Ask Humorix: How Do I Dispose Of This Trash?
Feature written by on Sunday, December 30, 2001
Zed Zealot writes, "My Aunt Bertha gave me a copy of 'Furniture Store Tycoon' for Christmas. Unfortunately, this game only runs on Windows and because of the sheer bloat of DirectX 12.0, requires a 3.2 GHz Septium IV. I only run Linux at home and I'm not about to go to CompUSSR and buy a $1000 computer just so I can play this lousy game and enjoy the next-generation Windows bluescreen. So what I am I supposed to to do with this present I can't use?"
The Humorix Oracle responds:
Aww, the joys of living as a Linux longhair. We've all faced this problem before. Some well-meaning but clue-impaired relative hears that you're into computers and so decides to drop by "Cabbages" or "Paperclips" to purchase a computer game for your Christmas present. The relative is then sweet-talked by the pimply-faced sales associate who is paid $7.50 per hour to say things like "That game is cool!" and "My brother loves that game!" The relative then leaves the store with a new Windows-only game that cost $50 but really should have been placed in the $5 bargain bin along with all the other games that barely qualify as shareware.
Of course, it's the thought that counts. But that will be little comfort when you next see your relative and they ask "Do you like your present?" You will probably experience an urge to shout back, "How dare you give me a present produced by the spawn of Satan! Take back this foul scourge of unfathomable darkness from whence it came!" Of course, such a response would likely give your Aunt Bertha a heart attack, so it's much better to suck up your gut and lie through your teeth. "Oh, it was the best computer game I've ever played!" But don't praise the game too much or else you'll find the sequel in your stocking next year.
So now your mission is to find some way to get rid of this albatross without upsetting your relative. Chucking it in the bottom of the ocean is probably a first choice. But if every Linux geek did this, the oceans would become polluted with "End User License Agreements" and "Register Online Or Else!" pamphlets. (The world already has enough AOL CDs floating around as it is). No, you will need to find a better place to dispose of your Windows trash.
You could try returning the vile product back to the store. But this usually accomplishes little. Most stores will only allow you to exchange the product for another one. But since the typical Cabbages only carries boxes with the Windows logo (read: warning label) affixed, you'll wind up trading one worthless Windows game for another even more worthless Windows game. Don't even try asking "Do you carry Linux games?" to the pimply-faced sales associate; he'll just stare at you blankly and say, "This is a computer store... We don't carry Lennox air conditioners. Try Bubba's Appliances & Shiny Things Emporium at the other end of the mall..."
Now, you could also try reusing the components as household objects. CDs make excellent drink coasters, manuals make good props for crooked chairs and tables, and "End User License Agreements" make decent bird-cage liner. But this is a risky option. Your Aunt Bertha might show up unannounced one year and suddenly you'll need to invent an explanation for why that 'SimSewer' CD is being used as a coffee cup holder. "Didn't I get you that back in Christmas aught-one?" she'll ask.
It seems, then, that you have only one viable choice. Give the darn thing to the neighborhood Windows weenie. Every town has one -- the guy who thinks he's the world's greatest "power user" because he finished a course entitled "Advanced Microsoft Office" at the local community college. He's the guy who worships Bill Gates, uses nothing but Microsoft products, and constantly laughs at those Mac idiots with their click-and-drool interfaces (of course he's never heard of Linux). So, it's a win-win situation. You get rid of the vile Windows software without the knowledge of your relative, and the Windows weenie will have something to occupy his time before the community college offers the next class he wants to take, "Intro to MS-DOS & Batch Files".
And if you can't find a deserving Bill Gates groupie, then, well, you'll just have to burn the gift once and for all. Beware... most municipalities have ordinances against burning toxic waste and Windows software almost certainly fits into that category.
You owe the Oracle a map showing the location of a computer store that actually carries Linux software, and I'm not talking about one dusty copy of Red Hat 5.1 hidden in the back corner.