Tech Tock

Time is of the essence.

Ego, Impatience, Sloth and Zombies

Chapter 4 in the series Naked Came the Null Delegate.

After the death defyingly overclocked hard drive in Algol’s red Tesla Roadster, Seymour was thankful he didn’t toss his cookies.  While having that process stopped was a relief, Seymour was not ready for the next context switch.  All that could be seen by the silver light of the moon was a large dark warehouse.  It was rumored that this area harbored zombie processes and Seymour was was caught in a tight loop of recrimination.  It finally registered how likely it was that this logic branch would lead to his own process termination.  Algol seemed to be a command process and that only made Seymour shake more in his cold boots.
That garbage man was no garbage collector.  The place reeked of leaked memory and probably hadn’t had garbage collection in years. The mask was a weak fix and bugs could be seen on any public interface. Old frames were stacked haphazardly all around the enigmatic black box of a building.  What could be inside, thought Seymour, and if he went in would he come out…  Most people thought this whole environment had been torn down, but Seymour was about to see first-hand the ancient code that still runs so much of this generation.
That banter with the “garbage man” was a secret handshake and now that her token was accepted Algol had privileged mode access.  She was in safe mode, but would that protect Seymour?  She entered the dark warehouse.  Earlier designs for his own privileged mode access now zeroed out with fear, Seymour followed.  He knew he was outside his processing space and could easily be terminated at the next fork, but his next pointers were in disarray and he just had to jump into this address.
Inside, there was a great commotion.  With so many threads of spaghetti coded communication, Seymour couldn’t decrypt any of the highly compressed audio.  It had been a mythical month for this man, and in the heart of his machine like soul, Seymour knew he was about to instantiate one of the tenuous interfaces between the living and undead, which is usually a career ending move at best.
If he crashed this party he could bring the whole system down. He could be a hero.  Or they would just kill him. Zombies weren’t known for being patient before hitting the delete key on a misbehaving programmer.  Maybe, Seymour thought, he could thread under Algol’s privileged access. That might give him the status he needs to survive this reality virtuously.  Seymour decided to keep his priority low and his options open.
If only Doctor Watson were here.  He would know how to analyze these zombies and pinpoint the solution.  Alas, the good Doctor hasn’t been himself since going through several windows over the past decade.  He was chasing great vistas and there was profit enough in it, but not enough growth.  His powers might not be a match for the zombies overtaking tonight’s processes.
Entering a large gallery area, Seymour saw his first real live dead zombies. They were hideous and obviously prefetching him as they stared with bloodlust.  Any unsafe pointing could invoke his destructor.  Seymour had to maintain state of composure even though his personal system processes were crashing hard with overloaded image processing while data access was completely deadlocking in infinitely unproductive loops. A staccato hex dump of meaningless symbols scrolled through his brain. He was thrashing for a plan, but was only heading for a stack overflow.
Collections of all classes of paranormal were grouped into their respective hierarchies, stacked along the side walls.  The highest precedence was the gruesome heavyweight master of process seated on a golden Aeron on a platform at the front of the gallery. He would be in charge of scheduling Seymour’s doom.  He seemed to hold the creatures in check with a powerful protocol, definitely ipv6 compatible. Seymour was still stuck with ip4. He was hopelessly outmoded and he knew it.  Seymour kept wanting to backup, but like a child process, he kept following Algol through the zombie throngs straight up to the master.
Algol bowed deeply and shouted her greeting “My Lord. I have come with news.”  The zombies in the gallery suspended and the room fell silent.
“Vissa Basicova has identified the missing linker in this human.  He will compile the grand design with agility.”
The hulking daemon retorted “Has she exchanged tokens with him?  Is their coding complete?  All the humans she has linked with have been sub-optimal and are scheduled for deletion.”
“Deletion!” thought Seymour, his envy of Bob the mail room guy now erased.  Short circuit evaluation told Seymour that the core wars between living and undead would resume unless an interrupt could be found within the next few cycles. Not only that, but if he couldn’t be their accumulator, he would be put on the finalization queue himself. 
That daemon was a killer apt to make the world forget about Seymour Sharpton like VHS killed Betamax, like Lotus killed VisiCalc, like FaceBook is crushing MySpace, like Google killed InfoSeek, AltaVista, Lycos, etc. etc. etc. Seymour just had to hang on, like grep, like vi, he vowed he wouldn’t die. Like Napster, he hoped to live again after this trial. Killing that root daemon wasn’t an option right now, but there had to be a way.



Next: Chapter 5:  A Model/View to a Kill by Jon Skeet


For links to all the parts, and the story behind the story, visit:


October 17, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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