ZIP Beep #32
HI-DRECK SOFTWARE
by Don Fitzwater

Programmers at BYTE BACK SYSTEMS unveiled a whole new family of software products for the growing user-interactive field of computing. According to the company's press release, "...these new programs herald the dawn of a new age in realistic simulation of human behavior."

The release of these programs is timed to coincide with the availability of the new 80?86 chips. The 80?86 chip is faster than the 80386 when it actually decides to function. This chip supports trinary decision gates. Instead of the usual yes/no, the 80?86 chip supports yes/no/maybe states. The 80?86 chip (and competitor NEC's NEC-VAT? chip) will run all of these new programs at optimum speed.

The first of BYTE BACK SYSTEMS'offerings is a communications program called BOSS-TALK XIII. Similar, at first glance, to many of the already available terminal programs on the market, BOSS-TALK has numerous unique features. BOSS-TALK arbitrarily changes its communication parameters from time to time, thus motivating the user to try and "second guess" the program and change the parameters first. The program also supports a message window through which the program constantly berates users on their lack of ability. And BOSS-TALK randomly dials wrong numbers, puts the user on hold and hangs up when ever it feels like it.

Marky D. Sod, head programmer at BYTE BACK SYSTEMS, expressed the belief that programs like BOSS-TALK more accurately simulate the real office environment of most workers.

"The major obstacle to overcome in office automation projects is the worker's unfamiliarity and fear of the new system," comments Sod. " Our new line of software should avoid all that by exactly reproducing the behavior patterns normally experienced by the worker.

Another BYTE BACK SYSTEMS product is its multi-user spreadsheet program, Locust A B D. Locust A B D allows multi-user file collisions, random number calculations that can skew the report in heretofore unbelievable directions, plus a unique "best guess" function which cuts down on calculation time by bypassing calculating all together. In this mode, the program will "guess" on the final outcome. As an aid in defining user controllable functions, BYTE BACK SYSTEMS has included their new memory resident help program, NUTS (Natural Utterance Typing System). NUTS allows the user to give commands to Locust A B D in common ordinary English, which NUTS converts to the high level BS (bureaucratic syntax) that Locust A B D understands (sort of).

Rounding out this group of new releases is WORD-SPAR, a word processing program that is abuser-friendly. Unlike most word processors, WORD-SPAR actually inserts grammatical and spelling errors into the text. In fact WORD-SPAR will refuse to operate at all unless the user actually abuses it. WORD-SPAR will arbitrarily take time outs lasting 10 minutes to 2 hours, and send threatening notes to your boss, your bank and the NLRB if you should complain about it. Couple this with the program's tendency to randomly drop into any one of 50 different foreign languages and you have a frustration quotient that has rarely been surpassed, even by humans.

But probably the most impressive of the new releases is BYTE BACK SYSTEMS XQUES-MATE, a totally integrated operating system for the junior executve. With XQUES-MATE installed, the busy junior exec has all the power of BOSS-TALK and Locust A B D at his or her fingertips, plus some very special and user-definable features. For example, say the Boss is constantly calling to inquire on your project's progress. You can set BOSS-TALK to answer the phone in one of the following modes:

1) Just Stepped Out Mode -- Answers "He just stepped out of his office. can I take a message?"

2) In a Meeting Mode -- Answers "He's in a meeting right now. Can I take a message?"

3) On the Other Line Mode -- Answers "He's on the other line, would you like to hold or can I take a message?"

4) Busy Signal Mode -- Answers the phone by simulating a busy signal.

The unquestionably unique feature of XQUES-MATE is the powerful and impressive XQUES.COM program. XQUES.COM combines AI, word processing and ASS (artificial simulated sneakiness) technologies. XQUES.COM is able to import graphs and worksheets from Locust A B D all in support of its primary function -- to generate excuses.

From the "My dog ate it" level of excuse to the long improbably convoluted "You're not going to believe this" sort of story, no excuse is too hard for XQUES.COM to generate. The program will generate the initial excuse, compile (manufacture) any needed supporting data and present the whole package, complete with graphics, to the boss.

All in all, it appears that BYTE BACK SYSTEMS have put together a package of incredibly true-to-life office software. Software that keeps office automation striding boldly into the future, all the while keeping one foot firmly planted in the past.

ZIP Beep #32
WE ARE NOT ALONE
by Greenscreen as told to Don Fitzwater

[Greenscreen is quite a character. We're not exactly sure where he comes from originally. He first showed up in the pages of ZIP Beep a couple of years ago when he slipped into the system without much fanfare. Since that time, our readers have been treated (subjected?) to his various rantings about everything from hidden satanic symbols in corporate logos to the weakening of America due to its involvement in Sports and Automobiles. Since we beefed up our system security, Greenscreen has contented himself by submitting his articles via Don Fitzwater's answering machine. This issue he is back to save us all, again. -ED]

Gather round, oh ye true believers, while I, Greenscreen, alert you to yet another hidden danger which threatens our very existence! Unbeknownst to all but a select few, the Earth is being invaded! And some of the most respected names in business are unwittingly aiding these invaders.

This evil lurks in every household, every waiting room, every news stand and every office in the world. It sits there innocently, biding it's time till the time to strike arrives, then -- BLAMMO!

We'll all be enslaved.

"What," I hear you all ask, "can be so deadly yet look so innocuous?"

I'll tell you. But first, make sure there are no magazines laying around nearby.

All the periodicals gone? Good.

We are being invaded by -- Magazine Subscription Cards!

Yes, I know it's hard to believe, but it's true.

Aliens disguised as magazine subscription cards are slowly gaining access to every facet of our lives. Take your living room, for instance. How many magazines do you have laying about? Three? Four? Half a dozen or more? And each of these periodicals has AT LEAST TWO of these supposed subscription cards inside it. That is, at least until the cards make their move. Oh sure, some of these cards may be genuine requests for subscription monies, but by far and large the majority are actually the alien invaders. And what about your bathroom? Or the den? What better way to infiltrate our society than the magazine?

Everybody gets magazines.

Governmental Agencies get magazines, so does the Pentagon, the White House, Congress, Defense Contractors, Research Establishments and even the IRS! I tell you they are everywhere!

But what made me suspicious of these cards in the first place?

I'll tell you in a word -- BEHAVIOR!

That's right, behavior. You see, after a relatively brief period of observation I began to notice a certain regularity in card behavior that repeated itself too often and in too many different situations to be mere chance. This led to more detailed observations which yielded patterns in behavior that can only be explained by assuming intelligent control. And a very aggressive control at that, I might add.

Ever notice that when you first open a magazine, at least one of these cards jumps out, even if you are not turned to the pages it was placed between? And where do these cards go after they jump? They seek to hide themselves as quickly as possible. Under (or in) the sofa. Under rugs. Behind bookcases. Even down into heating vents occasionally. Why? Why this need for secrecy and privacy? It's because they're plotting and biding their time, that's why!

And they reproduce at an incredible rate. Notice what happens after you shake the magazine to rid it of those pesky cards. Later, there are always more cards that "innocently" drop out? Sometimes it happens in just a few hours, sometimes it's a matter of days, but however long it takes there are always more. These things make roaches look like pikers. And (like roaches) they're everywhere.

They are slowly gaining numerical superiority. They are piling up in all the secret places of the world, silently awaiting the command to initiate their horrendous uprising.

For all we know they may already be controlling foreign policy (can you come up with a better explanation of current events?) and the global economy. And we are helping them.

Perfectly respectable organizations like Time/Life are unwittingly helping these aliens with their publications. And we, the general population, are to blame, too. Our ever increasing demands for more and more specialized magazines, trade journals and entertainment tabloids are providing a breeding ground (literally!) for these usurpers from beyond the stars.

What can we do to stop this?

Well we can start by folding, spindling and mutilating every card we come across. It's up to us. All we need is a good leader. When the world sees this danger, and it's ready to fight back, remember: it was I, Greenscreen, who sounded the first warning.

ZIP Beep #32
PRE-POSTHUMOUS NOTES
by Dennis Wallaker

"It was by the Grace of God that we didn't pile up, too..." -Anita Bryant 1977

[ Last issue, we left Dennis exploring the ramifications of Hippie fashion and life-style on the American way. In this issue our intrepid voyager traces some more of the changes we've been through and decides who's to blame. - Editor ]

Ten years prior to me reaching my awareness, the bulk of the human race between here and Fifth Avenue was listlessly chewing gum and waiting for "my thing" to happen.

(It didn't, and the rest is history)

Beautiful old storefronts that oozed tradition were replaced with contemporary angularities and plenty of glass that oozed something else. The buildings that were left found themselves turned into restaurants that only people from out of town could afford.

Sports writers began to do their drinking at home.

Jazz died...again.

People became uncomfortable carrying around large amounts of cash (and quit), so the crime rate dropped.

I began to notice that artists were selling their hotplates and moving back in with their folks.

Dishwashers were getting their Green cards pulled constantly, while Vietnamese restaurants flourished, especially the one next to the Veteran's Hospital.

Mayors lost their interest in politics and began backsliding into civic boosterism and everyone was the better for it.

Street musicians were given the rope to hang themselves (though many pedestrians beat them to it). Handgun permits were given to both.

While the Sexual Revolution had slowed the spread of Christianity, AIDS had stopped the spread of the Sexual Revolution. So many more people were staying with what they had while others were rediscovering the wonderful world of macrame.

Some people paid 25 dollars to go into a booth and get a tan, while others paid 25 cents to go into a both and see a movie. There were few complaints from either.

The time-honored tradition of parents spending enormous sums of money on their teenage girls was updated and extended into the girls' thirties. Meanwhile, Grandparents became the cheapest form of daycare and everyone on welfare was required to say it was only temporary until they went back to Vo-Tech and got their degree in computer science.

People forgot what it was that they were drinking to forget. This along with improvements in technology made it possible to fit all the information needed for survival on a microchip the size of the head of a pin (which would fit snugly in the average person's cranium).

Domesticated animals found a common voice but were unable to parlay this power into a movement and eventually returned to their designated places.

People gave up on parking and simply circled the block until they ran out of food, fuel or money and then walked home to read the want ads.

Children under the age of ten were no longer "free" and in fact were invited to share the day-to-day pressures of their parents, thereby avoiding the silly "illusions" that most of us were saddled with as kids. They were then able to proceed directly into a circus of drug abuse, support groups and single parent relationships.

People who bought condos were still bugged, though they thought that cable TV, personal computers and convience shopping were still an improvement over home, family and a sense of well being.

These are just a few of the things that I accept the blame for. I look out my window and there they are, with their clothes and their attitudes, all so different and yet so much the same. And I think about that night ten years ago when I said to myself, "Hey man, maybe I should stay up tonight and work on some stuff." So I sharpened the pencils, turned off the TV and then said, "Screw it, I'm going to bed."

I'm sorry, I blew it...

[ Dennis Wallaker is a full time friend and a part time enigma. Occasionally he is a writer, too. - Editor ]

ZIP Beep #32
MONEY TRAIL
heard by Chuck Strinz

[ZIP Beep's satellite dish is located next to an aluminum building. We think this building acts as an antenna booster. Periodically, we receive signals from places unknown on this world. To the best of our knowledge, the stations broadcasting these signals are from an alternate universe. As regular ZIP Beep readers know, most broadcasts feature news and public affairs programming, which we sometimes pass on to you through our occasional Alternate Universe News transcriptions. Now we're beginning to pick up receive entertainment shows, too. We never get the video portion, but the audio signals can be quite crisp. Here, then, is a transcript of the most recent broadcast from The Alternate Universe. -ED]

kdfueio kvuklzzzzz kokuk in the fj e dk onlkeu so remember, the name is Spartan. For protection. Or just for fun!

(APPLAUSE)

VOICE:
Welcome back to Money Trail. I'm Pat Saywhat, and it's time to say hello to my beautiful co-hostess. Folks, a warm welcome for Vannuys Whitebread.

(APPLAUSE)

PAT:
Lovely, Vannuys. Now let's get down to the game. You've already met our two contestants. Fawn, Ollie, you both understand the rules?

FAWN:
Yes, Pat.

OLLIE:
You bet!

PAT:
Well, just to review them for our home viewers who may not be familiar with the show, you each have been given a large sum of money which you must move along a complicated path of your own design. Our panel of spy novel authors will determine whether the path is acceptable, based on their subjective views. No member of the panel should be able to second guess your next move, but your path must not be so outrageous as to break the limits of credibility or produce consequences that could severely damage our national image. Printouts of your moves will be generated at our central computing facility and made available to you on the printer by your left hand, and Vannuys will move your money symbol on the big map to give us all a better view of the trail. Each of you will take turns until one of you has gone too far or decides to step out of the competition. We had no winner last week, so the jackpot is up to $59.7 million. Of course, that makes it more difficult because you must spend the entire amount before you receive anything. If there is no winner, we'll add a few more million to the pot and carry it over to the next game and two new contestants. Consolation prizes will be awarded to anyone who bows out early, and remmber that the show has the new policy of imposing penalties on any contestant who attempts to continue, but fails. If that's all clear, let's get on with the game.

(MUSIC & APPLAUSE)

PAT:
Fawn, what is your first move?

FAWN:
Oh, gee, Pat. I've never seen so much money. Uhm, I think I just want to move it to the Pentagon.

PAT:
A conservative move, Fawn, but it's your money. Or at least, it might be if you play it right. While Vannuys moves your big map money symbol from our studio in California to Washington D. C. we'll turn to Ollie.

OLLIE:
Let's see -- I would like to give $2 million -- no, make that $3 million to Sheik Gobuydafarm for deposit in the Swiss bank account of The Global Islamic Movement.

AUDIENCE:
Oooooo.

PAT:
I call that gutsy, Ollie. But our panel has indicated its approval, so I guess you're okay so far. Vannuys is dividing your moneybag now and moving it to Switzerland. Fawn, what's your response?

FAWN:
Golly. I'm afraid to even count the money. I think I'll just leave it in the Pentagon.

PAT:
You are the cautious one. Before we go back to Ollie, let's get a summary of the consequences so far. Fawn, you're clear at this point. Ollie, I have to report we've discovered that The Global Islamic Movement has further divided your $3 million and given part to the Party Of God, which is known to be associated with kidnappings. But the panel of judges says you're still okay and can proceed.

OLLIE:
Pat, I want to split off another $20 million, then break that into two parts. Give $10 million to Halfinsanei Roughenreadi and $10 million to Ayatolla Ben Hardlai Awfulsorri.

AUDIENCE:
Ooooooooo.

PAT:
Half to the Speaker of the Iranian Parliment and half to an Iranian holy man. I don't know, Ollie. Let's see what the judges say. (PAUSE) Well, you appear to be lucky, Ollie, they're going to let it stand. Fawn?

FAWN:
Pat, I can't take it anymore. I want to shread my documents and get out while I can.

AUDIENCE:
Awwwwwwww.

PAT:
Well, that's up to you. You're out of the game now, but you've covered yourself nicely. Let's see if Ollie is greedy enough to go the distance. Ollie, do you think you can?

OLLIE:
I'll give it a try, Pat. Break off another $19.8 million and put it in the Honduran bank account of a Contra army.

PAT:
Which one?

OLLIE:
Does it matter?

PAT:
No, I guess it doesn't. Well, Fawn is out of the picture now, so you can keep going now without stopping, Ollie. Just --

(SIREN)

PAT:
Oh, it's the bonus signal. That's good for you, Ollie. It means your jackpot has just increased by $32 million, provided in this case by Saudi Arabia in thanks for AWAC sales several years back.

OLLIE:
Great! Let's just put that $32 million in a Cayman Island bank account under the name of The Nicaraguan Democratic Front. Now let's send another $26 million to the other Contra forces. Then --

PAT:
Better slow down, Ollie. Don't push your luck.

OLLIE:
I want to take $30 million -- no, make it $40 million in small bills and put it on a Danish ship that will travel around and around in the Mediterranian Sea. And I --

(BUZZER)

PAT:
Oh, Ollie, you've gone beyond the limits of credibility. You're out of the game. And checking the consequences, I see that you're really in trouble. At least $12 million in Contra funds is unaccounted for, and somewhere along the way you helped sell some missiles to a hostile government. What's more, the missiles are sure to be used in an ongoing war, and our government has declared itself neutral. But you did manage to make a profit on those sales. The missiles were valued at $6500 and you received $10,000 for each of them. That should be worth something when we evaluate your liability. Fawn, thanks for playing the game. We don't want to send you away empty handed. You've won an all-expense paid trip to Hollywood, where you will be awarded your own cable TV special. You'll be whisked aboard a Pan-CentralAm jet to meet with a number of agents who will all vie for your attention. And you'll be treated to lunch with Fanny Foxey, Rita Jenratt and others who have built their careers on their association with men of power. Ollie, you will find yourself doing three to five in the Mitterhaus Prison Facility in lovely southern Maryland. But wait! Thanks to your arms sales profits, you will enjoy unlimited access to the prison golf course, swimming pool, tanning booths and polo field. And you'll dkrue able euroie dfklu on dkrue kdeo

(TRANSMISSION LOST)

ZIP Beep! Table of Contents
Strinz Creative Home Page