The Gruntbox

© 2004, 2006 by Robert Krten, all rights reserved.

May 2006.

Somers keys in his reply to Jack Waters' latest email:

"Jack: IMHO, the OS shd know the CPU's in APM PDM. IIRC, this meens that, AFAIK, their needs to be an ISR for the event. So, its just NRE/SMOP to ..."

Somers paused. He re-read what the computer had printed out:

"Dear Mr. Jack Waters, With kindest respect to your latest query, I humbly submit that the problem you are having is that the operating system should be aware that the processor on board your computer is in the power-management state known as 'power down mode'. After reflecting on this, and performing the requisite research, I believe that there is a solution to your problem. My sources tell me that what's needed is to create an interrupt service routine which will be used to capture the interrupt, and handle the event in a conforming manner. Therefore, I would suggest that you engage the services of our company on a non-recurring engineering basis to investigate a program change for you that..."

Good, thought Somers. He poked some more keys: "fixit. TTFN."

The computer spit out:

"will provide you with the desired effect. Should you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact me at your earliest convenience. Yours truly, Bill Somers, Senior software engineer."

Somers was about to send the email, but realized he should copy Janice on it, in case Jack called and wanted to discuss it further with her. He hit "cc" on the menu, and typed in Janice. The screen split into two; the first was the letter to Jack, and second was the same letter, except to Janice Reed:

"Jan, FYI: Jack's bugaboo is an APM ISR; proposed NRE to grab the event and pass it on to the OS; Cheers, -BS."

Somers hit send, and then had another thought. He should have cc'd his boss on it so that he could use it as a status report. Somers called up the email, hit "forward" and put in "boss". The computer spit out:

"Action items; this week: researched and analyzed problem at customer site. Recommended corrective action to effectively zero-in on the nature of the problem. Touched base with customer vis-a-vis the problem. Informed team members of the anticipated resolution of the problem."

Much better. He hit send again.

May 2012.
After a hard day at the office, Somers got home, and sprawled himself in front of the TV. He calls out "Mail?"

"You have three new messages; one marked urgent," the voice from the TV replies. It was the GB-1000, the latest in integrated voice response from the GammaBox corporation.

"Urg," said Somers.

"Dear sir", the GB-1000 read, "it has come to our attention that your electricity bill is now 3 months overdue. We require you to immediately submit payment, otherwise we will, unfortunately, have no other option than to disconnect you from the grid. This will have an adverse effect not only on you and your family, but will also damage your credit rating. A reconnection fee of $250 will apply. However, you can avoid all this by simply submitting an electronic banking payment immediately, for the full amount of $1733.29, which includes the late payment charge of $277.12. With kindest regards, Hydro collection services."

"Goddamn!" yelled Somers.

"Shall I reply?" asked the GB-1000

"Damnit! Paid! Kiss mass! Sue!"

"Yes sir. Constructing a reply. Please wait. Reply constructed. Here's the message." The GB-1000 flashed the message on the screen, "Dear Hydro collection services: Please be advised that according to my records, the payment has already been remitted, on April 12th, 2012, at 15:22 from my bank account number 621-99803-223A. I have attached a signed transaction record, which I trust will satisfy your collection department. Please note that further attempts to collect this bill, which I've already indicated as paid the last three times you inquired, will result in legal prosecution for harrassment. Yours sincerely, Bill Somers."

"Shall I send it?"


"Message sent."

May 2022.
Little Christie Somers is out playing in the school yard with her friends.

"Can I please have a turn at the slide, now, Mike?" she asks politely.

"Gosh, I'm really not quite done yet. Can you wait a little longer?"

Christie frowns. She grunts some more, "But I would really be much happier if I could go now; recess time is almost over, you see."

Mike sighs. "Alright, then, if that's what you really want. Here you go, have a nice time!".

Christie smiles. "Grunt Gurgle!"

A look of shock crossed Christie's face. It was embarrassing! Almost like burping in public! Christie tried again, "Grunt Gurgle!". The GB-9000 she's wearing doesn't respond. Nothing. It's dead!

Mike looks up, confused, "Swaz mug?" His confusion deepens as he looks at his own unit. Dead as well.

"Wamy guo!" Another perplexed look. "Bzzoot?"

Other children are coming towards them. "Gnoopy zpitty?"

"Gano wak! Wak! Wak!"

The tension is building. Every single GB-9000 is offline. The children stare at each other helplessly. Grunts, groans, and some cries escape their lips.

May 2022: GammaBox headquarters

"Busme?" asks the CEO. The members of his emergency task force look at him, trying to decipher what he could have meant. Words are forming, but very slowly. The CEO tries again. "Busted. Box?"

His staff nods eagerly, they understood! He's asking if the boxes are all broken. "Ya! Ya!" shouts Vincent. "Busting!"

The room goes quiet. More words are forming. "Warez? Gone! Bad! Chip!".

A slow comprehension is apparent on some of the executives' faces.

"Software chip badly. Fixit?"

Vincent shakes his head. "Damaginged" he works the word out. "Radiation damaging chip." He's literally sweating with the effort. No one has had to speak Common now for at least ten years.

"Learn Common. Book," says one of the brighter administrators. "Yes, book. Learn. Speak Common."

The cry is taken up, "Speak Common. Write common. Write good. Speak good. Gzoopu!".