though they tried that too, with alt.theft.sign-stealing and alt.guy.brown.)

    PS, air shaft bombing is more community-appreciated than stairwell bombing, because the smell only lasts until the next rainfall or so. And it doesn't stagnate. It does have a better effect for the next day or two, because the outside air really helps the smell travel to those upper floors. But it doesn't stay around for weeks, and no one but maintenace workers are allowed in the air shaft, so no one has to wade through your putrefying geekhaus-site's JPEG fodder.

    Or so I've heard, anyway.

  • :) teehee.... I went to RPI, and I remember this stairwell. It really is the sort of thing that absolutely _begs_ to have stuff dropped down it.

    Of course it is the style and panache (and video) that makes this neat.

    however, I am not really sure about selling mousepads, to me it seems to take something away from it.

  • by chipuni ( 156625 ) on Friday April 28, 2000 @09:04AM (#1103633) Homepage

    I went to RPI from '93-'97, at the end of the time of the Drop Squad. What makes the Drop Squad legendary was not their "prank" -- dropping things from high places is old -- but their stupidity.

    The building where they dropped their burgers, Christmas Trees, and the like from, was the Center for Industrial Innovation, RPI's tallest building. The Drop Squad, in a fit of drunken stupidity, not only dropped material from the top of the building, but they also videotaped themselves doing so.

    When one person (who is called the F**k on the web site) turned himself in, he also turned over the video tape. The video tape had the pictures of all of the drop squad members. The campus police had no problems finding the members of the drop squad, and at least one member was kicked out of RPI.

    The moral of the story: If you're going to do something illegal, don't let anyone videotape you.

  • Why is this Stuff that Matters? I'll tell you why.

    Slashdot is a community of hackers. Hackers are not only programmers. In this case, we call them Building Hackers. These are not just the college pranks where one school steals the other's mascot. These are college pranks which require ingenuity to pull off.

    I am not a building hacker. The reason? I have no fucking clue how to get a cow on top of a domed building. I have no clue how to build a full replica of a police car, cop inside, eating a donut all in the space of a few hours of time. I have no idea how to fit a cadillac through the doors of a lecture hall that is designed only to admit the average student body.

    These "pranks" are not just pranks - they are hacks in one of the truest senses of the word. That's why it's stuff that matters - we can all learn something from, at the very least, taking awe in what someone else has done with a little bit of ingenuity.
  • At my old high school we managed to get a 20foot for-sale (remax!) sign and drape it over the front, we got newspaper coverage in the classifieds "large house for sale, 103 bedrooms, lake front access, 10 bathhrooms and a full sized gym" (or something like that....).

    Fun prank, no damage (except for the sign we had to steal), we had the sign up on sat night, was there all day Sunday and Monday, the students loved it.


  • Yeah, but this is old and not horribly creative.... I was @ RPI from 95-99, and this was all over well before I ever set foot on campus...

    I know a few people still there who have been far more creative... I almost found my car inside of a residence hall lounge... that would have been pretty good...

    personally, the IOP was always the best thing going... did they have any entries for GM this year?
  • At MIT, hackers don't endanger anyone or leave a mess for campus staff to clean up. Part of the unwritten rule of hacking is that you take down your hack when it is done, leave a nice note for the authorities explaining why what you did is structurally sound, and you don't break anything or vandalize property.

    Oh, yeah, and MIT hacks are clever. Many involve an aspect of "how the heck did somebody get up there/pull this off without being seen." Dropping stuff down a stairway then making a janitor clean it up is just immature. When people drop things at MIT (like pianos, TV's, various exploding chemicals), they clean it up themselves and take safety precautions.

    Visit [] for a gallery of real hacks. Don't condone stupid pranks like what the RPI kids did; they are just perpetuating the idea of spoiled rich kids abusing their college opportunity. They should get some manners and some class.


  • by StaticEngine ( 135635 ) on Friday April 28, 2000 @09:56AM (#1103638) Homepage
    Well, I was at RPI from the Fall of 92 to December of 95. Yes, I got out a semester early...

    Anyway, there were better hacks on campus than dropping things down the nine story stairwell, and these were two of them:

    The JEC engineering building had a walkway around the Northern side, and during my Freshman year, workers were resurfacing it by placing large tiles (red and grey) on the walkway. The tiles were raised above the surface to provide drainage, but were not cemented in place. Only plastic spacers kept the tiles in position. While a bane to any women wearing heels, it was obvious that a strong but narrow bar could easily pry these tiles up, after which they could be rearranged. So, myself and about half a dozen friends sketeched out a plan to reposition the tiles from the red and grey strips that the workmen had laid down to a big smiley face, approximately 8x8 tiles. Then, one morning at about 2 AM, we ran out, moved the tiles, took a picture, and went back to our dorms.

    The impressive feat about this prank is that while the workmen broke countless tiles laying down their regular pattern with real tools, we preserved every one we moved. We also posted guards at both ends of the walkway to guard against Public Safety and passerbys. I think one of our guards wound up going home with a passerby she tried to dissuade... Anyway, the next day, there it was, the RPI Smiley Face, for all to see.

    The second, smaller scale prank, occured on April Fools day about a year later. Because some rooms were always being closed due to the endless campus contruction, we printed up some room change signs and ran around in the early morning posting them on various classroom and lecture hall doors. Of course, they all directed students to the same room, which in some cases was completly across campus. This room of redirection happened to be where I had a recitation later in the day, and it was quite amusing to see students sitting outside the occupied room, stating "But it said to come here!". I think we even got one professor...

    Anyway, these were great pranks, because nobody really got hurt, nothing was destroyed, and people looked back on them and laughed. It was also a nice diversion from drinking, studying, and wondering why the hell we had decided to come to Troy, NY for a higher education...

  • Screw you pal, and the MIT horse you rode in on.
  • An elephant plummeting from the top of a mean something like this []?

  • All sweepstakes after the McDonald's prank have restricted entries to "hand-written", but that
    didn't stop Caltech-ers from trying it again with a KROC contests between southland (LA area)
    schools for a private oingo-boingo concert.

    Supposedly, the college that submitted the most entries won a free concert (oingo-boingo was
    supposed to give a free concert for the school). So a bunch of us got together and filled in a
    whole bunch of hand written 3x5 note-card entries and beat out UCLA, USC, CSNR, CSLA...

    However, even having beat the other schools by more than 2x entries, oingo-boingo refused to
    give caltech a concert... So the caltech law dept helped the students write a few nasty letters,
    but to no avail... no concert for us... ;^(

    Moral of the story, having the administration on your side sometimes doesn't help (although if
    potential jail time is involved, it certainly helps, but that is another story....)
  • Here's my favorite incongruous non-commercial thing to live on in the commercial world:

    Karl Marx is buried in Highgate Cemetary in London. The cemetary charges an entrance fee, and sells postcard pictures of his grave monument (to support maintanace and restoration of the cemetary).

  • I haven't seen IOP sh|t around in monthes.
  • What about happy LMNOPF day?
  • You mean they were expelled, or they were incorrigible? :P
  • <Cranky>

    Dropping stuff down a stairwell? Boring.

    Littering, actually

    Not even worthy of Letterman's "Stupid Student Tricks". Just stupid.

    Somebody should introduce these Nigels to Moncour's alt.shenanigans FAQ


    /(o\ I'm not a medievalist - I just play one on weekends!

  • Care to explain for us poor freshmen-to-be?


  • Yes this news is about 8 years out of date and yes it isn't much of a prank; however, there is something pretty damn funny on the site. If you read through the documents under the drop descriptions, you can have yourself a laugh at just how sad these people were :) I mean, what kind of loser tapes phone conversations with friends and sends formal letters asking to make sure they work hard enough on their community service!
  • I've heard an unverified rumour of a prank like this. Unfortunately this didn't go nearly as well. Guys from the all-male dorm called Leonard at my University (Queen's []) snuck a cow high up into an all girl's dorm McNeill.

    Unfortunately getting the cow out wasn't as easy. The halls and stairways were very narrow so the cow couldn't be turned around. The cow would not back down the stairs, and there was no other way to get it out. So unfortunately the cow had to be killed and butchered inside the dorm and brought down in pieces.

    Oh well, most of the other pranks worked much better.

  • They should have kicked you out for not previewing your post and making 4/5ths of it a URL link!


  • TAPU pre-dated IOP...

    My favs were the spork, and Warren109b (I think) - some dead X-station... that was good stuff.

    Of course, the inflatable whale (Arthur Galpin?) might just come and kick some butt 8^)
  • The reason that pranks worked as well as they did in the past is that the people who did them
    took a chance. I doubt the legal climate is that much worse today than it was when the pranks
    were done...

    IMO, the problem with pranks today are really a function of two issues...

    The first issue is that the current crop of pranksters are far more destructive than their
    historical counterparts...

    For example, the original rose bowl prank (the card flipping prank) was entertaining. The second
    rose bowl prank (the scoreboard) was educational (the original software didn't have lowercase
    letters). The hollywood sign was at least promotional...

    Dropping pianos, stealing statues, doing DOS attacks on ebay and etrade are a bit more
    destructive than the typical prank of yore...

    The second issue (this is somewhat of a cheap shot), but I think the average college student of
    today is a bit more fearful of having a police record and spending a night in jail than the
    students of previous generations... Witness the massive decline in student rallies/protests from
    the 60's 70's 80's to the nearly non-existant activism of the 90's up to today...

    I'm not saying pranks are akin to protests, but I think the aversion of today's student to legal
    troubles is a growth trend of the last few decades. Today it seems the limit of testing the
    boundaries of the law is restricted to downloading a few MP3s...
  • I was 93- Dec 96 (also got out a semester early) and I also well remember the smiley face, which frequently became a frowny face during finals.
    The tiles were frequently arranged in letters, sometimes spelling out frat names, at least once spelling out monty python jokes, and for a while they spelled out "||O|" for reasons which are not entirely clear. (In fact, it did this three times, in different locations on the walk, once reversed, and one of them lasting for over a year! I think most people just didn't realize it wasn't just random.)
    It was nice having different things to read (and sometimes puzzle over) while blading to class. Not sure that it's that high in the grand list of pranks, but it was fun in a low key kinda way.

  • What was great about Tapu was not any one banner, but the overall Burma Shave feel of all the banners, and the fact that he kept running for school offices long after he left the school. The Tapu Party was a party of the absurd and was a lot of fun to watch (and read the posters of).

    Actually, I have a fake Tapu poster a friend of mine made, which read "Vote anarchist! TApU says, "I like custard in the summer, honey." It's in one of these boxes...

    I'm not sure that I'd call the Tapu movement a prank, really, since there were (usually, anyway) actual people running on its platform... but it was fun.
  • by zCyl ( 14362 ) on Friday April 28, 2000 @08:01AM (#1103655)
    When President McKinnley was attending Allegheny College (Pennsylvania) in the mid 1800's, as a prank he stuck a cow up in the bell tower of Bentley Hall, the first building at Allegheny College. The administration eventually had the cow taken down and sold to a local butcher. McKinnley's fate was a little less severe, he got caught for it and ended up getting in a lot of trouble, but then later became president, so now the story is retold with a little pride. It has become a classic piece of Allegheny Lore.
  • the "cow on dome" thing was first done by UVa students, on their Jefferson-designed dome. The guy who did it is now chairman of the American Stock Exchange, IIRC. So... probably drunk and stupid, but not necessarily by stupid people. I mean, the school still has no idea how the cow got up there, and they had to tranquilize it to get it down...
  • Hell, at my university the "pranksters" went around one night and stole all the mouse balls from every unprotected computer terminal, and attached a "work order in progress" card to each one.

    We sure didn't have those fancy mouse driver computers when I was at school.

    The best the pranksters could do was to take the type belts off those mainframe printers and put them on upside down.

    Oh yeah, and take thin sheets of steel, cut them in the shape of punch cards, and slip them into card puncher.

    puncha, puncha, puncha, KLANG!!

  • When the residents of Baker house at MIT dropped a piano off their roof (only about 5 stories, as I recall), they also declared the "Bruno" to be an official unit of measurement. One Bruno is the amount of sound energy (ie, noise) generated when a piano is dropped off of Baker house.

    As far as stuff on the Dome, the cow was OK, but my three favorites have been

    • The campus police squad car from a few years back. Inside the CP car were an inflatable woman in a CP uniform (driver's seat) and a box of donuts (passenger seat).
    • The working telephone booth. When the men came to take it down, they rang the phone.
    • Turning the Great Dome into the Great Pumpkin by putting big black triangular jack-o-lantern features on it and shining orange-colored lights on it so it glowed orange at night
  • Some guys at the University of Virginia did that a LONG time ago too...

    The person that did it actually confessed a couple of years ago. (I don't have the reference, but it was in the Washington Post.) One of the things that came out was that he actually used one of his family's cows because UVA has an honor code that would have prevented him from just taking any cow he wanted. Until he confessed, though, they had no clue who had done it (and about 20 years had past).
  • Drop Squad no longer exists at RPI btw. The people involved in it got in a lot of trouble with the faculty here a while ago and were forced to stop. Although pointless destruction of random things is still a common occurance here at RPI as is witnessed by my ex-laptop.
    ICQ#: 7012329 | AIM NICK: CW0LVES
  • by Tower ( 37395 )
    Well... it's funny the first time you see it, but not really a 'hack'...

    We repelled down those stairs a few times, and the campus-wide laser tags games were more fun... as was frisbee golf...
  • Sounds like what happened to me last year at school.
    At Colorado School of Mines over spring break somebody stole every shower handle from every dorm on campus.
    Since I had been there over break I knew to bring my wrench with me to the shower but everyone else at school was thoroughly confused and pissed.
    Everybody got over it and I thought it was hilarious.

    and when i press my face against the frosted shower stall
  • by TWR ( 16835 )
    I remember when the Drop Squad did their damage, and it was kinda funny six years ago (as an aside, I can't believe that someone is still paying for the domain name to remember a prank that occured in 1994!). But is this the only way that my Alma Mater can get mentioned on /.?


  • Yeah, I was an RPI frosh in 95... heard about the first week... I though it funny, but nowhere near the same hackish quality...
  • Heh. I'm another RPI grad, and I of course remember that stairwell quite fondly. Windows large enough you can sleep in their curved sills, low traffic. Never saw the drop squad in action, but just about everyone on campus had heard of them.

    Personally, I found super bouncy balls to be WAY more entertaining in that stairwell, but that's just me.
  • Hmmm... nice troll, ass.

    The people in this post certainly aren't a good representation of RPI, and your hockey comment is pretty far off-base. After all, only management majors play hockey ;-) Us engineers have real work to do.

    >Just what you'd expect from a second-rate institution like that.

    A condescending attitude is a wonderfully desirable quality - keep going with that.

    I chose RPI over MIT because of the attitude associated with it, and the fact that, when I was entering school, the computer engineering program at RPI was rated as high as the same at MIT, but being at RPI also offered me a lot of other opportunities (undergrad research, etc)... Granted, all of the humanities suck, but that's never been the undergrad focus - that's the reason US News ranked us so low - we aren't a university, and (until recently) we never pretended to be. I'd hardly call it second-rate though.

    Please don't make blanket statements about subjects you know little about.
  • I was just about to comment on this. It was Alfred R. Berkeley III, president of the Nasdaq Stock Market, though I'm pretty sure he didn't act alone. He's the graduation speaker this year.
  • Ah, the good old days....

    While on campus pranks are fun and good, they usualy don't measure up anywhere close to the humor and coolness of pranks pulled against entities ouside the university (the Hollywood sign for example.) Being at a place like Caltech makes me part of a proud heritage that I can even read about in the bookstore now. But if I wanted to add to it, I'd have to think twice.

    The unfortunate fact, is that it is much more dangerous to do pranks today. Things that would have annoyed some people before, today bring on leggal repercusions and lawsuits. The tendancy of people nowdays to sue first and ask questions latter has a really chilling effect on outside pranks. While the administration has made legal counsel and support available to students, they are not abble to fully protect us from those who took the prank too seriously. (Immagine if the FCC had gone after the students who used a radio transmitter to control the scoreboard at the Rose Bowl game.) Or how bout some company suing for deffimation?

    While it is possible to leave no traces of who did the prank, the honor code calls for everyone to leave a note explaining the prank and who did it. This avoids wrongfull retaliation (counterpranks) as well as requiring you to help clean up any prank you do. So I expect that there will be no major CIT/MIT type pranks for a while to come.

  • by Tower ( 37395 )
    It was never supposed to be a hack... these were just a few dumb, drunk guys. Whoever submitted this (very old, even previously on /.) story doesn't get it, and it's creating some big backlash.
  • If memory serves correctly, the drop squad guys didn't drink. That was bad, dropping Sparcs on the other hand, was perfectly acceptable. I'm not sure though, I went to RPI 95-96 before transferring out, so I'm basing this on a 5 year old memory of the story.
  • Actually, a better windows prank is to find someone who has a lot of icons on their desktop, hit print screen to copy it to the clipboard, paste into paint and save it in the windows directory. Then you move all of the icons that you can off of the desktop and change the wallpaper to the picture of the old desktop and make sure that the icons that have to stay on the desktop overlay the icons on the background. Most people can't figure out why the programs don't start when they double-click on the icons.
  • If memory serves correctly, the drop squad guys didn't drink. That was bad, dropping Sparcs on the other hand, was perfectly acceptable.

    I'm not sure though, I went to RPI 95-96 before transferring out, so I'm basing this on a 5 year old memory of the story.
  • >These are college pranks which require ingenuity to pull off

    I challenge you to point out where in this story there is any 'ingenuity' required to drop a christmas tree down a flight of stairs with no one to see it, you take a couple pictures, leave a note and run like hell.

    If you were referring to something like the cop car on top of a building or turning a dome into a likeness of R2D2, then you are right. Sadly, in this case this was simple littering. (tee hee, we dropped a bunch of pumpkins filled with shaving cream down 9 floors!)
  • One of the dorms at the University of Washington is over eleven stories tall and each cluster has a balcony. Needless to say that every year an assortment of goods gets its few seconds of air time. Everything from flaming toilet paper rolls (flying dragons) to dismembered computers.

    The best one we ever pulled was a USWEST phone book. It's absolutely amazing how loud six seconds of page flapping can be, not to mention the incredible boom that can result from a direct hit in an empty metal dumpster located in a basement level loading garage (13 stories total).

  • Back in the late '60s, when one of my uncles was still in high school, he and a few friends augered an entire truck-load of grain onto the roof of my high school. It was amusing, until they were forced to hand shovel several hundred bushels of spring wheat back *off* the roof.

  • Oh, that's a _good_ one! Heh, I think I know just the windoze-lovin asshole I'm gonna do that to right now (or as soon as he leaves for the day)
  • You mean "smoot", and the answer is no.
  • lmnopf... despite what many people at rpi might tell you means NOTHING it was a social experiment to see what people would do and say about a random string of letters posted EVERYWHERE on campus... a true 'campus hack' of the student mind that is... it was followed by an easter event but nobody noticed that...
  • The traditional object of prank at SFU is the VW Beetle. Every year a Beetle ends up in some bizzare position (attached to the Lion's Gate Bridge, Either side of a wall in Stanley Park(appearing to have crashed through it), On a roof, or wherever). At UWO a brick wall appeared accross the bridge which provided the only access to a parking lot ate one campus.
  • hehehe now anyone can hack with a mousepad! You have to try this.

  • Yup. We have 30 squirrels here and one is white. *smile*
    ICQ#: 7012329 | AIM NICK: CW0LVES
  • by georgeha ( 43752 ) on Friday April 28, 2000 @07:20AM (#1103682) Homepage
    This might have been somewhat funny when Letterman first did it, decades ago, but it isn't now, and it sure isn't much of a prank.

    Removing someone's door and plastering over the opening, that's a prank.

    Replacing the card section at a football game, that's a prank.

    Bankrupting the Soviet Union with vaporware, that's one heck of a prank.

    Not telling the refugees in your attic that the war has been over for 40 years, that's a heck of prank.

    Dropping stuff down a stairwell? Boring.

  • Not that I went to MIT, but I loved the pranks that got the school in trouble with the FAA. tcd004
  • from the 11th floor on to the roof of the TV lounge while James Bond was on.

    Went through the roff and nearly killed some people.

    That was a very stupid idea - glad we never got caught!
  • I thought it was the UBC engineers who did the VW thing.
  • I'm halfway through the site and it looks so far like they just are dropping stuff down a stairwell. Seems more like Letterman than MIT. Where is the brilliant hack aspect to watching pumpkins fall nine stories?
  • Ack-an elephant! The logistics of that would be insane. Youd need military helicopters, air drops, elephant handlers...egads! But, I admit it would be pretty damn impressive.

  • by gregor ( 6723 )
    It's almost disturbing to see how much work went into the lmnopf prank, since at the end, there was no closure (no annoucement about what it was, atleast subliminaly), and yet some people thought that it was worth effort to do twelve thousand flyers, ballons, and needlessly spray painting the sidewalk on the way to campus from freshmen hill.

    I'd hardly call that a `student mind' hack either- what rpi really needs is some quality hacks to put it on intellectual par with mit and caltech. It's not like there's anything to do here anyway...
  • Like sneaking GPL code into development versions of windows, waiting till the codes released and bang, hack the code and tell the world...
  • The MIT hacks are creative, and mostly non-destructive as well, like putting a police car on the roof, or making a building look like R2D2.
    ...The MIT hacks also inspire some of us at the other end of the G&W bus route... to do what, we're still not entirely sure, but we've got some thoughts and a building that's screaming for some re-modeling. The benefit of more subtle pranking, however, is that being less obvious it'll stay there for extended periods of time and confuse campus tour guides. And anytime anyone's, say, blocked off the entrances to several of the physics faculty offices with a large quantity of balloons, leaving only a tunnel, it's been taken down after a few days.
    I believe strongly in continuing a tradition of "artistic terrorism." Throwing things down stairwells requires no creativity or planning beyond "when isn't there anyone in the stairwell?" and is basically just idiotic.
  • I thought these people(college folks) were supposed to be intelligent. This is the stupidist thing I've seen on /. for a while. What a waste. Grow up!
  • by Digital_Quartz ( 75366 ) on Friday April 28, 2000 @07:24AM (#1103692) Homepage
    Says "HACKS" across the front, and has a photograph of a huge balloon inflating in the middle of the Harvard/Yale football match, as well as a diagram of the device they built and burried in the field to inflate the balloon. Across the top it says "MIT 1, HARVARD-YALE 0".

    You can get all kinds of stuff like this on MIT campus.
  • Pranks living on in the commercial world isn't quite a new thing. Here's a classic: Mozilla vs. IE []. This one started as a prank by a bunch of Microsoft cronies - but then backfired the next day.
    Joseph Elwell.
  • by jawad ( 15611 )
    whoa, i go to RPI (finishing up my freshman year)... i was inspired to start a ruckus by the MIT Hack page, and didn't know where to start... Ideas are starting to flow in....
  • they least some of them
    ICQ#: 7012329 | AIM NICK: CW0LVES
  • The MIT Museum sells a book, "(The Journal of the) Institute For Hacks TomFoolery & Pranks (at MIT)". It's about 150 pages, lots of photos. It doesn't list all the pranks you might find at other sources but is still pretty amusing.

    It's a big book. You could use it as a mousepad.
  • by Hotaine ( 148044 ) on Friday April 28, 2000 @08:09AM (#1103697)
  • If you see a sign like In case of fire, use stairs
    near an elevator, cross out "stairs" and write "fire extinguisher".
  • by Anonymous Coward
    When President McKinnley was attending Allegheny College (Pennsylvania) in the mid 1800's, as a prank he stuck a cow up in the bell tower of Bentley Hall, the first building at Allegheny College.

    Read your Chaucer.

    Ynd then we toke the horned cow
    Ynd set her upon thy buildinges brow
    thee locale shirrivs were quite vecksed
    whilest Y another jin and tonik micksed

    yer welcome
  • This guy clearly needs a balloon inflated in his shorts.

  • About a quarter of the MIT Museum (up the Mass
    a couple blocks) is devoded to a history of hacking.

  • At my high school it was made to rain in the gym during a basketball game. If you can name that high school you win nothing, other than the chuckle you get from remembering the incident.

  • What the hell is that? I see it all over the place.
  • by witten ( 5796 )
    My HTML tags were correct when I posted this.. I even double-checked. Something's screwy with slashdot's tag filtering. Anyway, here's the link to the email message [], if anyone's interested..
  • I'm sorry, but from what I've read about pranking ethics [] these guys aren't hacks in the MIT sense, but rather unoriginal vandals.
    "According to the "hacker ethic," a hack must: be safe / not damage anything/ not damage anyone, either physically, mentally or emotionally / be funny, at least to most of the people who experience it "
    Throwing University owned telephones down stairwells []... without care about what lands on who... doesn't seem very funny or safe to me.
  • I dropped a whole big mess of bouncy balls down it one day out of the curiousity of 'what *would* happen if you did that?' definitely worth the five bucks for the bouncy balls. One thing to note though... make sure the stairway is clear before you drop, there was somebody on the second floor who I owed a beer after they got nailed with one of the bouncy balls on a rebound.
  • He's the graduation speaker? They brought him back after he admitted to that? Kudos to the administration...
  • >because it ISN'T MIT

    well, sure,I realize this. what I responded to is emmett equating this to a MIT hack. No, the brilliant part was videotaping themselves so they would be sure to get caught.
  • I graduated from RPI in the spring of '94. I remember well the JEC Smiley Face. It was amusing to see it mentioned here on Slashdot, and by one of the original perpetrators, no less! Your efforts made me and many of my friends chuckle. IIRC, didn't someone rearrange the tiles again later on, to form some letters? I have a vague recollection of this, but I could be mistaken.

    I also vaguely remember the whole room-redirection prank. This actually seemed to happen at least once a year. I remember one year (it wasn't April Fools, though) when it seemed like half the student body showed up to my DiffEq recitation in Amos Eaton. They had been redirected to that one lecture hall from all over campus. Quite amusing.
  • ...glad we never got caught!

    You did now. :-)
    nuclear cia fbi spy password code encrypt president bomb
  • *smile* post that to rpi.general, not slashdot...heh

    for everyone else's info though, about two weeks ago, everyone woke up to see LMNOPF posted all over was painted on teh ground, printed on balloons that were hung everywhere, on stickers that were stuck to everything, etc.

    Amusing thing about this is that noone on campus had any idea as to what it meant. After a week or so, it finally leaked out that this was a statement about non statements (ie it had no meaning).
    ICQ#: 7012329 | AIM NICK: CW0LVES

  • The JEC tiles got rearranged quite often, including one time to spell out "DROP SQUAD".
  • I understand that at one point the tiles read TAPU. Unfortunately, now they've been affixed to the ground, and can no longer be moved.
    But on the subject of hacks, a quasi-hack is the class rings. It is traditional that the designs on the sides of RPI class rings contain a screw hidden within the design. This is the Tute Screw. The Tute Screw is threaded both ways so that it goes in no matter which way you turn it, and it is what the administration uses to continuously screw the students. FWIW.

  • sorry, but that's hardly the greatest prank of RPI. doesn't really take that much imagination to make a banner and hang it off the side of the CII now does it? also not that impressive considering just about anyone can get to that window on the 9th floor and throw it off. Also, it's been done more than once here.

    Unfortunately, it's sad to say that stupid sh*t like that is the best that any of the students have come up with this year. All the bricks on the JEC walkway are now attached so that you can't move them. And well, the students aren't doing much else. Only other thing done this year is someone putting 'RPI bullets' in all of the round windows of the CII around finals time at the end of the first semester...
    ICQ#: 7012329 | AIM NICK: CW0LVES

  • That's the UBC Engineers. Trust me, I've been in on the planning of a couple :-)

    "When correctly viewed, everything is lewd
    I could tell you stories about Peter Pan
    Or the Wizard of Oz - there's a dirty old man!"
  • This is a test of my new signature. Had this really been a post, there would have been some thoughtful, on-topic content here.

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  • So unfortunately the cow had to be killed and butchered inside the dorm and brought down in pieces. Oh well, most of the other pranks worked much better.

    I don't know, seems to me that one worked just about as well as it is possible to get a prank to work... :-)
    The real meaning of the GNU GPL:

  • by Lizard_King ( 149713 ) on Friday April 28, 2000 @07:28AM (#1103719) Journal
    Great Post! Indeed this is a valuable story, but I question whether it is truly "Stuff that matters"

    if college pranks get you off, go here. [] It covers college pranks across the country including MIT and CalTech.
  • These pranks are usually pretty funny. I've seen some where the students of a rival school modified the latin motto on the walls inside the school. These types of pranks are really the best in my opinion because they could be up for days and very few people would notice. Putting a cow on top of a dome is pretty dumb IMO. Who the hell would have thought to put a cow on top of a dome? Seems like there was a group of lazy ass college kids sitting around playing nintendo tripping on some bad acid. Then one said "dude lets put a cow on top of the dome at the school!" WTF is up with that?
  • ... This is ancient news. These guys got shut down by public safety (and one got expelled) in 93. When I was a frosh there(94), this was already old news. Why is it on slashdot now?

  • I helped drop fridges, pumpkins, and whatever else
    was handy off MIT's Green Building, 22 stories or
    so tall. Never did a piano, personally. These
    guys want to sell me a mousepad? Feh!

    p.s. - bags of flour make a surprising large gout
    of explosive flame from that height.
  • by Langley ( 1015 )

    Anyone can drop shit down a stairwell.
    This may have been funny if you go to RPI.

    Doesn't really stimulate you though, and make you think "Damn, I wish I had thought of that!".

    Perhaps if they were to drop more peculiar objects down the stairs, say a police car or a cow.

  • by rlk ( 1089 )
    Just what you'd expect from a second-rate institution like that. All they do over there is play hockey; nobody actually has time to think.

    For demonstrations of true virtuosity, one must travel to the downstream bank of the Charles. Dropping objects is perfectly legitimate technique for the novice, but in order to be worthwhile one must carefully measure and repeat the experiment in a public forum. Even Baker was capable of measuring the bruno, the unit of volume created by a piano falling from the roof, and this experiment was repeated for a number of years to determine the true value more precisely.
  • and i'm in my 20s.
  • This just goes to show that the rise of the web has brought an end to all interesting college pranks. The idea is to be clever and offbeat, not predictable. An amusing part of college was always watching the new guys try to pull the same set of "hilarious" gags every year.
  • There are in fact things like mugs and mousepads and hats and T-shirts sold to comemmorate famous hacks at MIT. They're sold by the MIT Museum Store ( Their web page says they will have an online catalog up sometime this summer.
  • by Orlando ( 12257 ) on Friday April 28, 2000 @07:53AM (#1103739) Homepage
    1) Phone the police and tell them that there is a bunch of students dressed as workmen digging up the road at such and such location.

    2) Go to the (real) workmen and tell them that there will be a bunch of students dressed as policemen coming in a short while to give them hassle.

    3) Retreat to a safe distance and watch the ensuing mayhem.

    heh heh :)


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