In 1994 I put up this fake toilet camera web page, to poke fun at the idiotic cameras-on-coffee-pots and other net.nonsense that was all the rage then -- but it backfired. Many people took it seriously, and even TIME magazine gave it an anonymous mention in an article about the horrors of the internet (an age-old tradition in mealy-mouthed media -- any change in the culture is doomed to 'signal the end of civility as we know it' or some such, until it becomes obvious it won't be going away anytime soon -- at which point they act as if they knew it was a success all along).

Of course most people got the joke, not surprisingly.

Some of the email I got was kinda funny. What follows is the text accompanying the original scam. PS: The Connectix camera is real, but I did not wire it up this way. Stop asking.

My absolute favorite response is at the end of this page. I still find it funny. These people understand the foolishness of the world. The absolutely stupidest one follows that.

The original explanation follows:

"I have one of these little $99 Connectix video camera jobbies, and in between playing with it, it sits here on a little shelf in our toilet room peering down on the toilet. Maybe you'll catch one of us crapping! Alas, the picture is updated once per minute (it's gotta get copied to another machine and shipped over a modem PPP link to this http server) so you gotta get lucky. Since it's stored as a static image, you'll have to force your WWW client to 'reload images' manually."

My favorite toilet-camera response:

Date: Wed, 15 Mar 1995 11:22:28 -0500
To: tomj @ wps . com
From: [email protected] (flip phillips)
Subject: Scientific investigation of


We here at the Great Big Advanced Center for Tomorrow have been
carefully examining your alleged periodic updating toilet photo.
By utilizing sophisticated image prcessing techniques, our unlimited
computing resources, the computing resources of the NSA, and my
mother's CoCo, we have come to the stunning conclusion that this
picture never changes.

Three logical explanations appear to be possible, a) Scam, b) Broken
and public is not notified, or c) you have purchaced the world's
most linear Connectix Camera and the world's most linear lightbulb.
Since this is the "Internet" we are talking about, both (a) and
(b) seem highly unlikely. Therefore, after weeks of painstaking
analysis, we have decided to back (c) as the most likely cause.

Congratulations on your purchase. Please keep up the good work. We
are all counting on you.


f phillips
v perotti
The stupidest response:

From:  (see below)
Date: Mon, 20 Feb 1995 16:19:19 -0600

Is this facility just for guys?  In that case I won't bother.


The virtual schmuck who wrote the above gem wrote me, and said:
I will appeal to you out of a sense of fairness. There are about 10 people who use this terminal and all use the same email address. I agree it is not a very good arrangement but we're working on it. Would you please be so kind as to remove the email on the page, that you received with this email address on it. Thank you.
Though the initials at the end of the original note (ie. likely the signature) matched the email name, which makes me think someone came to their senses and is now embarrassed, to be fair I'll give 'em the benefit of the doubt. Maybe the real owner of the account didn't do it; if so this is a good reason why you should NEVER GIVE OUT YOUR GODDAMN PASSWORD! FOOL!