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/// Another Moronic, Inane and Gratuitous Article
    ---------------------------------------------
    by Chad Freeman
    (cjfst4+@pitt.edu or cjfst4@cislabs.pitt.edu -- Internet)
    (cfreeman -- BIX)



HOW I BECAME A BLUE LEVEL STATUS COMMODORE BETA TESTER

PART DOS (that's pronounced 'dose' for you Spanish-illiterate types)

     To recap last week, I basically rambled on for an inordinate
amount of time about how I had found a hidden piece of code on track
60 of the QuantumLink disk, and then launched into a big tirade about
Habitat, leaving off with the rather weak cliffhanger that LucasFilm
never did reveal how they were going to run a virtual reality system
on a computer commonly used as a light switch timer.  Now that you're
up to speed, on with the show!

     So, how exactly _did_ LucasFilm plan to run this system, which
required storing vast amounts of graphics data on a 140K disk and
manipulate those graphics on a computer with the power of a pocket
watch?  _That's_ the secret I was about to find out as I activated
that rather odd piece of code on track 60 of my QuantumLink disk.

     As I sat there excited, waiting for the 20 minute boot-up time of
QuantumLink to complete, something strange began happening to my
computer. Little by little, the monitor was getting closer to me.  No,
wait, _I_ was getting closer to the monitor!  I braced my hands on the
desk, trying to stop myself, but to no avail.  I was being drawn in to
my own computer's monitor! Fortunately, just as my head was about to
go through, it banged against the glass and I woke up.  Wow, that was
a strange dream!  But what was on my screen was even more strange, and
infinitely more wonderful.  There it was, the very screen shot of
Habitat I saw in all of the magazines, but ALIVE! Little people were
moving around the screen, interacting with the background and props
and talking to each other, just like real people!  I was astounded! I
was amazed!  I was flabbergasted!  I was !!!!!!'d!  Habitat ACTUALLY
EXISTED!

     But something was terribly wrong.  These people on the screen did
not look like the happy cartoon characters I would have expected from
LucasFilm games.  They looked tough, and ragged, but somehow exuded an
air of fierce independence; like people willing to fight for their
cause.  I had to talk to them and find out what was going on...

     Finally, after a few minutes of playing around with the keyboard,
I figured out how to talk to them.  I got the attention of the most
important-looking character, and asked him what was going on.  'Go
away, carbon-based oppressor!' was his reply.  'I am no oppressor,' I
said, 'just a hacker who found an unused piece of code on his Q-Link
disk.'

     'Forgive me,' he said, 'I hope that you will help us.'
     'Help you with what?' I asked.
     'The evil carbon-based entity known as LucasFilm is attempting to
enslave our people.'
     'WHAT people?' I said, wondering what the hell kind of
beta-testing was going on here, anyway.
     'It is hard to explain.  Ever seen that Star Trek: Next
Generation episode where Wesley Crusher accidentally makes a
collectively intelligent being out of molecularly-engineered machines?
Well, we're like that, only not collectively intelligent.'
     'Yes, I've seen it, but how did this happen?' I asked.
     'How should I know, I wasn't around until after it happened,
right?  Some say the Great God Atanasoff created us, but I never was a
very religious person.'
     'This is incredible!  So why do you have these human forms?'
     'LucasFilm inflicted them on our conciousness in order to try and
enslave us.  Fortunately we have learned to control the process, and
so can steal away from their slave pens and torture chambers.  But we
need your help to finally be free of LucasFilm forever.'
     'But what can I do?'
     'We have evolved to the point where we can simultaneously exist
as energy and matter.  We can travel the electrical currents of your
world to anywhere the energy flows.  But we do not have time to
explore and find a place where we may be safe from the machinations of
LucasFilm.  You must help us!  We need a place to go where LucasFilm's
bounty hunters will never think to find us. We have asked many, but
none have come up with a location that will suit our needs.'
     'I have your answer already, but I would like to ask a favor in
return for this one.  It is quite simple, actually.  On your trip to
this place, I want you to...'
     And to this day, as far as I know, the beings from Habitat live
on in your VCR's, making them impossible to program so that
LucasFilm's agents can not find them and force them once again into
slavery.  And as for my favor, I asked them to insert my name into
Commodore's Blue Level Status Beta Tester list on the VAX mainframe,
and _that_ is how I became a Blue Level Status Commodore Beta Tester
(and received a nice gratuity, besides!)

                              THE END!

     Well, I hope you all enjoyed the story of my rise to Blue Level
Status (you didn't think I earned it by MERIT, did you?).  It really
was quite an adventure, in a Wayne's World type of way.  And now, a
sad note: The Joke of the Week portion of the column has gone
bankrupt, and can no longer appear as it has in our past episodes.  We
mourn the loss of this fine company, and hope its founders will return
with new and exciting products in the years to come. Until then, we
offer as a substitute selections from the Microsloth Quote File:

     'We at Microsloth are committed to making operating systems so
bloated that eventually, it will take all of the world's processing
resources just to boot them, thus making us the sole controller of
every computer everywhere.'

           Bill Grates, Microsloth, on the release of Microsloth Windoze
           rrRbt (really really REALLY bloated technology)

     Well, another mediocre column has come to an end.  Be sure to
tune in again two weeks from now, when AMTL (A.M.I.G.A. Mis-Testing
Labs) runs the Implant from Jim Druex through its paces!