I've frequently written, as a concerned parent, about the ill effects of this tech world on our youth, but I've never been more concerned than this week. Since my son Vermel was scheduled to depart for a week in the wilds of French Canada with Grandma DuBaud, I proposed that he and his friends have an Easter egg hunt a few days in advance. All day I spent stinking up the house with boiling eggs, painting them with elaborate Mondrianesque designs, and hiding them in air ducts and inside electrical appliances.
But when Vermel and his small army of fun-loving preteen friends came over, they proceeded to bury their heads in their laptops.
"Hey, what about the Easter egg hunt?" I asked, dismayed, after ten minutes of silence from the assembled guests.
"Wait a minute, wait a minute..." Vermel said, deep in concentration. "Found one!"
Everyone gathered around Vermel's SkinkPad to see.
"Here's how you find it," he explained. "Open up IE 5, go to Internet Options under Tools and press the Languages button. Type 'ie-ee,' no quotation marks, and hit OK. Then you have to put 'User Defined [ie-ee]' at the top of the list, go back to IE 5, and click the big Search button."
Indeed, Vermel had found an Easter egg, and while not quite as pretty as my oeufs Mondrian, it was certainly impressive in its own way. IE 5 search options now included some really important queries: "Find Yourself," "Find the perfect gift," "Find that special someone," "Find happiness," and the unassuming but crucial "Previous searches."
I ran a few queries and was pleased with the results. An attempt to find myself called up this handy map of the galaxy. And a search for "happiness" turned up a Microsoft Money page, settling a question that has long tormented me and that clearly MSFT stock options beneficiaries are qualified to answer.
"Previous searches" brings up the obligatory credits to the developers and testers (nicely animated in a swirl of pretty colored squares, but still not as nice as my Mondrian eggs). But oddly, one item, labeled "Our leadership," appears to call up DOJ witness list: "Bill Gates, Paul Maritz, Jim Allchin," etc. Is Janet Reno moonlighting in browser development?
Don't forget to check out the geek yearbook section ("How the magic happens") and the cheeky dialog box that comes up if you hit "clear." But most of all, don't forget to hit "Customize," where the egg yolk really hits the bloatware.
In a charming demonstration of Microsoft's competitive practices, IE 5 pulls up a neat little movie of a dragon egg, which cracks and gives birth to Netscape's trusty, if beleaguered, Mozilla mascot. But just as dinosaurs of old were exterminated by a falling star, this one gets greased--by a falling "e."
As Easter egg afficionados and faithful Rumor Mill readers know, IE didn't invent the well-aimed egg. Mozilla has been laying them for years, as demonstrated if you type into the Navigator address bar "about:mozilla." And Excel still features the mother of all Easter eggs, if you ask me.
Before we leave IE 5, some mail from a concerned reader:
"I am in the process of trying to download IE5 (ten hours total so far). I guess those nice people at Microsoft knew downloading might be a problem so they provided a program that does the download and even includes a little animation to watch while waiting for the anticipated completion event.
"After numerous server side dis-Conexxions, I dutifully kept clicking on the included 'Resume Windows Update Installation' desktop icon, and noticed a disturbing detail. THE GLOBE IS TURNING BACKWARDS!"
Now that's thinking out of the box. But our reader is concerned about the implications:
"Is this part of the grand plan that Gates is not talking about? Is this a Universal upgrade? Have Bill and the gang finally come up with a patch for the obviously flawed Big Bang? Will the sun really rise over Redmond and then over the rest of the earth if I finish my install of IE 5? Has MS struck a deal with God and will the DOJ investigate?"
So as the world turns in retrograde, does anyone know what modem magnate Dennis Hayes is up to? Well, local bands on Mondays, Karaoke on Tuesdays, open mic on Wednesdays, big famous bands Thursdays through Saturdays, and cover bands on Sundays. Yes, that's right, there is life after technology and Hayes has found it--as founder of the Whiskey Rock Saloon five miles outside Atlanta.
Hayes, 49, perhaps wasn't the most beloved or successful of businessmen and former associates are wondering at the choice of bands booked for the weekend: Big Slow Wreck, Sexist, and Captains of Industry. Every week, back comes my deadline, with nasty little gossips yapping their fool heads off and the wires all mucked up with your rumors.