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The Almighty Buck

Information Valuation - The Most Buck for the Bits? 506

Rational asks: "I've heard of Everquest accounts sold for upwards of a thousand dollars... Considering that what is actually for sale is just an username and password, which generally comes up to less than 20 bytes in total, this amounts to over $50 per byte. What are the most expensive pieces of information that you have heard of, in dollars per byte? Perhaps satellite pictures? The Human genome?"
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Information Valuation - The Most Buck for the Bits?

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  • Goat Sex (Score:5, Funny)

    by T3kno ( 51315 ) on Monday June 10, 2002 @07:04PM (#3675863) Homepage
    Judging from the number of time's I've been suckered into looking at it, and that someone somewhere is paying for each of those views, I'll bet that the aggregate cost for Goat Sex is in the trillions.
    • Goats on Venus? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by leonbrooks ( 8043 )
      That's nothing compared to the cost of a single panorama from the Venera probe series. Considering the number of probes they vapourised under testing here on Earth and killed on the way down to Venus, probably in the tens of megabucks per bit, for a few thousand bits.

      They also sent back most of the first picture from the Moon after several failures and had the sender die partway through the image, using earlier, perhaps therefore costlier technology, but OTOH also had a bathtub rover (Lunakhod) up there running around for years taking holiday snaps.

      Either project covers a lot of goats, a lot of sex, or both.

      I don't know how you bitify handwriting, but the Yanks spent a bazillion dollars developing a pen that worked in vacuum at any temperature. The Russians used a pencil.
      • Actually, the pencil/pen thing is bullshit. Using pencils was problematic, because the weightless graphite dust fux0red instrumentation. After the U.S. developed those ever-so-nifty pens, both sides used them.
    • I'm selling all my Slashdot karma 50 accounts for $1/each. Any takers?
  • by elphkotm ( 574063 ) on Monday June 10, 2002 @07:04PM (#3675864) Homepage
    People with credit card limits in excess of several million dollars, their number sequence and expiration date can be stored in just a few bytes (8 bytes at the most).
  • Data (Score:2, Insightful)

    by hayek ( 192772 )
    The problem with your comment is in the assumption that the only thing being sold is a username and password. Obviously the buyer thought they were buying something a little more substantive.
    • Re:Data (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Ephemeriis ( 315124 )
      Not exactly.... The buyer is generally interested in purchasing an EQ account for more than just the username/password, they usually want what that username/password grant access to. They're interested in the high-level character, or phat lewts, or whatever else may come along with the username/password. However, the key to those other items is the username/password. The only thing that is transmitted, transferred, or sold to another person is the username/password, which they then use to access the rest of the goodies. The same is true of a bank account number, or credit card number - those things in and of themselves are completely valueless, simply alphanumeric strings - but what they represent and grant access to makes them valuable.

      • Re:Data (Score:3, Insightful)

        Yeah, so when i spend 200K on a house all i am buying is a bit of paper and a key.
        • Re:Data (Score:3, Insightful)

          by DennyK ( 308810 )
          Actually, that's pretty much true. All you get for your money is a piece of paper that says the Folks In Charge won't object to your occupancy of a particular plot of land and any structures on it. Of course, you attach a particular value to your ability to live somewhere without behing harassed or removed by force, but what it really boils down to is you giving the guy who currently has that piece of paper some money, and transferring that agreement to yourself.

  • $1G/B (Score:2, Funny)

    by Erotomek ( 584106 )

    I had to pay $4G for changing only 4 bytes of my bank account state, that's $1G/B!

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Subject says it all really. What was it in the end, $5 million, $10 million?
  • by Sun Tzu ( 41522 ) on Monday June 10, 2002 @07:07PM (#3675886) Homepage Journal
    Imagine the price for byte of an eight-character password that lets you change your grades, retroactively, to all 'A's. Satellite pictures and Human genome are lots of bytes.
  • But I bet I would kill to get my hands on a real official version of a playable DOOM III demo.

    Karmack ?! Why are you wasting your time reading my post ???!!!
  • Okay, technically speaking it's just the username and password, but in actuality the player data might take up a few K on the EQ server, right? So if we're doing a byte-to-byte comparison this should be taken into account... otherwise I figure the most expensive data would be for illegal betting/stock tips - where you may pay hundreds of dollars for a 3-letter ticker code, right?

    So are we talking about data, or short-form representations of it?

    • To me the value of the password is predicated on the value of what I am gaining access to, and all the bytes therein. So really you would have to include the per-byte cost of the entire EverQuest environment and all players, without which the kickass character being auctioned off has no value.

      So the per-byte cost is probably not very good in this case.

      The real per-byte value would probably be some online email/data to get at a meatworld commodity- insider stock information or location of drug stashes would be good examples.
  • I am willing to sell this fine, low UID slashdot account for only $10000 (or about $500 per byte stored on the server). If that isn't a bargain, I don't know what is :-)
  • I posted this little nugget [] about an expensive DB access. Probably not tops but up there.
  • Considering that what is actually for sale is just an username and password, which generally comes up to less than 20 bytes in total, this amounts to over $50 per byte

    Of course that's not what is for sale. What is sold is the information stored on the EQ servers that defines the character. The username/password are just what let you get at the character data. When I bought my house the transaction resulted in a key, but I can assure you that's not what I paid more than half a million dollars for...

    This doesn't negate the basic point though. I don't know how much space an EQ character takes up, but it will still probably result in a fairly impressive dollar/byte sum.
    • When I bought my house the transaction resulted in a key, but I can assure you that's not what I paid more than half a million dollars for...

      You paid $500,000+ for an Everquest House?!? Damn - I hope you got one that's at least over 1MB and has "pets" in the basement :P

    • This is ridiculous. You're not paying for data at all. You are are paying for the RIGHTS to use this character. It's just like paying a monthly fee for an ISP or cable TV, you're paying for a service, not the information itself, that's why you don't pay proportionally to what you consume. In the case of EverQuest, you pay for the service someone has provided by raising a character to a high level, then handing it off to you.
  • Maybe... (Score:3, Funny)

    by Zen Mastuh ( 456254 ) on Monday June 10, 2002 @07:09PM (#3675906)

    The name of GWBs coke dealer from the 70's [or whenever he did it]. I bet he would pay a lot of money to suppress that info.

  • Comment from Stewart Brand, the guy the "Information wants to be free" [] quote is attributed to: On the one hand information wants to be expensive, because it's so valuable. The right information in the right place just changes your life. On the other hand, information wants to be free, because the cost of getting it out is getting lower and lower all the time. So you have these two fighting against each other.

  • You aren't paying for bytes, you are paying for time. The time the person selling took to build their character up, for instance. The end product is represented by a series of bytes, and that is what is physically transferred from person to person, but the actual product is not the username/password.

    In every other case it's the same. The human genome represents millions of dollars in hardware, research, man hours, etc. Sure, you can fit the resulting data into a nice little package of X bytes, but you aren't paying for the bytes.


    You are neither well-formed, nor valid.
  • License Keys (Score:2, Informative)

    by GigsVT ( 208848 )
    It would have to be license keys. Probably involving SGI.

    A license key is a string of maybe 30 bytes usually, and cost up to the millions of dollars.
  • Maybe a better question is how much money has been spent to protect the smallest amount of information? Nuclear launch codes come to mind.

    Or to decrypt the smallest amount of information : Enigma.

    Or another question is, if someone were able to misuse some numbers, what would be the most damage they could cause? For me, I think it would be my social security number. 9 Digits. They could run up massive debt in my name. Granted, there's legal protection, but still - losing your government-issued identity is probably the worst thing that could happen to an individual, from the standpoint of protecting a small number of bits.

    The most expensive number to ever calculate was of course, 42.
  • The issue illustrated by the EQ example is not that the user/pass combination is $x/y bits. As many have pointed out, the actual data you gain access to is much more than the bits in the user/pass, *however* the real issue is - what the most valuable data you've ever seen, protected by the least amount of entropy?

    My money would be on nuclear launch codes, although I have no idea how long they are, so I could be wrong, but holding life or death for billions in a string of numbers is pretty impressive.
  • Headlines. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by blair1q ( 305137 ) on Monday June 10, 2002 @07:16PM (#3675967) Journal
    "We win" -- VE Day, 5/8/1945

    Calculate the cost of that.

    "Hint: don't just count $."
    • How about VJ day?

      That was costly, and we are still feeling the ramifications today...

    • Re:Headlines. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ender81b ( 520454 ) <billd@[ ] ['ine' in gap]> on Monday June 10, 2002 @08:05PM (#3676283) Homepage Journal
      Interesting question. Ok, here we go - a test of my history abilities. I am calculating from united states and soviet union only, not factoring UK/Canada/Austrila, etc, etc. Not to offend anybody or in anyway diminish there contribution but this I don't wnat this to turn into an all day project.

      United States

      10% (avg) of GDP from 1941-42
      37% of GDP from 1942-1945 (avg)
      GDP(in billions) 1941 1942 1943 1944 1945
      113.5 144.2 180.0 209.0 221.1
      Defense Spending: 11.4 53.4 66.0 77.3 81.8

      Total Defense: $289.6 Billion (note: roughly 1/3 of this went to the pacific theatre)
      Casulties: 292 000 dead (estimating cost of lives is NOT something I am going to do)

      Soviet Union

      Casulties: 13.6 million armed forces, 7.7 million civilian dead (note: roughly 1/2 of those who entered service in soviet military where either killed or wounded. Estimate the cost of that!)

      Note: No official records of cost of WWII to Soviet Union have ever been released (that I know of or could find). Estimates are on the order of $350 billion counting damage to infrastructure, etc.

      Soviet Union (350) + US (191.1) cost: $541.1 billion. unadjusted for inflation

      "We Win" = 48 bits of ASCII code. Each Bit = 11.27$ billion dollars. Rough adjustment for Australia,NZ,Britain,Canada,etc = 13.45 billion dollars/bit unadjusted for inflation

      Not taking into account casulties, thousands of other unknown/unquantifiable factors.

      A war to be Won - Murray and Millet
      The World At Arms - Reader's Digest (publisher
      Us Gov't GDP - IRS website

  • Natalie Portman's phone number on Ebay....
    if it ever came up for auction.

  • Everquest Account (~20 bytes): $1500 (~8 bytes): $5,000,000

    Natalie Portman's phone number (~9 bytes): priceless

  • The Human Genome Project is sometimes reported to have a cost of $3 billion. However, this figure refers to the total projected funding over a 15-year period (1990-2005) for a wide range of scientific activities related to genomics. These include studies of human diseases, experimental organisms (such as bacteria, yeast, worms, flies, and mice); development of new technologies for biological and medical research; computational methods to analyze genomes; and ethical, legal, and social issues related to genetics. Human genome sequencing represents only a small fraction of the overall 15-year budget.

    Even if you accept the $3 billion number, that's about $1/base pair. At 4 possiblities per bp, it could be done at $0.50/byte, or comfortably at $1/byte.
  • Glib reasoning (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SirSlud ( 67381 ) on Monday June 10, 2002 @07:17PM (#3675974) Homepage
    > I've heard of Everquest accounts sold for upwards of a thousand dollars... Considering that what is actually for sale is just an username and password, which generally comes up to less than 20 bytes in total, this amounts to over $50 per byte.

    Well, the money is being paid (presumably) for the stats and inventory of that user. So saying the 'value per byte' based on the metrics of the key is like saying that paying 1000$ for a key to a safety deposit box with 1000$ in it works out to (1000/metrics-of-key)$

    So the real cost-per-byte number for these EQ accounts relates to how many bytes are in a full player record for an EQ account.

    Anyhow, I'm sure some company out there has paid in the thousands for a few lines of code.

    This does make me think about my 'Guiness Book of World Records That We'll Never Know' book I wish I could have. Whats the furthest a rental cars keys have ever been from its associated car, and is there an interesting story about it? You get the idea ...
    • Re:Glib reasoning (Score:2, Insightful)

      by taernim ( 557097 )
      Everquest is more "high profile", but several large-scale text games have had this "buying a character" phenomenon occur.

      I play Gemstone III [] by Simutronics, and know of at LEAST one person whose full time job is just selling items and characters and "coins" for real life money.

      Sure, he invested a lot of his time into the game initially, but he makes enough to support himself on it, so that's gotta say something...
  • bill gates' ATM pin.

  • How about the RSA factoring challenge []? The biggest prize is $200,000 for the 2048 bit key (256 bytes). That makes it about $781 per byte.
  • enigma (Score:3, Insightful)

    by debrain ( 29228 ) on Monday June 10, 2002 @07:19PM (#3675990) Journal
    Give a man a fish and tomorrow and he will be hungry the day after. Teach a man to fish, and he will subsist. Certainly, algorithms then are the most valuable. Take DeCSS - how many bytes was that down to? Look at it's financial, freedom, and legal implications.

    Even more importantly - look at WWII German Enigma codes - the decoding of any one single message was certainly valuable, but understanding how to decode it was invaluable. Like life - power is knowledge, and understanding is inferring knowledge where before there was none (read: understanding creates power).

    • Re:enigma (Score:2, Funny)

      by browse ( 557685 )
      Build a man a fire and hell be warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he'll be warm for the rest of his life.
    • Give a man a fish, and he owes you a favour.

      Teach a man to fish, and you lose your monopoly on fishing.
  • Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin's phone call was definately not cheap.

    On credit card transactions, the actual transaction is what's being purchased. The bank actually purchases the transaction from the merchant. They then sell it to Visa, Who sells it to the Issuing bank who then charges the person's account. It's odd, but that's actually how it works. And since some people buy houses (and corporations buy inventories) with a single credit card transaction, that's a lock of buck for the byte.

  • My cost as a web programmer
    Number of times I've seen the X-10 Ad
    approx 70,000 times
    Avg Time To Close the window
    approx 30 seconds
    Total Cost due to X-10
    seconds = 70,000 * 30
    minutes = seconds(2100000) / 60
    hours = minutes(35000) / 60
    my cost = hours(583.3) * $120/hr
    my cost = $70,000 / 3 letters

    cost per letter = $23,3333.33
    • How can it take you 30 seconds to close a window if you are good enough to make $120/hr?

      Oh, right, creative billing. A true contractor.
  • Brand Naming (Score:3, Interesting)

    by alphaseven ( 540122 ) on Monday June 10, 2002 @07:23PM (#3676025)
    My guess for most bucks for the bit would be in the field of Brand Naming. Companies pay naming firms tens of thousands of dollars to come up with new words like "Lucent", "Pentium" and "Infiniti".

    This article, The Name Game [] cites these firms charging around $75,000 for a single word that may only be seven letters long. Not a logo, not an ad campaign, not even a domain registration, just the single word. I guess this runs roughly around $10,000 per byte.

    • by Pig Hogger ( 10379 ) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `reggoh.gip'> on Monday June 10, 2002 @07:42PM (#3676140) Journal
      My guess for most bucks for the bit would be in the field of Brand Naming. Companies pay naming firms tens of thousands of dollars to come up with new words like "Lucent", "Pentium" and "Infiniti".
      It is not that "easy"... Such names come attached with thousand-page long reports explaining in detail the market research behind the name.

      Some years ago, a friend of mine did a logo for a BIG company. The logo looks like a head with an ellipse going though it. It came about in a totally unrelated office, er, "event" (everyone was drunk) when someone was clowning and put an old UHF TV antenna around a bust of Lenin. Voilà, instant multi hundreds$$$$ logo.

      The hard part was then writing up all the bullshit to "explain" the newfangled logo...

    • Re:Brand Naming (Score:5, Interesting)

      by squaretorus ( 459130 ) on Tuesday June 11, 2002 @03:22AM (#3677882) Homepage Journal
      Yep. This is the answer.


      You could burn every single physical asset of these companies. Kill all the staff. And you would still only have dented the market value of the company - these companies are brand led. (ISBN 0-00-653040-0 for lots of juice).

      It's the word 'NIKE' and the tick logo that ALL the value resides in - because people associate THOSE with the Nike values. You don't need the big marketing plan, brand bible etc... for that - all of those can be reworked. Whats of value is the existing brand loyalty and awareness.
  • You're not just buying the password, you are also buying the 'permission' from the guy to use it forever, and his consent to not using it anymore. The password is just the actual tool you use for security.

    It's like a server.. You can '0wn' a server by having the root password (or access as root), but you don't actually _own_ it.. The real owner can just pull the plug, and mount the hd somewhere else to change the password.

  • The Melissa worm :)

    Now thinking about how a proper reference monitor could have been implemented in outlook to completely avoid this worm and all the others, and how these implementations are often just a few hundred lines of code - I vote for the "missing reference monitor" in Outlook to be the most expensive *missing* data out there ;)

    (See TCSEC [] for a description of the reference monitor concept, if you don't know about it)
  • "I do" (Score:2, Funny)

    These have been arguably one of the most expensive bits in human history.

  • I would say that Wolfram's "algorithmic key to the universe" probably will fetch the greatest buck for the bit.

    From Steven Levy's recent Wired article []:

    "I've got to ask you," I say. "How long do you envision this rule of the universe to be?"
    "I'm guessing it's really very short."
    "Like how long?"
    "I don't know. In Mathematica, for example, perhaps three, four lines of code."
    "Four lines of code?"
    "That's what I'm guessing..."

  • Thats a pretty stupid way how to count that. At this rate the most expensive piece of information would be the numbers of Bill Gate's bank accounts or something of that sort. I think that the post was just a prime troll.
  • Last I heard, a one-year subscription to the L Report [], a website for marketers on trends among urban youth, cost $20K a year. That's just a username and password too - and companies actually shell out for it, just so they'll know that kids in Seattle these days wear color X nail polish and enjoy bowling and taking E on weekends or whatever.
  • I would guess that Windows NT clients are the most valuable bits, as its just one machine word which goes up to number of licences the user has. This has made billions of dollars for Microsoft, so its not a once-off thing either.
  • by at10u8 ( 179705 ) on Monday June 10, 2002 @07:34PM (#3676095)
    The US Department of Defense paid untold millions for zero bytes, which means there is a divide by zero error in this hypothesis. Recall that when the war on terror began the DOD bought all the time that Ikonos was over Afghanistan []. This was effectively to ensure that it produced zero bytes of information.
  • it was only 20 odd years ago I was involved in a memory purchase for out B6700 - we paid roughly 1 million $$ for 1.5Mbytes of ram (core). And that came without any information in it .....
  • Any time you pay for a yes/no decision, all you've paid goes for a single bit. E.g. the millions spent on prosecution and defense of the over-hyped OJ Simpson trial all paid for the bit '0'. Similarly if you spend millions of dollars to business consultants to answer a question like 'should HP and Compaq merge?'

    It is debatable whether these really are paying for just one bit - the OJ trial produced lots of public information, and the yes/no business descisions undoubtedly come with heafty reports explaining how the result was arrived at.

    A test is to imagine an oracle that will (with known 100% accuracy) answer a question like 'If OJ goes to trial for murder, will he be found guilty?' If this result would be considered a sufficient substitute for actually holding the trial, then all those millions were indeed spent on one bit.
  • Let's save time and say that the human genome is a round 750 MB (it's about 3 gigabases, each base is two bits, so it's 750 MB.)

    It cost about US $300 million. The project cost of 3 bil, bandied about, is the amount we expect to spend in the period from about 1990 to 2005 (reference, search page for "billion" []) on projects related to Genomics, which is the study of biological sequences, not just the human genome but a wealth of other information (including information about protein structures and the like - I generated four gigs of analytical information just this afternoon.)

    Regardless, if you say that the fruit of the $300 million spent directly on the human genome is ONLY the human genome, and not all of the other data (such as correlations with other genomes which is what I was evaluating today, or the information about the number of genes, etc.) it still works out to about $US 0.40 a byte (300 bil over 750 MB). Dear, but not even in the running for most expensive data ever.

    A pricing problem - do you pay for the source code, or the binary? If you're paying for the source code, I'm sure somebody, sometime, charged a full years salary to develop a Perl program 70 or 80 ASCII characters long. It could run hundreds of dollars a byte, easy.
  • The launch codes that enable the president to launch a nuclear attack could probably be considered the most valuable "password" ever.

    • It is: cpe1704tks

      You never saw War Games, did you ? ;)

    • This is a fiction from Hollywood. For example, the commanders of a nuclear submarine can launch their nuclear weapons whenever they want to.
      It has to be this way. Otherwise disabling the American nuclear arsenal would be as easy as killing the handful of people who have the codes, or even just blocking their communications.
      • For example, the commanders of a nuclear submarine can launch their nuclear weapons whenever they want to.

        Well, it's not quite that simple. It takes two men turning their launch keys at the same time to fire the missle, not to mention the cooperation of the crew in bringing the boat to launch depth, etc.

        Add to that the fact that the crews know that they have a duty to prevent an unauthorized launch, using deadly force if necessary..

        It would be exceptionally difficult for any *one* man to launch a Trident missile.

        • All it takes is a crew that is loyal to that one person.

          A few handfulls of minions and an evil genious. (Realistically though, I doubt the person would have to be much of a genious - basic knowledge of "mass" psycohology would go a long way).

          And so what? We place trust in the hands of single persons and trust that they do their duties. In the end we're all dead anyway.
        • Notices the 's' at the end of the word "commander". Yes, indeed it takes the second in command to agree.
  • I cannot remember the exact (or even approximate date) but at some point during the history of the British Empire (i believe between about 1550-1850) the King has a series of watchtowers built, streaching all the way from the atlantic ocean to London itself. The idea was to have the tower by the sea be on the lookout for the spanish Armada, and to light a signal fire in the tower to signal to the next tower, and to the next tower, and so on , until the signal reached London. The construction and staffing of these towers would literally have cost a King's forture, the equivelent of many billions or trillions of dollars today. And the entire purpose was to pass on the signal fire - a SINGLE bit of information. Not even a byte, just a bit. I believe this is the most costly piece of binary data ever transmitted.
  • Both of my girls are wonderfull, but geez kids cost a lot (money, time, worry). Definitly not an investment to be made lightly, but the dividends can be enourmous at times. :-)

  • How about the source code to one of LLNL/LANL's nuclear weapons codes? One of those things is simply beyond price.
  • "/."

    There's two really expensive bytes. Just consider all the lost productivity. Oh the humanity...

    Hint for moderators: laugh or don't laugh. not a troll.
  • Most expensive--URL? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Saoshyant ( 584551 ) went for $8,000,000, $666,666.66 ber byte.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Considering that what is actually for sale is just an username and password, which generally comes up to less than 20 bytes in total, this amounts to over $50 per byte.

    If you consider how much the entertainment industry paid for the DMCA, it could easily be the most expensive 4 byte sequence there is. Say, for example, that $5 million was paid for it...this would come out to $1.25 million per byte, or $156250 per bit. (Note that I'm not trying to be a troll here. Depending on what angle you look at it from, there could be a certain degree of truth to what I just said, as sad as it may be.)
  • I'm sure the MPAA would put quite a large number on those keys...

    And remember, the keys themselves have value as art.
  • While on the subject of money for information here [] is some weird inforation in money.

    I don't believe in a conspiracy here, but that's a pretty strange coincedence. A friend refers to it as evidence of a higher power.
  • by jdcook ( 96434 )
    As said by Melinda Gates. That's a lot for just one bit.
  • What are the most expensive pieces of information that you have heard of, in dollars per byte?
    No offense to the submitter, but this is a generally hazardous way to describe these kinds of things. Someone who didn't understand the reality of the situation might actually think that the data itself is where the value lies, rather in the secure data stored on Verant's servers.

    It's interesting to think about the value that such things have. Essentially, the value lies, as I said, in the particular formation of data on Verant's servers, in San Diego (or wherever the actual machines happen to be, due to colocation). If you had actual physical access to those machines, you could simply create the data to be whatever you want -- a level 60 Barbarian Warrior with the best gear in the game, for example.

    However, physical access to the data substrate is not feasible, for a variety of reasons. Only trusted employees are allowed physical access to that areas. Brute force may give you temporary physical access, but the variety of law enforcement agencies blanketing our society would (on average) put the kibosh on that fairly quickly. As a result, the only plausible way to create the data the way you want, is to use the relatively public interface mechanisms Verant provides -- namely, the game interface itself.

    The amount of time and effort it takes, using that interface, to get the data into the form you want, is why the data has that value. A bad Verant employee with legitimate access to the data might also be able to create such value by quickly creating characters with such data, but they are unlikely to go long without getting caught.

    Yeah, this all may seem fairly obvious, but did you ever actually sit down and think it through before? I didn't think so ;)

  • 00101010 (Score:3, Funny)

    by peacefinder ( 469349 ) <{alan.dewitt} {at} {}> on Monday June 10, 2002 @08:24PM (#3676391) Journal
    How much did Deep Thought cost to build, just to cough up 42? That was one mighty darn expensive byte...
  • How much would it be worth to have a few hundred bytes which would allow you to create certificates which would be trusted by almost everyone on the internet?
  • Well, Sun swears [] that their operating system source code is worth exactly $80 million.

    That might not work out to be more on a per-byte basis than the Everquest account, but try amassing 80,000 Everquest accounts worth one grand apiece.
  • I've heard various versions of this story over the years, but the best link I can find attributes it to a General Electric engineer named Charles Steinmetz (1865-1923):

    One day a whole roomful of General Electric's most expensive machinery went out of order. By this time Steinmetz had retired, but the company's baffled engineers called him back as a consultant. Steinmetz ambled from machine to machine, taking a measurement here, scribbling something in his noteboook there. After about an hour, he took out a large piece of chalk and marked a large 'X' on the casing of one machine. Workers pried off the casing and found the problem at once.

    When the company executives got Steinmetz's bill for $10,000, they were reluctant to pay it. "This seems a bit excessive for one chalk mark," Steinmetz was told. "Perhaps you'd better itemize your charges."

    Within a few days, they received the following itemized bill:

    Making one chalk mark $1.00

    Knowing where to make one chalk mark $9,999.00

  • setuid bit (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bentini ( 161979 ) on Monday June 10, 2002 @11:27PM (#3677209)
    If we believe all those estimates about how much hackers cost people...

    Just a couple set-uid bits here and there made the Internet Worm possible.

Only God can make random selections.