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19-Year-Old Squatted At AOL For 2 Months 141

Posted by Soulskill
from the built-house-out-of-unused-trial-CDs dept.
New submitter mrnick writes "Eric Simons, 19 years old, was working at incubator Imagine K2 in Silicon Valley, which was hosted at AOL's Palo Alto campus. His grant money eventually ran out, but his access badge kept working, so he moved into AOL's office. He slept on a couch, took showers and washed clothes in the office gym, and ate for free in the cafeteria, all the while working on his new start-up. He was able to get away with this for two months before being discovered by security guard."
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19-Year-Old Squatted At AOL For 2 Months

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  • Hmmm ... (Score:5, Funny)

    by WrongSizeGlass (838941) on Saturday May 26, 2012 @09:18AM (#40120649)
    Maybe AOL can stay relevant by being a start-up hotel?
    • by Vandil X (636030) on Saturday May 26, 2012 @09:43AM (#40120807)
      "Welcome.... You've got mail!"
    • Re:Hmmm ... (Score:5, Funny)

      by Grayhand (2610049) on Saturday May 26, 2012 @09:48AM (#40120829)

      Maybe AOL can stay relevant by being a start-up hotel?

      Call me spoiled but I don't think I could handle a dial up hotel.

      • Re:Hmmm ... (Score:5, Funny)

        by FreedomOfThought (2544248) on Saturday May 26, 2012 @09:55AM (#40120877)

        It would take 30 seconds to dial-out a request for water to shower with. Then you have to wait for the heat to download. Once you finally have hot water, it will randomly shut off and there you stand, shivering. So you decide to give up and get out but when you reach for the towel, its only partially there and corrupted. So you make a request for the rest of the towel, wait 30 seconds for the connection again, and realize that you have to start the download over so you try to make the partial towel work for your needs only to realize that its just not going to work. So you go ahead and restart the towel download but it instantly shows complete, but yet there is no towel. Now you have to wait on AOL to clear your cache, start the download again, and get disconnected once more. You would jump out the window but a request to open it would just be futile.

        • Ahhh, yes. Waiting for hot water. Have to do this with the sink where I live. What a waste of cold water while waiting for the hot water to arrive. Seriously.

          By the way, anyone know if there has been real-life examples of people living in Wal-Marts?

      • You can check-out any time you like,
        but you can only leave after downloading a HD movie over a dial-up connection

    • Re:Hmmm ... (Score:5, Funny)

      by volkerdi (9854) on Saturday May 26, 2012 @11:09AM (#40121315)

      Is this the last teenager still using AOL?

    • by Pionar (620916)

      Maybe AOL can become relevant again by being a start-up hotel?

      FTFY.

    • by rtb61 (674572)

      More like a geek monastery, where the monks of code worship the cycles and multi task a better future. No, seriously, why not a monastery for computer geeks but without all the God bothering, a new kind of startup mentoring, rather than providing cash, provide facilities, accommodation, sustenance and fellowship?

  • by crafty.munchkin (1220528) on Saturday May 26, 2012 @09:18AM (#40120653)
    I was sure it had died the death of 10000 cuts... not to mention all those CDs people kept microwaving!
    • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Saturday May 26, 2012 @09:53AM (#40120857)
      AOL is still around, and there are still people paying for dialup service with them -- oftentimes people who are also paying for broadband service. AOL's brand is so strong among the technically illiterate that some people actually thing that AOL is the "Internet," is "Email," is "instant messenger," etc.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        I am in indiana, I am lucky I have fiber, but I know area's of the state do not have the profit margin for a broadband company to setup in. So those area's may get lucky and have their cell work as a modem, but more times than not, they just have dial up.

        ~SimonTek

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by akboss (823334)

        AOL's brand is so strong among the technically illiterate that some people actually thing that AOL is the "Internet," is "Email," is "instant messenger," etc.

        Whaat? You mean to tell me that AOL isnt these things? Damn and all those years...

      • by westlake (615356)

        AOL is still around, and there are still people paying for dialup service with them ... AOL's brand is so strong among the technically illiterate that some people actually thing that AOL is the "Internet," is "Email," is "instant messenger," etc.

        The geek ought to have learned by now that not everyone shares his love of complexity --- or his need for or access to broadband services.

        Around 74 percent of the nation's adults had Internet access in their homes by 2010, but 6 percent were still relying solely on dial-up Internet connections to go online, according to a Federal Communications Commission report that looked at broadband access.

        Just last year, AOL, whose more than 3.5 million dial-up users account for the bulk of the business, added 200,000 new dial-up customers to its roster.

        And while Verizon Communications provides high-speed Internet services through fiber optic FIOS service or digital subscriber lines (DSL) to the majority of its 8.7 million subscribers, the company still provides dial-up Internet to more than 31,000 U.S. customers.

        Why are so many are still using the old-fashioned Internet highway?

        Their reasons can range from the expense of faster services to little need to hurry up and download all those movies.

        Plenty of Internet users cling to slow dial-up connections [post-gazette.com] [May 12, 2012]

        • You are not looking out for those you look down up on in secret, the grand-parent was talking about AOL practice to keep people paying for dialup access when they already moved to broadband connections. So it is NOT for people who still use ONLY dialup, it is a scam operated by AOL to convince people that without their dialup service, broadband would not work or people would loose all their email, so people end up paying a high price for just their email account.

        • The geek ought to have learned by now that not everyone shares his love of complexity --- or his need for or access to broadband services.

          That is irrelevant to this discussion and you know it -- AOL's customer base mostly (in the sense of a majority of their customers) people who simply do not understand that they do not need to pay for AOL in order to use their DSL or cable modem service. This is not a matter of costs or users choosing to stick with dialup; AOL's former executives have basically admitted that most of AOL's customers are paying for a service they neither need nor use:

          http://www.techspot.com/news/42121-60-of-aols-profits [techspot.com]

      • Probably same users who still use IE 6. Isnt the AOL browser just a reskinned IE 6? I was so angry when when they bought Netscape and released Netscape with an IE 6 engine underneath. Stupid clueless managment

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Ya. My mother still refers to the whole computer as "The AOL".

        • My mother still refers to the whole computer as "the hard drive." I don't know if that's better or worse.

    • by Tr3vin (1220548) on Saturday May 26, 2012 @10:05AM (#40120947)
      AOL has moved on to purchase many popular websites in order to stay profitable. The Huffington Post, Engadget, Joystiq and many other major news blogs / websites are owned by AOL. They really are more than a dial-up ISP.
  • by JoeMerchant (803320) on Saturday May 26, 2012 @09:19AM (#40120657)

    Isn't that the ultimate goal of the incubators: to get young kids to spend their whole life working on their startup...

    • That's why they did not call the police, I suppose.

    • by iamhassi (659463) on Saturday May 26, 2012 @04:52PM (#40123525) Journal
      i'm sorry, maybe i'm just being negative, but by the end it sounded like an advertisement:

      Ad one:
      "Simons said he was able to score $50,000 in seed funding from Ulu Ventures and Silicon Valley VC Paul Sherer."

      Now Ulu Ventures and Paul Sherer is someone thanks to this CNET article.

      Ad two:
      "Now, Simons said, he's looking to raise an additional $500,000."

      Yep there it is. "I slept on a couch in AOL, can i get $500,000?"

      And just in case you missed it, his startup name, ClassConnect, is mentioned 6 times in the article. 6. When really, it didn't need to be mentioned at all, the story is about the kid hiding in AOL, not about his startup. It's even in the topic tags at the bottom.

      Someone's profiting from this, besides the kid. Writer obviously, probably several others.
      • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

        by iamhassi (659463)
        Also, I'd like to point out that if a startup needs 500k to keep the idea going then it's probably not a good startup idea. He got 20k and.... what? How well did he do with that 20k? Seems like it went no where, article said nothing about how much $$$ he made with that 20k. Yes, silicon valley = expensive, so move back to Iowa or Nebraska or where ever to make that 20k last. 20k is more than most startups get to start with, most start in a parents basement or garage or dorm room and either make million
        • I don't agree that all startups that need big $$$ are bad ideas - there are lots of very good startup ideas that take 10s of millions to get rolling.

          On the other hand, startups principaled by a 19yo sleeping on AOL's couch, yeah, show me where the first 20K went, and a detailed plan of how the $500K is going to be spent. Don't like counting paperclips? Get a real job.

  • free hours (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 26, 2012 @09:21AM (#40120665)

    i guess his 1,460.9688 free hours of aol finally ran out!

  • by Cognitive Dissident (206740) on Saturday May 26, 2012 @09:30AM (#40120715)

    Steven Spielberg claimed to have done something similar. He claimed to have occupied an unused office on the Universal Studios lot by simply dressing in a suit, carrying a brief case, and bluffing his way past the security guards. But his story kept growing and growing. A clear sign of fabrication. So it was finally debunked by snopes [snopes.com]. But even his tallest tale didn't claim to have lived on the lot full time. And now this kid has gone one better than the tall tale, actually living inside the corporate complex of a major tech company.

    • by vencs (1937504)
      one more at Walmart [desmoinesregister.com] by a student from Drake Univ.
    • by IorDMUX (870522) <mark@zimmerman3.gmail@com> on Saturday May 26, 2012 @10:18PM (#40125651) Homepage

      And now this kid has gone one better than the tall tale, actually living inside the corporate complex of a major tech company.

      I guess it's the "major tech company" part that makes this shocking, right?

      Where I went to grad school, it wasn't uncommon to have at least a few students living (and I mean with their sleeping bags, pizza boxes, toiletries, etc.) in a lab or storage room for long periods of time -- months or more -- in lieu of paying the high rent near campus. There were always the whispered stories of x student being caught trying to wash himself in the chemical safety shower or y post-doc who finally ran afoul of faculty after using his office as his kitchen.

  • incubator? (Score:4, Funny)

    by TheGratefulNet (143330) on Saturday May 26, 2012 @09:32AM (#40120727)

    well, did he at least get to keep the eggs??

    (cue woody allen joke about brother who thinks he's a chicken; but the family lets him continue on; they need the eggs.)

  • So when discovered, why didn't he just show that guard that his badge worked and that he was thus entitled to stay in the building?
    • by nurb432 (527695)

      I am sure that is how he got caught in the first place, due to a security audit. They found the card was active and still being used.

      • Re:Security? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Lumpy (12016) on Saturday May 26, 2012 @10:17AM (#40121007) Homepage

        Security audit? what is that? Is that like those mythical Pay raises I hear that used to happen?

        I have not worked at Comcast for 5 years. I handed a friend my keyfob access card that still works there because he lost his and wanted a replacement. He was going to have security reprogram the system to use it for his access.

        Mine Still WORKED! Which is scary as it had All access clearance at multiple locations, 5 Freaking years and they never removed me nor did a security audit to remove users.

        • Re:Security? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by nurb432 (527695) on Saturday May 26, 2012 @10:38AM (#40121157) Homepage Journal

          Depends on where you work. Where i work, we take security seriously. You cant even walk in the door with another person. Your photo is verified against your face as you enter. We also have metal detectors on the doors, and the guards have real guns to stop you with, not just a radio to call for help.

          Every month a complete audit of badges takes place. Similar things happen for network accounts every 30 days.

          • by jroysdon (201893)

            Ditto. You get terminated for cause/quit on the spot, and your cardkey badge (physical) and all electronic access is disabled during your HR exit interview. such that you have to be escorted out. You retire/finish on good terms? It's pre-programmed to stop working at the end of business on your last day.

            • When I worked at a company that had industrial espionage issues to deal with, you had to use your badge to get doors to unlock for every section.

              I still had my electronic badge kicking around the house for years after I quit. This was back when they were expensive, too.

              • by jroysdon (201893)

                Badges cost us $15. We do try to recover them, but it's not a big deal if we do not.

                • by Lumpy (12016)

                  I still had my keyfob and my SecurID for logins. They never wanted them back. I use the SecurID for Paypal now.

          • Re:Security? (Score:4, Interesting)

            by realityimpaired (1668397) on Saturday May 26, 2012 @11:21AM (#40121347)

            Depends on where you work. Where i work, we take security seriously. You cant even walk in the door with another person. Your photo is verified against your face as you enter. We also have metal detectors on the doors, and the guards have real guns to stop you with, not just a radio to call for help.

            Sometimes depends on the location, too... Same company, my last office was on the 6th floor at a building that houses a shopping facility on the ground floor. After-hours access required a swipe in an elevator and a swipe with a security guard at the front door, but during normal business hours the elevators weren't locked (even though they only went up to the "secure" office facilities upstairs), and people routinely held the door open for others without checking their passes. At the office I'm at now, there's a guard at the front door 24/7 who checks your pass every time, there's nothing but a lunch room on the ground floor and the guard has to unlock the elevators so you can get to your office, and you have to swipe through a security checkpoint on your actual floor, too. (annoying actually, because the bathrooms are on the other side of the checkpoint). Security also makes regular walkarounds on every floor (in fact, the guy just walked past my desk as I'm typing this).

            What you say about network accounts surprises me, though... they do a routine audit here, too, and disable accounts, but they're pretty gung-ho about yanking peoples' network accesses... usually your network login and tool accesses will be disabled before they tell you that you've been let go (I know a few people who found out they'd been fired because security was waiting at their desk with a box when they got in), and except in some exceedingly rare circumstances, you will be escorted out the door by security within minutes of giving notice, when you leave for another job.

            • by danomac (1032160)

              (annoying actually, because the bathrooms are on the other side of the checkpoint)

              So they could be tracking your bathroom visits. Ouch. Anyone been fired for taking too many/too long bathroom breaks?

          • where do you work that needs guns? I wont work anywhere where i see someone armed, thats retarded.
            • by nurb432 (527695)

              "Need" is of course relative, but there are a lot of places that do have fully armed guards.

          • by akboss (823334)

            Depends on where you work. Where i work, we take security seriously. You cant even walk in the door with another person. Your photo is verified against your face as you enter. We also have metal detectors on the doors, and the guards have real guns to stop you with, not just a radio to call for help.

            So your in prison, big deal.

          • by statusbar (314703)

            ... And they STILL let you post on slashdot??? even in your spare time?

          • by SeaFox (739806)

            Depends on where you work. Where i work, we take security seriously. You cant even walk in the door with another person. Your photo is verified against your face as you enter. We also have metal detectors on the doors, and the guards have real guns to stop you with, not just a radio to call for help.

            Unless you worked in a government installation or a prison I have some doubts as to that last sentence. The guards may be carrying guns, but if they're private security personnel their usage was likely restricted to self-defense in the event of an intruder. I don't think assault with a deadly weapon would be considered a justifiable action to stop a trespasser as part of their job.

      • I am sure that is how he got caught in the first place, due to a security audit. They found the card was active and still being used.

        Having read the article (gasp!) - it appears you are exactly right. The guy who found him came in extra early and was specifically looking for him.

        By the way, you can indeed tell this story came from a new submitter - it was all on one page. Silly guy hasn't yet learned you're only supposed to link to stories spread over nine pages in order to maximize ad revenue...

    • by arose (644256)
      If he happened to be discovered sleeping on the couch the guard might be a tad suspicious.
    • by Fjandr (66656)

      The article doesn't directly reference the events which led to his discovery, but from his description the guard came in knowing he was there and having scoured the entire building to find him and yell at him.

      He wasn't caught as a result of being stumbled over, he appears to have been caught because security found out through other means that he was squatting in the building. As a result, showing his badge wouldn't have done anything.

  • AOL still has offices?! I honestly had no idea. Wow. That's got to be a depressing place to work...
    • Re:AOL Offices (Score:5, Insightful)

      by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Saturday May 26, 2012 @09:46AM (#40120821)
      Especially when you consider this:

      http://www.techspot.com/news/42121-60-of-aols-profits-come-from-misinformed-customers.html [techspot.com]

      We are talking about people who are so helplessly uninformed that they are paying for dialup service despite already paying for broadband. Working for AOL is basically working for a scam that is tricking older, less technically literate people out of their money.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        cleaning up my Mom's estate in the late 90s, i discovered she had been paying rental on a wall-mounted rotary phone for nearly 15 years - the phone company said to keep the phone when service was disconnected

      • Re:AOL Offices (Score:4, Informative)

        by sdnoob (917382) on Saturday May 26, 2012 @11:34AM (#40121447)

        not to defend AOL, but it is really NOT their responsibility to determine whether their service is needed by their customers.. but rather to provide the services the customer subscribes to -- which is what AOL does. similarly, if you subscribe to cable tv but then install a satellite dish, it is YOUR job to cancel the cable if you no longer need or want it - the cable company can't read your mind, YOU have to return their equipment and cancel the service (or pay the bill, or suffer the consequences of doing neither)
        ___

        if you do happen to know someone paying for AOL dialup but they have high speed internet.. do them a favor by suggesting they cancel the AOL dialup if they don't need it (laptop use when traveling to remote locations without wifi or other high speed options, etc)

        for those who actually like the AOL client software or want to keep their @aol email account -- they can do both. you can use AOL's client software on your own internet connection (called "BYOA" - bring your own access); and if you don't use AOL client software, existing @aol email can be read at mail.aol.com - the email address(es) remain even when you cancel your paid AOL service (basically it just converts to a 'free' BYOA account).

        don't forget to mention that if they cancel their paid AOL service and have a bundled AOL-provided antivirus, they'll need to replace it with something else.

        to cancel paid AOL service, see http://help.aol.com/help/microsites/microsite.do?cmd=displayKC&docType=kc&externalId=219764 [aol.com]

        • not to defend AOL, but it is really NOT their responsibility to determine whether their service is needed by their customers.. but rather to provide the services the customer subscribes to -- which is what AOL does. similarly, if you subscribe to cable tv but then install a satellite dish, it is YOUR job to cancel the cable if you no longer need or want it - the cable company can't read your mind, YOU have to return their equipment and cancel the service (or pay the bill, or suffer the consequences of doing neither)

          Begging your pardon, but that's a sniveling shit-pile of an excuse for a company to hide behind.

          The question isn't one of legal responsibility* and consequences. It's one of service and this sort of activity by companies, of charging people who they know are receiving zero services from them, is morally bankrupt If you want to run a business that provides a service, please do, but if you keep billing people for nothing, there's no difference between that and stealing. Even those few idiots still holding

        • not to defend AOL, but it is really NOT their responsibility to determine whether their service is needed by their customers

          Except that if you actually read the link that I posted, you would see that AOL's managers already know that their service is not needed by a majority of their customers. This is not a matter of legal responsibility, it is a matter of ethics -- and AOL is as far from the moral high ground as they can get. Here you have a company whose executives know that most of their customers already have broadband, but are so confused about exactly they are paying for that they continue to pay for dialup service tha

    • by unixisc (2429386)
      What surprised me more was them having a washer or dryer in the gym. But hey, this guy was more entreprenaureal than Stallman, and cleaner.
      • You do not need either to wash your clothes. A bathtub works for washing and the sun is good enough for drying.

        • by unixisc (2429386)

          The submission mentioned that he took his showers and washed his clothes in the gym - I doubt that they'd have had bathtubs there, unless they happened to have an indoor spa that could be used in this manner. Washing his clothes in the shower and then hanging it to dry would have been even more brazen than him using an expired badge and sleeping @ the site. In fact, a lot of residential apartments and homeowners associations don't allow people to hang clothes out to dry due to appearances. Doing it in an

          • by LinuxIsGarbage (1658307) on Saturday May 26, 2012 @11:32AM (#40121431)

            It's strange what happens reading the article

            "[Plus] they had their own laundromat there, so I'd wash my clothes there."

            • by unixisc (2429386)
              Yup, after my last comment, I did read the full story, and they do have their own laundromat there. So my origial guess was right, but I'm still a tad surprised.
            • by genik76 (1193359)
              Interesting is that Simons says

              "I only had maybe five to ten T-shirts, a pair of jeans, and a pair of shorts (...)"

              This means that he had several at least a couple of hours' periods when he was wearing just his underpants, waiting for his jeans to be washed or dried.
              • by Fjandr (66656)

                In the US the term "shorts" typically means "short pants." Only rarely is the term used to denote an article of underwear.

  • by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Saturday May 26, 2012 @10:13AM (#40120989)

    Two lions escape from the zoo. One kills and eats a human on the street, and is subsequently hounded down and killed.

    The other hides in the headquarters of a high tech company, and lives a long and peaceful life.

    It eats middle level managers, and nobody even notices or cares.

  • Ahhh why so many commas in one sentence. My brain hurts.
  • Did someone finally decide to look behind that shiny new curtain made up of AOL mailer CDs?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 26, 2012 @10:40AM (#40121175)

    See http://www.pacifict.com/Story/ for a corporate culture that managed, at one time, to embrace and extend that kind of enthusiasm. That's what you get when engineers are ultimately being understood as running the show rather than beancounters.

  • by mspohr (589790) on Saturday May 26, 2012 @10:52AM (#40121237)

    ... in my mom's basement

  • - Brantley is Whitfield?
  • And so (Score:4, Funny)

    by sjames (1099) on Saturday May 26, 2012 @12:45PM (#40121979) Homepage

    For the first time ever, AOL actually proved to be good for something. Naturally they put a stop to that as soon as they found out.

  • "One of the guys who manages the building came in at like 5 or 6 in the morning," Simons lamented, "and he scoured the entire place to find me."

    How did he know that someone was there to scour for to begin with? The article didn't state or perhaps it is unknown how AOL or a guard came to realize he didn't belong there.
  • Rumour has it that the inimitable Richard M. Stallman might have some experience with "office living"... :P

  • by Tolvor (579446) on Saturday May 26, 2012 @07:14PM (#40124535)

    This is probably the conversation the manager had once he got caught squatting at AOL...

    Security: "Sir, we've caught a guy who has overstayed his work visa and has been illegally squatting in our corporate campus for three months."
    Manager: "Damn! What damage has he caused?"
    Security: "None sir, he's been working on some start up project to link teacher's educational materials together."
    Manager: "Really? How much are we paying him?"
    Security: "Ummm... nothing. He's doing it a part of our K12 Imagine incubator that we are running. However he's been eating our cereal, drinking our soda, and sleeping on our couches."
    Manager: "What has he been doing all day? Surfing the internet?"
    Security: "As far as we can tell he's been programming 12 to 16 hours a day."
    Manager: "..."
    Security: "Should we call the police sir?"
    Manager: "Hell No! Ask if needs pillows. One more thing, get me ten more of these 'squatters'"

    Now contrast this with the United States Border Patrol...

    Border Security: "Sir, we've caught a guy who has overstayed his work visa and has been illegally squatting in the United States work force for three years."
    INS: "Damn! What damage has he caused?"
    Border Security: "None sir, he's been working in an orchid picking oranges for a farmer that can't get anyone else to do it. In fact the person is extremely peaceful as they want to ensure that no one calls the police about them and causes them to be noticed."
    INS: "Really? How much is he being paid?"
    Border Security: "Ummm... minimum wage, and he's paying taxes. He's doing it a part of our American Dream incubator that we are running. However he's been shopping at our stores, going to our movies, and using our services."
    INS: "What has he been doing all day? Watching television?"
    Border Security: "As far as we can tell he's been working two jobs to support his family and save money."
    INS: "..."
    Border Security: "Should we deport him sir?"
    INS: "Hell Yes! Make sure you deport him hundred of miles away to make it harder for him. One more thing, build me a bigger, better fence."

    • by Fjandr (66656)

      Ah, I can hear the screams of outrage now. This is a masterpiece.

    • I defense of INS, they are enforcing th laws Congress passes; even if they disagree and would rather spend time catching the real criminals and bad actors. Congress decided to take away much of the common sense aspects of enforcement; and of course people scream when some government official says he or she won't enforce some aspect of the law. Some do, at personal and political risk, such as the mayor of a small Georgia town that has said not only will he not enforce GA's new immigration law but helps peopl
    • "Real" americans would do the work if the farmer (a.k.a giant farming corporation) was willing to pay more than slave wages. Of course, the problem is that the other farmers are doing the same thing, so then he can't compete.

    • by rleibman (622895)
      Nitpick... it's no longer called the INS.
  • by otaku244 (1804244) on Saturday May 26, 2012 @10:03PM (#40125565)
    but AOL kept giving him free hours...
  • Usually, this is theft, fraud, and trespassing. When a 19 year old "entrepreneur" and computer geek does it, it's somehow OK? Kind of a double standard.

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