The way it used to be
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From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Mon, 10 Jun 96 17:01:40 -0700
Subject: The way it used to be
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From: firstname.lastname@example.org (C. Regis Wilson)
Note, this is fiction, based on the retelling of a repressed memory recalled
during suggestive hypnosis which happens to be 100% true.
The job, as they say, has gotten to me. I love computers and am fortunate
to have a job working with them. However, over the last few years, I have
drawn away from them to sit in meetings and try to stay awake.
Imagine the technophile (and technoproficient) in a typical meeting: All
eyes turn to me and I realize I am supposed to speak. "Multimedia," I say.
They smile. The meeting goes on. The conversation stops and people are
looking at me again. "Internet," I say. Everyone nods, agrees and the
meeting (snoozefest) continues.
The problem with sleeping with one's eyes open is that the eyes eventually
dry out. Calvin (of Calvin and Hobbes) has suggested some excellent
work-arounds. The famous engineer Dilbert has also done work and written
dissertations on the subject. I will not discuss them here. Suffice it to
say that I can be seen walking around with red circles around my eyes where
the painted ping-pong ball halves have been glued.
And so, I find myself this morning in a particularly exciting meeting, the
topic of which eludes me. I have come prepared with extra glue and
ping-pongs in case anything untoward should happen. "Multimedia!" I say at
the wrong moment. In my nightmare, the demon CEO man was asking me "How
can we produce the maximum investment divestiture using hits, surveys, and
ad banners?" Everyone looks at me. I smile and say, "Sorry, I just had a
brainstorm. Multimedia Internet, Web hits Chat Rooms."
Immediately the whole room is a-buzz. I drift off, and wake with a start
to silence. All eyes on me. I look around through the pin-pricked
ping-pongs and see the CEO frowning. I clear my voice. "I was just
thinking... Community e-mail and Web hits." The CEO smiles broadly and
the whole room is a-roar.
I'm in another world again, one where the biggest fastest baddest computer
sits on my desk. It's a power daemon. It run /usr/games/robots REALLY
REALLY FAST. I am happy. The world is complete. Then, the CEO comes in.
The room darkens. "What am I paying you for," he asks. "Um," I reply.
"Multimedia web site server hits." He smiles. Suddenly the room is full
of accountants and bureaucrats. He asks, "How many hits?" I notice the
seat melting, the raised floor rising. I whisper, "15,000?" Everyone frowns
deeply, leaning over me. I save myself. "An hour?"
All is well again. The sun is shining and the disk drive fans are whirring.
There's no need for Gigs of storage. The operating system, utilities, and
applications (who needs those?) take "a coupl'a meg." I can backup the
system to floppies (5). The world is indeed a nice place. I can type
cryptic commands and berate users. I can say, "If you don't know how to
use it, don't." I can say, "If you have to ask, I don't have to tell."
I awake to the board room meeting again. Silence. "Web server, Internet
traffic, Multimedia," I say. The CEO speaks, "Yes, you said that. We were
wondering about RealAudio." I recover nicely with, "Ah yes. I was
reiterating my point to lead to RealAudio live feed Multimedia HTML Java.
Web server hits Netscape security." The nightmare has begun again. I see
RainMan thumping his head against his monitor muttering, "Definitely
download Netscape. Definitely download Netscape now, 286th time. Uh-oh.
Fart. Definitely download Netscape. 287th time. Definitely 287. 287.
Uh-oh. People's Court."
I run down a dark hallway and someone yells out, "Why do you turn off the
backgrounds and graphics? They're killer! Why do you use the keyboard?
Wanna load Windows? Download Netscape now! For best viewing, I suggest
640x480x256. Align your screen with this arrow ---->"
And then I stop. I give myself up. I cannot win. The meeting is over,
but I continue to sit, drooling. They drag a web-server in. They hook up
a Quickcam feed. Users all over the world stare at my blissful, blank
expression with WIDE OPEN BULGING eyes. They hook up a microphone so users
can listen to me humming the theme song to Brazil. The web site follows
Moore's law. 15,000 hits the first month. 15,000 hits the next week.
15,000 hits the next day. 15,000 hits the next hour. 15,000 hits the next
minute. And so on. I have become the biggest, most successful web site.
But that doesn't matter to me. I'm on another planet. I have an Apple ][e
and a single 180K floppy. I have 128K, 64K to use at any given time. I
have 180K on *each*side* of the floppy. I have a 2400 baud connection to
telnet://zenmoo.zennet.com:7777. I am quite, quite happy. I have all I
need, and more.
T. Pascal, King of Pascal
© 1996 Peter Langston