Network Working Group                                          B. Miller
Request for Comments: 1097                                    CMU-NetDev
                                                            1 April 1989

                    TELNET SUBLIMINAL-MESSAGE Option

Status of this Memo

   This RFC specifies a standard for the Internet community.  Hosts on
   the Internet that display subliminal messages within the Telnet
   protocol are expected to adopt and implement this standard.
   Distribution of this memo is unlimited.

1.  Command name and code.


2.  Command meanings.


      The sender of this command REQUESTS permission to, or confirms
      that it will, display subliminal messages.


      The sender of this command REFUSES to display subliminal messages.


      The sender of this command REQUESTS that the receiver, or grants
      the receiver permission to, display subliminal messages.


      The sender of this command DEMANDS that the receiver not display
      subliminal messages.

   IAC SB SUBLIMINAL-MESSAGE <16-bit value> <16-bit value> <string> IAC

      The sender specifies a message to be subliminaly displayed by the
      remote host.  If the client has agreed (via the standard WILL WONT
      DO DONT mechanism) to display subliminal messages, it must accept
      this subnegotiation and attempt to display the message string on
      the users console for the specified duration and continue to do so
      at fixed intervals until another SUBLIMINAL-MESSAGE subnegotiation
      is received.  The position and rendering of the message of

Miller                                                          [Page 1]

RFC 1097                       SUBLIMINAL                   1 April 1989

      implementation dependent.

      The first 16-bit value specifies the duration of the message in
      milliseconds.  It is sent MSB first.  The second 16-bit value
      specifies the frequency with which the message is displayed.  It
      represents the number of seconds between displays and is also sent
      MSB first.  The final parameter is the message itself.

      The syntax for this subnegotiation is:

                    DURATION[1] DURATION[0]
                    FREQUENCY[1] FREQUENCY[0]
                IAC SE

      As required by the Telnet protocol, any occurence of 255 in the
      subnegotiation must be doubled to destinguish it from the IAC
      character (which has a value of 255).

3.  Default.



   i.e., subliminal messages will not be displayed.

4.  Motivation for the option

   Frequently the use of "Message of the day" banners and newsletters is
   insufficient to convince stubborn users to upgrade to the latest
   version of telnet.  Some users will use the same outdated version for
   years.  I ran across this problem trying to convince people to use
   the REMOTE-FLOW-CONTROL Telnet option.  These users need to be gently

5.  Description and implementation notes.

   The quality of the client implementation will depend on it's ability
   to display and erase text strings in a small amount of time.  The
   current implementation at CMU takes into acount terminal line speed,
   advanced video capabilities, and screen phospher persistance when
   calculating how long to wait before erasing a message.

   While it is permitted for the client to display the message text
   "in-line", best results at obtained by printing the message at the
   top or side of console screen where it will just catch the corner of

Miller                                                          [Page 2]

RFC 1097                       SUBLIMINAL                   1 April 1989

   the user's visual field.

   A version is currently under development at CMU to display the
   message using morse-code over the keyboard caps-lock LED.

6.  Examples

   In the following example all numbers are in decimal notation.

   1.  Server suggests and client agrees to use SUBLIMINAL-MESSAGE.

      (Server sends) IAC DO SUBLIMINAL-MESSAGE
      (Server sends) IAC SB SUBLIMINAL-MESSAGE 0 5 0 20 "Use VMS" IAC SE

         [The server is "suggesting" that the user employ a stable
         operating system, not an unreasonable request...]

      The client should immediately begin displaying the message and
      should continue to do so at regular intervals.

   2.  Server preempts previous subliminal message.

      (Server sends) IAC SB SUBLIMINAL-MESSAGE 0 5 0 20 "Go home" IAC SE

      The client should now no longer display the previous message and
      should immediately begin displaying the new one.

   3.  Server has messed with user enough for one day.

      (Server sends) IAC SB SUBLIMINAL-MESSAGE 0 0 0 0 "" IAC SE

      The client must cease display of any subliminal messages.

7.  Acknowledgements.

   We do things just a little sneakier here at CMU.

Miller                                                          [Page 3]