Marty Anstey: Some History
One April fools day I launched a prank which went over fairly well. It was a clever idea I borrowed from the infamous Robert Tappan Morris and adapted for the Novell network we ran at the school.
Basically, the prank worked like this: when a user logged in, the program would run. It would introduce itself and inform the user that they could ask any question they wanted, but they would first need to answer a question. This question was added to a central queue, and was then presented to the next user that logged in, who would answer it, and that answer would be sent back to the original user who asked the question in the first place.
The illusion made it appear that some "oracle" was intelligently answering questions.
It took me an afternoon to write up the code and test it. It worked really well, and as I frequently had the computer lab all to myself in the evenings, I was able to test the program a live environment. When I arrived at school the next day, the computer lab was in an uproar as students were busy asking and answering questions and not getting any real work done, and the computer teacher was rushing around trying to figure out what the problem was and fix it. He correctly assumed it was my doing and thankfully took it with good humour, but I got the impression he wasn't overly amused with the prank.
The early days of the WWW
During high school, I was introduced to the newly formed world-wide web via the Mosaic and later, the Netscape web browsers. As with the majority of Internet access in those days it used a dial-up connection, and we felt fortunate to offer Internet access in our modest computer lab.
As time went on I found myself browsing the web more and more, but with increasing competition for Internet access (at the time, there was only a single computer that had Internet access) it became more difficult. Then one day in late 1995 I realized that instead of vying for time on the school computer during the day, I could just use the Internet at night when no-one was at school.
Following High School, I briefly found work as a junior technician which gave me quite a lot of experience dealing with computer support in the real world. It certainly wasn't the ideal job, and I left after only a few months, but the experience I gained was invaluable.
I really wanted to do something big and revolutionary and so with no major commitments I decided to embark on a project that would consume the next five years of my life. But instead of going into detail on that project here, I have written a detailed account of those experiences on a separate page.