Thursday, November 10, 2011

Stupid telnet tricks (a really old hope)

If you've been around online communities for a while, you know that there are a variety of different ways to communicate online. One of those methods is a service called telnet.

Telnet is a protocol that allows you to connect to remote computers (called hosts) over a TCP/IP network (such as the Internet). You use software called a telnet client on your computer to make a connection to a telnet server (i.e., the remote host). Once your telnet client establishes a connection to the remote host, your client becomes a virtual terminal, allowing you to communicate with the remote host from your computer.

If you're only used to 21st century operating systems, telnet may seem a little strange at first. But if you've ever seen the MS-DOS operating system, perhaps the best way to describe telnet is like MS-DOS over a network.

I recently learned that there is a built-in telnet client for Windows 7. You just have to turn it on. Fernando Fonseca describes how to do this:

1.Click Start, and then click Control Panel.

2. On the Control Panel Home page, click Programs.

3. In the Programs and Features section, click Turn Windows features on or off.

4. If the User Account Control dialog box appears, confirm that the action it displays is what you want, and then click Continue.

5. In the Windows Features list, select Telnet Client, and then click OK.

6. Go to start and type telnet

So once you get your telnet client up and running, what can you do with it?

One thing that you can do is log in to a BBS. There is a listing of telnet-accessible bulletin board systems.

And there's one more thing you can do. Fernando Fonseca suggests that you could watch an ASCII version of Star Wars.

To do so, type the following in your telnet client:


Yes, the entire Star Wars Episode 4 movie, done in ASCII art. ASCII art is so old that it predates telnet - I used to use a typewriter to create a simple version of ASCII art.

It doesn't appear that George Lucas has ever sued over this re-creation. Which is good.
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