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Golden Years

Before the dark times that was the 2000s, the ProgSoc golden years. Here you can find the exploits of the ProgSoc members of old.

Contributed to by Christian Kent after a request for the forgotten lore on Discord.

If you have any improvements or additions to this page, please submit a pull request or contact the ProgSoc executive team via email or Discord.


Stories from the times after the last of the sensible founding generation departed (raz, caz, anton) but before the LiveJournal Generation took over.

It's probably fair to say that The Golden Years kept reminding everyone we were the largest non-barbecue club (i.e. had far less social focus, activities very online when no other clubs had a website let alone a chat room — unless we provided their website space) and yet, the biggest memories are that this is when things got the most social and the least technical.

That's not to underplay the hard work from all the technical volunteers keeping the servers up. "We are not an ISP" but websites and accounts were into the second decade of awesome membership benefit. It was a constant tension, as was "we are also not the Linux Server On As Many Types of Hardware as Possible Society", and yet …


Copypasta of my own Discord posts because this is a lesson on writing drafts and/or acquiring information easily, and delegating the editing. Those who provide content typically don't have the time to do editing, or at least to do both.

The following is concerns the "Golden Years", the 2000s. This may or may not be concurrent with the era of Christian Kent being titled "Project Starter", but he will always admit that the club did stray from its core purpose during this time, before which and after which it could be proud of its programming-related events]

The Anime Society Op

Well I suppose I should finally tell the story of the time the UTS Anime Club had their annual dinner presentation hacked and briefly turned into the UTS Hentai Club. There were a surprising 3 or 4 seconds before the squealing began. It was a large hall in the old Building 2, similar to the Great Hall and with a surrounding mezzanine, where an unattended projector and laptop sat like a waiting temptress. I remember everybody involved was INCREDIBLY shy and reluctant to do the deed, hearts racing and adrenaline pumping, yet it was merely swapping an HDMI cable. Much credit must go to the owner of the "sacrificial laptop" that was assumed, but in the event wrongly, never to be recovered. Little credit must go to the member whose knowledge and requisition of the relevant video material was absolutely trivial. Absolutely no credit must go to the instigator of this tasteless idea, who made one of his trademark "FOMO runs" out of the room, descended the escalator in record time, did not give way and crossed Jones Street in a sprint, and didn't stop running until safely hiding behind two locked doors and the beer fridge at the ProgSoc headquarters two buildings away. To everyone's surprise, no squads of security guards were in pursuit.

ProgSoc Destroys EngSoc at Trivia

Or the time we absolutely, well and truly, thoroughly cheated with the aid of technology on the UTS student club trivia night, but came a close second to the engineering society, which to me PROVES ONLY ONE THING amirite

The Beer-Powered Web Server

ProgSoc probably had a beer-powered web server operating for 24-48 hours maximum. It was the symbolic victory that counts. The energy efficiency of ARM chips was known even then, and we may have used an (already long obsolete) Apple Newton with (already retro-hack) web server and TCP/IP stack, almost certainly no https

Unexpected Furniture Aquisitions and Hijinx

Then there's the general non-technology hijinx, like stealing a couch for ProgSoc, except it was from Building 5 where they were quite nice and quite easy to acquire. Just picture a bunch of students on Harris Street late at night, not at all suspicious Or the time we wanted to do the opposite and get rid of furniture, because we'd declared war on the faculty's new furniture art policy, and (with great pain and strain, for students of a certain calibre) exerted to lift a heavy copper artwork 10 centimetres high, so we could walk it anywhere, just anywhere but next to our front door. It kept returning like a cat when you move home, it walks back for suburbs. We thought we'd cracked it when we found one of the toilet stalls on just one floor, was not a real toilet stall but just a drain — surely nobody checks in there since there's nothing to clean. Nope! We continued to plaster it with post-it notes and polystyrene (basically The Office) but after a few months of stalemate, whoever was in charge moved on, or fell out of love with their ugly art piece, and it went as mysteriously as it appeared.

ProgSoc Tries to Provide Free Internet

But probably the best times were all related to exploring the old SOCOG headquarters post-2000, then discovering the abandoned radio transmitter after playing with some locks, then when some more abseiling skills were added, the exploration continued to the roof. The culmination was the climbing of the rusty tower, on the same night that everyone was dressed in formal gear. It then turned into a "cantenna" wifi project but when we actually got the transmitter online, we discovered we were transmitting in a small sphere as far as the bus stop, rather than a narrow ring (a sphere slice) that would actually achieve 50 kilometres.

The story gets mundane after that because it's all about custom metalwork for custom antennas, which we knew we could afford even if very few places in the world made them. We got as far as getting a quote from New Zealand but the whole thing got stuck for the lamest of reasons — import duty. Turns out a large chunk of aluminium attracts a large chunk of taxes. Shame though, because in an era of ADSL1, it would have matched that speed for 1 concurrent user. In today's terms, it was like a gigabit per second, private data link if you could see it from your home, fixed-wireless. The comparison only works if I say "but there's no mobile data in the world." Bittorrent was hot then, and many folks were dreaming of their status in the scene by providing data links that many in Sydney would like. Strictly NOT an internet link, just intranet.