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[TXT] Dan Barrett - The Case of the Detonating Disk Heads
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Titel: [TXT] Dan Barrett - The Case of the Detonating Disk Heads
Verfasst am: So, 30 März 2008, 14:45
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Autor: Dan Barrett
Datum: 1993
Dateidatum: 16.12.1993

   Have you noticed that a significant number of postings this week
have been about disk-related "problems?"  Well, in honor of these
wonderful people who cannot seem to deal with disk drives and real
life simultaneously, I hereby present a short play, entitled...

             A play in 6 scenes
                            by  Flop E. Format

SCENE 1:  It is night.  Marc Backintosh is up late, working on his Amiga 3000
     which he has borrowed from his mom.  The telephone rings.

MB:   [Picks up telephone.]  Hello world?

EvanT:   Hi Marc, this is Evan Toenail.  How's it going?


EvanT:   Why?  What's wrong?

MB:   This computer SUCKS.

EvanT:   So why do you use it, then?

[There is total silence on the phone]

EvanT:   Oh, never mind.  Anyway, I just had this cool idea for a Mac
   Desk Accessory...

MB:   WAIT!!!

EvanT:   Marc!  What is it?!?

MB:   Oh my God... I don't believe it!  It's...  AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
   [An explosion is heard.  The telephone line goes dead.]

EvanT:   Marc?  MARC???

SCENE 2:  Morning at the Backintosh house.  The computer police are here.
     Detective Sergeant Officer Dave HayIsForHorses is studying
     the gruesome scene, together with Inspector General Mike SIMMS.

DaveH:   Bizarre.  This whole thing is totally bizarre.

MikeS:   What is it, Dave?

DaveH:   I've never seen anything like it before.  I mean, look at that
   Amiga over there.  [They both look.]  The VSM is totally frobbed.
   It looks like the "data ready" handshaking didn't sweep the
   prescalar timer before the variable width pulse triggered a
   DSKSYNC flush, but the jumpered word boundary...

MikeS:   ENGLISH, Dave, please!!

DaveH:   Oh, sorry Mike.  Look at the monitor.  What do you see?

MikeS:   Um... Workbench.

DaveH:   That's right.  Notice anything special?

MikeS:   Hmm... let's see... the Preferences drawer is open.  ScreenMode
   is running.  Hmm... I see he tried to set the display resolution
   to 1280x1024 noninterlaced....

DaveH:   Keep looking...

MikeS   I see a bunch of disk icons... WB_2.x, Work, PC0, ... hey!  He's
   running CrossDOS!

DaveH:   Good work, SIMMS!

MikeS:   Thanks, Dave!

DaveH:   Now... what do you make of all the blood and guts that are
   splattered all over the room?

MikeS:   It can mean only one thing, Dave.  [Ominous music begins to play.]
   Marc, while running CrossDOS, must have put a disk into the
   internal drive, seen TWO icons appear instead of one, and...

DaveH:   And...?

MikeS:   His brain exploded.  He simply couldn't take it.

DaveH:   Holy HBSTRT registers, SIMMS!  You're right!  Do you think it
   was an accident?

MikeS:   We can't rule out foul play yet.  We don't know whether Marc ran
   CrossDOS of his own free will.  We'd better investigate further.

DaveH:   I agree.  Did Marc have any enemies?  Anyone who would want to do
   him harm?

MikeS:   I doubt it.  He was a well-respected authority in the USENET

Voice:   Hello in there?

DaveH:   [To Mike]  Better go and see who that is.  Be careful.

SCENE 3:  Mike SIMMS sees Evan Toenail walk into the Backintosh house.

EvanT:   [Entering]  Hi, I'm Evan Toenail.  I was on the phone with Marc
   when... well... what happened?

MikeS:   We're not sure yet.  Marc was using his Amiga when...

EvanT:   [Looking at the Amiga.]  Ugh!!  Is that thing running "CrossDOS?"

MikeS:   Don't be a smartass.

EvanT:   Hey, chill out.

MikeS:   You know something about Amigas?

EvanT:   Sure!  I'm an expert on this stuff.  Watch this!!  [He removes a
   3.5" disk from his pocket and inserts it into the internal drive.]

MikeS:   [Waiting]  Well?

EvanT:   I don't understand it!  I stuck a Mac disk into the drive!

MikeS:   And...?

EvanT:   [Still waiting]  Weird!!  A dialog box, um, I mean "requester" is
   supposed to pop up and ask me if I want to format the disk!

MikeS:   Do you WANT to format the disk?

EvanT:   No, of course not! 

MikeS:   Then what are you talking about?

EvanT:   Where's the dialog box?  It's SUPPOSED to pop up a cute little
   message!  It's SUPPOSED TO!!!!  Waaaaahh!!  [He breaks into tears]

MikeS:   Hey... kid... don't get emotional.  This is an AMIGA.  It doesn't
   do that.  It formats disks only when you run the "Format" program.

EvanT:   [Between sobs]  Huh?  It does?  IT DOES????  OH NO!!!!  AAAAAAAAA
   [There is a massive explosion.]

DaveH:   [Rushing into the room]  Oh, SPRxDATA!!  Not again!!!  [He drags
   Mike SIMMS's unconscious body from the room.  Evan is nowhere to
   be seen, and there is a lot more blood and guts on the walls.]

SCENE 4:  Mid-afternoon at CBM headquarters.  Dave HayIsForHorses is
     having a cup of coffee with Ross HipHopRapper.

DaveH:   What do you think of all these explosions, Ross?

RossH:   [Singing to an intense drumbeat mod downloaded from wuarchive]
   Dave, I think
   There's a really big stink:
   It's a mystery, through and through.
   Instead of codin',
   Everyone's explodin'
   I can't tell ya what to do!

   I'm just the Manual Man,
   And I do what I can
   To document the system.
   But the criminals, hey,
   They got away.
   You tried hard, but you missed 'em!

   Boom-shagga, boom-shagga, boom-shagga, boom-shagga, ...

DaveH:   Thanks, Ross.  Thanks a shitload.

RossH:   No sweat, Dave.

[Ross HipHopRapper leaves, making strange vocal noises.
 Mike SIMMS hobbles in on crutches.  He is accompanied by Sue Wetsuit
 and Peter KittyKat.]

DaveH:   How are you feeling, Mike?

MikeS:   Like I just had a Mac weenie's brain explode in my face.  Yecch.

SueW:   Mike's been telling us all about the case, Dave.  Do you think it
   would help if I post something to comp.sys.amiga.announce?

DaveH:   Um...

SueW:   Come on, Dave!  I can see the press release now:  "FOR IMMEDIATE

PeterK:   Sue, why *do* those press releases always start with "FOR IMMEDIATE
   RELEASE"?  What the heck does it mean, anyway??

SueW:   Huh?  I don't know, Peter.  I figured that if I didn't write it,
   then the Net connection would slow down.  Or something like that....

PeterK:   Makes sense to me!

DaveH:   People, people, we've got to pay attention to the real issues here
   and not get sidetracked.  Now, the first thing we need to do is...
   [The telephone rings]

PeterK:   [Picking up phone]  Hello?

Voice:   You'll never take me alive, coppers!

PeterK:   Er, um... Dave, some guy wants to talk hardware.  Copper lists or

DaveH:   [Grabs phone]  Yo!  HayIsForHorses here!

Voice:   If you were a real computer company, you'd have solved the case

DaveH:   What?  Who is this??

Voice:   If you want to find out what really happened, come to the abandoned
   computer factory at 4000 Amber Street at midnight tonight.
   [There is a click -- the caller has hung up.  Dave describes the
   call to the other people in the room.]

PeterK:   Don't do it, Dave!  It's a trap!

SueW:   No, it's an interrupt!

DaveH:   No, it's my duty to check this out.

PeterK:   At least take someone else with you!  Mike is still hurt!  How about
   Peter ChurnYourStomach?  Andy Fickle?  Carolyn SchellProgrammer?

DaveH:   No thanks, folks... I think Mike and I have to do this alone.
   Come on, partner.
   [Mike stumbles out the door after Dave.]

SCENE 5:  Midnight at an abandoned computer factory on Amber Street.

MikeS:   I don't see anything yet, Dave.  Do you think this was all a joke?

DaveH:   No I don't, Mike.  Whoever the guy is, he sounded completely
   serious on the phone.  In fact, I'd go so far as to say he has
   absolutely no sense of humor.

MikeS:   Well, THAT narrows down the list of suspects!

DaveH:   Shhh... I hear something.  OOHH!!  [thud]  [Dave collapses.]

MikeS:   Dave, what happened?  Are you OOOOHH!!  [thud] [Mike falls to the
   floor unconscious.]

[Blackness.  More blackness.  Inky, opaque blackness with no end.
 And then... light.]

DaveH:   Ohhh... my poor head.  I feel like Fat Agnes sat on me.

MikeS:   Groan... what happened?  Hey, why am I all tied up?  Hey Dave,
   so are you!!!

[A voice speaks from the darkness.]

Voice:   I see that you are both finally awake.  It sure took you long enough.

DaveH:   Who are you, you villain?  You hurt us!

Voice:   The reason you can't solve this case is due to your inability to
   build a reasonably priced computer.  And don't expect that your
   injuries are going to invoke sympathy, or awe.

MikeS:   Wait a minute... I know those words....

Voice:   Furthermore, you don't understand what real applications are.
   This explains why requesters and multitasking floppies turn you on.

DaveH:   Hey... I think I am starting to figure this out....

Voice:   Well, if you are a real luddite, I'm sure this is impressive to you.

MikeS:   Oh my gosh!  It's... it's... [The music suddenly builds to a climax]

DaveH:   Paul PressReturn!!!  Of course!!

PaulP:   Yes, well, you figured it out.  Anybody could have done it.  Do
   you think I didn't have to do this same kind of shit for years?
   I used a PC before hard drives were anywhere near affordable.

MikeS:   You're right, Dave!  There is no mistaking that "factual",
   condescending tone of voice.  OK, PressReturn, what's the game here?

PaulP:   The game, as you so ignorantly put it, is the end of Commodore.
   I have easily trapped two of its most prominent programmers.

DaveH:   Hey, I'm not a programmer; I'm a hardware guy.

PaulP:   Same thing.  You still don't impress me.  In any case, your time
   is up.  I have set up that Amiga over there [points to the wall,
   where an Amiga is connected to a strange-looking peripheral] to
   explode the moment that its disk fills up.

MikeS:   You vile fiend!!

PaulP:   Right now, it's connected to, downloading
   every single version of Roger Uzun's "UChess".

DaveH:   We're doomed!  That will fill the whole disk easily!

PaulP:   Of course, if you had OS/2, you could cache it.  But enough
   of this.  I leave both of you to your fate.  Soon, all of your
   fellow Commodore idiots will join you in death.  [He exits, not
   laughing at all.]

DaveH:   Mike, I think this is the end!

MikeS:   I think you're right, Dave... but wait!  I have an idea!  Drag me
   over to that Amiga if you can.

[Dave, in a truly Herculean effort, lassos Mike with the mouse cable.  He
 then uses the mouse to drag & drop Mike at the console.]

DaveH:   Whew!!

MikeS:   Now let's see how much disk space is left.  [Using his tongue, he
   clicks the screen depth gadget, activates a Shell window, and types
   "I.. N... F... O.... <return>".]

   Mounted disks:
   Unit      Size    Used    Free Full Errs   Status   Name
   RAM:       16M   16384       0 100%   0  Read/Write Ram Disk
   WB_2.x:  6194K   12388       0 100%   0  Read/Write System2.0
   DH1:      100M  206734       0 100%   0  Read/Write Work
   DF0:      837K    1683      75  96%   0  Read/Write Empty
   PC0:      Unreadable disk

DaveH:   Oh my gosh, Mike... everything's full except for the floppy, and
   there's only a few KB's left!!!!

MikeS:   [Flipping back to the terminal emulator]  The last version of
   UChess is almost downloaded!!!  Oh no!!!  We're out of time!!!

DaveH:   Well, old friend, I guess this is it.  We're doomed, just like
   you-know-who always said.  But hey... it's been great working with
   you, SIMMS.  Even though you're just a programmer.

MikeS:   Thanks a lot, you hardware geek!

[The seconds tick by, as the disk usage reaches 97%... 98%... 99%...
 And then...!]

Amiga:   Volume DF0: is full.  (Retry) (Cancel)

MikeS:   Yeeeeeeeee... HAH!!  Gimme that mouse!!
   [He opens up a new shell, types "Delete df0:UChess1732.lha", and
    then clicks on "Retry"]

Amiga:   Download finished successfully.

DaveH:   WaaaaHOOOOOO!!!  You did it, Mike!!  Only on Amiga!!

MikeS:   I *knew* those non-preemptive requesters would come in handy
   someday!!  Now help me get these ropes off!!  We've got a criminal
   to catch!

SCENE 6:  Commodore Headquarters again, the next day.  Dave H, Mike S, Sue W,
     Peter K, Peter C, Carolyn S, Ross H, Andy F, and lots of other
     wonderful Commodore folks whom I have forgotten to mention are
     all sitting down and watching TV.

TV:   " the firefighters battle the massive blaze.  Its origin
   is unknown, but witnesses claim that it was started when an
   unidentified man's brain exploded.  And now, in other news,
   Irving G..."  [Mike SIMMS turns off the radio.]

MikeS:   Well, Dave, I guess we know what happened to Paul PressReturn now!

DaveH:   Yup!  He obviously couldn't live with the idea that a multitasking
   requester is a useful thing.  He exploded too.

PeterK:   How is this all connected to the other deaths?

DaveH:   We'll never be sure, but it's likely that PressReturn installed
   CrossDOS on Marc Backintosh's Amiga.

SueW:   And I suppose Evan Toenail's explosion was related too?

MikeS:   Yeah.  We have learned that an anonymous person handed him that
   fatal Mac disk on his way to Marc's house.

PeterC:   Well, I'm glad it's all over.  And I even got a line in this stupid

CarolS:   So did I!

AndyF:   I didn't!

SueW:   I think I'll write up the whole case as another press release for
   comp.sys.amiga.announce!  "FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  COMMODORE COPS

PeterC:   Sounds great, Sue!  Hey!  I got to say another line!

MikeS:   Well, Dave, even though it's over now, I still can't believe it
   happened.  I mean, they EXPLODED!!  That's wild!

DaveH:   Yes, Mike.  These people were so closed-minded that when the
   Amiga did something they didn't approve of, they could not handle
   it.  So their brains exploded.

MikeS:   Luckily, that could never happen to us!!  I mean, we built the
   Amiga!  It always does what we want it to do!

DaveH:   You are sure right about that, Mike!

[The telephone rings.  Dave answers it.]

DaveH:   Hello?

Voice:   [A young, European voice]  Hey, you wimpy OS people!  Guess what I
   did??  I just disassembled all of the AGA chips and posted the code
   on the Net, fully documented!!  Now EVERYBODY can bang on the new
   chipset hardware directly!!  How do you like THAT??  Ha!!

DaveH, MikeS, SueW, PeterK, PeterC, CarolynS, RossH, AndyF, etc.:
   [There is a loud explosion.  Commodore Headquarters goes up in

            T H E    E N D

      DISCLAIMER:  The characters in this play are all
      fictitious.  Any resemblance to actual USENET people,
      living or dead, whole or exploded, hardware-banging
      or OS-coding, is completely coincidental.


 //////////////////////////////////////\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\
| Dan Barrett -- Dept of Computer Science, Lederle Graduate Research Center |
| University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA  01003  -- |
 \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ /////////////////////////////////////
Copyright 1993 by Daniel J. Barrett.  All rights reserved.
This article may be freely distributed as long as it is distributed in its
entirety.  It may not be included in any publication without the written
permission of the author.  So nyaaah.

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