Got An Extra Wall To Spare?

Fake News written by James Baughn on Saturday, November 30, 2002

from the putting-the-multi-back-in-multimedia dept.

Did you get suckered into choosing Betamax? Did you rush out and buy a Laserdisc player? Are you dreading the migration to DVD because it means your extensive collection of videos will be relegated to the garage sales of history? Got fifty grand to spare and an extra room in your house you aren't doing anything with?

You might be the perfect candidate for the "Model Zero", an all-in-one home entertainment system that includes everything except the kitchen sink (and those can be purchased easily at any hardware store). From Edison Wax Cylinders to Player Piano Punchcards to Digital Versatile Discs, this eight-by-ten feet contraption can play every single analog or digital storage medium ever produced since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution.

Designed by "Five Guys In A Garage Electronics, Inc." of Muncie, Indiana, the Model Zero includes 256 different types of disk drives, tape players, memory slots, film spindles, signal tuners, and other attachments. In the words of company president and janitor Eric Panoylia, "If the Model Zero can't play it, then it hasn't been invented yet."

Mr. Panoylia continued, "For the geek that has everything, this is the home entertainment system that can play everything. Video, audio, still photos -- it's all the same to the Model Zero. The only thing this product doesn't have is a cool name."

The company agreed to deliver a prototype of the Model Zero to Humorix World Headquarters in exchange for a positive review of it. While most publications wouldn't agree to such an blatant form of bribery, we here at Humorix aren't going to let a little thing like journalistic integrity get in the way of acquiring free stuff.

And what geek wouldn't want to own the world's largest home entertainment system, capable of playing an Edison Wax Cylinder while converting multiple Betamax tapes to DVD at the same time that it records signals from 50 different TV and radio stations to a 80 terabyte array of hard drives for later viewing?

Well, okay, the Model Zero only has a 40 terabyte array of hard drives. But who needs to count when you can play every single record (no matter what size or speed) ever produced from a piece of vinyl during the history of mankind? The Model Zero uses lasers to scan any record and then employs ASI (Artificial Somewhat Intelligence) to automatically determine the optimum method for playing the disc that will produce the best quality to please even the most hard-core audiophile.

The prototype device delivered to Humorix was bundled with a 500 page manual. Don't worry, 493 of the pages describe all of the formats that the system can work with and where each of the drives, slots, holders, and spindles are located. The VHS slots, for instance, are in Sector 3 of Row 5, Column D, right next to the microfilm spindles and the 8 inch floppy drive. After inserting the tape, you can simply say "Play DVD, volume at 75%, skip stupid FBI warning and previews", and the voice recognition system will take care of the rest.

Except for the Master On/Off switch and the 196 eject buttons, everything else is voice activated. The system can handle "Play Laserdisc 3" just as easily as "Read CD 4, bypass copy protection, and record all songs except the crappy ones to my computer's hard drive via Ethernet link" (in the second case, the ASI already has enough knowledge to guesstimate which songs you will find "crappy"). For the extreme geeks, however, the system also contains a variety of ports (PS/2, AT, USB, etc.) to plug in a keyboard or other input device, allowing the user to issue commands in a Bash-like shell or a Perl-ish programming language.

After a week of testing the Model Zero prototype, the staff of Humorix couldn't find anything to complain about. Every wax cylinder, IBM punch card, Zip disk, cassette, and video tape we were able to dig out from the Humorix basement worked perfectly. Meanwhile, we couldn't find one peripheral in the entire building that didn't have a plug for it -- Ethernet, USB, parallel port, SCSI, Token Ring, and Atari joystick cables all worked flawlessly. Even with the sudden deluge of incompatible storage formats for digital cameras and MP3 players (SmartMedia, CompactFlash, Memory Sticks, Secure Digital whatever, etc.), we still couldn't find a card that the system was unable to read (unless we broke the card in two and stomped on the pieces several times, and even then we still had a 15% success rate after shoving the pieces into the slot).

We don't know how the five guys at Five Guys In A Garage Electronics, Inc. were able to produce this monster, but we're not asking questions. The problems that geeks constantly face -- inane copy protection schemes, planned obsolescence of storage formats, and music industry world domination attempts -- are all vanquished by the Model Zero.

With this device installed at Humorix World Headquarters, we'll never need to set foot in an electronics store ever again.

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