Contents of the DOOM.TXT file
"Days Of Our Modems"
- By David Tay
Somewhere, sometime, and some place in this wonderful world of
ours, one of these scenarios are occuring:
"Did you know that last month's (expletive) phone bill is over
$450?" my wife scolded me in her harshest, my-husband-the-child
voice. "That's more than twice the monthly payment you make for
that (expletive) computer!" she continued as she escalated to
"That's it! I've been patient enough, and I've had it!" my
Dad looked at me with his stern eyes. "When you bought that modem,
I thought you could control yourself, but ... but ... spending
hours a day in front of that damn machine!?! No wonder your grades
are down the drain, and your teacher is calling about you not
participating or paying enough attention in class!!" In his hand,
he held my latest report card which unfortunately, wasn't very
favorable to say the least. "I'm taking your modem away, and
you're grounded until you get those grades back up!" continued my
Dad, as he started unplugging the unit right before my eyes.
Does this look familiar to you? Is this happening right in
your own household? Maybe to your husband? (or wife?) Your
kid(s)? Your fiance or fiancee? If so, read on. You also qualify
for automatic membership to "United Modems Anonymous."
Modem-mania or modem fever, as I prefer to call it, is
sweeping this world of ours, and affecting our society's community
of computer users. It is rapidly becoming an epidemic of global
proportions! It's not just the Americans that are affected, but
almost every other race, culture, and sex. It's taking a toll on
the Canadians, the British, the Norwegians, and even some
Malaysians! There are variations on this fever, or "disease" to
borrow a phrase from the medical community.
If you don't own one of these "instrument of evil" called a
"modem," don't even think of buying one! Modem fever is a disease
that sneaks up upon you quietly but quickly. It's a plague that
shows no mercy; first your wallet/purse, and then the checkbook, or
heaven forbid, credit cards!
Once you have fallen prey into owning a modem, you begin into
the journey of consummation by "dialing up" a friend who also has
a modem. For some strange reason, typing messages to each other
fascinates you (even if it is less than 10% of the speed that you
can speak the same words over a normal phone link). After several
attempts, you discovered that one of you must be in half-duplex
mode; that discovery actually titillates you (sounds impossible,
but it's true).
To make matters worst, your friend gives you a number of a
local WildCat! BBS (Bulletin Board System). The moment you
received that number, you have taken the first fatal step in a
journey that will lead straight into an oblivion of modem fever,
and will ultimately lead you to a life of addiction to your modem.
After you have taken the next step by dialing up that BBS, you
find that it's very easy to "log-on." This weird form of
communication with an unattended computer is strangely exciting; it
is much more arousing than just typing with your friend, or "modem-
buddy" according to some. The initial log-on screen first comes
on, followed by the initial bulletins scrolling informing you about
the board. But you're too "up" (or "high?") to actually comprehend
or understand them. You begin reading a few of the messages, and
maybe, just maybe, you enter one or two yourself. It was fun, but
the excitement starts to wear off; thinking that it might be
worthwhile to read the bulletins, you return back to the main menu
of the board.
Then tragedy strikes! Like any other "innocent-looking-but-
devilish-at-heart" BBS, it entices your soul into the abyss of
modem fever. As you peruse the main BBS menu, your eyes caught
sight of an item called "FILES MENU." By asking the host computer
for FILES, you thread the bait onto the hook of corruption; the
FILES MENU sets the hook. You start running with the line when you
LIST the files; you leap into the air with the sheer of joy when
the titles and descriptions of all those public domain programs
begin filling the screen. The best part is that they're FREE!!
(well, not all, some are shareware) All you have to do is say
(type, actually) the magic words to tell the bulletin board to
download (transmit) them to you. You download the very first
program, eyes gleaming in joy, and your fingers sweaty in
anticipation. Within the next hour, you have downloaded over 5
programs, one of them being John Friel's Qmodem SST Version 4
program, truly a catalyst for evil.
Darwin's USBBSLIST.DOC, which is among the files that you've
downloaded, contains a list of BBS across the country. (There's
evil all around us, constantly tempting us!) You print the list
and discover that there are hundreds and hundreds of numbers (Have
mercy on our poor souls!). The list gives you the hours of
operation (you noticed that most are 24 hours!), the communication
parameters and the specialty of each board. You decide to try
Qmodem - after printing out its nearly 300+ page manual (Have mercy
on our poor printer!) and call up another WildCat! system four
states away. Since the line is busy, you pass the time entering
all those BBS numbers into Qmodem's voluminous dialing directory.
You try the number again -- still busy. You pondered, "Hey,
there's one that specializes in .GIF files (Graphics Interchange
Format). Maybe I'll try that one. It's only half-way across the
country, but heck, it's after 5pm and the phone rates have changed.
It won't be too expensive."
The .GIF board answers. Within the hour, you have downloaded
several .GIF files for your new Super VGA monitor. Then you call
another board -- this time, it's completely across the country.
And so it goes onto the night... And the next night... And the
next... Sometimes, it's just for the messages. Other times,
you're downloading the hottest files out whether it's a utility for
your hard drive or your printer, or a game or two.
Some days, it gets to you. You begin to feel the dirtiness of
modem addiction, particularly when your wife makes you feel like a
child berating you for those astronomical phone bills -- if she
hasn't divorced you by then. Or it's your parents, lecturing you
for neglecting your homework, and spending so much time in front of
that "machine." If you are one of those that do your work on the
computer, you're not immune. Every time you sit down before your
new 386/25 MHz machine to do some work, you dial up another BBS
instead. Sometimes, you use a multitasking environment interface
such as Quarterdeck's DESQview/386 or Microsoft's Windows 3.0 and
open up a Qmodem window, and dial in the background while you try
to get some work done - knowing the fact that the work won't get
done at all. You find yourself constantly switching back to the
Qmodem window, to see if a connection's been made. If that one's
busy, you dial another, and another, and another until you connect.
Then you feel fine, like you have been exonerated. When you
finally hang up, you still can't get to work -- the temptation is
too strong and you dial up another BBS. The cycle repeats itself.
If you think this is as bad as it gets, you're wrong. The
nightmare is never ending. You suddenly discover the miracle of
the so called "network" or "networks" that not only links hundreds
of BBS across the country, but also across the world! (Oh, heaven
have mercy on our poor modems! Is this nightmare ever going to
It began when you noticed that some of the systems you call
were member of a network such as "RelayNet International Message
Exchange" (or RIME for short). RelayNet's specialty is - oh my
god! - messages and conferences! You checked their latest
conference list and you couldn't believe your eyes! Over 200
conferences, of practically everything under the sun! It was like
a gathering for all the fellow modem-fever struck people to meet;
a mecca. Hundreds, if not thousands of messages, await your
bloodshot eyes. And you're not alone! There were messages coming
in from all around the world - Canada, Norway, England, Holland,
Japan, Portugal, and even Saudi Arabia too! Your head began
ringing, as your brain began screaming, "More! More! More!!" It
felt as if someone was pouring salt into an open wound.
Your downfall as an on-line addict is just another one of this
society's terrible tragedies, such as polygamy, or the compulsion
to circle all the numbers on computer magazines' "bingo cards."
Eventually, your whole social life relies upon only the happiness
you find on electronic bulletin boards; your only happiness is the
programs you have downloaded (you never try them, you only collect
them) and the "conversations" that you have with your fellow
"junkies" on the conferences, from all around the world. It is a
bonding that leaves an everlasting impression.
Hope exists, however. The dedicated, overworked and underpaid
staff of United Modems Anonymous have done extensive research to
find a cure for modem-mania (or modem fever), which has been
ruining the lives of hundreds. And we have succeeded in our quest.
The cure is really quite simple, yet effective:
Set up your own Bulletin Board System. Then all the
other modem addicts will phone you, and their
wives, or parents can nag, and nag, and nag, and nag
at them about $450 phone bills, or failing grades.
And you can find peace -- at last.
........Or will you?
"Days Of Our Modems" by David Tay is an adaptation of Steve King's
original "The Tragedy of An On-Line Addiction."
- The End -