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Do you know of any interesting real life stories where programmers have written scripts that executed in case of their deaths?

Do you have any scripts that would run in case of your untimely death? If you were to write a such script, what would it be? If you have already written one for yourself, what does that script already do?

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closed as not constructive by Robert Harvey, ChrisF Nov 19 '12 at 9:23

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16  
I'm curious how the triggering mechanism would work. –  Fishtoaster Oct 4 '10 at 5:37
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Why do you care about what happens after your death? If you die, there won't be anything to worry about anymore. –  Pavel Shved Oct 4 '10 at 6:29
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@Pavel: Maybe because I care about other people who aren't dead, and my decease would affect their lives. That's why people take life insurances. –  Joonas Pulakka Oct 4 '10 at 6:32
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@Fishtoaster: simple, just hook into the event like this me.OnDeath += new Person.DeathEventHandler(me_OnDeath); –  rmx Oct 12 '10 at 14:54
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@rmx - No, death is an exceptional event. You should be handling a DeathError exception. –  Jason Baker Dec 5 '10 at 8:39

13 Answers 13

One thing comes to mind: If you're the only administrator / root user of some system(s) that other people rely on, somehow sending the credentials to a trusted follower would be a good idea.

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26  
+1 to cancel the harsh downvote that countered the unreasonable upvote that opposed the unexplained downvote. –  Paddyslacker Oct 4 '10 at 7:34
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+1 just because it's a good answer. –  mouviciel Oct 4 '10 at 7:47
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Having a wireless sensor functioning on the electric current through the heart that would upon death stop functioning and thus the script receiving data from said sensor throws an exception which we would catch and fire off untimely death script. –  Chris Oct 5 '10 at 17:13
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Standard protocol is admin passwords in a sealed (wax) envelope in a locked , two key box in the company safe. Inspect it weekly for tampering if you must.. So if the sysadmin dies, the passwords can be recovered. If you're not doing this, I will testify against your estate in a negligence trial. –  Tim Williscroft Nov 20 '10 at 0:08
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-1 downvote. If the trusted follower needs you to be death, to get access, you create a reason for your death, which didn't exist before. –  user unknown May 19 '11 at 14:54

There are a couple of websites which offer a postmortem service like sending someone your passwords, cancelling accounts like Facebook/MySpace/mailing lists:

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15  
“final word in an argument” - LOL –  mlsteeves Oct 5 '10 at 16:26
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Dear college roommate: If you are receiving this, I am dead. I write you this final message to say this: I STILL think that Batman is cooler then Spiderman, and now there is nothing you can do about it. So There! –  Matthew Scouten Nov 29 '11 at 21:03

A script like this is the premise of Daemon, an epic hacker novel from Daniel Suarez. Highly recommended. The sequel examines reputation systems (like the one used on Stack Overflow and sites like iFixit) in-depth.

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Yeah, code that scans obituaries looking for keywords to trigger some events. Not a real life story, but still an interesting idea. –  Bratch May 19 '11 at 14:33

Mine e-mails damning evidence about all of my enemies to the media outlets. Thanks for the idea, Patrick Stewart! (I wrote the application in Objective C so that no one else can understand it.)

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+1 for making sure I wasn't the only one who remembered this movie. –  Eric Oct 5 '10 at 20:53

The Heaven's Gate group Heaven's Gate did not exactly have an 'untimely' death, but their website regularly updated for a few days after their mass suicide with additional information / propaganda / literature explaining their viewpoints.

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I would code something like this:

from postmortemlib import AliveRFIDsensor, AliveMAILChecker
..
if AliveRFIDsensor().has_not_triggered_for(AVERAGE_DAYS_AWAY_FROM_HOME) and \
   AliveMAILChecker().getMessagesFrom(STILL_ALIVE_ACCOUNT).isEmpty():

  #Don't look here
  cleaner = Cleaner(heavy_shredder = True)
  cleaner.wipe(XXX_DIRECTORY_LIST)
  cleaner.logout_from(XXX_EMBARASSING_SITES_ACCOUNTS)
  #TODO: try to remember other place where I've put stuff

  #People I dislike
  mailbomber = MailBomber( level = MailBomber.MORTAL,
                           swear_level = MailBomber.STELLAR)
  mailbomber.bomb(TERRIBLE_PEOPLE_EMAIL_LIST) 

  #For my coworkers
  workconnection = Connect(WORK_IP)
  workconnection.perform(Connect.CHECK_IN,
                         force = True) #Have a nice day

  #For my family
  mailsender().send(to = FAMILY, 
                    content = LAST_WORDS_OF_ME, 
                    attachment = [passwords, stuff])

  #TODO Is it all?

  SelfDistruction.enable_in(10)
  ..
  #That's all folks
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3  
I hope you don't travel a lot ! –  HoLyVieR Oct 5 '10 at 18:05
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Add "DeleteAllPr0n" –  user1827 Oct 6 '10 at 1:43
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-1 for spam even after death. –  Jon Hopkins Nov 20 '10 at 7:35
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@Jon I will hardcode a custom nasty feature for your email muahahha. –  systempuntoout Nov 20 '10 at 10:07

I would write something that emails me a special link every month or so. For which I would be required to click on it. If I don't respond by clicking on it by a specified period of time such as a week/month/ etc, then something has happened to me, so the script would then email all my passwords and electronic assets to my next of kin.

Bun not before automatically destroying my secret stash of UFO evidence and my porn collection.

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5  
Heaven forbid the porn collection winds up in someone else's hands. –  Steve Evers Oct 5 '10 at 22:51
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I wouldn't want anyone to know how much of a pervert i am.. Oh, wait a minute... :-) –  7wp Oct 6 '10 at 3:13
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Or in the hands of aliens! –  grok Oct 6 '10 at 4:11
    
It seems like a reasonable idea to email your admin (or any other closely-held) password to someone in the event of your demise. I wonder if there's a better way to trigger it than with the emailed links... –  Dov Oct 11 '10 at 17:44
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@Dov An implant that monitors your vital signs, while checking in via cell phone signal?? :) It would be disastrous to spend too much time "off the grid" though. :) –  7wp Oct 12 '10 at 3:01

Daemon, a book by Daniel Suarez, is all about postmortem code on steroids... Daemon

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An implantable health monitor chip that send out signal in the event that health check fails and then brodcasts the signal out on free whitespace frequencies using a new peer to peer health protocol. A secondary signal is issued over wifi to connect and and make an authenticated web service call to a life registry service. It is carried viral over long distances through carriers and terminated if unsecured wifi is found and connect is successful or if found that registry service returns an already_dead response. The life registry service than executes a set of predefined actions set by you including but not limited to emailing necessary information/passwords to the people concerned and sent out final emails etc. :)

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If (HeartBeatTicker.Timeout)
{
    // Gotta keep my baby happy ;)
    Print3DToyForWife();

    foreach(address in addressBook.Friends)
    {
        SendEmailMessage(address, "I'm Dead Bitches!!!");
    }

    foreach(address in addressBook.Enemies)
    {
        SendEmailMessage(address, "It has been a good life... I'll be seeing you in your nightmares");
    }

    ActivateGraveAntiPeeingTaserDefenses();

    ReleaseTheClones();
}
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The Submarine guys have a knob you have to turn to a different position every watch. If you don't, the rescue beacon is fired.

A really easy way "web centric" way is a script that scans the web ( mostly the stack exchange sites) and if you don't post in 3 days, you're dead :-)>

A Google news alert for your death notice !

A script that gathers other evidence (stackexchange, facebook , IVR system that phones your Mon, etc) is triggered by the alert email.

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#!/bin/sh
announce-to-whole-world 'Jason Baker is dead.  Commence grieving.'

Does anyone know where I can find a good implementation of announce-to-whole-world?

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There's a pretty good one at this site but they don't provide any guarantee that people will actually read it. –  MatrixFrog May 26 '12 at 3:23

I actually thought about this several years ago but have yet to write the script.

Methods by which the code should become suspicious that you're dead:

  • No email sent recently
  • No shell activity recently
  • No facebook activity recently
  • No twitter activity recently

Once you're suspected dead, it should seek verification by emailing and/or smsing you and telling you to do one of the above things within 72 hrs or it will assume you're dead. If you don't answer within the specified timeframe, it should email the keys to the kingdom to your designated successor, and also maybe send out other relevant death notices.

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