Thursday, April 15, 2010

Story Time! Dedicated to my Hardware Essentials class at MATC

a short story about my computer hardware class at some point in the near future.

"Tech News today anyone?" the teacher asked the class. Cosmo raised his hand. Silver light flashed from his laser pointer fingers. "Hey," said the teacher, "can you switch that thing to student mode while you are in class?"  "Sorry," said Coz, "just got in off of the astroball court and a wicked game of atom smasher against my synth droid Oliver. I barely just packed him up in my charger shorts on the way to class." Snickers and laughter bubbled up all around him. Everyone knew that Cosmo Barber couldn't hit a molec target to save his life and had really probably been running around chasing the large pea-brain hairy toads that ran in the alleyway behind the campus self-sustaino center. They were attracted to the smelly gases emitted when recycled junk was being processed into mulch for the vegetable tanks where the school's nourishment packets were synthed. Their glowing eyes were just the perfect target for laser shooting practice and the satisfying spray of green goo at their demise made them a very popular mark. "Never mind that," the teacher went on. "Can you share with the class the tech news you have for today?" "OK," came the reply. "GalaxyLord has announced their plans to come out with a new devise that is supposed to revolutionize portable note taking and assignment writing. Microsoft says it has a superior prototype, that is cheaper, more efficient and customizable. GalaxyLord says their devise is easily compostable after use and Microsoft says they will replace the used items when they are "empty" for a small monthly fee. GalaxyLord says there is no contract and they are supplying the first 1000 customers with a "life-time" supply in a rainbow of colors."

"What could be superior to our text-helmet instructors and pillow.Net brain-bakers for the perfect intelligence upgrades and personality tweakers?" chirped Hernia, the prim class mascot who was perched on teacher Allen's shoulder. Her shiny green and blue aura feathers seemed to ripple against the instructors right cheek. Cosmo squinted his right eye and lifted up his hand with the trigger finger just leveling at the visio-bird's bright head. "Squawk!!" cried Hernia. "O-Kay...OH--KAY--EE", that will be two demerit points for Hernia and 10 demerits for Cosmo Barber." interrupted the instructor as she got up to close the door to the classroom. A crowd of students were beginning to gather in the hallway and gawk through the door. "Cosmo, switch off your laser fingers and sit down."

"I found some pictures on Google!" cried Jeff P, always looking for a chance to take the focus off anyone else and on to him and his custom-made swirling info-materializer. His dad was the famous Dr. Smellwell, and though most folks thought he was another nut-case employed by the controlling Shockwave Party, in reality he was just a genius socio-path secretly employed by Best Buy-O Mart trying out his "psychology" on his only son Jeff P. hoping to keep the socio-path in genius for another generation to come. So, as if on cue, Jeff P. switched his materializer-moniter onto "share" mode and everyone in the classroom was suddenly staring at their own "mini" view of the thin cylindrical objects marked "TOP-SECRET" floating about 10 cm from their nasal filtering units and glowing a squeamish pink and gray--like the color of thawed out meat that has sat in your refrigerator for too long. Jeff couldn't resist the dramatic opportunity to exclaim, "Here we are, the FIRST to see this ground breaking concept!" Hernia's aura crackled and she slipped off of Ms. Allen's shoulder and fell with a thud to the ground. A wave of static electricity blew across the front row of students causing the hair on their arms to stand up straight like tiny pins and needles.

Suddenly it seemed as if the apparitions were real! Like a child in another world astride a painted pony would try to snag the brass ring for a prize, everyone in the classroom was trying to grasp at the miraculous devices with their pointed metallic fingers. Somehow something was out of place. Yet the objects were so compelling. Hypnotizing even.

Unbeknownst to the entire classroom, Oliver had been sitting folded up in Cosmo's locker under his jacket and listening to everything. Everyone's locker was a portable device and followed each student from class to class rather like a helium balloon, hooking up to the ceiling wherever they went to attend lessons. Cosmo had "bent" the truth a bit, he really HAD been chasing hairy frogs and Oliver, rather than joining in on the fun was left to his own amusements, and then hastily stuffed away out of sight when it was time to go to class. Oliver was a rather simple fellow as synth droids tend to be.

Because Coz was still saving up enough credits to upgrade Oliver to laser fingers version 3.1, he had had to make due with the BASIC version of hands, picking them up at "SWAP" for a very reasonable price.

Oliver reached down from above Cosmo's head and snatched the precious pointy things from before Cosmo's sight. Cosmo actually remained calm. No one else except for Ms Allen had seen what had happened since everyone else was still staring dreamy eyed at their own info-materializers and waving their pointy fingers back and forth through the swirl of their pinkish-grey prize.

The utilization pod instantly downloaded into Oliver's cpu. He knew exactly what he was going to do next. He would hang on to the item with the "Galaxy Lord" logo of a primitive red fruit with a bite out of it for later. He hopped to the ground, looked square at Jeff P's face and then thoughtfully turned to look at the teacher. She was looking back at him and preparing to lock the class into stasis for 5 minutes as is occasionally done to retain peace and calm when things get a bit "frisky". The students' receive a cranial reboot. This is routine troubleshooting procedure. Works about 80% of the time. Unfortunately synth droids are free-roaming and hard to lock in with the rest of the human interfaces. So when the reboot was initializing, Oliver was busy. In the wink of an eye he took the cylindrical object in the fleshy fingers of his right hand and began to drag the object across the teacher's forehead up and down, back and forth. You would have thought that he was a proto-illusionist, a magician, waving his magic wand and saying the magic words, "PEPSI". The stylus had left a heavy black advertisement upon the teachers mug.

Later that day at BestBuy-O Mart...

"Yes Sir, that is the very latest, most multi-functional pair of laser fingers credits can buy. You are a very savvy shopper, Mr. Twist. Please come again!" Oliver emerged from the Geek Squid operating room holding his new hands out in front of himself and admiring them. He nodded at the salesperson, grinned and slowly floated out the entrance of the shop. In the meantime the staff in the upgrade operating room speculated amongst themselves how an independent synth droid with fleshy fingers had come up with the "scratch" to upgrade to the 4.0 beta version of laser mitts, only just released by Sunny Micro-Systems earlier that week. Few humans much less an independent synth droid, could afford to do such a thing. "I heard that there are subliminal downloads on the black market, and successful operators make a good profit placing the highest bidders advertising in the most strategic locations." "Oh, that is a bunch of hogwash." Said another staff person. "BestBuy-OMart has the corner on that industry. Who would be foolish enough to go against such a big and powerful force?" "Dennis, would you grab all of the old hardware from this last job and take it back to the wrap-shrinker for re-labeling and stocking? Got to follow standards to the letter you know!" Dennis, not wanting to risk a brain reboot, hustled to transport the container of parts to the "pit" as it was lovingly called for re-processing. "HEY! What are you trying to pull?" growled the old wrap-o droid. "This item doesn't fit the reclaim-o profiles. Where did you steal it from?" The pit was a very hot place-almost like an oven-and Dennis didn't want to stay any longer than necessary. "I will take responsibility and dispose of it. Don't know HOW that odd looking stick got mixed up in a synth droid's junk." He suspected that it was left deliberately. Man, what are we? A dump? He thought to himself. People only wanted to avoid the high credit fees for sustain-o disposal and commonly abandoned obsolete technology when they received upgrades. Oh well, he sighed to himself philosophically. "I will just hang on to it and maybe it will be worth something someday. My last computer lasted over 50 years and it is still running strong altho spewing a bit of black smoke every once in a while. Maybe I will be lucky!"

"Let's all go for treats at McShoney's for the last 30 minutes of class!" declared Ms. Allen as she watched the lights coming back on line at her students' desks. She just wanted to salvage what was left of the day and was feeling strangely thirsty all of a sudden.

"Oliver is missing." said Cosmo to his companion Hernia. "He was a bit sneaky anyhow, maybe I should shop around for another synth-o intelligence to keep me company." Hernia's prime directive was to "facilitate" learning and enforce peace and calm in Ms. Allen's classroom. Normally shut up in the class room, the field trip to the consupt-o mart for carbonated refreshments had somehow stimulated her "adapt-o circuits" and for better or worse she was going through a "spontaneous" de-programming to suit the new environment. She whistled a merry tune and spread out her multi-colored aura feathers.

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