New Service Lets You Use 'The Computer Ate My Homework' As An Excuse

from the wow dept

The old standby for unfinished homework, "the dog ate my homework" has long since gone out of style. It certainly has become popular to claim that one's computer was the problem, with people saying that files got lost or corrupted or the computer died. However, Mathew Ingram points us to a new service that tries to help bad students get away with this, by selling students corrupted files that they can turn in. Yes. They will sell you a corrupted Word document, Excel spreadsheet or PowerPoint presentation for just $3.95 (a bargain!). The service claims that this can be useful as a diversionary tactic to "buy time" since it may be days before the teacher/professor tries to open the bogus file -- at which point you may have completed the actual assignment. Or, you know, you can just do the work on time.


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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 12th, 2009 @ 3:39pm

    Is that your excuse for the Hatch and Wexler items today? The computer ate your homework?

     

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    COD (profile), Jun 12th, 2009 @ 4:04pm

    The commenters at http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2009/06/corrupted_word.html did a brutal beat down on this service and all the ways it would be fairly easy for teacher / professor to bust you on it.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 12th, 2009 @ 4:09pm

    Or you could make your own corrupted files for free.

     

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    Jerry Leichter, Jun 12th, 2009 @ 4:25pm

    Old idea in software

    There are many "friend of a friend" stories about software companies buying time by shipping corrupted CD's (or, back in the day, tapes). I've never personally seen this done, but it's certainly been talked about.

    I *have* seen hardware companies play such games. To be able to mark some piece of hardware as shipped by the end of a quarter, a company shipped a university CS department a box containing the power supply and backplanes for a hypercube multiprocessor. The cards containing actual CPU's weren't ready, and were shipped months later. Meanwhile, the empty box was good for many a laugh.

    I suppose the service at issue represents yet another example of the consumerization of technology....

     

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      Emily, Jun 15th, 2009 @ 1:07am

      Re: Old idea in software

      "There are many 'friend of a friend' stories about software companies buying time by shipping corrupted CD's (or, back in the day, tapes). I've never personally seen this done, but it's certainly been talked about." This explains Windows Vista!

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 12th, 2009 @ 4:30pm

    Would the Prof then send the file to "TurnItIn" ?

     

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    Otm Shank (profile), Jun 12th, 2009 @ 4:34pm

    Hopefully for the student's sake the metadata is clean or also corrupted. And, you can only do this once, then they're on to you.

     

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    Nick, Jun 12th, 2009 @ 4:34pm

    $3.95?!!!

    Just take a random file and change The extension.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 12th, 2009 @ 4:41pm

    I thought Microsoft already had a patent on corrupted files.

     

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    Andrew (profile), Jun 12th, 2009 @ 4:50pm

    Of course, this is one nice little scam, as none of the files are unique. There's a set of six or seven different lengths - which is sent to everyone, resulting in everyone using this having the same filesizes and MD5 hash signatures.

     

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    CleverName, Jun 12th, 2009 @ 6:30pm

    Just a hunch, but

    I dont think this is going to the next killer service

     

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    Rob, Jun 12th, 2009 @ 8:31pm

    Thats why the days of floppies were great.

    Just hand the CS professor a scratched up floppy...those things got damaged so easily, you could get away with it once or twice and no one questioned it.

     

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    Grae (profile), Jun 15th, 2009 @ 10:54am

    Even if this worked ...

    Assuming that professors/teachers didn't immediately catch on and bust someone for doing this and that it became widespread in use: wouldn't it just breed a generation of hard-ass profs/teachers that would have a policy of "the integrity of the files you turn in for your schoolwork is your responsibility, you will get an F for any corrupted files you turn in."

    In fact, I have to wonder if news of this service even existing will prompt educators to put this sort of policy in place preemptively.

     

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