SSH Computer Possession Prank – Part I
About a month ago, my house-mate Jordan discovered a program on his macbook pro that allowed you to use voice commands to perform certain tasks on the computer. The program featured a hilarious voice synthesizer and was an interesting novelty for all of a week. He eventually disabled it, because it had a tendency to spontaneously respond to non-commands, which gave the rest of us a brilliant idea. This is the [long] story of perhaps the world’s most epic computer prank ever conceived.
Disclaimer: This prank involves some steps taken which may be ethically unacceptable if abused. I assure you that we did not do anything to harm anyone, and we certainly wouldn’t encourage that kind of behavior. It was all in kind-hearted fun, and though we had absolute power over Jordan’s computer, we only ever utilized it for comedy.
March 15, 2010:
The prank begins with an intricate setup. We discover the following gem of a mac command:
say -v Ralph "hello world"
This command can be used to make the computer say something using the voice synthesizer. Of course, this is of no use if the volume is down, so this amazing command sets the volume from the terminal:
osascript -e 'set volume 7'
Where the volume can be set 0-7. Now that we have the two most basic commands for hilarity, we decide to execute. Our initial plan was to place a shell script on his desktop that would be scheduled to go off in the wee hours of the night and say something like “Goodnight Jordan”… but we decided that wasn’t enough.
When he went to the gym, we enabled ssh access to his computer. I then realized that we would need his root password, so we concocted a brilliant plan. We went into his network settings and disabled his wireless internet connection. Naturally, when he returned home to discover that his computer wasn’t going on his websites, he went to the one person who could fix it, ME!
I opened up terminal and typed in some random commands, and then ‘su’ which prompted him for a password. I asked him to enter it and conveniently, the terminal responded with ‘sorry’. I kept trying to see what he was typing as he kept entering his password every time I typed ‘su’, but again and again it just said ‘sorry’.
Mark (another house-mate, in on the joke) entered at the perfect time. Now, I’m not a mac user, so it was natural for me to have asked Mark for advice on getting Jordan’s computer to work. Mark got on the terminal and started working, when he asked Jordan to enter his password again. Mark went back to work and needed Jordan’s password again.
This is when I chimed in and frustratedly requested Jordan just tell us his password, so we don’t have to keep asking him.
He obliged, and we conquered.
Thus concludes Day One of this Epic Computer Prank.