Post by Louis Epstein
I agreed with him on some things and not on others (on that
occasion, when I made that observation,he insisted on focussing on
That's Pournelle. Trying a bit too hard to make *everything*
The parody below appeared in rec.humor.funny in the early 1990s. It's
almost not even parody -- the author captured Pournelle's hyperbolic,
breathless style so perfectly that if it weren't for the contrived
"products" being reviewed, it would be indistinguishable from the real
thing. Those of you who remember his column in BYTE will appreciate
Not by Jerry Pournelle, oh no
This was recently posted to my 'humor' conference on BIX and is
reposted here with the author's permission.
Usees Column by
When we finally got home from the monthly Rambling Writers Conference
(this time in Djemaa-el-Fna), we found Fractal Manor's main hall
shoulder deep in brand-new state-of-the-art totally free computer
hardware and software for me to check out. Drat. I'll never get around
to most of it, of course, and probably will end up dumpstering 90% or
more. What I really need to properly handle all of the wonderful
things companies send me absolutely free to review and enjoy with no
obligation whatsoever on my part, is a trash compactor.
I thought I'd start by reconfiguring my main computer, the Hyena
986SXDXMCMXCIV. Right now the sectors on the hard disk run clockwise,
but I heard a rumor that you can squeeze 0.2% more throughput by
running them counterclockwise. It's worth the effort. Recommended.
I slid the shrink-wrap off version 7.126 of DiskMember Gold (I know,
you thought I'd never upgrade from version 4.79, especially after all
my bad-mouthing of versions 5.33 and 6.02, but what can I say? Only a
Corinthian drinks kevis in a Veronese cantola.) and fired it up. No
joy. I reread the documentation to no avail, then scanned the whole
manual in, OCRed it, spell- checked the file and uploaded it to BIX
with a question mark appended.
While I waited for a response, I tried the software out on the
TriskaDeck 1313. This is the machine Bill Gibson uses when we
collaborate. It loaded fine and ran fine, but it seems to have
automatically moved every hard disk sector to a random location and
erased all the File Allocation Tables. Luckily I had backed up the
entire hard disk to a CD-ROM with the new BitByter 7000 CD-ROM
Mastering Deck (only $40,000 and worth every penny. Recommended.) so
in only 6 more hours I was back where I started.
While the disk was humming, I checked BIX with the Niebelungen
Valkyrie we keep in a corner for when Sandy Solzhenitsyn is here
writing. No answers yet.
On the chance that he might have some insight, I buzzed Bill Gates. He
mumbled something about it probably being a hardware problem before
excusing himself. That seemed plausible.
I called Jan Toady, president of Hyena, who indicated that a
helicopter of ground-assault technical assistants was hovering near
Fractal Manor 24 hours a day and that all I had to do was give the
word and they'd parachute in. (Based on my own experience, I think
Hyena offers the best service in the business, and not just because I
mention their products every month in my column which millions of avid
computer buyers read either. I bet you'd get the same service I do.
Recommended.) I chuckled and said I'd try to puzzle it out a little
more myself. He said okay and then talked me into accepting a free
laptop with holographic display and telepathic mouse. A nice guy.
I also got Mike Spindler, Lou Gerstner and Ross Perot on a conference
call, but except for a few offers on tractor trailers full of new
equipment they couldn't help me.
My wife Svetlana (whose reading program can teach anyone with a $3000
computer how to read, and which is now available for PC-compatibles,
Apples, Macintoshes and the Cray XMP for only $49.95 plus shipping and
sales tax where applicable, have your MasterCard or VISA card ready
and call 1-800-555-1212, operators standing by 24 hours a day) stuck
her head in to say Hi.
That gave me the idea to try calling my sons for help. Number one son
Bud is now Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, but when I called
him he was busy in the War Room with the Secretary of Defense and some
darn nerve gas missile crisis. It's always something with those
civilians. Second son Robbie was in the middle of performing emergency
brain surgery on the President, but promised to get back to me when he
had a breather. Chip was arguing a landmark civil rights case before
the Supreme Court when he answered my beeper message, but he seemed to
think it was hardware. That would confirm Bill Gates's idea, if you'll
recall. It could be true. On the other hand, it could be false. On the
gripping hand, it could be some combination of hardware and non-
hardware. A tough call, any way you looked at it.
I must have caught youngest son Ernie in an aerobics class in his
college dorm room, because he seemed to be having trouble breathing
when I called, and I could hear a husky female voice in the background
saying, "Don't stop." He only said, "Check the plug, Dad" and hung up.
His comment started me thinking.
The Hyena has this long black wire sticking out the back that
terminates in a plug-like connector. The plug has two parallel flat
metal prongs, and a third round prong about half an inch below the
midpoint of a line segment joining the two flat metal prongs, if you
follow me. A little searching behind the desk where Jack Updike likes
to work when he visits revealed an outlet in the wall with a
corresponding arrangement of holes. It seemed too good to be true. I
tried inserting the plug in the outlet. No joy. A quick call to Steve
Hawking suggested that it was a space symmetry problem, and I rotated
the plug 180 degrees and tried again. It slid home perfectly.
Well, I'm about out of room here now. Next month I hope to get to this
big red switch located on the side of the Hyena. Close study of the
manuals suggests that it is somehow related to the functioning of the
plug in the outlet. I'll have the whole story for you in the next
column, along with a report on the Jet- Setting Pen-Wielders Seminar
This month's favorite game is still Checkers. There is something both
deceptively simple and enticingly complex about this game that I have
yet to master. Highly recommended.
The book of the month is Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, on
CD-ROM with clips from Hercules Meets Godzilla. It's like being there.
Continent of the month is Australia. Give it a look.
Copyright (C) 1993, 1994 by Edmund X. DeJesus and Computer FunHouse.
All rights reserved. Contains no user-serviceable parts.
_+_ From the catapult of |If anyone objects to any statement I make, I am
_|70|___:)=}- J.D. Baldwin |quite prepared not only to retract it, but also
\ / ***@panix.com|to deny under oath that I ever made it.-T. Lehrer