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Sniffing the Wireless Traffic of MIT Students

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  • by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Thursday May 20, 2010 @01:09PM (#32281618) Journal

    In my class 2 years ago, it was pretty much mandatory. Prof would be walking you through a PHP script for logging onto the server. If you weren't following along, you were considered not learning the skill.

    In this way, the prof could look around at everyones laptop. He'd be able to see how people coded differently, and give suggestions on how to either improve their style, or what languages they'd be most comfortable in, what editor they might like, etc etc. It went beyond simple reading of the code, it was an inspection of how you wrote the code you did, and I found it very helpful.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 20, 2010 @01:11PM (#32281664)

    Yes, and despite your skepticism, it's actually useful:
    -Take notes
    -look up a reference that the prof didn't bother to explain
    -If you're bored, you can pay half attention instead of just falling asleep.

    Mind you, like the rest of college, you get out of class what you put into it. There are certainly kids who go to class for attendance points and spend all period playing farmville.

  • by zero_out (1705074) on Thursday May 20, 2010 @01:13PM (#32281694)
    It's not uncommon. In fact, at my alma mater, the students do the same thing in their IT security class. It's an exercise to show how easy it is to sniff packets, and find passwords for things like email accounts. This is meant to encourage better security. If the students don't know why something is important, they won't care. When I was in grade school, many kids didn't see why algebra was important, so they didn't care, and didn't bother learning the material.
  • by Chapter80 (926879) on Thursday May 20, 2010 @01:20PM (#32281840)

    Awesomely, AIM, Jabber, MSN Messenger, and Yahoo! Messenger were all represented in the traffic...

    AIM is the clear favorite.

    I've lost respect for MIT's admissions process.

  • by arth1 (260657) on Thursday May 20, 2010 @01:23PM (#32281894) Homepage Journal

    It's not THAT Apple uses zeroconf, but HOW they use it.
    There's nothing in the zeroconf specs that say you have to constantly flood the network with queries.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 20, 2010 @01:34PM (#32282066)

    260000 packets, 21 sources, 45 minutes = almost 5 packets per source and second. If that's an acceptable price for not having to enter a printer IP address, then you must really hate trivial configuration tasks.

  • Re:hmm (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Lumpy (12016) on Thursday May 20, 2010 @01:37PM (#32282134) Homepage

    you can call it all you want. The Law states that any photo taken from outside the property is not. That is what matters, not what you think.

    It's how I dealt with a Asshat neighbor. pointed a security cam at his house. Caught him throwing trash over the fence to the next door neighbors. I sent the footage to the cops and he got nailed. He threatened to sue me based on "invasion of privacy" and I dared him to do it, i even egged him on with" you ain't got the balls" and 'chicken" because I know the judge would eat him alive.

    It's also why you can be arrested for indecent exposure when you are naked in your home. If I can see your dirty naughty bits from outdoors.

    if you want privacy, keep the blinds closed.

  • by yo_tuco (795102) on Thursday May 20, 2010 @01:42PM (#32282200)

    "In theory they're typing notes or recording the lecture or something.

    In practice, I suspect it is more of a distraction than anything else."

    Not much different than when we were bored with a lecture and played hangman on our HP41C calculators back in the 80's.

  • by HeckRuler (1369601) on Thursday May 20, 2010 @01:49PM (#32282302)
    Yeah, I can type a hell of a lot faster then I can write. And I can actually read it afterward!
  • Re:hmm (Score:4, Insightful)

    by CraftyJack (1031736) on Thursday May 20, 2010 @01:54PM (#32282380)
    It's called "civility".

    You ask before doing things could piss other people off even when you are technically within your rights to do so, and other people are willing to cooperate with you to mutual benefit.

    You can choose to forgo "civility", but then other people will refer to you as an "asshole" and you will have fewer opportunities to benefit from non-zero-sum cooperation.
  • by HeckRuler (1369601) on Thursday May 20, 2010 @01:58PM (#32282446)
    Well those hard working people apparently weren't smart enough to sail through highschool physics/calculus, since they apparently had to work at it.

    It's a real kick in the pants, but some people are quick, clever, and sharp enough to achieve in a few minutes what it takes you hours to do. Life isn't fair, deal with it.
  • by dgatwood (11270) on Thursday May 20, 2010 @02:01PM (#32282494) Journal

    At an average of 50-60 bytes apiece, that's a total of a whopping 47 kbps, or 0.0047% of capacity. Yes, that's an acceptable price.

  • by StikyPad (445176) on Thursday May 20, 2010 @03:09PM (#32283448) Homepage

    I hate wrist craps, especially when they're watery.

    Anyway, the benefit of taking tests like that is that you don't *have to* debug. Syntax is usually a secondary concern (if it's a concern at all -- we were allowed to use pseudocode), and design is emphasized over implementation.. which is good, because any monkey can debug or look up syntax (and even the most skilled coders will have to), but creating an elegant design takes some amount of skill and insight.

  • by nicolas.kassis (875270) on Thursday May 20, 2010 @03:14PM (#32283516)
    I had asteroid on my TI-83 ;p
  • by butlerm (3112) on Thursday May 20, 2010 @04:33PM (#32284854)

    At an average of 50-60 bytes apiece, that's a total of a whopping 47 kbps, or 0.0047% of capacity

    The effective capacity consumed could be quite a bit higher than that due to CSMA/CD overhead and the like. If someone else is transmitting a station has to wait a random amount of time before transmitting, for example. That is a non trivial factor that can easily take a busy 10 Mbps network down to 3 Mbps of usable capacity, for example.

  • by ceoyoyo (59147) on Thursday May 20, 2010 @11:16PM (#32288776)

    Coding on paper makes you a better coder. Be thankful you had a CS department that made you do that. Few do anymore.

"Irrationality is the square root of all evil" -- Douglas Hofstadter

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