Updated 8-4-99
This page, and the uninformed speculations contained within, 1999 ulTRAX@webtv.net
This is a first draft and will be revised.

FLASH: INTRODUCTION While we might have some satisfactory explanations for the the existence of the infamous DEMO account, the reasons for the existance of the FLASH account remain a mystery.

The first accidential access to FLASH occuring during the Summer 98 Upgrade period. Was it a coincidence... or did FLASH have something to do with the upgrade process? After all, WTV did use flashrom in its boxes.

It was not until we got a peek at the upgrade code did we know there was such a thing as a wtv-flashrom:/xxxxx service. Was there a connection?

Like DEMO, FLASH seems to be a generic account all webtv boxes can probably access and like DEMO, it has been gutted by WTV. Both DEMO and FLASH have no mail service, access to chat, and have the Surf Watch Kiddie filters switched on. There is one slight difference: the Client IP list is slightly different for both. One may assume that like DEMO, FLASH was once a fully functional account and may have fallen victim to the DEMO Crackdown beginning in January '98... but since there are no reports of anyone ever having even been in FLASH at that time, we may ever know for sure.

FLASH FOUND: To my knowledge, no one ever heard of FLASH until the Summer of '98. In late June the long awaited 1.4 and 2.2 Client upgrades were being offered. At that point we still had the option to postpone accepting it. Some people, like Mattman, did just that hoping to hang on to the javascript capability that was built into 1.3 and 2.1 just a little bit longer. Mattman also wanted to hang on to 1.3 since he had already heard that the Summer Upgrade had eliminated access to DEMO. Matt knew without it his plans to hack accounts would be foiled... specifically my account. (In early May I had hacked his account and he always wanted to repay the favor lol. As part of anti-hacking fix that May, WTV not only made some server side security changes, but also sought to block our use of the GoTo box in the critical Head Waiter stage. In doing so WTV inadvertantly blocked access to DEMO... at least for a while. Matt had discovered a way around this by quickly typing anything into the GoTo box before it disappeared. But this trick would no longer work with the Summer Upgrade. Please see Old Tricks.)

On one of his excursions to DEMO, Matt unexpectedly found himself elsewhere: HOME for FLASH. For all intents and purposes FLASH appeared to be an account like DEMO but given the lack mail and FAV files, it did not seem to have been visited.

In FLASH Matt clicked on favorites and brought up the GoTo box. While the GoTo box was up something triggered his box to bring him back to the main login screen, then brought him to the Upgrade Screen instead. He accepted the upgrade but while it was downloading Matt got warnings of problems fetching the files. This happened about 3 times. (Matt found if he hit the back button before the status indicator was fully loaded he could prevent this from happening. Instead he would end up at the upgrade screen.)

Having access to the Upgrade screen while in "webmode" had its advantages. One usually only access that page when one logged on. Being in webmode meant Matt was able to get the code behind the upgrade button using javascript thus the first wtv-flashrom code was seen.... remember this was for a Phillips Classic box:


During the next week Matt tried to get back into FLASH but it seems every time he got to the flash account there was no DEMO and when he could get to DEMO there was no FLASH. As for the Upgrade code... each time he tried to use it he got kicked back to the login screen. Matt also would occasionally come across pages of code.... not html, and not alt. key nonsense. He had earlier found such code in DEMO as well.

Being a previewer during some portion of the time in question I was unable to access DEMO or FLASH. As the upgrade made its way around it seemed as if DEMO and FLASH might never be visited again. WHile this did not turn out to be true... there were several new ways found back to DEMO... or what was left of DEMO, FLASH was forgotten as a curiousity only a handful of people had ever visited. That is until late March 98.

REDISCOVERY OF FLASH There were a couple pieces of the puzzle involved.... In late March Saladman and another person found a new code in the Viewer: wtv-head-waiter:/login?lc2flash=true&path=content/artemis-webtv2-000/build3063/dbg-int-4m-solo-ram/US-LC2-disk-0MB-8MB-part000.rom&start-time=918214234 Flashrom, aka eat_meimacookie, began to experiment with variations of this new code.... eventually shorting it to: wtv-head-waiter:/login?lc2flash

I found my FLASH (there are an unknown number of others) devoid of files. The Cookie list had but 3-4 domains....but who knew when they had been visited. Actually, there was something... a note left in the sig by rhsjr7-P. It was undated and could have been written minutes before I arrived, last summer, or the day WTV first came on-line. Only rhsjr knew. So I wrote.

It seems rhsjr had also stumbled upon FLASH during the Summer '98 Upgrade. While the upgrade was downloading he hit VIEW on his Plus, then WebHome. This stopped the upgrade and he ended up in FLASH Home... How many others had been to FLASH or why it's there will remain mysteries.

The FLASH Client:ShowServices IP list is facinating. It is the only one that includes wtv-1800 and WTV-register... thus URLs in both of those services can be accessed in FLASH.

In addition to Demo and Flash three other hidden accounts were also found. DataDownload@webtv.net found by Bone, AccountDisabled@webtv.net found by MattMan, and Registration@webtv.net found by Eric Mac. Like Demo and Flash these accounts were also striped down with the exception of Registration witch allowed full surfing. Each account at one time or another ended up serving a very useful purpose in the many hacking excursions.