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PlanetQuake takes a look at Quake server admins.

lemurboy: What can I say... ahnuld truly loves his work. :-) Although he about had an aneurysm getting Blue to post anything about QSmack, heh. QSmack really is a slick tool, the best NQ server admin tool out there by a long long shot, and we got a lot of mileage out of it; I guess that says something though about a large part of the Quake player population. :-( We've gotten a little bit of flack from banned players over the years, but I can't remember a single case where they had a leg to stand on. (It helped that QSmack logged all the chat and admin actions, so we could see what *really* happened when someone got banned.) And I think that the lamer-elimination is another reason we continued to have a good crowd of the type of player that you *do* want on your server, long after most other Quake servers started to empty out. On kitty1 you had to stay in line or hit the road, and you could never tell when an admin might be monitoring the server with QSmack.

In-game lamers aren't the only problems, of course. We've also had people try to ping flood kitty1, run other denial-of-service attacks, or use our servers to mount attacks on particular IP numbers or entire ISPs. The "Men In Black" at Stanford Networking have been cool in helping us out with these problems, as has our group's top-level net admin. Cool in a sort of scary way, actually... after the worst of these problems, our net admin passed along an email he had received from Stanford Networking that basically said only this: "The offender has been located and dealt with." I prefer to believe that just means that his ISP account got suspended or something; hopefully nothing more drastic than that. :-)

ahnuld: Yes, I'm glad they're on our side. It wasn't always clear that they would be. Stanford is connected to the internet just like anybody else. They pay a monthly bill just like you and me although it's probably a little larger. :-) Stanford's payment scheme is based on levels of traffic. There are arbitrary levels of traffic that denote a certain cost and if Stanford goes over that amount, their bill is significantly higher. Anyway, the people over at networking noticed all this weird traffic to one machine and wondered what it was. Our top-level admin explained to the brass what was going on and they warned that if campus traffic ever came close to the next higher level, they would have to shut us down because we were such a large single source of traffic. Thank God it never came to that. I really have to thank our top-level admin for looking out for us.

PQ: Any other interesting things to tell us about kitty1?

ahnuld: Yes, actually. We didn't realize how popular kitty1 had become until we had two independent visits from different parts of the country by kitty1 disciples. I interacted with one and lemurboy with the other...

lemurboy: Hrmm. Well, there was this one player who we'd seen around our server a few times who suddenly started sending me email; he had managed to swing getting sent to a debate camp at Stanford and now he was trying to arrange clandestine visits to our Quake Lab so he could play on kitty1 with a micro-ping. It was a little bit of a bother because generally the building would be locked up on the weekends or after hours, and one of us would have to let him in, but since he was going to all the trouble of skipping seminars and evading the Debate Camp Curfew Police, we helped him out. :-) He implied (if I'm remembering correctly) that kitty1 access was the motivating factor in him going to debate camp, but he may have just been blowing smoke there.

ahnuld: I think my story is even funnier. One day I was happily working in my office when I was interrupted by someone else in the building who was escorting these two young looking guys who were interested in kitty1. Who were these people? I had no idea, but the person who led them to me clearly wanted no part of this so they were dumped on me. It turns that these two guys (I'll call them Tom and Jerry to protect the guilty) were from Iowa on a college visiting trip with Tom's mom and they wanted to see kitty1. How did they find kitty1?

Well, anyone with a little UNIX savvy can look up some information on kitty1 and determine exactly what building it's located in and who is supposed to administer it. Tom and Jerry had done this and located our building on a campus map and then just started roaming the halls asking everyone and anyone if they knew the person who was listed as the administrator. Eventually someone did and that led to me.

I needed a break from work and these guys clearly had made a big effort to get here, so what the hell, let's go play Quake! I led them downstairs and showed them the room where we kept kitty1. They asked if they could play and I said sure. It was then that I realized how serious Tom and Jerry were. Each quickly produced a 3 1/2 floppy with their configs. These guys from Iowa were prepared!

We started playing and Tom and Jerry couldn't contain their excitement. All their buds were also on the server and Tom and Jerry just kept typing talk messages that said, "Look at my ping!" over and over again. I don't think they got one frag the entire 2 hours they were playing.

Now things get interesting.

After said 2 hours, there is a knock on the lab door and in walks Tom's mom. Tom's mom is crying. She starts shouting at Tom and Jerry:

"Where the hell have you two been? You said you'd be back in 5 minutes and that was 2 hours ago! I've been sitting in the car, in the parking lot, with the engine running, for 2 hours? Is how you treat people? I bring you all the way across the country to visit colleges and you are playing Quake!!!! I swear to God, no more Quake for either of you!"

Tears are streaming down her face and her voice is getting more and more strained. Remember that it's just Tom, Jerry and me in this room and I'm starting to feel very uncomfortable. Tom and Jerry were nonplussed and continued playing and talking as if Tom's mom wasn't there. Was everyone that big a dick when they were 18? Wow.

At this point, she storms out of the room and slams the door. After about 10 seconds of silence and no movement, I say, "Hey fellas, don't you think you should pack it up and head out with your mom?" Tom responds, "Oh, don't worry about it, she gets like that all the time." I'm thinkin', "No shit stupid, because you're driving her crazy." I finally convinced them to leave and hopefully prevent Tom's mother from blowing a gasket.

From what I could tell from talking to Tom and Jerry, they were visiting colleges in the Bay Area, but neither had any desire (or chance) to attend Stanford. Their whole visit to campus was a ruse to get to kitty1! I can just see the conversation in Iowa prior to the visit. What parent is going to tell their kid that they *can't* visit Stanford University?

lemurboy: I'm surprised that ahnuld didn't mention another visit we had... although I admit that other one is funnier. :-) The first time I ever met an "online acquaintance" face-to-face -- probably the first time for any of us, actually -- was when xris told B2, Thresh, and Thresh's brother Cross to come test drive our Quake Lab. I admit I thought it felt a little strange to be inviting these people over after "meeting" them in Quake, so I just said hi, did some small talk, and went back to work. ahnuld was eating it up though; I think he was in there the whole time looking over Thresh's shoulder and asking annoying questions. :-) This was back when that gang were HPBs (Thresh used to ride his modem over to kitty1 and thrash us sucky LPBs quite regularly), so most of the talk I heard was about how tough it was to try to get used to no lag...

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