Part 3

Life calmed down where I lived, after the police raid. I was sentenced to two hours of community service for abuse to the police officer. I had to wash all the police vehicles. Something big was going on down the docks, so I had fun driving around the basement with the flashing lights on. The burglar alarm took all of twenty seconds to suss out and disable. The Dog Section van's burglar alarm has been modified so if it ever gets set off, it will never shut up.

I'm back at college. Everybody is running around like a headless chicken. Sopowitz apparently left a message on his computer saying "I can't take it anymore. Goodbye cruel world." and then he filed his resignation. The college, on an efficiency drive, processed the resignation that very evening. His pension and references were stricken from the record on account of gross misconduct, though nobody is quite sure what the misconduct was. Sopowitz turned up the next morning to find all his files in the bin and his photographs and trophies piled in a cardboard box. Then all hell broke loose. In the middle of it, I heard the administrator say "Well the computer can't be wrong. It says so right here that you...". I smiled as I hooked my laptop to the Ethernet socket by the notice-board in the entrance hall. A few keypresses and all information pertaining to Sopowitz's resignation vanished to the same bit bucket as that crap about my expulsion and Albert Sanawuse's termination.

I unlinked and walked to my next lesson. Sopowitz stormed over and fumed "You.....".
I smiled in the cutest way possible and said lamely, "Me Sir? I'm off to class TDA1 Sir.". And off I walked.

No doubt Sopowitz knew it was me. He had no proof and he didn't know how. But he knew. Just the way I like it. He'll think twice before screwing with me because everybody believes the computer. Next time it might be the ghostbusters a'knocking at the door.

Our obligatory hell-hole lesson is economics. Not the fun "Home economics" where you got to soak your teacher in egg white and pin her to the wall but the boring old monetary economics. The teacher bleated on about stability in the market and Wall Street (now that would be an interesting hack!) and so on. Finally, bored of all this, I stood up and began to ask some questions.

"Sir, is it not true that many significant database systems operate using only the last two digits of the year?"
"Ummm...", he managed.
"Also is it not true that the computer industry has done bugger all about this problem up until recently?"
"Ummm...", again.
"Also, Sir, is it not true that around fifty percent of software being sold in the shops this very day is unable to cope with a new millennium?"
He said nothing.
"Is it not true that the computer industry hasn't even decided on some kind of 'Millennium compatible' mark and, quite frankly, nobody has a clue?"
Finally he said, "So what is your point?"
"Well Sir. Assume you have twenty thousand pounds in your bank account. What do you think will happen when the computer ticks over to the year 1900? Then it gets rectified. Does all the information past 1900 get wiped off as data error? Do you get hit for a hundred years of taxation? Will the whole damned lot blow up?"
"That is hardly pertinent."
"Oh, Sir, but I think it is. It is no good you bleating on about the stock markets and how to make a killing on Wall Street if you refuse to acknowledge that the banks could have difficulties. You are ignoring the problem too."
"No serious software suffers from that, and hasn't done since 1990. Only back-street dodgy software has these problems."
"So, sir, according to you Windows is back street and dodgy?"
"Windows works fine."
"95, yes. I don't think you'll find 3.1 likes the roll-over. And that was being sold up until recently."
Silence. The entire class was silent, waiting for the teacher's next reply.
Finally, a good friend of mine took a pickaxe to the ice. "Sir...", she asked, "If you were any good at making a killing on Wall Street, how come your house is on mortgage and you are teaching us? Why aren't you like totally rich or something?"
"Up yours.", came the reply. The teacher slammed his briefcase shut and stormed out.
I turned to the girl, who was blushing. "Hey, nice hack Joanna!".

Another teacher annoyed, and it wasn't even lunchtime.

Say, don't the old ways always feel the best?

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Copyright © 1998 Richard Murray
Diary Copyright © 1996 Richard Murray