The /dev/null Mystery

Fake News written by James Baughn on Tuesday, December 1, 1998

from the yet-another-convention-filled-with-mad-scientists dept.

NEW YORK, NY -- What happens when stuff is sent to /dev/null? Common knowledge dictates that it is deleted. However, a group of scientists suggest otherwise. At the Unconventional Scientist '98 Convention held in New York last week, several experts theorized that /dev/null is actually a portal to another dimension or universe. Others claimed that top secret government agencies or large multinational corporations (read: Microsoft) are using it to spy on innocent Unix users.

Bob "Paranoid" Johnson, a consultant for the National Expirer tabloid, said in a panel discussion, "Stuff sent to /dev/null on Unix systems, the Trash Can on Mac systems, and the Recycle Bin on Windows systems, is not really deleted. It is cached in a secret location on the hard drive until such time that the user is connected to the Net. Then it is sent over the Net to a destination me and my research team has been unable to identify. We suspect the 'resurrected' packets are sent to a government agency, perhaps as part of the 'Echelon' system. Or, for all we know, Bill Gates might be the recipient of all these packets, which usually consist of flames, spam, and porn."

When asked for proof of his contention, Johnson stuttered nervously and said, "Well, ah... I've compiled logs of all the, uhhh, packets transferred from my test system to some unknown Net server. These logs show some very, ah... suspicious occurences. But, well [cough]... I, um, accidentally left these logs on my other laptop computer which is still in, ahem, my hotel room. Sorry about that. I'll publish my logs and other findings on my website Real Soon Now."

Several other scientists argued that /dev/null acts like the singularity in a black hole. One said, "The bits sent to /dev/null have to go somewhere, just like the stuff that falls into a black hole. Physicists have speculated that black holes act as a portal or wormhole to other realms. If this is true, then it should be quite clear that /dev/null acts in a similar way. Unsuspecting Unix users could be sending their flames and porno to another realm/dimension/universe/whatever."

One convention attendee added half-jokingly, "Perhaps we're on the receiving end of one of those 'portals'. For all we know, the increased bloat in Microsoft software could be from excess bits funneled through /dev/null (or the equivalent) into our universe from another. Some guy in another realm could be sending his flame email to /dev/null, blissfully unaware that it's being included as part of our universe's Windows 2000!"

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