Monday, October 30, 2006

The Spam

with apologies to E. A. Poe

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious inbox of forgotten mail,
While I nodded, nearly sleeping, suddenly there came a beeping,
As of new mail, quietly creeping, creeping straight across my LAN.
” ‘Tis some friendly greeting,” I hoped, “creeping straight across my LAN;
Only this, and not more spam.”

Ah, distinctly I remember, it was in the bleak December,
With each separate link light blinking as the somber night began
Eagerly I wished the morrow; vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books a way to block, to block, I say, the flow of spam,
And let the rare and useful message enter through the flow of spam
Creeping straight across my LAN.

And the strident blinking beeping of this email message creeping
Thrilled me—filled me with fantastic terrors never felt by man;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating,
” ‘’Tis some valid email creeping, seeking solace on my LAN,
Some late message creeping, seeking solace softly on my LAN.
This it is, and not more spam.”

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
“So,” said I, “let’s just see what missive comes across my LAN”;
But the fact is, I was sleeping, and so softly it came creeping
Into my inbox, that I didn’t notice how the words of subject ran,
I did not see, I tell you true, that the subject words were not of man;
Random words, they were — of spam.

Long into the message peering, long I sat there, wondering, fearing
Doubting, dreaming dreams that never should be dreamt by man:
“Grow it longer! Grow it straighter! Don’t be afraid! Don’t be a hater!”;
And the only words there spoken were the tortured ‘Not more spam!’
This I whispered, and in echo murmured back ‘Yes, it’s spam,
Creeping straight across my LAN.’

Back into the aether turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I mailed the spammer, saying ‘Send me no more spam.’
“Surely,” said I, “surely, this will keep my email inbox clear.
Let me see, then, what this mail is, creeping now onto my LAN.
Let my heart be still and see, just what’s this new mail on my LAN?
What the freak!? It’s just more spam.”

Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an old condenser
Run by demons whose packets thudded on the network floor.
“Filth,” I cried, “may God have mercy on your soul for this!”
“But I will not!” I yelled. “And I will curse the name of all who spam!
And I will not rest until my inbox has been cleared of all this spam!”
I swore as I watched my LAN.

And the spam-mail, never ceasing, still is creeping, slowly creeping
To my email box, on my server, on my LAN;
And their words have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming.
And the link lights slowly blinking shine their light upon my floor;
And my inbox from out that shadow that comes creeping on my network
Shall be lifted—nevermore!

(cross-posted over at Vintage Computing & Gaming)

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

First games

A couple of weeks ago, RedWolf posted a column about the first computer he ever used, and it started me thinking about my specialty: computer games. What was the first computer game, of any sort, that I played? I've spent some time thinking about it and sorting through the memories, and while I haven't quite arrived at a definite answer, the list can be narrowed down to a handful of titles. They may not be the absolute earliest games I ever touched, but these are the ones that drew me into the whole sordid world of being a computer geek.

I could take the easy way out, and claim that The Oregon Trail was it and end the discussion there. The Trail was introduced to my whole generation during the early years of elementary school, while we sat in a library full of Apple ]['s and had a teacher drone on about how to insert a floppy into the drive and close the door. Every school I attended seemed to love having students play it during the "pioneer" section of Social Studies class, but it honestly didn't make a great impression on me. It seemed boring, repetitious, and almost impossible to win. And while I, like all normal kids, enjoyed leaving my path westward littered with dead animals and broken limbs, it wasn't a title I sought out on my own for entertainment. It was too much a part of school work to ever be much of a game.

Continue reading this article at Vintage Computing and Gaming.