In its rush to have a computer in every classroom, my school has several far-too-modern computer labs. They're all Pentium III 900s, all connected to a Novell network, through a shared T1 with the rest of the district.The entire purpose of the lab is twofold: Microsoft Office, and Macromedia webpage design tools. During lunch, the computer lab is left open for anyone who may want to come in and finish their project, or such.

All those wasted CPU cycles - the district had ordered too much power. We, the hardcore gamers of the school, decided to put those unused CPU cycles to use.

It all started in November, 2001. Word had spread that a couple of people were playing Starcraft, and I joined them in the computer lab during lunch. Fifteen minutes were wasted as everybody insisted on playing across instead of using the much faster IPX network. The teacher didn't care, or even know that we were playing this game during lunch. Starcraft eventually got boring because of the lack of rushing rules, so I brought in my copy of Unreal Tournament and installed it on one of the machines

People thought it was cool, and soon enough the virus had engulfed the entire computer lab; every machine had Unreal Tournament on it. A certain noder constantly won every game, and much fun was had blowing each other up with the Redeemer on Facing Worlds. We played in silence since none of the computers had speakers attached to them. The computer lab was brilliant in its design, every monitor was facing away from the teacher's desk.

Then, somebody got annoyed by us playing games in the computer lab and the administrapo were informed about our shenanigans. The administrapo ordered us to demonstrate Unreal Tournament, and they just about hit the roof when they discovered it was a first person shooter. We were all given strict warnings, but nobody got punished. The lab was still open, but Unreal Tournament was uninstalled from most of the machines, and a a program like FoolProof was installed

The computers all ran Windows 98; its formidable defenses were quickly cut through and Unreal Tournament was installed again. We were playing a new game against the teacher - whack a mole. She restricted access to Explorer.exe, we used WINFILE.EXE and installed it to obscure directories like C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM\W32KRL\UTNMT. She disabled right-clicking, we simply went to FOLDER OPTIONS to launch UT. Brilliant schemes were devised, each being more complicated than the last.

For the first time today, at lunch, I came in only to discover that the computer lab was locked. I found out later that apparently, the teacher just got sick of the entire ordeal and installed the most restrictive Windows shell ever - NetClass.

It was fun while it lasted, and those CPU cycles were put to good use - at least for a little while. My suggestion to any ostracized geek: install Unreal Tournament and kick their asses. I became a lot more popular after that.