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>>From:"Chris Lunt" 

>>Some friends of mind who write doc for a division of Oracle decided to have a
>>writing contest (why?  I don't know), and invited me to join.  I'd been
>>wanting to try my hand at writing a short story for a little while, so I
>>figured this would be a good motivator for me.  We all threw in $10, winner
>>take all (about $50 currently).
>>
>>The story had to be written by midnight on May 1st, and the only stipulations
>>were that it had to mention the (San Francisco) Bay area at some point, and it
>>needed to be less than 30 pages.  As you probably expect, I was sitting here
>>at 11:59 May 1st desperately finishing up.  I read the story today at my team
>>meeting, and it won me the Joke Jug, so it can't be too bad.
>>
>>The story is oriented around computers, but even non-technical people should
>>enjoy it.  You're welcome to forward it, but please keep my name on it.
>>
>>We haven't judged the stories yet, but I'll let you know how I do.
>>
>>-
>>--------------------------------------------------------------------------
>>----
>>"The Devil and David Webster" by Chris R. Lunt.
>>
>>  Heaven's donuts are jelly donuts.  The blend of texture, from the
>>cool, sweet ooze of the jelly, mined with tiny rasberry seeds, to the
>>firm, spongy cake, so lightly encrusted in a thin glaze of sugar, that
>>cracks and flakes as you gingerly tear off small pieces of delight, is
>>certainly the greatest experience a humble man can afford.
>>  I was eating a jelly donut when he first appeared in my office,
>>smelling slightly of gunpowder.  He was tall and gaunt, with deep-set
>>eyes and crooked teeth, long, delicate fingers, and sloped shoulders.
>>He wore a black Ozzy Osborne concert t-shirt, frayed black jeans, and
>>dusty black high-tops, unlaced.  He smiled at me in an ugly way.  I
>>put down my donut and glanced at my watch.  7:00 PM.
>>  "You're David Webster."
>>  I nodded.
>>  "You're a programmer for Core."
>>  I nodded again.  Not only was I a programmer for Core--I was the
>>best damn programmer this group had ever or would ever see.  I suppose
>>I should introduce myself.  I am David Elijah Webster, master
>>programmer.  I'm not just blowing smoke here either.  I'm the best
>>damn programmer to come out of MIT since code was constructed one bit
>>at a time.  I can do it all: C, LISP, assembly--even the languages no
>>self-respecting programmer would deign to look at.  I can do it all in
>>no time flat, with the most elegant of style.  Code sprinkled with
>>glistening semicolons and flowing rivers of indentation.  Lesser
>>programmers avert their eyes when I enter the room.
>>  "They say you're the best, and I'm here to challenge you."
>>  I sized this guy up again.  He had the right shape.  The pot-belly,
>>the greasy hair, parted with percision.  The fingers.  And the funny
>>smell.
>>  I told him I didn't have time.
>>  "I'll make it worth your while," he said.  "I have something you might
>>be interested in.  Follow me."
>>  I grabbed my box of donuts, and followed him down the hall and into
>>the elevator.  He pressed a button and the elevator descended into the
>>basement.  I'd never been in the basement before.  For that matter, I
>>didn't even recall that the building had a basement.  Nonetheless, the
>>elevator chimed, the doors opened, and we stepped out into a wide room
>>that was entirely featureless.  That is, except for the fog on the
>>floor and two workstations that were set up, side by side.  One of the
>>workstations was mine.  The other was a workstation like none other
>>that I had seen before.  It was magnificent.
>>  It was matte black.  More than an object, it looked like a hole in
>>space.  The monitor it sported was the biggest I had ever seen, and
>>the keyboard was a flow of liquid lines, containing a field of keys of
>>different sizes and shapes, packed in like cobblestones.  The mouse
>>floated above the table, and had no wire.  Next to the computer was a
>>box with a small chute coming out of one side, and a large red button
>>on the top.  The monitor was flanked by two gigantic speakers, and I
>>could see a sub-woofer poking up out of the fog.  It hummed.  It
>>steamed.  It was the most beautiful computer I had ever seen.
>>  "You approve," said the stranger.
>>  I swallowed and said, "It is beyond description."
>>  "It's a custom job.  And it's yours.  If," he said, "If you can beat
>>me in a coding contest."
>>  I looked at him incredulously.  "What's in it for you?"
>>  "I will have defeated the greatest coder in the world, and thus, I can
>>claim that title.  AND, I get to keep your immortal soul."
>>  He smiled the ugly smile again.
>>  Here was a dilemma.  I was dealing with the Devil.  There was no doubt
>>about that.  And he was no doubt very good.  I am somewhat attached to
>>my soul, but oh, the prizes.  The glory.  I can easily claim to be the
>>best coder in the company, in the Bay Area, probably on the whole
>>planet, but if I pulled this off, I will have shown myself to be the
>>best coder in this entire theology!  Vanity got the better part of me.
>>  "What's the contest?" I asked.
>>  I won't bore you with the details, but it was seriously ugly.  Ugly in
>>a way that makes the most arrogant of coders cringe and causes
>>managers to pad development schedules into the next century.  It had
>>to run in any language, including the nasty chicken-scratch ones.  It
>>had to be backward compatible all the way to the ENIAC.  And it had to
>>run on Windows.  I cringed.
>>  But vanity won.  I signed the forms, agreed on a deadline of midnight,
>>and we sat down at our machines and started to code.
>>  My watch said 8:00 PM, and I started warming up.  Class definitions
>>flew off my fingertips like throwing stars.  Structures and
>>declarations grew like perfect crystals, and I didn't even break a
>>sweat.  True to the task, I soon lost myself in an endless cycle of
>>postulate, create, instantiate and verify.  Bits grew to bytes, to K,
>>to Megs, and finally to Gigs.  By 11:00 PM it had come to that crucial
>>point.  With an hour to go, I had to put all the peices together.  It
>>wasn't going to be easy.  It was going to take all the concentration I
>>had.
>>  Then I hit the first bug.
>>  At first, I wasn't sure where it was coming from, but then I spotted
>>it.  It wasn't mine.  It was bug in Windows.  Even worse, it was a bug
>>in Windows that stemmed from a timing problem with the system clock
>>itself.  I couldn't see a workaround.  I was stymied.  I genuflected
>>and called Microsoft support.
>>  "Hello, and welcome to the Microsoft help line.  Please enter your 64
>>digit user identification number, followed by your 32 digit password."
>>  While I frantically typed number after number, trying to navigate
>>through layer upon layer of phone menu, I heard him pick up his phone
>>and call a number.
>>  "Hello, is Bill in? ... I don't care, wake him up ... Tell him it's
>>Mr. Black ... Hey Bill, what's shakin'?  Listen, I needed to know a
>>workaround to one of your bugs ... Yes, I know what time it is
>>... Yes, I know ... Bill ... Bill!  You remember our little deal?
>>... That's right.  Now be a dear and give me that workaround ... Mm-hm
>>... Right ... Thank you, Bill.  I'll be seeing you."
>>  I was shocked.  It was obviously pointless continuing my desperate
>>journey through Microsoft's Help line.  I needed immediate genius!  I
>>scarfed down a grape jelly.  Sugar shock engulfed me, and my vision
>>tunneled.  I shuddered once, something clicked, and I determined the
>>answer I needed--I could use the clock on the sound chip to get my
>>timings.
>>  I dove back into the code, and was quickly integrating modules when
>>I hit bug number two.  It was even uglier than the first.  In fact, it
>>was the ugliest bug I had ever seen.  It was a problem with C.  With
>>the language itself.  There's no way fix a broken hammer using the
>>same hammer.
>>  I wracked my brains.  I clenched and grunted and sweated and thought
>>and Thought and THOUGHT, but to no avail.  Over my shoulder, I could
>>hear Him chime in, "Bugger, isn't it?  I remember putting that one in
>>back when I was working on the Unix kernal.  Did you really think
>>there was a Kernighan and Ritchie?  Rearrange the letters in their
>>names and you'll discover an interesting anagram."
>>  I ignored him and continued thinking.  My mind went deeper and deeper
>>into the problem at hand--my senses dulled, my breathing grew shallow.
>>My eyes rolled back and sweat beaded on my forehead.  Clumsily,
>>blindly, my hand pawed it's way to the box on my desk, containing my
>>last jelly donut.  It raised slowly to my lips, and I bit.
>>  Pounding waves of sugar induced euphoria washed through my mind.  I
>>felt my brain hum and crackle.  My hands trembled, my body shuddered,
>>and I began to type.  I was a man possessed.  Complex topographical
>>math equations formed on my screen.  Klien bottles and hypercubes
>>locked neatly into place like pieces of a puzzle.  Beyond my control,
>>a complex mathematical world formed in my computer, with additional
>>dimensions unimaginable.
>>  I felt a small pop, and I came to.  I looked at my screen.  I had
>>worked around the bug.
>>  My watch read 11:45.  Frantically I continued putting all the modules
>>into place.  Glancing for a moment at my rival, I could see I had him
>>worried.  He was typing furiously.  Smoke poured from his ears, and
>>flames licked around his collar.
>>  Then I hit the third bug.
>>  It was not so much a bug, it was a limit.  I only had 4 Gigabytes of
>>memory, and I had used it all.  There wasn't a bit left.  I had
>>compressed data to a point so fine that it was in danger of collapsing
>>into a black hole.  I was storing memory in every conceivable way,
>>including keeping a chain of sound waves running between the speaker
>>and the microphone.  There was no memory left to be had.
>>  Frantic, I reached into my box of donuts, and my heart sank into my
>>stomach when I realized that I had eaten the last one.  I glanced at
>>my watch, but it was too late.  I was sunk.  I had done the best that
>>I could, and I had nothing more to give.
>>  The Devil laughed, and grinning cruelly, he reached over to the box
>>with the chute and the button.  Remember the box?  Slowly, firmly, his
>>hand pressed the red button, and a jelly donut slid down the chute and
>>onto the table.
>>  My jaw dropped.  "What...is...that?" I asked.
>>  He languorously chewed as he replied, "The Box of Eternal Donuts."
>>  "The Box of Eternal Donuts!?"
>>  "Yes," he said.
>>  "It never runs out?"
>>  "Never," he said.
>>  "It's mine if I win?!?!"
>>  "If you can win, it is entirely yours," he replied, grinning cockily.
>>  My mind reeled.  The Box of Eternal Donuts.  The Box of Eternal
>>Donuts!  My eyes darted everywhere, my jaw hung slack, and my throat
>>emitted strange animal-like noises.  Anything.  I would do anything to
>>win!  I just needed the smallest amount of memory.  But where could I
>>get it from?  I glanced at my watch again, and a plan came into my mind.
>>A beautiful, devious plan.
>>  I went quickly upstairs and retrieved the emergency toolkit that we
>>keep in the medicine cabinet.  I ripped the case off my computer, and
>>quickly scanned for the right connections.  I pulled two wires, and
>>unscrewed the back of my watch.  The Devil's eyes widened and he
>>desparately started coding again, but it was too late.  I got the last
>>of the memory I needed out of my watch, and pressed the ENTER key
>>seconds before he did.
>>  The watch burst into flames.  Sparks flew from the disk drives and
>>the monitor glowed and throbbed, finally melting into a puddle
>>of glass.  The computer exploded in a shower of sparks, and then there
>>was absolute silence.
>>  There was a pause, and both of us turned as the printer started,
>>slowly emitting a single sheet that wafted gently into the out bin.  I
>>nonchalantly strolled over, and held up to the Devil's scowling face,
>>a sheet imprinted with two words.  "Hello World".
>>  Nothing more needs to be told, other than, as I write this, I am
>>sitting in front of my new computer, munching on what is undoubtedly
>>the best jelly donut I have ever eaten.
>>
>>(c) Copyright Chris Lunt May 1995
>>
>>
>>- ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
>>       Name the greatest of all inventors.  Accident.  -- Mark Twain
>>- ----------Chris-Lunt-------CLUNT@US.ORACLE.COM-------415/506-3979-----------
>>----- End Included Message -----
>>
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