Terminal Amusement

...or, "Fifty Ways to Confuse, Worry, or Just Scare People in a Computer Lab."

(This is an adaptation of an old file left over from my lab-monitoring days. I don't know where the original came from or where it can be found now. Sorry.)

  1. Log on, wait a second, then get a frightened look on your face; scream, "Oh my God! They've found me!" and bolt.
  2. Laugh uncontrollably for about three minutes and then suddenly stop and look suspiciously at everyone who looks at you.
  3. When your computer is turned off, complain to the lab monitor that you can't get the damned thing to work. After s/he's turned it on, wait five minutes and turn it off again. Repeat this process for a half hour or so.
  4. Type frantically, often stopping to look evilly at the person next to you.
  5. Before anyone else is in the lab, connect each computer to a different monitor than the one it's set up with.
  6. Write a program that plays the "Smurfs" theme song and play it at the highest possible volume over and over again.
  7. Work normally for a while. Suddenly look amazingly startled by something on the screen and crawl underneath your desk.
  8. Ask the person next to you if they know how to tap into top-secret Pentagon files.
  9. Use 'Interactive Send' to make passes at people you don't know.
  10. Make a small ritual sacrifice to the computer before you turn it on.
  11. Bring a chainsaw, but don't use it. If anyone asks you why you have it, say mysteriously, "Just in case..."
  12. Type normally for a while. Suddenly start cursing for three minutes about everything bad in your life. Then stop and resume typing.
  13. Enter the lab, undress, and staring at other people as if they're crazy while typing.
  14. Light candles in a pentagram around your terminal before starting.
  15. Ask around for a spare disk. Offer $2. Keep asking until someone agrees. Then, pull a disk out of your fly and say, "Oops, I forgot."
  16. Every time you press 'Return' and there is processing time required, pray "Ohpleaseohpleaseohpleaseohpleaseohplease," and scream "YES!!!" when it finishes.
  17. "DISK FIGHT!!!"
  18. Start making out with the person at the terminal next to you. (It help if you know the person in question, but this can also be a great way to meet new friends.)
  19. Put a straw in your mouth and put your hands in your pockets. Type by hitting keys with the straw. Ask the person next to you for help whenever you need to use a modifier key (like Shift or Control).
  20. If you're sitting in a swivel chair, spin around while singing "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" whenever there is processing time required.
  21. Draw a picture of a woman (or man) on a piece of paper and tape it to your monitor. Try to seduce it. Act like it hates you and complain loudly that women (or men) are worthless.
  22. Try to stick a Nintendo cartridge into the 3.5" disc drive. When it doesn't work, get the supervisor.
  23. When you are using an IBM, turn it on and ask loudly where the smiling Apple face is.
  24. Print out the complete works of Shakespeare; then, when it's done (two days later) say that all you wanted was one line.
  25. Sit and stare at the screen, biting your nails noisily. After doing this for a while, spit them out at the feet of the person next to you.
  26. Stare at the screen, grind your teeth, then stop and look at the person next to you. Repeat the procedure, making sure you never provoke the person enough to let them blow up, as this releases tension and it is far more effective to let them linger.
  27. If you have long hair, take a typing break. Look for split ends, cut them, and deposit them on your neighbor's keyboard as you leave.
  28. Put a large, gold-framed portrait of the British Royal Family on your desk and loudly proclaim that it inspires you.
  29. Come to the lab wearing several layers of socks. Remove your shoes and place them on top of the monitor. Remove socks layer by layer and drape them around the monitor. Exclaim a sudden haiku about the aesthetic beauty of cotton on plastic.
  30. Take the keyboard and sit under the desk. Type up your paper like this. Then go to the lab supervisor and complain about bad working conditions.
  31. Laugh hysterically, shout, "You will all perish in flames!" and continue working.
  32. Bring some dry ice and make it look like your computer in smoking.
  33. Assign a musical note to every key (i.e., the Delete key is A-flat, the B key is F-sharp, etc.). Whenever you hit a key, hum its note very loudly. Write an entire paper this way.
  34. Attempt to eat your computer's mouse.
  35. Borrow someone else's keyboard by reaching over, saying, "Excuse me, mind if I borrow this for a sec?", unplugging the keyboard, and taking it.
  36. Bring in a bunch of magnets and go wild.
  37. When doing calculations, pull out an abacus and say that sometimes the old ways are best.
  38. Play Pong for hours using the most powerful computer in the lab.
  39. Make a loud noise of hitting the same key over and over again until you see that your neighbor is noticing. Then look at your neighbor's keyboard. Hit his or her Delete key several times, erasing an entire word. While you do this, ask, "Does your Delete key work?" Shake your head, and resume hitting the key on your keyboard. Repeat the process until you've deleted about a page of your neighbor's document. Then suddenly exclaim, "Well, whaddya know? I've been hitting the space bar this whole time. No wonder it wasn't deleting! Ha!" Print out your document and leave.
  40. Remove your disk from the drive and hide it. Go to the lab monitor and complain that the computer ate your disk. (For special effects, put some Elmer's Glue on or around the disk drive; claim that the computer is drooling.)
  41. Stare at the screen of the person next to you, look really puzzled, then burst out laughing and say, "You did that?!?" very loudly. Keep laughing, grab your stuff, and leave, still howling as you go.
  42. Point at the screen. Chant in a made-up language while making elaborate had gestures for a minute or two. Press 'Return' or the mouse button, then leap back and yell, "COVEEEERRRR!!!" Peek up from under the table, walk back to the computer, say, "Oh, good, it worked this time," and calmly resume typing.
  43. Keep looking at invisible bugs and try to swat them.
  44. See who's on-line. Send a total stranger a 'talk' request. Talk to them like you've known them all your life. Disconnect before they get a chance to figure out that you're a total stranger.
  45. Bring in a small tape player with a tape of really absurd sound effects. Pretend the computer is making the noises and look completely lost.
  46. Pull out a pencil. Start writing on the screen. Complain that the lead doesn't work.
  47. Come into the lab wearing several species of flowers in your hair. Smile incessantly. Type a sentence, then laugh happily, exclaim, "You're such a marvel!" and kiss the screen. Repeat this with every sentence. As your ecstasy mounts, hug the keyboard. Finally, hug your neighbor, then the lab monitor, and then walk out.
  48. Run into the lab, shout, "Armageddon is here!!!" and then calmly sit down and begin to type.
  49. Quietly walk into the lab with a Black & Decker chainsaw, rev that baby up, and then walk up to the nearest person and say, "Give me that computer or you'll be feeding my pet alligator for the next week."
  50. Two words: Tesla Coil.