Monkeys Still Unable To Produce Shakespeare -- Or Perl

Fake News written by James Baughn on Wednesday, December 26, 2007

from the fiuemb;aalk rej fsdm dept.

UPPER PODUNK, SOUTH DAKOTA -- It seemed like a simple experiment. Put a million monkeys in front of a million Linux boxes and see how long it would take for them to generate a Shakesperian play or a useful Perl script.

So far, the project has been a bust. "First, our budget was slashed and we were only able to obtain 12 monkeys," explained scientist Wey Stotime of the University of Northern South Dakota. "And now, after six months of banging away on keyboards and making assorted grunting sounds, our monkeys haven't generated anything worthwhile."

Stotime was dead sure that the monkeys would be able to prepare a valid Perl script within a matter of days. "I mean, the monkeys have no trouble producing line noise, and we all know that Perl is indistinguishable from line noise. Ergo, we should be seeing perfectly good Perl scripts by now."

Preliminary analysis of the monkey's output suggests that the creatures haven't been able to fully utilize the shift key. The dean of the university's Primate Research Center Sponsored By IBM offered a simple explanation: "Without holding the shift key all the time, it's impossible to produce the punctuation characters necessary for Perl code. The monkeys are quite good at yielding [a-z0-9], but we need [~!@#$%^&*|()>_+"]."

In the next round of the experiment, Stotime hopes to install special keyboards that will make it easier to type punctuation symbols.

"We're going to replace the space bar with the dollar sign and Caps Lock with that strange "equals-tilde" symbol that Perl loves so much. Now our monkeys will produce Perl scripts in no time! We won't have any clue what the scripts do until we actually run them, but that's pretty much true for most Perl code."

UPDATE: Just as this story went to press, we received word that Microsoft plans to sue the Primate Research Center Sponsored By IBM for patent infringement.

"We have been successfully using the Million Monkeys Algorithm(tm) for the last seven years," explained a Microsoft press release. "This was the method used to develop the DRM subsystem in Windows Vista, the world's most talked-about operating system. We will vigorously fight to protect our intellectual property."

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