When Computers Crash

Fake News written by James Baughn on Saturday, June 19, 1999

from the blue-screen-of-cheap-entertainment dept.

The FOX TV Network has announced a new series of "reality shows" to be aired over the summer. The series, "When Computers Crash", will consist of five hour-long shows documenting the aftermath of serious computer crashes, failures, and other problems. This show comes on the heels of other FOX reality shows such as "World's Funniest Antitrust Trial Bloopers", "When Stupid TV Network Executives Create Bad Show Ideas", and "When Lame Humor Sites Poke Fun At FOX Reality Shows".

A member of our Vast Spy Network(tm) was able to obtain a copy of the first installment of the series. What follows is a synopsis of the computer crashes presented in this episode:

  • For some strange reason, many TV interviews are conducted with the interviewee sitting in front of a computer terminal, often running some kind of Windows screensaver. In one particular instance, a college administrator was being interviewed about a recent US$2.5 million upgrade of all the college's computer systems to Windows 9x/NT workstations. Just seconds before the end of the interview, the computer in the background showed the Blue Screen of Death, sending the TV reporter and cameraman into hysterics. The administrator who first recommended the migration to Windows is now a door greeter at a Claw-Mart Supercenter.

  • A computer crash doesn't necessarily mean bad news for its owner. Last year the FBI broke into the house of a suspected illegal Viagra smuggling operation. The FBI quickly found convincing evidence on a desktop computer, including an electronic copy of "Viagra Smuggling for Dummies". However, before the FBI agents could download the damning evidence onto a floppy disk, somebody accidentally dropped a handgun on the keyboard, which hit the SysRq, Backspace, and the annoying Windows keys in succession. Not only did the system crash, but the Pentium CPU overheated, caught on fire, and engulfed the entire house (along with all the evidence) in flames. As a result of the crash, the Viagra dealers got off the hook and are now retired in Hawaii.

    Microsoft later confirmed that hitting the SysRq, Backspace, and Windows keys in succession at exactly 4:43pm on a Wednesday will cause an irreparable system collapse with all 32-bit versions of Windows. A spokesman said, "While this is now a known issue, we don't plan to issue any kind of patch considering that nobody ever uses those SysRq or Windows keys anyways." [Maybe the SysRq key should be called SysWreck. -- The Editor]

  • Not all computer failures are the result of Windows flaws. Last month, the National Weather Service was testing its mainframes for Y2K-compliance by setting the clock forward to January 1, 2000. While at first the system seemed to perform as usual, all hell broke loose when the computers began issuing strange advisories: Freeze Warnings for Death Valley, CA, Winter Storm Warnings for Miama, FL, an advisory for Redmond, WA about oncoming "Hurricane Reno", and an unexplained "Slashdot Effect Watch" for a server farm in Silicon Valley.

    If you happen to have any COBOL experience whatsoever, the NWS is hiring. As an added incentive, every COBOL hacker who fixes a Y2K problem in the NWS computer system will get a hurricane named after them.

  • Finally, in the interest of fairness, a severe Linux crash is also included. A graduate student in California was putting the finishing touches on his doctoral dissertation when his Red Hat system completely locked up. Thankfully he had saved his work, but upon rebooting fsck reported severe filesystem corruption. It was later discovered that it wasn't a Linux problem, it was a hardware problem -- his CPU, advertised as a "666Mhz Intel CeleryStick(tm)", was actually an overclocked "400Mhz Intel Hexium(tm)" chip. "That's the last time I buy a computer from a flea market," the disgruntled student said.

To coincide with the series, FOX will sponsor a publicity gimmick called "Crash & Win!" Contest participants will download a free Windows 9x/NT program that keeps track of the number of Blue Screens, Illegal Operations, or other fatal errors that force a reboot. When a crash occurs, the program will log it in an encrypted database, which will be periodically uploaded to the "FOX Crash & Win!" server.

Contest participants who have an average of at least two crashes per day will be enrolled in the Silver Group. Silver members will be selected at random to win such prizes as a "Deciphering Windows Error Messages for Dummies" book, a "NO Parking for Microsoft Supporters" road sign, or a lifetime supply of stress relief medication.

Those who sustain an average of five crashes per day will gain membership to the Gold Group. These people will have the opportunity to win such prizes as a trip to Los Angeles to watch a live filming of the hit show "The SeX-Files", a new US$2000 computer system with your choice of non-Microsoft operating system, or a brand new 1999 Ford "Gasguzzler" Sport Utility Vehicle.

As an added bonus, all "Crash & Win!" participants who log over ten crashes will automatically receive a FOX co-branded Red Hat Linux 6.0 CD-ROM. This special edition distribution features a fortune file filled with "Simpsons" quotes, a "Sexy Magician's Assistants" screensaver, and other assorted small plugs for the FOX Network.

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