Archive for the 'Poetry and Song' Category

Poetic Frustration

You’ve called Krell Komputer, Customer Care.
We’ll make you happy or we’ll make you swear.

Hi, I ordered your desktop, the Power Machine
With 12 USB ports and 20-inch screen.
The box came today and I opened it quick,
I pulled out the Styrofoam, ten inches thick,
Found the mouse and the keyboard, that big LCD.
But one thing was lacking; you left out the PC.

Left out the PC? Now that’s some displacement.
But we’ll fix you up; send you out a replacement.
Whoops! I cannot do it; this is customer care.
We’re here to take phone calls, not ship out the ware.
We’re not here to help when the system, it fails.
Since you bought a computer, you should have called Sales.

I must call again? Just the thought makes me cold.
For eighteen full minutes I waited on hold.

You need not call again, nor this time need you wait,
I’ll transfer you over and put you through straight.
I’ll tell your whole story to Stanley or Leon,
And you’ll have your PC in the flash of an eon.

Well, alright. If it must be, I’ll…my, she was bold.
Before I consented she put me on hold.

(23 minutes later)

You’ve called Krell Komputers, my name, it is Eddy,
The Department of Sales, have your credit card ready.

I’m not here to buy, not this time, not this minute.
You shipped me a box. No computer was in it.
I want what I bought; it’s that simple and clean.
I want my Krell Deluxe fast Power Machine.

I can see why you’re angry; we’re the ones that did err.
But this isn’t for Sales; please call Customer Care.

That’s who I just called! What I’m telling is true!
I tried Customer Care and they sent me to you!

This is Customer Care’s job. I’m not being brash.
I’m not here to solve problems; I’m here to take cash.
I’m speaking the truth; I’m a really straight shooter.
Only Customer Care can replace your computer.
But I’ll tell you what: I will stay on the phone.
We’ll do this together. You won’t be alone.

(45 minutes later)

You’ve called Krell Komputer, Customer Care.
We’ll make you happy or we’ll make you swear.

I’ve been on the phone now, an hour or more.
Are you the same person I spoke to before?
I hope so. This hassle will soon make me cry.

An hour? No way! Our turnover’s too high.

Alright, then, I’ll tell you; I’ll start at the top,
‘Though I fear that this phone call will end in a flop.
I bought a computer, I bought it from Krell;
In the box that you sent me, no PC did dwell.
A keyboard and mouse, yes, so true I could hug ’em,
An LCD too, but with no place to plug ’em.
The PC is not there. It’s a thing I ain’t got.
But it’s paid for, so please, won’t you send what I bought?

This is Customer Care, you need someone in Sales.
I’ll transfer you, but will you stop with these wails?

I’m wailing because you folks make my heart droop.
My life has turned into an infinite loop!
I won’t go to Sales! Won’t you please help me out?

Let me ask you one question and please do not shout.
This computer you don’t have-the source of your rage-
Can you use it to look at an Internet page?

Of course I cannot. What a question is that?
No computer! No browser! No e-mail! No chat!

The PC ain’t working, from keyboard to port?
I’ll transfer you gladly to Techie Support.

To Techie Support? But I…cursed is my fate!
She’s put me on hold. Well, I guess I must wait.

(63 minutes later)

Welcome to Krell’s Technologic Support.
What is the problem you wish to report?
We’ll find a solution that’s easy and true,
Or we’ll bring you a death screen with white text on blue.

I bought a computer, I bought it from Krell,
And you’ve all turned my life into one living hell.
The box, it arrived and I opened it wide
To find keyboard and mouse but no PC inside.
I’ve been on the phone now for hours so long,
That I could have watched Jackson’s remake of King Kong.
But I would be happy; yes, I’d dance with glee
If you would just please mail my PC to me.

Are you saying we shipped you a box that was bare?

No. Keyboard and mouse, and a screen were all there.

And was there a disc labeled Rescue CD?

Let me check. Yes there is. But what good can it be?

What good? Why you’re saved? Put it into the drive,
Reboot while you cry “I’m so glad I’m alive!”
This disc, will work wonders just like a magician,
Returning your system to fact’ry condition.

What system? What drive? Why can’t you understand
That I have no PC? Your advise should be banned!
Factory condition? Can you possibly get
That my PC has not left the factory yet?

Yes, I understand why you’re angry today?
But I simply said what they trained me to say.
Customer Care’s what you need; I’ve been told.
I’ll transfer you there. Wait a minute on hold.

(98 minutes later)

You’ve called Krell Komputer, Customer Care.
We’ll make you happy or we’ll make you swear.
We’ve made good on our promise; for that we’re quite proud.
Your cursing is coming through clear and quite loud.

(Phone hangs up)

Rhyme Without Reason

Edgar Allan Poe

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary
Over many a mystic message, errors I could not ignore—
Soul as dark as looters looting, my PC I thought of shooting.
Damn machine that would, when booting, give me errors I abhor.
No programs, documents, or settings. Just the errors I abhor.
Only this, and nothing more.

Ah, distinctly I remember, something written in assembler
When installed did quick dismember Windows to its very core.
Though the program was not beta, wiped my settings and my data
Oh, you cruel, corrupting fate! A chill that reached me to the core.
Nothing like a bad computer chills me to the very core.
‘Tis the thing I most deplore.

As I sat there, terror-stricken—data gone in Word and Quicken—
In my office strode a chicken—dignified, the air she bore.
Fearing neither sun nor winter, cut or burn or wooden splinter,
Climbed onto my laser printer, four feet high above the floor.
Over paper, plugs, and cables, four feet high above the floor.
Laid an egg and nothing more.

Seeing her, my soul grew higher; smiling, I said “Welcome, fryer,
“There is something I desire. So I’ll ask, so I’ll implore.
“Windows finds in me but error; fills my soul with darkest terror.
“Will I boot up sweet and fair or will my system work no more?
“Oh, my fine and feathered chicken, will my system work once more?
Quote the chicken, “No restore.”

Hearing that, my pulse did quicken, but to listen to a chicken
Would imply a skull that’s thickened to a width not seen before.
Fearing mind of mine would crack up, swearing not to get my hack up,
Cried I “Wait! I have a backup! Back up in my cabinet drawer.”
But my backup was too old. Three years it sat within my cabinet draw.
Quote the chicken, “No restore.”

And the chicken, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On that cabled laser printer as her mess grows on my floor.
And her eyes have all the knowing of a monitor that’s glowing
And my chances are not growing that my data I’ll restore.
Not my data nor my Windows nor my pride will I restore.
All is gone forevermore.

Ernest Lawrence Thayer

It looked extremely busy doing Tech Support that day,
With broken links and missing files, CDs that wouldn’t play.
Some called with printers out of ink or errors in their RAM,
In hopes they’d speak to someone who would know and give a damn.

But Tech Support phone answerers were not a knowing lot,
To check things in a database was all that they were taught.
“If Casey just could be here,” they all thought with a groan.
The questions would be answered right with Casey on the phone.

Then from the gladdened multitude went up some joyous yells,
It rumbled in the IBMs, it rattled in the Dells;
It bounced off of the servers with enthusiastic tone.
For Casey, mighty Casey, was advancing to the phone.

Now Casey took a call and got a woman on the line
Who said “It’s all now broken. Yesterday, it worked just fine.
“Your software on your hardware doesn’t work as we had planned.”
But Casey shook his head and said “We don’t support that brand.”

A panicked voice caught Casey’s ear on phone call number two.
The voice cried “There’s no Windows, just white words on screen of blue.”
Casey said “Hold on a moment and all things will work out fine.”
Then with one triumphant gesture he did disconnect the line.

The next call was so simple that it make good Casey smile.
The user had misplaced what was a most important file.
“This problem is so simple,” Casey said with great dispatch,
“Just format your drive C: and install everything from scratch.”

The smile remained on Casey’s lips as he hung up the phone,
For little did he know that for this sin he must atone.
That call was not from any Tom, Dick, Mary, Jack, or Moe,
But the top guy in the company; ’twas Casey’s CEO.

Oh, somewhere tech reps answer phones, tell people what they need,
To help them use computers when the doc they cannot read.
Oh, somewhere folks are helpful, with PCs and Internet.
But Casey isn’t near them. Tech support’s now in Tibet.

Lewis Carroll

‘Twas gator, and the sasser code
Did phish and spoof throughout mydoom.
All kazaa in the toptext mode
And the welchia in bloom.

“Beware the JavaScript, my son,
The pages vile, the Spam so thick.
Beware the netsky bird and shun
The cookies doubleclick.”

He took his Spybot sword in hand.
The bagle foe could not prevail!
So rested he by the PPP
And downloaded his mail.

And, as he stood in phatbot dell,
The JavaScript, with eyes sobig,
Came loading through the DSL
Alexa as a pig!

One, two! One, two! And through and through
With Norton blade, the worm he checked!
Its blaster lost, its cookies tossed,
No more would it infect.

“And has thou slain the JavaScript?
Come to my arms, my boy so fine!
O WiFi day! O plug and play!
We safely go online!”

‘Twas gator, and the sasser code
Did phish and spoof throughout mydoom.
All kazaa in the toptext mode
And the welchia in bloom.


Sing, goddess, the anger of Pentium’s son Athlon…

Oh, forget it. The Iliad has suffered enough, lately!

The Tragedy of DSL

Author’s Note: This column is still available at the ComputerUser Web site. However, I’m reposting it here because they didn’t properly format a play in verse.


Act 1

Recording: Thy call’s gone through to Broadband ISP.
To order DSL please dial a One.
If billing questions have thee, then press Two.
If trouble with thy line, please dial a Three.
We value great thy call, so be not cold;
For fifteen minutes more now wait on hold.

(30 minutes later)
Technician 1: My name be John. What problem do you have?

Hamlet: A heart so full of woe to shame the gods.
My father dead. My mother newly wed
To mine own uncle who hath stole my crown.
But worst of all, like demon born of Hell,
Connection’s lost; I hath no DSL.

Tech1: I sorry am. Is thy computer on?

Ham: It is.

Tech1:        And that does not the problem solve?

Ham: A boot cannot return me to the Net.

Tech1: Then follow this advice, unlucky soul.
Format thy disk, then Windows reinstall.

Ham: ‘Z wounds! Tis hard. Is there no other way?

Tech1: Nay. None. Do you these things of which I say.
And if connection fair thou can’t reclaim
Call back, and thou make ask for me by name.

Act II

Technician 2: My name be Sue. What problem do you have?

Ham: To John I must now speak. Please transfer me.

Tech2: A John I do not know. Perhaps he works
In office far away. So spread are we
That I know not if Texas or Japan
Is where he sits. Did family name he give?

Ham: Alas, did not. Nor state the place he works.

Tech2: He should have. If a call back he did ask.

Ham: And will thou give me last name and address?

Tech2: I would except our rules say I cannot.
I ask again what problem do you have?

Ham: My DSL connection doth not work.

Tech2: I sorry am. Is thy computer on?

Ham: It tis. And that does not the problem solve.
Nor Windows reinstall, for this I’ve tried.

Tech 2: Fear not, brave soul. To hope thou must now cling.
Your sometime broad IP address I’ll ping.
Alas, now mourn. My ping tis all tim’d out.
There’s no more I can do.

Ham:                                    Is all now lost?

Tech 2: Not yet. For I will pass thy problem on.
Another call thy’ll get within three days.
Then bits of Web will be there for thy viewing
Once help’d by one who knows what he is doing.


Technician 3: My name be Ted. What problem do you have?

Ham: I’ve call’d you once, then twice, and now time three
Because my DSL doth not connect.
No pages from the Web come through its line,
Nor e-mail lovely from Ophelia fair.
A week ago fair Sue, one of your own,
Did try to ping my line without success.
She promis-ed a call I would receive.
A week’s gone by, yet I’ve receiv’d no call.
Can you connect me to this wiser soul?

Tech3: I’m sorry, I cannot, though great thy woe.
Our rules say that before wise ones are call’d
We must run tests, be dusk or noon or dawn.
So now the first: Is thou computer on?

Ham: Aye, that it is. I’ve been through this before.
And formatted my disk upon request.
Must I go through this torture once again?

Tech3: Perchance thou won’t. I’ll tell thee what I’ll do.
I’ll phone our wisest leader and I’ll ask
If you could be put through to one who knows.
Please hold a bit.

Ham:                   Thank you. I’ll do just that.

Tech3: (Aside) The fool’s on hold, and trusting as a pup.
I’ll let him wait awhile and then hang up.

Act IV

Technician 4: My name be Kim. What problem do you have?

Ham: My anger waxes greater than a bear
Whose fair abode’s been turn’d to tourist trap.
The Internet to me is wholly block’d
With DSL that’s dead as most dot coms.
Your person, name of Ted, did hang me up
When promis’d he to put me through at last
To some wise soul who’d calm my fever’d brow.

Tech4: Thy DSL is dead? Then I must ask
One question…

Ham:              I know. My computer’s on?
I’ve reinstall’d my Windows. Did not help.
I have been ping’d, that too to no avail.
And promises I’ve heard of experts’ calls.
Yet still no data comes from off the Net.

Tech4: I understand. Please let me take a look.
What ho? For sooth! My gosh! What have we here?
I see a little switch that hath been flipp’d.
I’ll simply…that was it. Now does it work?

Ham: It does! I’m on the line! Oh, joyful day!
Pages from the Web downloading quick!
My e-mail’s here, with Spam both straight and gay
And viruses! Enough to make thee sick.
I thank you, but I have one question more:
No broadband have I had for o’er a week.
Will that affect the bill I pay this month?

Tech4: It shan’t. For we would never charge you more
For little thing like service we depriv’d.

Ham: Will you charge less?

Tech4:                               We might. I do not know.
Please call someone in Bills. They’ll tell you so.

Act V

Clerk: My name be Dan. What problem do you have?

Ham: For eight straight days, my DSL work’d not.
Thy people did not try to get it right
Until this very hour, when good Kim
Did flip a switch, and my connection lives.
So now, oh Dan in Bills, I wish to ask
That I not pay for service for last week.

Clerk: I’m sorry, your request cannot go through.
‘tis most against a policy we state
Quite clearly on our Web site if you click
The link that says “Thou’st never should go here.”

Ham: A minute. Let me check that grievous news
To find that claim that most affronts mine ears.
Alas! Those words with my eyes shan’t be read.
The DSL so short regain’d is dead.

Blood on the Sectors

It’s a hard fact for any baby boomer to face, but I must: Bob Dylan is no longer relevant. It doesn’t matter if he did perform for the Pope. His songs now tell it like it was.

But, I don’t just complain, I offer solutions. Rather than writing about outmoded subjects that have no relevance today–like peace, love, and alienation in a materialistic society–Dylan should sing about personal computers. And to help him on this latest phase of his career, I offer a few Dylan songs on this now, happening, and thoroughly groovy subject.

Tune: Quinn the Eskimo
Ev’rybody’s building spreadsheets, games, remotes,
Some are codin’ in C++,
Others, workin’ in Notes.
Ev’rybody’s doin’ well,
All the girls and boys
But when Bill of Microsoft gets here,
He’s the one who will have all the toys.
Come for the take, come for the kill,
You’ll not see nothin’ like the moneyed Bill.

I like my code just like the rest, to come in lean and low,
But animatin’ paperclips
Just makes it big an’ slow.
Ev’rybody’s cashin’ in
Makin’ money right to the brim.
But when Bill of Microsoft gets here,
All the money’s gonna go to him.
Come for the take, come for the kill,
You’ll not see nothin’ like the moneyed Bill.

A frozen screen or a failing boot, to me each one’s a clue,
Just tell me what you got there honey
And I’ll tell you what to do.
Ev’ryone’s on overtime
Workin’ hours at a loss,
But when Bill of Microsoft gets here,
Then you’ll soon be workin’ for the boss.
Come for the take, come for the kill,
You’ll not see nothin’ like the moneyed Bill.

Tune: Stuck Inside of Mobile
Oh, my Pentium’s out-moded
Cause it ain’t got MMX.
I try to watch my MPEG files
But I don’t got all the specs.
And the salesmen smile so sweetly
When I step in through the door.
Cause deep inside their hearts
They know I must buy more.
Oh, Mama, I am trapped in such a squeeze,
When I got an x2 CD-ROM
And they’re makin’ DVDs.

Now I got this whole new browser;
It’s a fact you cannot hide.
Took 16 hours of download time
Before my modem died.
It’s got icons you can drag around
And buckets full of code,
But it crashes three times ev’ry day
And takes a year to load.
Oh, Mama, I am trapped in such a squeeze,
When I got an x2 CD-ROM
And they’re makin’ DVDs.

Now my hard drive’s overflowin’
With files and files of stuff,
Most in c-slash-windows,
An’ it’s never quite enough.
Well I try to uninstall things
So to get some drive space free;
But there’s hundreds of them megabytes
Just in the registree.
Oh, Mama, I am trapped in such a squeeze,
When I got an x2 CD-ROM
And they’re makin’ DVDs.

When Ruthie says come see her
In a place where we can thrive,
Where we can save all of my precious files
Upon her new Iomega drive.
And I say “I can’t afford that,
You know I’ve got these three mouths to feed.”
An’ she says “All those mouths know just what you want
But I know what you need.”
Oh, Mama, I am trapped in such a squeeze,
When I got an x2 CD-ROM
And they’re makin’ DVDs.

Tune: Just Like a Woman
Nobody feels any pain
Tonight as I scan inside of TWAIN
Ev’ryone must ask
When I multitask
Is it so slow that I must hit the flask
And get comfort from the sauce.
It takes just like it’s Windows, yes, it does
It makes screens just like it’s Windows, yes, it does
And it fakes just like it’s Windows
But it breaks like it’s built on DOS.

That taskbar, it’s so smart
Yes, I know what button I must click to start
It’s all done with such ease
Simple as you please
Until all at once my system it will freeze
And the data, it will be my loss.
It takes just like it’s Windows, yes, it does
It makes screens just like it’s Windows, yes, it does
And it fakes just like it’s Windows
But it breaks like it’s built on DOS.

I was feelin’ quite afraid
An’ I thought I would upgrade
Something new for me
I let your arcade fade
You’ve been paid
Don’t evade for me
It’s not made for me
Can’t you see that–

You just don’t work
Yes, I believe I soon will go beserk
When my mind goes crack
I’ll give you such a smack
And think perhaps I should have bought a Mac
While your keyboard I will toss.
You take just like you’re Windows, yes, you do
You make screens just like you’re Windows, yes, you do
And you fake just like you’re Windows
But you break just like you’re built on DOS.

Tune: I Shall be Released
They say it’s just a small correction,
A fix for ev’ry bug, I hear.
Yet I’m filled with great dejection,
I’ve heard this talk more than a year.
I see my software aging
Their talk of upgrades does not cease.
Any day now, so they say now,
It shall be released.

They say the code’s not fully tested,
They say all problems are not solved.
But I swear I won’t be bested
By folks with brains not quite evolved.
I see my software aging
So out of date my work has ceased.
Any day now, so they say now,
It shall be released.

Standing next to me in this lonely crowd
Is a man whose upgrade’s overdue.
All day long I hear him shouting loud,
His need for version one-point-two.
I see my software aging
Upgrade it ‘fore I am deceased.
Any day now, so they say now,
It shall be released.

Songs for the New Millennium

Are we headed for data-processing disaster come New Year’s Eve, 1999? I think so. After all, it took me several seconds to adjust to a driver’s license that expires on 07-19-00, and I don’t get confused anywhere near as often as does Windows 95.

Feeling that I, a lowly journalist, could never awake the world to the coming catastrophe, I turned to some of today’s most gifted and wealthy songwriters to help me get the message across. Because if you won’t listen to them, the next person to tell you may be a programmer.

Bob Dylan

(Tune: The Times They Are A-Changin’)

Come gather ‘round people
From starboard and port,
I have brought you some news
Of a most scary sort
The machines you depend on
Are about to abort.
And ya know that I’m not
Just a ravin’
Soon your two-digit years
Will be two digits short
For the dates they are a-changin’.

Come gurus and pundits
Who prophesize in the press,
You better start singin’
Or we’ll soon have a mess.
These old-fashioned years
They no longer impress
It’s to nineteen-nine-nine
That they’re rangin’
And what happens then
I would not like to guess
For the dates they are a-changin’.

Come CEOs, programmers
Please join the throng
The technology’s yours
To kill off or prolong
Find a cure for what ails us
So you’ll right your great wrong
It’s your code and it needs
So write a new program
Make it better than Pong
For the dates they are a-changin’.

The Ego Usually Known As Prince

(Tune: 1999)

I was clickin’ when I wrote this
Don’t mind if there’s not much to say
But I hear that come tomorrow
Programs all will think it’s yesterday

I.S. was turnin’ purple
There were systems crashin’ everywhere
Mainframes were all a-frozen
The code was in such bad repair

(Say say) two thousand zero zero turning over
Oops! Systems slimed
But we’re gonna have our data while it’s 1999

(Lemme tell ya somethin’)
If your company’s dependin’
That your records are all up to date
There’s a cent’ry you’ll be losin’
Your notices will all be late

(Yeah) Programmin’ on overtime
Workin’ all night and all day
Two digits ain’t enough now
And you all want me to go away.

(Say say) two thousand zero zero turning over
Oops! Systems slimed
But we’re gonna have our data while it’s 1999

Paul McCartney

(Tune: When I’m Sixty-Four)

When I get older losing my mind
Just four years from now.
Will you still be using Windows Ninety-Five?
Do the Redmond jump, huck, and jive.
If I step out in two-thousand and one
Would you be too slow,
Would you still find me, beep to remind me,
When it’s double-oh.

All the new software that I must run
To stay up to date,
Will your BIOS handle their four-digit years,
Or will you match all my worst fears?
Will you work fine when the time’s on the line,
Are you in the know?
Would you still find me, beep to remind me,
When it’s double-oh.

Every New Year we can run a check-up
If you know the date, and I hope you will.
It’s not too absur-ur-ur-ur-ur-ur-urd.
Programs on your hard drive
Norton, Notes, and Word.

Give me an error, drop me to DOS,
‘Fore the big two-oh.
Let me know if time has fin’ly got you beat
I’ll drop you when you’re obsolete.
Centuries changing, nothing the same,
Time for you to go
Would you still find me, beep to remind me,
When it’s double-oh.

Roberta Flack

(with a little help from Norman Gimbel, Charles Fox, and the Fugees)

(Tune: Killing Me Softly)

I heard they wanted coders, that was no fallacy
An overhaul they needed within this century
My resume I sent them, and so I got the job

Fixing the code with my fingers,
Looking for dates that go wrong,
Killing me slowly with COBOL,
Catching years so they won’t snowball,
Having a non-life for so long,
Killing me slowly with COBOL.

The code was pure spaghetti, date fields out of place
As if someone’s pet monkey designed the database
The years were all two digits, to make them four I sat there

Fixing the code with my fingers,
Looking for dates that go wrong,
Killing me slowly with COBOL,
Catching years so they won’t snowball,
Having a non-life for so long,
Killing me slowly with COBOL.

And if I miss a field, the worst of all our fears
The science of computers set back a hundred years
So at my lonely system, I can just sit and brawl

Fixing the code with my fingers,
Looking for dates that go wrong,
Killing me slowly with COBOL,
Catching years so they won’t snowball,
Having a non-life for so long,
Killing me slowly with COBOL.

Billy the Chilly: With apologies to Dr. Seuss

In the far-away island of Redy-Mond-Ross,
Billy the Chilly was king of the DOS.
A nice little DOS with a great big Window
Where programs of all sorts would come and would go.
The vendors flocked to it–for none were afraid.
From that DOS and that Window much money they made.

They did until Billy, the king of that clutch,
Decided the vendors were making too much.
"I’m ruler," said Billy, "of all that I own.
But I don’t own enough," he let out with a groan.
"I own the DOS and the Window–that’s true.
Then how come my network is still number two?
I make the most money," he said with no glee,
"But no one should make any money but me.
I must have it all, whether Big Blue or clone.
What a king! I’d be ruler of all that I own."

So Billy the Chilly his minions did hail,
And Billy, the Chilly king, sent some E-mail:
He ordered nine vendors to give him their code–
To put it in DOS, not to lighten their load.
"If you give me your programs," he said with a smile,
"When I ruin your market, I’ll do it in style."
Then Billy put all of those programs in DOS,
And said "Of defraggers and backups, I’m Boss."

"All mine!" Billy cried, and he started to sway.
"I’ll control all the apps!" And he shouted "OLE!
From former King Blue, finished now my divorce is;
While Word and Excel will use all the resources.
I’ll buy out that Fox, and I’ll reap what he’s sown,
For I am the ruler of all that I own."

Then Billy cried "No one can sell a PC,
Unless he is willing to pay me a fee."
But as he was speaking, he heard with great dread
A meek little voice coming from a mild Fed.
"Excuse me, great King, I wish not to alarm,
But I think there’s a danger you’ll do us all harm.
Be nice, and please tell us you never would cheat,
And that other vendors can truly compete.
Please tell us, King Billy, so we won’t think of suing,
That your right hand knows not what your left hand is doing."

"SILENCE!" yelled Billy, his face a bright red.
"I’m king, and you’re only a meek little Fed.
We’ve worked much to hard to let you guys demote us;
I’m bigger than Novell, I’m bigger than Lotus.
Get out of my way; it’s a shame you can’t see
That your boss was elected to serve men like me.
You’ll never get me ’cause my bandwidth is tough,
And I’ve power! Though still not near power enough."

Then Billy, he smiled and explained what he meant.
"I just want my fair share–that’s one hundred percent.
If it takes a computer, I must have no equal
In spreadsheets, games, CDs, words, Basic, or SQL.
Home finance is one place where I really blew it–
But that doesn’t matter; I’ll just buy Intuit."

But that meek little Fed made a meekish attack.
He asked "Have you settled with that fellow, Stac?"
"I have," laughed King Billy, "it ended just fine.
I bought part of Stac; he won’t get out of line."
Then the Fed humbly asked as he fell in a swoon
"Can you say why your apps all had OLE so soon?"
Then Billy the Chilly switched to angry mode;
"Are you saying I let myself read my own code?
Such things do not happen, and I don’t like your tone.
For I am the ruler of all that I own."

But as he was planning himself to enshrine,
He noticed that millions were going on-line.
"If they talk will their talk be a squawk that goes my way?
I must buy control of the Info-Net Highway.
I’ll build my own turnpike, and I’ll charge the toll.
And what is said on it, that I will control.
Millions will use it; my network will thrive,
I’ll make it a part of Windows 95.

Then the meek little Fed made a meek little noise.
"Perhaps we’ll agree to let you keep your toys.
A big courtroom battle we’d hate to prolong,
So let us just say that you’ve done nothing wrong."
"I like that," said Bill, "And to make it quite plain,
What I haven’t done–I won’t do it, again."

So Billy shook hands with the meek little Fed,
And signed an agreement that left him ahead.
The Fed smiled at Billy and thought them both blessed.
But one little judge found it hard to digest.
He thought about Billy as his stomach, it turned.
And that little judge–well, his money, he earned.
For that little judge did a curious thing:
He decided,
And thus shook the throne of the king.

And Billy the Chilly, the king of the DOS,
The king of Excel, the NT albatross,
The king of Encarta and that C++ tool…
Well, that was the end of the Chilly King’s rule!
For Billy, he failed, then retried to abort,
Fell out of his Office and plunk into court!

And today the great Billy, who never atones,
Is King of QBASIC, that’s all that he owns.
And the vendors and users, well all are now free.
Don’t you wish, in this world, that’s the way it could be?

The Tragedy of Macbill

Act I: A deserted place

[Enter three Hackers]

FIRST HACKER: When shall we three meet again,
At Comdex, NetWorld, or dress’d plain?

SECOND HACKER: When the object’s lost its OOP,
When the code’s in inf’nite loop.

THIRD HACKER: That shall be when day doth droop.

FIRST HACKER: Where is the place?

SECOND HACKER: Upon the hill.

THIRD HACKER: There to meet with Macbill.

FIRST HACKER: He comes, Badsector.

ALL: Macbill comes–take care!
From the valley of silicon
To Redmond of Washington.

[A3[Enter Macbill and Phillipo]

MACBILL: So profita’l’ a day I have not seen.

FIRST HACKER: All hail, Macbill! hail to thee, lord of DOS!

SECOND HACKER: All hail, Macbill! hail to thee, duke of Word!

THIRD HACKER: All hail, Macbill! hail to thee, GUI king!

[Exuent Hackers, magically]

PHILLIPO: Like data on a bad disk they do go,
First here they are, and then be seen no more.

MACBILL: What meanest this? Can prophesies come true?

[Enter Messenger]

MESSENGER: Good, my Lord, Macbill, I bring thee tidings
From our lord and master, Great Duncan Bleu.
He bids you come, and hark to what he says.
Great power he dost promise for your work
If ride ye fast, in labor never shirk.

MACBILL: A six-bit byte is smallish, so they say.
And to my fate, Phillipo, I away.

[Exuent Macbill with Messenger]

PHILLIPO: From BASIC birth is born a great rascal.
But I shall bet my fate upon Pascal.


Act II: Macbill’s castle

[Enter Macbill and Great Duncan Bleu]

DUNCAN: Tis so, Macbill; with DOS we’ve made great strides.
And greater shall we make with DOS Advanc’d.
The name, I fear, confuses far too few,
Instead, let christen’d be it OS/2.

MACBILL: Go now to other programmers and tell
For OS/2 they shall create, and well.

[Exit Duncan Bleu]

MACBILL: Is this an hour glass I see before me?
I touch it not, but move it with mine hand.
Behold, I hold a mouse that moves this shape
That cries “Must wait” as Window light doth change.
While Duncan and the others do attend
Their work with OS/2, I shall bring forth
Another kind of Window that, most true,
Will change their world, and leave them to catch up.
Yet in my heart, I know there is a loss;
A voice cries out “Macbill hath murder’d DOS!”

[Exit Macbill]

Act III: A convention

[Enter Phillipo]

PHILLIPO: Thou hast it now: DOS, Word, GUI, and all
As the weird hackers promis’d, and I fear
That thou doest mean to use it ‘gainst us all.
For first you said “Create in OS/2,”
And now proclaim that Windows is the way.
Now, for each kind of application known,
You must create a product of your own.
But what? Macbill? He cometh to this spot.
I’ll speak no more, but leave here will I not.

[He steps into shadow. Enter Macbill and attendants.]

MACBILL: Sirrahs, I fear my worst nightmare be true.
Now Duncan Bleu, with Apple he hath join’d,
To smite me down. The two together plan
A system that shall come out blushing pink
To smash my Windows, and my empire sink.

FIRST ATTENDANT: My liege, for Pink, the people shall not wait.
They like your Windows, and will love NT.

MACBILL: Perchance you speak the truth, but this I know:
That products sell that are not Microsoft.
We process words, and numbers, graphics, too,
But so, alas, do others, and they sell.
We must now plan to be the only one.
The knowledge, it dost bring my heart to ache,
That other folk, from software, profits make.

[Exuent Macbill and attendants]

PHILLIPO: And so his plan, revealed now to me,
To leave no other company alive.
I must go forth, and speak to others, so
This man, Macbill, cannot us overthrow.
For I, Phillipo, must control my fate.
But first, I think, I’ll buy out Ashton-Tate.


Act IV: A Cavern

[Thunder. Enter the three hackers]

FIRST HACKER: Thrice the harden’d disk hath cried.

SECOND HACKER: Thrice and once the spreadsheet lied.

THIRD HACKER: Program screams “By naught, divide!”

FIRST HACKER: Round about the keyboard go;
In the poison’d virus throw.
User trusting as a pup,
One who’s data’s not back’d up,
Fool who o’erpric’d system bought,
And who keeps a password, not.

ALL: Boil, boil, toil and trouble,
Zip the files and disk space double.

SECOND HACKER: By the pricking in my thumbs,
Something wealthy this way comes.

[Enter Macbill]

MACBILL:How now, you secret, black, and midnight hacks!
What is ‘t you do?

ALL HACKERS: A file without a name.

MACBILL: Whoe’er thou art, there’s one thing I must know;
Who should I fear? May others profit so?

FIRST HACKER: Be brave and bold. To others laugh with scorn.
Programs there’s not, of any that’s DOS born
Shall harm Macbill.

MACBILL: And what of Macintosh?


MACBILL: Tis fine. With these words I stand tall.
No DOS, no Mac, no nothing makes me fall.


Act V: Macbill’s castle

[Enter Macbill and attendants]

MACBILL: Set out our icons high upon the walls,
That our approaching enemies may fear
To know that great Macbill is station’d here.

[The attendants are frightened by something off stage, and exuent running. Enter the attacking army, with swords, led by Phillipo and D.R.]

PHILLIPO: Now, D.R., we have him in our grip.

[Macbill grabs a portable computer and holds it up as a shield]

MACBILL: I fear not thy sword, nor code that thou may write.
I bear a charmed life, that can’t be hurt
By programs be DOS born.

D.R.: Despair thy charm,
Hast thou perchance forgot that I, D.R.,
Was from old CP/M untimely writ?

[D.R. swings his sword, which smashes Macbill’s computer.]

MACBILL: Alas, I see the greatest of all terror.
An uncover’d application error.

[He faints]

PHILLIPO: He faints; our story endth not in death,
But with a better rhyme than ends Macbeth.

[All exuent, bearing body.]