Don't look too closely at what is seeping out of the big Dutch pipe

'I wonder what our users are surfing for… Oh'


Who, Me? Welcome to Who, Me?, The Register's weekly confessional of sins, smut and surfing from the seemingly infinite pool of reader misdeeds.

Today's tale is a timely one, coming as the UK government finally threw in the towel, or box of tissues, on its dreams of shutting off the porn pipe.

It is perhaps more a "Yes, You!" than a "Who, Me?"

Let reader "Michael" take you back to the late 1990s and the arrival of speedy internet, for corporate customers at least.

While many may recall the bandwidth-limited modems of the time (indeed, this hack was still a few years from receiving his first BT stingray modem), Michael, who was working in the infrastructure team of "a big orange Dutch bank", boasted: "We had a massive 2Mb of pure internet flowing into our head office."

Impressive stuff for the '90s.

"This was," he added, "rather overloaded with all the users excited to have something faster than dial-up."

Michael noted that most of the hits tended to be to the same sites – Microsoft, the BBC, Dutch news and so on. "So I used an old PC and set up a Squid proxy to cache the common stuff and relieve the pipe a little."

A fun feature of Squid was the ability to view a report of the popular sites, although it was normally stuffed with the usual, sober suspects.

"Until one Monday," remembered Michael, when he found a new and strangely named site at the top of the list. It has, of course, long gone. However, a determined reader armed with the Internet Archive can still view the retro-formatted and very NSFW content of the late '90s "dembones.com" if they really want to.

An early attempt at free porn.

"OK," thought Michael, "so who's hitting this site from the office?"

He checked out the logs and hey presto! "I find a single IP with rapid calls to all the pages on the site.

"Someone has used the work computer to download the whole damn thing!"

Michael dug some more, soon identified the culprit and, being a loyal employee, shopped the chap to HR.

Only joking.

Rather than terminate the seedy surfer's employment and ruin a career, Michael decided on a gentle warning, having ascertained that the person in question was otherwise a nice guy and undeserving of the twin barrels of a disciplinary.

"We posted someone upstairs to confirm he is in and keep an eye on him, while I sent a mail along the lines of: Congratulations, you have single-handedly achieved the highest internet traffic reward of the last week. Interesting choice of browsing too: www.dembones.com!"

We can imagine the meerkat moment as the recipient jumped up in his chair: "The watcher upstairs reported a bright red hue suffused our victim's face... while that well-exercised right hand went to work on the delete key for a change."

Oh, Michael.

Ever saved a co-worker from the long walk to HR, or abused the office internet link on a near-industrial scale? You haven't? We don't believe you – drop an email to Who, Me? and get it off your chest.

Where were you 20 years ago? Were you frantically cutting COBOL or adding a crucial extra byte or two to a date field? Or a bodge that might last to, oh, 2050 before it explodes? Who, Me? and On Call would also like to hear your sordid Y2K tales for a festive feast of near-failures and dodged bullets. ®

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