Back in 1981, the BBC Computer was one of the first to be used in schools. 34 years on, Plusnet takes a look at the top 12 ways we used our school PCs to procrastinate.
12. Making voice software repeat swear words
Early editions of Microsoft Word when kids had a feature that enabled you to play out parts of your text. For example, here is a recording of a classic movie quote from Anchorman.
Admittedly, getting the female voice to repeat swear words is still pretty funny…
11. Messing with hardware
Wait until your friend leaves their computer unattended and (quick!) pop a few keys off the keyboard and switch them around at random. QWERTY suddenly became TWERQY. Another trick was to remove and hide the mouse ball tracker.
10. Changing settings
We learned tricks of the computer trade, by changing screen resolutions and contrast settings, so it looks like a computer was turned off with a dark screen, or the screensaver text spelled out something naughty.
You could get really pro and press CTRL, ALT and the down arrow to turn a screen upside down, which was a bugbear for anyone who did not know how to switch it back again.
9. Changing Word AutoCorrect
You could have great fun with Microsoft Word, by opening the Autocorrect settings and amending key words or phrases to swear words or correct common spelling mistakes with unexpected text.
The meanest in your class would press ALT and F4 on windows that others had open, which immediately shut them down. If prompted to save or not, a quick ‘n’ would close the program without saving
Even worse, was to press CTRL, ALT and DEL twice which would restart a computer. School was cruel at times.
7. Clippy and changing the Office Helper
Clippit, or Clippy as the Office Helper was affectionately known as, was the little paperclip that appeared every time you needed help. It was officially retired in 2003 due to unpopularity but it still wasted a lot of time throughout school changing that little Clippy to other animations.
6. Drawing pictures on Paint
Perhaps one of the simplest of pastimes requiring little if any brainpower at all, Microsoft Paint was the first to hold host to budding Monet’s and Dali’s sat waiting for the end of lesson bell to come. All it took was a quick scribble and a carefully chosen multi-coloured splurge with the ‘fill’ paint bucket tool and before you knew if you had artwork that belonged in a high-end gallery.
5. Accessing social media
Before the days of business promotion and viral videos were the simpler times of Bebo and Myspace. Of course, you weren’t worth having as a ‘friend’ if you didn’t jazz your profile up by painting your personality all over it and with a high-angled selfie. What better time to spend doing so than a drab I.C.T lesson?
Keeping 50+ lists of your music, films, and other miscellaneous ‘likes’ up-to-date was a must, and your ‘Top 8’ friends were even more crucial, including the latest crush or removing a fallen friend. That list could make or break your school social life.
The more advanced on Myspace would learn that changing the code could give you endless possibilities in profile personalisation – the ultimate statement in cool. Inevitably everyone knew someone who took it to the next level and had a profile with nothing but a comment box and a name. No doubt these people are now champagne guzzling artists or high-end fashion designers.
4. Sharing videos
Viral videos, believe it or not, were around before YouTube came onto the scene. Websites such as Newgrounds provided the majority of classroom video entertainment being regularly updates with funny material.
Remember such classics such as ‘Badger, badger, badger’, the Numa Numa guy, or Salad Fingers? All were regulars on classroom computers.
3. NSFS (Not Safe for School)
No background on a momentarily left computer was safe from a dash to a rude image online and being set as the desktop background. If this was a little too obvious, the web browsers home page could easily fall victim to a change towards websites of the +18 variety. Cue the laughter while watching the panicked rush for the victim to remove from the screen before the teacher comes their way. Ahh memories.
2. Instant Messaging
The main form of communication between friends in the early noughties, MSN Messenger dominated post-school chit chat about the day’s gossip. Names were changed to include countless emoticons and creatively placed squiggles, followed by your favourite lyrics of the moment that told people everything about you.
Of course at school the full version of MSN messenger or ICQ chat was not installed on the computers, meaning that everyone had to settle for the web messenger versions of the programs to communicate from one side of the classroom to the other. The messengers acted as the perfect means for speaking to your crush or plotting your next prank with your friends. Gone were the days of passing notes over class. Welcome to the 21st century.
Games took up the majority of computer time at school when you were able to keep your screen away from the teacher’s glare. Classic online titles included Copter, Blobby Volley, Space Cadet 3D Pinball, Stick Cricket and the list goes on!
The standard website haunts hosting these games were sites like Miniclip, eBaumsWorld, AddictingGames.com and Candystand.com. It seems like the school wasn’t as naïve as you’d give them credit for with the dreaded blocked website after the savvy I.T staff caught on. From this ensued the tactical battle of whit’s using proxies to get round the wall – a kid must have their fun!
What did you get up to during your I.T classes? Tell us by messaging us on Twitter @Plusnet.
On 12th March 1989, Sir Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web. On 12th March 2015 he participated in an AMA session on Reddit to mark the 26th anniversary.
AMA stands for Ask Me Anything and is a forum in which Reddit users can ask Tim any question (although he decides which ones to answer). If you’re familiar with Reddit you can read the whole thing here, but for those who may not be used to the interface we’ve highlighted some of the key discussion points below, starting with his wonderful introductory sentiments:
Question asked by user Runding: Hi! What’s the best thing to come from the Internet?
Answer by Tim, username ‘Timbl’: The spirit of global collaboration among all the people working on it.
Onerd: What’s your best non-internet thing that you love?
He was then asked about his memories of the first successful communication:
Foshi22le: Do you remember your first thoughts, or words, when you achieved the first successful communication between a Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) client and server?
Timbl: Nope. I was head down getting stuff working…. the server and client were both on my machine at that stage… I wasn’t using source code control, so I could not go back and find the critical commit with the “hmm GET seems to work” comment
Given the gravity of what he’d achieved, this seems a very modest response! This communication was the building block on which the World Wide Web as we know it is established. The computer he used is now on display at the Science Museum in London if you fancy seeing a piece of internet history.
Here we should clarify between the World Wide Web (WWW) and the internet. The World Wide Web is a collection of connected documents linked together with hyperlinks and denoted by URLs. When you browse with a web browser, you’re browsing the World Wide Web. The internet refers to the global system of connected networks. So the WWW is part of the internet, as are email and various other services. Email is not part of the World Wide Web, however.
Sir Berners-Lee was also asked his thoughts on the issues currently facing the World Wide Web:
Bay400: Hey Professor Tim! Two questions:
What are your views/thoughts/feelings on net neutrality?
What are your views/thoughts/feelings on the modern internet?
Timbl: Net neutrality is really important. Basically we do so much cool stuff on top of the network layer, it has to remain an unbiased infrastructure for all our discussion, innovation, etc. I must have the right to be able to communicate with whatever or whoever I want, without discrimination, be it political or commercial. See for example things I’ve said here
MeisterLurker: You are my favorite scientist. Your invention has benefited the lives of billions of people across the planet. Case in point: it gives me the chance to communicate with you at this moment, something that will probably never happen in the physical world. I am very much fascinated by the Web and I hope to pursue research on this topic. Currently, it seems that the social media is its most influential aspect. What do you think will be the Web’s next biggest contribution to society?
Timbl: Hopefully, we will be able to roll out a world in which people [get] can together and merge all the data which is about themselves and use it with all sort of cool apps to really better their lives. We are working on this sort of thing in dig.csail.mit.edu
The Decentralized Information Group at http://dig.csail.mit.edu/ aims to “explore the consequences of information on the Web” and find out “where it comes from, what happens to it, and what are the rules for using it”.
Then Redditors asked him about what he foresaw for the future, including ways of increasing worldwide engagement with the World Wide Web:
Gabovanlugo: How do you see the web in the next 20 years? Any milestone to consider that changes the way we use internet?
Timbl: Well… We have had a whole campaign webwewant.org to ask people what sort for a web they want for the next 25 years. It is up to us, but hopefully we will lock down (in culture and where necessary law) the fact that it is open. The number of people using the web will soon cross the 50% and soon 75% of the world population, and then instead of worrying about getting the majority online the spotlight will be to those who remain disenfranchised in the remaining 25%, 10%. Milestone? When I have enough bandwidth to bring me a scene in wrap-around HD so my eyes and ears can’t tell I’m not in the other place.
Doppelganger3: Sir Tim, are you optimistic or pessimistic about the future relationship between technology in general terms and humankind?
Timbl: Well, the outcome is not a foregone conclusion, that tech will in fact end up working in humanity’s best interests. But we have a choice! These things are laws and tech standards and so on which actually we control. So it is up to us, where ‘us’ is humanity, and in general, about us, I am optimistic — so long as we keep our eyes on the prize.
It’s interesting that he reinforces the need for decisions to be made on a societal level about the future of the internet.
There were some less technical questions, too:
LabLizard: What is one question you wish people would ask but never do? What answer do you have for them?
Timbl: “Hey, is it OK if we establish an endowment for your foundation/consortium/retirement?” “Yeah, sure!”
Drewisbrat: Is it true you’re from Colehill or is it just an urban myth? If so hi from Colehill and congratulations on being awesome.
Timbl: I certainly lived in Colehill, Dorset for a bit. High 5. Have a pint of Tanglefoot for me at the Barley Mow if it is still there.
To the above, another Reddit user commented that this was “perhaps the most British thing they’d ever read”. Perhaps most importantly, Tim demonstrated that he has his finger on the pulse of the World Wide Web.
Phoenixiss: What do you think about memes?
Timbl: One does not simply ask the inventor of the WWW what he thinks about memes.
We wonder whether he has a favourite cat video, too.
We at Plusnet pride ourselves in providing a top-notch service to all of our customers, and that work was recognised this week by Which?, who recommended Plusnet for the seventh time.
We received a score of 72% in the latest Which? Broadband Customer Satisfaction Survey, following a series of updates to Plusnet’s service including; a Live Chat web service, which launched in November to help the customer service team answer customer questions more quickly, and the new Hub Zero router, offering a sharper performance while using 40% less energy than previous models.
Andy Baker, Plusnet CEO said: “We are thrilled to receive this recommendation for the seventh time from Which? We would like to thank everyone who took part and fed back on our services. It’s a privilege to receive this prestigious recognition, which is a testament to the continued focus we put into ensuring our customers get the best experience for their broadband service.”
We would like to thank both Which? and our customers for the excellent recommendation and continued great feedback.
Telephone numbers starting 08, 09 and 118 are called ‘service numbers’. You might use them to make phone calls to organisations such as banks, travel services, government departments, or even to vote in TV shows.
From 1 July 2015, the regulator Ofcom is changing the way these numbers are charged for. The changes are designed to make the cost of calls clearer, and they are being communicated through a campaign called UK Calling.
These are numbers for contacting organisations. They start with the prefix 084, 087 and also include 118 for directory enquiry and premium rate service numbers beginning 09.
From 1 July 2015, the cost of calling any of these numbers will be split into two parts:
By adding together the access charge and the service charge, you’ll know exactly what the call will cost you.
Numbers beginning 0800 and 0808 are already free to call from landlines, including your Plusnet phone, however from 1st July 2015 they will also be free to call from your mobile phone.
All these changes apply across every landline and mobile phone – not just your Plusnet phone.
Here at Plusnet we're always trying to use clever open source things to make our lives easier. Sometimes we write our own and make other people's lives easier too!
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