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[humorix] The Linux Forecaster

The Linux Forecaster
February 16, 2000

Another day, another portal opens.  Today's latest
get-rich-quick portal is called "LinuxForecast.com". 
Operated by a former meterologist, this site uses complex
models to predict trends in the Linux world.  "We can
predict short-term weather events pretty well," he said,
"So why can't we forecast the next Linux vs. FreeBSD flame
war on Usenet or predict the duration and intensity of the
dreaded Slashdot Effect?"

As the founder of LinuxForecast.com, Eric "Stormy" Jones is
living out the American Geek dream: he just built his very
own Beowulf cluster.  "After getting 'The Letter' from Red
Hat and VA Linux, I made enough money to buy my own Beowulf
cluster," he boasted.  "My old co-workers at the National
Weather Service are so jealous; my cluster rivals those new
supercomputers they just installed. They'll have trouble
keeping up with this Jones."

Eric's cluster certainly is impressive.  It accurately
forecasted a Slashdot Effect 24 hours in advance, allowing
Eric to send this warning email to the victim before the
storm hit:

   NOTICE: LinuxForecast.com has issued a Slashdot Effect
   Watch for your domain effective for the next 48 hours. 
   Forecast models indicate that Taco Boy is planning on
   posting an article about your "Penguin Porn" site. The
   models disagree on the timing or duration of the storm,
   although we can say that a moderate risk of server
   crashes, excess bandwidth usage, and increased website
   hosting bills are possible.

   Please take appropriate action by mirroring your site. 
   It might be too late now, but you might also want to
   consider purchasing Denial Of Service insurance.

Eric Jones hopes to expand his portal website so that
Slashdot Effect advisories are automatically issued.  "It's
a public service," he explained.  "I mean, look at all the
publicity those (cr|h)ackers who launched an attack on
Yahoo got.  What they did is a pittance compared to the
daily firestorms that Andover.Net is responsible for."

The former weatherman is also using his personal Beowulf
cluster to predict other trends.  "Did you see that massive
trollfest on Slashdot yesterday when somebody used an
automatic comment poster? I saw that coming days in
advance," he boasted.  "I can predict the signal-to-noise
ratio on Slashdot, Usenet, and other forums days in advance
with a margin of error of only 5%.  Of course, with
Slashdot that's easy: the S/N ratio is always less than

Stock prices and business events are also tracked by Jones'
cluster.   "My site is going to be acquired within a month
by some media conglomerate; it'll have an IPO within six
months and I'll be a multi-millionaire by Christmas."  When
I asked about the future prospects for Humorix, he replied,
"Both of your regular readers will be joined by a third
reader by the end of the year.  Otherwise your crappy site
will remain crappy and you'll have to break down and get a
day job. Nobody will find your pathetic attempts at
self-referential meta-meta-humor funny."

Jones also made some dire predictions for Linux portals. 
"There's just too many of them.  The daily amount of new
open source code written will drop by 22% next month as
people stop hacking and start working on Linux websites,
hoping to get-rich-quick by selling out to Andover and VA
Linux.  In years past start-up companies dreamed of being
acquired by Microsoft; now everybody wants to be acquired
by VA Linux or Red Hat."

"The bubble will burst," he continued, before I could get a
word in edgewise reminding him that his own site is a
get-rich-quick sellout-bound portal site.  "Take, for
example, the new LinuxBeacon.com portal. The site runs
Microsoft IIS 5.0 and Windows 2000!  The webpages were
composed using Windows software, and they urgently need to
be demoronised. Within 48 hours the webmaster is going to
be on the receiving end of a flamewar initiated by outraged
Linux zealots.  That site is doomed to fail, just like many

He then added quickly, "Except mine."

At this point his beeper went off and he exclaimed, "Oh,
crap! One of my forecast models indicates that my site is
about to be hit by the Slashdot Effect.  Oh dear Lord! I
gotta run."


James S. Baughn

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