The Linux Forecaster
Fake News written by on Wednesday, February 16, 2000
Another day, another portal opens. Today's latest get-rich-quick portal is called "LinuxForecast.com". Operated by a former meterologist, this site uses complex models to predict trends in the Linux world. "We can predict short-term weather events pretty well," he said, "So why can't we forecast the next Linux vs. FreeBSD flame war on Usenet or predict the duration and intensity of the dreaded Slashdot Effect?"
As the founder of LinuxForecast.com, Eric "Stormy" Jones is living out the American Geek dream: he just built his very own Beowulf cluster. "After getting 'The Letter' from Red Hat and VA Linux, I made enough money to buy my own Beowulf cluster," he boasted. "My old co-workers at the National Weather Service are so jealous; my cluster rivals those new supercomputers they just installed. They'll have trouble keeping up with this Jones."
Eric's cluster certainly is impressive. It accurately forecasted a Slashdot Effect 24 hours in advance, allowing Eric to send this warning email to the victim before the storm hit:
NOTICE: LinuxForecast.com has issued a Slashdot Effect Watch for your domain effective for the next 48 hours. Forecast models indicate that Taco Boy is planning on posting an article about your "Penguin Porn" site. The models disagree on the timing or duration of the storm, although we can say that a moderate risk of server crashes, excess bandwidth usage, and increased website hosting bills are possible.
Please take appropriate action by mirroring your site. It might be too late now, but you might also want to consider purchasing Denial Of Service insurance.
Eric Jones hopes to expand his portal website so that Slashdot Effect advisories are automatically issued. "It's a public service," he explained. "I mean, look at all the publicity those (cr|h)ackers who launched an attack on Yahoo got. What they did is a pittance compared to the daily firestorms that Andover.Net is responsible for."
The former weatherman is also using his personal Beowulf cluster to predict other trends. "Did you see that massive trollfest on Slashdot Monday when somebody used an automatic comment poster? I saw that coming days in advance," he boasted. "I can predict the signal-to-noise ratio on Slashdot, Usenet, and other forums days in advance with a margin of error of only 5%. Of course, with Slashdot that's easy: the S/N ratio is always less than 1:10,000."
Stock prices and business events are also tracked by Jones' cluster. "My site is going to be acquired within a month by some media conglomerate; it'll have an IPO within six months and I'll be a multi-millionaire by Christmas." When I asked about the future prospects for Humorix, he replied, "Both of your regular readers will be joined by a third reader by the end of the year. Otherwise your crappy site will remain crappy and you'll have to break down and get a day job. Nobody will find your pathetic attempts at self-referential meta-meta-humor funny."
Jones also made some dire predictions for Linux portals. "There's just too many of them. The daily amount of new open source code written will drop by 22% next month as people stop hacking and start working on Linux websites, hoping to get-rich-quick by selling out to Andover and VA Linux. In years past start-up companies dreamed of being acquired by Microsoft; now everybody wants to be acquired by VA Linux or Red Hat."
"The bubble will burst," he continued, before I could get a word in edgewise reminding him that his own site is a get-rich-quick sellout-bound portal site. "Take, for example, the new LinuxBeacon.com portal. The site runs Microsoft IIS 5.0 and Windows 2000! The webpages were composed using Windows software, and they urgently need to be demoronised. Within 48 hours the webmaster is going to be on the receiving end of a flamewar initiated by outraged Linux zealots. That site is doomed to fail, just like many others."
He then added quickly, "Except mine."
At this point his beeper went off and he exclaimed, "Oh, crap! One of my forecast models indicates that my site is about to be hit by the Slashdot Effect. Oh dear Lord! I gotta run."