Alice's PDP-10

(DEC-10 speak glossary: 'being de-wheeled' means having your system privileges taken away; 'SPR' is a Software Performance Report [so users can report faults])

This song is called "Alice's PDP-10". But Alice doesn't own a PDP-10, in fact Alice isn't even in the song. It's jus the name of the song. That's why I called this song "Alice's PDP-10".

You see, it all started about two incompatible monitor versions ago, about two months ago on a Tuesday, when my friend and I SUPDUP'd over to MIT-OZ to pick up some hackers to go out for a Chinese dinner. But AI hackers don't live on MIT-OZ, they live on various assorted lispms and such, and seeing as and how they never log in except via the file server, they hadn't gotten around to doing filesystem garbage collection for a long time.

We got over there, saw 600 pages free, 10000 pages in use on a 5 pack PS:, and decided it would be a friendly gesture to run CHECKD for them and try to reclaim some of that lost space. Se we reloaded the system with the floppies and the switch registers and other implements of destruction, and answered "Y" to RUN CHECKD?

But when we got the system up and tried to release all the lost pages there was a loud beeping and a big message flashed up on our screen saying:

                  PERMISSION DENIED BY ACJ

Well, we'd never heard of a version of ACJ that would let you go into MDDT from ANONYMOUS but not run CHECKD, and so, with tears in our eyes, we headed off over the Chaosnet looking for a filesystem with enough free pages to write out the LOST-PAGES.BIN file. Didn't find one ....

Until we got to XX-11, and at the other end of XX-11 was another MIT Twenex, and in PS:<OPERATOR> on that MIT Twenex was another LOST-PAGES.BIN file. And we decided that one big LOST-PAGES.BIN file was better than two little LOST-PAGES.BIN files, and rather than page that one in we thought we'd write ours out. So that's what we did.

Went back to OZ, found some hackers and went out for a Chinese dinner that couldn't be beat, and didn't get up until the next morning when we got a SEND from Ann Marie Finn. She said, "Kid, we found your initials in SIXBIT in the right half of a POPJ at the end of a two megaword core dump full of garbage, just wanted to know if you had any information about it." And I said, "Yes, ma'am Ann Marie, I cannot tell a lie, I put that XUNAME into that halfword."

After talking back and forth with Ann for about 45 messages we arrived at the truth of the matter and Ann said that we had to go rebuild the bittable and we also had to come down and talk to her in room NE43-501. Now friends, there was only one of two things that Ann could of done with us down at room 501, and the first one was that she could have hired us on the spot for actually knowing enough about Twenex to screw it up that badly, which wasn't very likely and we didn't expect it, and the other was that she could have bawled us out and told us never to be seen hacking filesystems again, which was what we expected. But when we got to room 501 we discovered that there was a third possibility that we hadn't even counted upon, and we was both immediately de-wheeled. CD%DIR'ed. And I said "Ann, I don't think I can rebuild the bittable with this here FILES-ONLY bit set." And she said "XOFF, kid, get into this UDP packet" and that's what we did and rode up to the square bracket asciz slash scene of the crime slash close square bracket.

Now friends, I want to tell you about the ninth floor of building NE43 where this happened. They got three KL10s, 24 LISPMs, and about 32 VAXen running 4.2 unix. But when we got to the square bracket asciz slash scene of the crime slash close square bracket there was five twenex hackers past and present, this being the biggest lossage yet by an RMS clone and everybody wanted to get in their suggestions for a new system daemon that would have kept it from ever happening in the the first place. And they was using up all kinds of debugging equipment that they had lying around on V3A SWSKIT tapes. They were doing DSs, MONRDs, and RSTRSHs and they made 27000 pages of core dumps and photo files on an RP06 with comments and -READ-.-THIS- files to be used as evidence against us.

After the ordeal, Ann took us back downstairs and left us with the CLU hackers. She said "Kid, I'm gonna leave you with the CLU hackers. I want your jsys manual and your ROLM DTI." I said "Ann, I can understand your wanting my jsys manual so I won't remind the CLU hackers of grody things like operating systems, but what do you want my DTI for?" And she said "Kid, we don't want any VTS errors" I said "Ann, did you think I was going to try to crash the system for littering?" Ann said that she was making sure, and friends, Ann was, 'cause she cleared all my left-hand privs bits so I couldn't logout. And she disabled the TREPLACE command so I couldn't crock in an XCT [0] instruction, cause an illegal instruction interrupt to MEXEC, and sneak into MDDT. Yeah, Ann was making sure, and it was about four of five hours later that Chiappa (remember Chiappa? This song's never even mentioned Chiappa), Chiappa came by and with a few gratuitous insults to the CLU hackers bailed us out of there, and we went out and had another Chinese dinner that couldn't be beat, and didn't get up until the next morning when we all had to go to LCS Computational Resourses staff meeting.

We walked in, sat down. Ann came in with the RP06 disk pack with the 27000 pages with the comments about the -READ-.-THIS- files and a two liter coffee mug, sat down. Esther Felix comes in, says "All rise" we stood up, Ann stood up with the 27000 page RP06 pack, and Dave Clark comes in with an IBM PC. He sits down, we sit down, Ann looks at the IBM PC. Then at the 27000 page RP06 pack, then at the IBM PC, then at the 27000 page RP06 disk pack, and began to cry, because Ann had come to the realization that it was a typical case of 36%8==4 and that there was no way to display those last four bits, and that Dave wasn't gonna look at the 27000 pages of core dumps and photo files on the RP06 pack with the comments and -READ-.-THIS- files explaining what each one was to be used as evidence against us.

And we were permanently assigned to the batch dregs queue and had to rebuild the bittable (in the batch dregs queue). But that's not what I came here to talk about. I came here to talk about DEC.


They got a building up there in Marlboro where you walk in and get averted, diverted, inverted, reverted, and perverted. I went up there one day to pick up a new copy of the tools tape. Drove down to Philly for a Grateful Dead concert the night before, so I looked and felt like a real live twenex hacker from MIT. I wanted to feel like, I wanted to be a real live twenex hacker from MIT. I walked in and I was hung down, brung down, hung up, and spaced out. The receptionist hands me a piece of paper saying "Kid, the EDIT-20 maintainers are polling user opinions today and would like you to stop by room 604 while you're here."

I walked in there and I said "Droids, I want to lose. I mean, I want to lose. I want to see line editors on CRTs and nulls in my files. Write 36 bit ascii that can't be read except with the monitor filtering it. I mean LOSE, LOSE, LOSE!" And I started jumping up and down yelling "LOSE, LOSE", and Kevin Paetzold came in wearing his moose ear hat and started jumping up and down with me yelling "LOSE, LOSE", and a DEC sales rep came over, put an arm around my shoulder, and said, "How'd you like me to show you a *real* editor that has macros and things like that? We have one, it's called TV...."

Didn't feel too good about it.

Proceeded on down the hall getting more diversions and perversions. Man, I was in there for two hours, three hours, four hours, I was in there for a long time, and they was doing all kinds of mean nasty ugly things, and I was just having a tough time there. They was diverting and inverting every single part of me and they was leaving no bit untouched.

Finally I got to the very last office (I'd been in all the rest), the very last desk, after that whole big thing there, and I walk over and say "What do you want?" and the man says, "Kid, we only got one question: have you ever been de-wheeled?"

So I proceeded to tell him the story of the 10600 page five pack PS: with full orchestration and five part harmony and other phenomena and he stopped me right there and said "Kid, did you ever get hauled on the carpet for it?"

So I proceeded to tell him about the 27000 page RP06 pack with the comments and the -READ-.-THIS- files and he stopped me right there and said "Kid, I want you to go sit over there on that bench marked Large Systems SIG. NOW, KID!"

I, I walked over to the bench there ... See, the LCG group is where they put you if they think you may not be compatible with the rest of DEC's product line.

There was all kinds of mean nasty ugly people there on the bench ... Chaosnet designers ... Lisp hackers ... TECO hackers. TECO hackers right there on the bench with me! And the meanest one of them, the hairiest TECO hacker of them all was coming over to me. And he was mean and nasty and horrible and undocumented and all kinds of stuff. And he sat down next to me and said:

.(675041640744.f6w007141004745.f6w643700000000.f6),.fx*[0@ft^]0$w^

And I said "I didn't get nothing, I had to rebuild the bittable in queue six" and he said:

.(675041640067.f6w416300715765.f6w004445675045.f6
   455445440046.f6w576200535144.f6w370000000000.f6
),.fx*[0@ft^]0$w

And I said "Littering". And they all moved away from me on the bench there, with the hairy eyeball and all kinds of mean nasty ugly stuff until I said "and making undocumented changes to the default EMACS key bindings". And they all came back, shook my hand, and we had a great time on the bench talking about Chaosnet hacking and Lisp interpreters written in TECO, and everything was fine. And we were eating Peking ravs and smoking all kinds of things until the guy from DDC came over, had some paper in his hands, said:

KIDS-THIS-SPR-FORM-HAS-FIFTY-EIGHT-LINES-THIRTY-SEVEN-BOXES-AN'-SIXTY-EIGHT-QUES
TIONS-WE-WANT-TO-KNOW-THE-DETAILS-OF-THE-BUG-THE-LOAD-FACTOR-WHEN-IT-HAPPENED-AN
D-ANY-OTHER-KIND-OF-THING-YOU-GOT-TO-SAY-WE-WANT-TO-KNOW-THE-F-S-GUY'S-NAME-AND-
HOW-MANY-TRACKS-ON-YOUR-TAPE-DRIVE-AND-ANY-OTHER-KIND-OF-THING-YOU-GOT-TO-SAY-

and he talked for 45 minutes and nobody understood a word that he said or why we were doing this but we had fun filling out the forms in triplicate and speculating on why we were filling out SPRs on unsupported products.

I filled out the special form with the four level macro defining macros. Typed it in there just like it was and everything was fine. And I put down my keyboard, and I switched buffers, and there ... in the other buffer ... centred in the other buffer ... away from everything else in the buffer ... in parentheses, capital letters, in reverse video, read the following words:

"Kid, have you taken the ''VMS for TOPS-20 managers'' course yet?"

I walked over to the man and I said "Mister, you got a lot of damned gall asking me if I've taken the ''VMS for TOPS-20 managers'' course yet. I mean ... I mean ... I mean, I'm sitting on the bench, I'm sitting here on the LCG SIG bench, 'cause you want to know if I'm braindamaged enough to trade my PDP-10 for partial credit on a system that doesn't even handle filename completion after being a litterbug."

He looked at me and said "Kid, the front office don't like your kind, so we're going to put you on our VAX/VMS mailing list." And friends, somewhere down in the NE43 receiving room is a large trash barrel with a big sign on it that says "VAX/VMS documents".

And the only reason I'm singing you the song now is that someday you may know somebody in a similar situation ... or you may be in a similar situation. And if you're in a situation like that there's only one thing you can do, and that's call up the Digital Educational Services Office nearest you and sing "You can hack anything you want with TECO and DDT" and hang up.

You know, if one person, just one person, does it, they may think he's really dangerous and they won't take his machine.

And if two people do it, in harmony, they may think they're both ITS hackers and they won't touch either of them.

And if three people do it! Can you imagine three people calling up, singin' a bar of "Alice's PDP-10" and hanging up? They may think it's a re-implementation of the Chaosnet protocol.

And can you imagine fifty people a day? I said FIFTY people a day, calling up, singing a bar of "Alice's PDP-10" and hanging up? Friends, they may think it's a MOVEMENT, and that's what it is: THE 36-BIT ANTI-LOSSAGE MOVEMENT! And all you gotta do to join is to sing it the next time it comes up to the head of the GOLST.

With feelin'.

You can hack anything you want, with TECO and DDT.
You can hack anything you want, with just TECO and DDT.
$U in and begin to hack.
Twiddle bits in a core dump and write it back.
You can hack anything you want, with TECO and DDT.
(But be careful typing )
Just with TECO and DDT!

(Originally found on rec.music.folk back around 1991, maybe earlier)


Back to the humour page

Pete Bevin, pete@petebevin.com