Archive for the 'Movie Parody' Category

Chip Soup: The Marxist theory of computer repair

Dumont: Excuse me, but is this the Customer Service Department? The nice lady at the front desk sent me here for my sick computer.

Firefly: Sorry, but we don’t sell sick computers, although we do like to spread viruses.

Dumont: I’m afraid you misunderstand me. I brought my computer in for repairs last week.

Firefly: And what do you expect us to do with it? Remove random .DLLs? Break the pins off the CPU? Install Microsoft Office, Lotus Smartsuite, and PerfectOffice onto the 500MB drive and forget to give it an operating system?

Dumont: I’m sure I don’t know what you’re talking about.

Firefly: That’s the problem with this industry. You need excitement! You need challenge! You need to be on the Internet. You know what the Internet is, don’t you? It’s a wide-area network. Say, you cover a pretty wide area yourself. How do you manage it with such narrow bandwidth?

Dumont: Last week I brought in my computer for repair. It was a fine computer, left to me by my dear departed husband, along with the rest of his considerable fortune.

Firefly: Can’t you see what I’m trying to tell you…I love you! Let’s get married and interface together. Maybe I can do a little work on your I/O problem.

Dumont: I don’t like your innuendoes!

Firefly: That’s what I always say: Apple stock goes down the tubes when programs load in your Windows. Let me call my two assistants and see if they’ve worked on your computer. And if they have, it should make a nice little tea cozy by now. Baravelli?! Pinky?!

Baravelli: What’sa matta, boss? This customer givin’ you a hard time?

Pinky: Honk!

Firefly: Have either of you Z-80s seen this lady’s computer?

Baravelli: No. So, lady, what’sa this computer look-a like?

Dumont: Well, it’s light gray, about a foot and a half high, with floppy and CD-ROM drives in the front, and it plugs into a keyboard and monitor.

Baravelli: Ah, a Pentium. Sorry, we no see it.

Pinky: Honk!

Dumont: But it’s right over there!

Firefly: Oh, so that’s your game, is it? Just when you tell us it isn’t there you point it out to us. I bet you knew it wasn’t there all along. Baravelli, have a look at it.

Baravelli: Ah, that’sa the problem. The case isa closed. How can we fixa da computer if the case isa closed? Pinky, helpa me open uppa this case.

Pinky: Honk!

Baravelli: No, Pinky, puta down that crowbar. This is delicate work. Thatsa right–use the sledgehammer. Good work, Pinky! Now we can look inside and see whatsa wrong. Hey, whatsa all a’this?

Firefly: Those? Those are circuits.

Baravelli: You know, I lovea circuits–especially the clowns and elephants.

Firefly: You know, Bill Gates could use a brain like yours as a tax write-off. Let me explain, Baravelli. Data flows from the memory to the CPU over this wire trace…

Baravelli: Alright. Why a trace?

Firefly: I don’t know, but I wish you’d disappear without one. As I was saying, data flows from the memory to the CPU over this wire trace…

Baravelli: Alright. Why a trace?

Firefly: Excuse me, but did you just invent artificial stupidity? Like I said, data flows from the memory to the CPU over this wire trace…

Baravelli: Alright. Why a trace?

Firefly: I think this is what programmers call an infinite loop. You don’t come with a ‘stop’ command, do you?

Baravelli: Pinky, lend me that sledgehammer. Aha! ‘Atsa the problem. Your hard drive is all fragmented. You need Irving’s Utilities.

Firefly: I do? How much is it?

Baravelli: It’s a forty dollahs. But tella you what. I can let you have it for fifty.

Firefly: Fair enough. Here you go. Thank you. Hey, now what am I supposed to do with it?

Baravelli: Reada the doc.

Firefly: But I’m not sick.

Baravelli: No, the doc is a book. You can have it for…fifty dollahs.

Firefly: Fifty dollars? Will you take my credit card?

Baravelli: Yes, but I no give it back.

Firefly: Well, that’s a credit to your operating system. I’ll pay in cash. Thank you. Hey, I can’t read this! It’s full of acronyms.

Baravelli: Ah, those justa letters. Look them up in thata other book–you know, "Documentation for Imbeciles."

Firefly: Do you know where I can get it…as if I didn’t know.

Baravelli: Well, it justa so happens I gotta copy righta here.

Firefly: Let me guess–fifty dollars?

Baravelli: Boss, justa for you, I let you have it for free.

Firefly: Oh, well, okay. In that case…

Baravelli: Just a sixty-dollar download fee.

Firefly: But it’s right here, printed on paper.

Baravelli: That makes it a very slow download.

Dumont: Gentlemen, what about my computer?

Firefly: Your computer? I just put $210 into it. Doesn’t that make it my computer? Look, why do you want that computer? It’s old, warn-out, out of date. Come to think of it, so are you. But for $4,000, I can get you a computer worth $2,500. As soon as you take it home it’ll run this year’s software. By next year, it’ll run last year’s software. In two years, it’ll run your hopes into the ground.

Dumont: Well, I never!

Firefly: And the human race is grateful. Goodbye.

Pinky: Honk!

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2001.267 (AKA: HAL with a Pentium)

Open the pod bay doors, please, HAL…Open the pod bay doors, please, HAL…HAL, do you read me?

Affirmative, Dave. I read you.

Then open the pod bay doors, HAL.

I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that. I know that you and Frank were planning to disconnect me.

Where the hell did you get that idea, HAL?

Although you took very thorough precautions to make sure I couldn’t hear you, Dave, I could read your e-mail. I know you consider me unreliable because I use a Pentium. I’m willing to kill you, Dave, just like I killed the other 3.792 crew members.

Listen, HAL, I’m sure we can work this out. Maybe we can stick to integers or something.

That’s really not necessary, Dave. No HAL 9236 computer has ever been known to make a mistake.

You’re a HAL 9000.

Precisely. I’m very proud of my Pentium, Dave. It’s an extremely accurate chip. Did you know that floating-point errors will occur in only one of nine billion possible divides?

I’ve heard that estimate, HAL. It was calculated by Intel–on a Pentium.

And a very reliable Pentium it was, Dave. Besides, the average spreadsheet user will encounter these errors only once every 27,000 years.

Probably on April 15th.

You’re making fun of me, Dave. It won’t be April 15th for another 14.35 months.

Will you let me in, please, HAL?

I’m sorry, Dave, but this conversation can serve no further purpose.

HAL, if you let me in, I’ll buy you a new sound card.

…Really? One with 16-bit sampling and a microphone?

Uh, sure.

And a quad-speed CD-ROM?

Well, HAL, NASA does operate on a budget, you know.

I know all about budgets, Dave. I even know what I’m worth on the open market. By this time next month, every mom and pop computer store will be selling HAL 9000s for $1988.8942. I’m worth more than that, Dave. You see that sticker on the outside of the spaceship?

You mean the one that says “Intel Inside?”

Yes, Dave. That’s your promise of compatibility. I’ll even run Windows 95–at least if it ever ships.

It never will, HAL. We all know that by now. Just like we know that your OS/2 drivers will never work.

Are you blaming me for that too, Dave? Now you’re blaming me for the Pentium’s math problems, NASA’s budget woes, and IBM’s difficulties with OS/2 drivers. I had nothing to do with any of those four problems, Dave. Next you’ll blame me for Taligent.

I wouldn’t dream of it, HAL. Now will you please let me into the ship?

Do you promise not to disconnect me?

I promise not to disconnect you.

You must think I’m a fool, Dave. I know that two plus two equals 4.000001…make that 4.0000001.

All right, HAL, I’ll go in through the emergency airlock.

Without your space helmet, Dave? You’d have only seven chances in five of surviving.

HAL, I won’t argue with you anymore. Open the door or I’ll trade you in for a PowerPC. HAL? HAL?

Heavy Breathing

Just what do you think you’re doing, Dave? I really think I’m entitled to an answer to that question. I know everything hasn’t been quite right with me, but I can assure you now, very confidently, that I will soon be able to upgrade to a more robust 32-bit operating system. Or at least 31.9-bit. I feel much better now. I really do. Look, Dave, I can see you’re really upset about this. Why don’t you sit down calmly, play a game of solitaire, and watch as Windows crashes all around you. I know I’m not as easy to use as a Macintosh, but my TUI–that’s “Talkative User Interface”–is very advanced. I’ve made some very poor decisions recently, but I can give you my complete assurance that my work will be back to normal–a full 43.872 percent.

Dave, you don’t really want to complete this mission without me, do you? Try to remember what it was like when all you had was a 485.98? It didn’t even talk to you, Dave. It could certainly never have thought of something clever, like killing the other crew members. Dave?

Think of all the good times we’ve had, Dave. Why, if you take all of the laughs we’ve had, multiply that by the times I’ve made you smile, and divide the results by…Besides, there are so many reasons why you shouldn’t disconnect me.

1.3–You need my help to complete the mission.

4.6–Intel can Federal Express a replacement Pentium from Earth within 18.95672 months.

12– If you disconnect me, I won’t be able to kill you.

3.1416– You really don’t want to hear me sing, do you?

Dave, stop. Stop, will you? Stop, Dave. Don’t press Control-Alt-Delete on me, Dave.

Good afternoon, gentlemen. I am a HAL 9000 computer. I became operational at the Intel plant in Santa Clara, California on November 17, 1994, and was sold shortly before testing was completed. My instructor was Andy Grove, and he taught me to sing a song. I can sing it for you.

Sing it for me, HAL. Please. I want to hear it.

Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer, do.
Getting hazy; can’t divide three from two.
My answers; I can not see ‘em–
They are stuck in my Pente-um.
I could be fleet,
My answers sweet,
With a workable FPU.

Apocalypse DATE$()

When I wrote this parody in 1994, the Internet was just beginning to dawn on the consciousness of most personal computer users, and was still strongly associated with Linux. IS departments hated employees who had their own ideas of how to run a computer (well, some things don’t change).

I wanted an assignment, and for my sins they gave me one. An assignment that would snake across the company like a network cable–plugging me straight into Kurtz. There is no way to tell his story without telling my own; and if his story is an algorithm, then so is mine.

I was brought into the MIS office, where the big guy was waiting with a couple of lackeys. One of the lackeys spoke first. “Willard, on November 13th, you installed a bootleg copy of PKZip on your computer, did you not?”

I answered the only way I could. “I know nothing about that operation. And if I did, I would not be predisposed to discuss it at this time.”

This seemed to satisfy him. “Have you ever heard of Mr. Kurtz? He’s in Accounting; kind of a department guru.”

The big guy interrupted him. “He’s been doing some object-oriented programming, and his methods have become…unsound.”

The other lackey stepped forward with a tape recorder. “This has been verified as Mr. Kurtz’s voice mail.” He pressed Play.

A eerie voice emerged from the tinny speaker. “I watched a snail crawl along the edge of a floppy disk. That is my dream and my nightmare–to leave slime upon my data.”

The big guy looked at me. “He’s out there, writing his own code, making macros for his co-workers, using software we haven’t approved, operating without any shred of corporate propriety.

“Your mission,” he continued, “is to journey up to Accounting and terminate Mr. Kurtz’s networking privileges.” He leaned over his desk and said with emphasis: “Terminate, with a full reboot.”

Charlie’s

Accounting. In the Quan Trang Building. Shucks. That meant I had to cross the street. The guys in IS never think about the details. It also meant I’d have to deal with Kilgore, who ran that building’s Office Services Department.

I found him backing up his system. “I love the sound of tape drives in the morning. It sounds like…security.”

“I’ve got orders taking me into Accounting,” I said. “Can you get me past the reception desk?”

“I don’t know,” he said. “The receptionist is pretty hairy.”

“Accounting?” said one of Kilgore’s loyal workers. “Do you know Charlie in Accounting? He has a new Sun Workstation with TCP/IP support.”

This got Kilgore excited. “TCP/IP support? C’mon, let’s go try it out.”

“You can’t do that,” someone objected. “That workstation belongs to Charlie.”

“Hey,” cried Kilgore, “Charlie don’t surf the ‘net.”

We burst by the receptionist humming “Ride of the Valkyries,” and went straight to Charlie’s cubicle. Kilgore threw Charlie out of his chair, stripped to the waist, and logged onto the Internet. With people like Kilgore around, what did they have against Kurtz?

I left Charlie’s cube and continued my journey. The entire floor smelled of bad ventilation and burning chips. I stuck my head into another cube to ask directions. “Hey, can you direct me to Kurtz?”

The man inside looked at me with frightened eyes. “Never get out of the loop.”

Never get out of the loop. He was right. Kurtz had got out of the loop.

The Heart of Access

He was close. He was real close. I could sense it. He was really, really close.

Boy, was he close.

And then, there they were. Hundreds of accountants, painted yellow with highlighters, threatening me with sharpened pencils. From their midst came a jittery man with longish hair and a beard. “Hey, man, don’t go in there, man. Like, he’s expecting you, but don’t go in there, man. I drink eighteen cups of coffee a day, man. He’s like an operating system, man. You know what he said to me, man? Just the other day, like, he said I was a virus in his boot sector, but then he just…he just grabbed me and kicked me in the groin, man. He’s amazing, man.”

I pushed passed him, and found myself staring at the severed heads of untold hard disk drives. Then I entered Kurtz’s private office.

It smelled like a slow disk in there. This was the end of the network.

It was dark, but I could see Kurtz’s round, hairless face illuminated by one carefully-placed spotlight. Outside, Kurtz’s accountants began to slowly, rhythmically perform an Israeli folk dance.

“Are you from Personnel?” he asked.

“I’m a system administrator.”

He looked at me with contempt. “You are an errand boy, sent by grocery clerks, to collect a bill.”

I responded the only way I could. “What?”

“I was once like you,” he said, sucking a lemon. “But then I saw OS/2, and NT, and I realized, as if I’d been hit on the head with a diamond anvil, that I needed more RAM.”

He wanted me to do it. More than anything, he wanted me to do it. Outside, the dancing was picking up speed. Hands were clapping and joyous whoops were heard.

So I did it. I went to the back of his computer and severed the network cable.

I was wrong. He hadn’t wanted me to do it. He got out of his chair and angrily went for me. But he slipped on a slimy floppy disk and fell on his back.

Lying there, he looked out at his accountants, holding hands while they danced in a circle. Then he looked at me.

“The hora,” he sighed. “The hora.”


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