Avalanche of Contests

Fake News written by James Baughn on Wednesday, May 12, 1999

from the we-need-to-sponsor-our-own-contest dept.

It all started with Red Hat's bizarre "GeekWorld" contest. Now other Linux-related companies and organizations are jumping on the bandwagon by announcing contests which amount to thinly-disguised publicity stunts. Humorix recently dispatched its Vast Spy Network(tm) to gather information about some of these contests.

Obfuscated Software License Contest

Following in the footsteps of the Obfuscated Perl Contest and the Obfuscated C Code Contest (among others), O'Reilly & Associates is sponsoring an Obfuscated Software License Contest in conjunction with its soon-to-be-published book, "Mastering Software Licenses" (In step with O'Reilly tradition, the book features an animal on the cover. In this case it's a lawyer). During the next month, participants will, in the words of the press release, "submit software licenses so arcane, so complex, so dense, and so impenetrable that they will send even the most experienced attorney into a tailspin."

Richard Stallman has already submitted the new Lesser GPL 2.1 license, which is currently a front-runner in the contest. Other previously submitted entries include the "Mozilla-BSD-Artistic-GPL-QPL-APSL Composite Mostly-Open-Source License" submitted by a team of California lawyers, and the "OpenHumor Public License", a license for humor content drafted by our own Humorix lawyer, Mr. N. O. Morals.

The winner(s) of the contest will receive a "lifetime" supply of O'Reilly books. (However, you'd better read the fine print on the contest page... it's quite, ahem, obfuscated.)

Microsoft Conspiracy Theory Contest

"A Microsoft conspiracy theory can be derived from any news item." That's the guiding principle behind Linux Fortnight News' latest competition allowing participants to submit detailed Microsoft conspiracy theories. Prizes, including an all-expense paid "vacation" to Redmond, Washington, will be awarded to the authors of the best theories. The conspiracy theories will be judged on such criteria as complexity, originality, plausibility, and amount of supporting "evidence".

Slashdot Baiting Competition

MoneyDot Lucrative Marketing International Group, Inc., the company that produces the "Slashdot Baiting Kit", is sponsoring a contest to publicize its product. The first contestant to have his site mentioned on Slashdot after the contest officially launches will win. (Note: Contestants who bribe CmdrTaco by sending a "hardware donation" or contestants who conspire to split the prize money with CmdrTaco or another Slashdot contributor will be disqualified.)

Name That Source Code!

Caldera is sponsoring a game-show style contest at the upcoming Linux Expo to promote the latest version of their Linux distribution. In a similar format to the old "Name That Tune!" game show, contestants will be presented a short segment of source code and asked to identify the program that it comes from.

For those interesting in participating, Caldera has posted several sample segments of code (along with answers) on its website. One Humorix spy noticed that a few "red herrings" are thrown in, presumably to make things more challenging. For instance, can you identify this snippet of source code?

 void BusyLoop()   /* Do nothing loop to kill CPU cycles; added at the     request of Intel */ {  SubliminalMessage( "Upgrade your hardware!" );       for( int i = 0; i < BIG_INT; i++ )   for( int j = 0; j < BIG_INT; j++ )    for( int k = 0; k < BIG_INT; k++ )        for( int l = 0; l < BIG_INT; l++ )      if( STACK_SPACE_PERCENTAGE_FREE > .05 )      /* There's plenty of stack space left -- let's          eat up some more CPU cycles, recursively! */       BusyLoop();   } 

While you would have plenty of reasons to answer "It's from Windows 95", it actually isn't. If this was a snippet from the actual Windows source code, you can be rest assured that Microsoft's IP Police would have descended on Humorix World Headquarters in a fleet of black helicopters long before we had the chance to publish this article. [Editor's Note: Hmmm... this sounds like the beginnings of a Microsoft conspiracy theory...]

Made You Say "Linux"!

The GNU Project is also sponsoring a competition at Linux Expo. In front of an audience, several contestants will attempt to trick their opponents into saying "Linux" without the obligatory "GNU/" prefix (according to Richard M. Stallman, at least, who will be hosting the competition). The winner will receive a large poster with the text "no gifs due to patent problems" autographed by RMS.

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