I remember a few years ago that I was watching a programme on UK television called Dangerman. For those of you who have never seen it because
(a) you aren’t old enough,
(b) you had better taste in the first place.
This was an old espionage agent type show where the clever spy (ie, our guy) always won (surprise, surprise).
Anyway the point of my story is that in this particular episode our hero was plotting how to stop some whizkid mastermind type from taking over the whole world and holding everyone to ransom. The dastardly foe was just on the point of putting his mega plan into action when, you guessed it, our hero intervenes.
To destroy a computer back then was not the easiest thing in the world. No, far from it. You see, one computer could occupy the whole building and bits of it were stored in several different rooms. Ah if only I could reach the fuse box our hero thought. Then I could just take the main one out. Drat! All that would happen is that they would replace it. How about starting a fire then? Nope, no good a fire alarm would sound well before any major damage could be done.
What then, could be done? Somehow he had to disable it and confuse it in such a way that it could not recover. Ah ah he thought, I have it! The director then proceeded to give the viewers a chance to see just how this was to be achieved.
Dangerman broke into the department where the main – and it seemed only – computer terminal was kept. He was careful to be as quiet as possible. He wore dark clothes. He wore dark gloves. He probably work dark underwear. He wore fancy blue spectacles (in case the computer would recognise him in future identity parades perhaps!). Stealthily he approached the primitive keyboard. Slowly he typed something. The viewer was not allowed to see just what he had typed until after the computer started billowing smoke and our hero had fallen onto his knees to crawl out of the room. The cameraman moved closer and closer so that we could see what it was. The screen was grey all over except for a glowing green text, spelling out just one word:
The cameraman moved out to show the lingering death of the computer amid smoke, chaos, people running everywhere and several rather tame explosions. We could rest in our beds now that the world was a safer place.
All children who came after this would learn this lesson. If you wanted to break a computer and stop a bad guy from taking over the whole world all you had to do was to type the question why? into the keyboard.
But there is always going to be one child who doesn’t conform to the rules. One that will grow up and decide that this rule would never apply to him. One day he’d invent a new way to stop a bad buy getting to the point of world domination. He would do it his way. He would invent an easier way to break a computer. He would invent Vista.
(please note that any resemblance to people or products, either living or dead, is entirely coincidental).
prose © copyright Brian Shirra 2011