|Operating Systems on a Collision Course
|The Story, Page 1|
It all started one morning high in the skies above California's Silicon Valley.
Devil McBribe, CEO of SCOurge Corporation, was piloting his own personal corporate Learjet. He had taken off from Provo, Utah, at 7 am, and now - three hours later - was circling San Carlos, California, expecting to land.
The weather did not look good - a thick fog had settled over San Francisco Bay, and the runway at San Carlos Airport was not even visible. Nevertheless, McBribe was determined to land his jet because he had an important press conference to attend at 11 am. The conference would be held in nearby Redwood City at the office of Rob, Raep, Pillaj & Plunder, Attorneys-at-Law.
The reason for the press conference was this: SCOurge Corporation, owner of the Eunuchs Operating System, had recently discovered that Linus Torvalds, creator of the Linux kernel, had stolen all of his ideas from Eunuchs. McBribe was going to announce to the press that he planned to sue Linus for $10 billion in damages. In fact, while he was flying the Learjet, McBribe was practicing his speech for the press conference:
"Ladies and gentlemen of the press corps, I am here today to announce that we're going to sue the creator of the Linux operating system, Linus Torvalds. And we're going to sue all Linux developers as well. In fact, we're going to sue everyone who uses Linux. And when we're finished with the Linux users, then we're going to go after the FreeBSD people as well. Ah, ha, ha, hah, we're gonna sue everybody! Sue, sue, sue!"
McBribe was so overcome with emotion that he unfastened his seatbelt, stood up in the plane's cockpit, and began jumping up and down while yelling "Sue, sue, sue." He even grabbed the pilot's radio microphone and started screaming into it, "Sue, sue, sue!" Then he totally forgot himself and broke into a rap song and dance...
Only a million dollars to my name
How am I gonna live down this shame?
Selling software is so lame
That's why I'm gonna sue
Nice guys finish last
I was honest in the past
Now run the Jolly Roger up the mast
I'm gonna sue, sue, sue!
So no more working in the alley
Now I'm flying to Silicon Valley
And watch my share price rally
It's time to sue, sue, sue!
McBribe was interrupted from his rap session rehearsal when the Learjet's radio crackled to life. "This is San Carlos Airport flight control - approaching aircraft, please identify yourself. Over."
* * * * * * * * * *
Down on the ground, Linus Torvalds was at that very moment having to deal with a different sort of problem that had nothing to do with lawyers. He was running frantically through the parking lot of Stanford University, which is in Palo Alto, California. Linus was running because he was being pursued by a group of screaming female Linux fans trying to rip his clothes off.
"Damn these groupies," Linus swore as he jumped into his dark green Toyota RAV4 and fumbled for the ignition key. He managed to get the car started just in the nick of time before the groupies caught up with him. With tires screeching, he drove the RAV4 out of the parking lot exit.
Unfortunately for Linus, that didn't solve his problem - some of his fans also had cars, and began a hot pursuit. "Rats!" Linus swore. "Next time I'll just stay home and write code. Let Richard Stallman give these campus lectures."
With his pursuers gaining on him, Linus raced through the Stanford Shopping Center, then cut across El Camino Real and headed east on University Avenue. As Linus reached the freeway entrance to Highway 101, his cell phone rang. Coincidentally, it was Richard M. Stallman.
"Linus," Stallman said coldly, "I read your interview on DistroWatch this morning. And quite frankly, I'm disappointed."
Linus peered into the RAV4's rear view mirror - the groupies were just three car lengths behind him.
"Ah, Richard, take my word for it, this is not a good time..."
"You called it the Linux operating system again!" Stallman lamented. "You know how I feel about that. It's GNU/Linux! When are you going to call it by its proper name?"
Linus was on the freeway, traveling at high speed, zigging and zagging across lanes to pass slower moving vehicles. He had to drive onto the left freeway shoulder in order to avoid the backup from all the people going to Ikea.
"Look Richard, I'll get back to you on that. Gotta go now. Bye"
The high-speed freeway chase continued.
* * * * * * * * * *
Heading toward Redwood City from a different direction was Caltrain train No. 34. The commuter train of Silicon Valley, Caltrain runs between San Francisco and San Jose, making more than a dozen stops en route.
Sitting in the driver's seat of train No. 34 that morning was 45-year-old Kevin MacNerd, a former software engineer whose job got outsourced to Borneo. Kevin was a loyal customer of products made by Apple Corporation - his home computer was an iMac, while jogging he listened to music with his iPod, and in his car he installed an iTrip. He always downloaded music from iTunes, and watched Apple Quicktime movies on his iBook.
Kevin even brought his iBook to work, and watched pornographic Quicktime movies while he drove the train. This was, of course, totally against company regulations and he would be instantly fired if Caltrain management ever found out. Fortunately for Kevin, he was locked inside the driver's cabin and nobody could see him. Because his mind was good at multitasking, he could drive a train and view porn at the same time - he'd been doing it for years.
On this particular morning, Kevin was watching some very explicit movies that he downloaded from Bigboobies.com, when suddenly there was knock on the cabin door.
Kevin was startled. "Who is it?" he shouted.
A sweet voice answered. "It's Cynthia. Can you open the door?"
Now this was an unexpected surprise. Cynthia Smith was the new conductor, hired just two weeks ago. She was 22-years old and beautiful. Her job was only to check tickets, and she had never even glanced at Kevin before, let alone attempted to talk to him. Not that Kevin expected her to show the slightest interest - Cynthia was a babe, Kevin was old enough to be her father, plus there was the inconvenient fact that he was married.
"Come on Kevin, open the door quickly," Cynthia urged. "There's something I'm just dying to tell you before we get to the next station."
"Uh, sure, just a minute," Kevin stammered. He was in a panic. Sitting on top of the dashboard of the train's control panel was his iBook, displaying a totally obscene movie. Kevin frantically clicked the mouse button and hid the smut with a screen saver (displaying his wife's photo, which was anything but sexy). Then he quickly unlocked the cabin door and flung it open.
"Cynthia," Kevin croaked. "What a surprise."
The story continues on page 2...
|Copyright (C) 2004 Robert Storey|
Verbatim copying and distribution of this article is permitted in any medium, provided this copyright notice is preserved.
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