A Hungarian Story

Tomcat & Netpoet

Hi Hugi Readers,

What follows is a story a friend of mine - Tomcat (a Hungarian webdesigner and programmer) of Greenroom - told me on IRC. This story is about the "computerized civilization" of Hungarians in the woods. We had a great time.


Start of TomcatGRM buffer: Wed Apr 05 01:07:51 2000
Session Ident: tc (was@duna-30.dialin.datanet.hu)

[note: "TomcatGRM" will be replaced by "tc" in the story itself, and "netpoet_p" will be replaced by "np".]

<tc> so the story.

hold the chair tight, you'll fall from it. they've built some cable TV in the village and now they wanted to create an electronic news system on it.

a news broadcaster.

so they contacted us and ordered a program that can display BMP files after each other, with a preset delay speed. hard programming stuff really...

I said 120,000 HUF for them + tax they said ok.

<np> ;)
<tc> that's an impudently high price btw.
<np> i gather that.
<tc> so I've created the prog and asked them where to take it. they told me to bring it to piliscsev. ok.
<np> ;)
<tc> I packed up my laptop and went to the train. the train was only a little railbus with 30 km/h speed.
<np> ;)
<tc> it took more than two hours to travel 25 kms! nah ok. I got off at the stop named Piliscsev. the train left...
<np> ...
<tc> and I found myself in the middle of some plains, without a single building in sight! only some cows nearby. and a road.
<np> and your laptop. ;)
<tc> yes :) nah so... I hit the road and started walking in a random direction.
<np> haha
<tc> tried to phone them by my cellular, but it didn't work!!
<np> HAHA
<tc> kign! thanks. ok I walked almost 4-5 kms when I first saw some buildings in the far, and somehow my phone found some signal and hooked on it! so I phoned them.
<np> ;)
<tc> and they promised they'll come for me by car. okie. they really came.
<np> nice of them. ;)
<tc> and we travelled more 8 kms to the destination!
<np> ?!?
<np> question mark.
<tc> well who the fuck put the train stop 12 kms away from the village??
<tc> doesn't matter.
<np> doesn't matter? ;)
<tc> imagine a very little village with many peasants...
<tc> their life is around chicken, cows and such and now they somehow got a computer.
<np> AH AH AH AH ! ;)
<tc> I found the mayor's office, or to be precise, the mayoress'.
<np> rite.
<tc> it was a little office front of the church so I told 'em I brought the program,
<np> haha
<tc> and they showed me the so-called 'tv studio'.
<np> yes?
<tc> well imagine a dusty hole, with a pc, a tv and a vhs videotape.
<np> ...question.mark...
<np> ...where are the wonders...
<np> ;)
<tc> the pc featured some bmp-slideshow program, and a marketplace-bought double cassette magnetophone scrap produced the music via the radio!

this was their news system. nah ok.

<np> did you take pictures? ;)
<tc> now... it would be enough to unpack my laptop to screw them up... they've never seen such miracle. I tried to install the program.
<np> and ladies and gentlemen...here we go...
<tc> me, naive urban citizen, thought it will be enuff to type 'setup' and go for the money. NO! ... windows 3.1.
<np> oh man.
<tc> so I asked them whether they have win95 or 98. 'yes we have' they replied 'but it's illegal to copy it!'

nah here came the problem. they didn't know fuck about computers, but they've read the software law somewhere. imagine some third-grade state officers who you have to convince about something! well I managed!

dunno how.

they gave me a win98 cd. I installed it. here came the problem. they had a scanner.

<np> oooh! [amazed] where did they get THAT? ;)
<tc> and when I inserted the scanner's install disk the following had been found on it:




<np> OHOOOO!
<tc> etc etc.
<np> prince of persia! i don't believe it.
<tc> that's all about drivers... yesyes!!
<np> ;)
<tc> ruler game but can't drive a scanner :)
<np> true...
<tc> ok now, I said, we have to get the drivers. Do you have Internet access?
<tc> answer: "booo?"
<np> oh man
<np> fuck
<np> fuckfuckfuck!
<tc> but SOMEHOW! they remembered that the local school has a modem! ok I said, we will use it!

"No we can't" - they replied - it's EXPENSIVE!

OK - I said - then you'll never use this scanner again. it took an hour while they gathered the local council to vote whether I can use their modem or not. they voted it!

<np> ;)
<tc> so we walked to the school next door.
<tc> a cute young girl came with me, head of the local cultural centre. she said we have to talk to the director first.
<np> ;)
<tc> ok we went to the director's office.
<np> and you voted? ;)
<tc> she knocked the door open. inside there was a small office enough to contain a table, an old typewriter, and a big, fat, ugly old woman dressed in the fashion of life-looser state representatives. the girl shortly told her why we are here. the woman with suspicious face:


- "Yes..."

- "Now?"

- "Yes..."

- "It's expensive!"

- "Yes but the mayor..."

- "And the computer is in use now!"

Here I got bored and showed her my laptop's bag.

- "No matter, I have my own."

Even more suspicious face!

- "A computer?"

- "Yes."

- "Here?"

- "Yes."

- "Yours?"

- "Yes."

<np> oh god.
<tc> - "A computer?"

So we decided to close the door before she blows up because of this paradoxon and headed to the comp rooom

<np> ... ;) ...
<tc> while passing the corridor we heard some sounds from the director's office like: "computer... bzzz... brought... computer... biiip... here..." and some black smoke from under the door :)
<np> ;)
<tc> we entered the comp room. yes the main computer was in use - the teacher browsed the internet on it :) you know he also had been voted :))
<np> ;)
<tc> we kicked him away and got the mouse. I say ok, let's download. dl speed: 200 byte / sec. stalled every ten seconds. it took an hour to get 72K.

I copied it finally to my laptop.

<np> ...
<tc> the guy stared my laptop: "this is ehh, is this some... err... carryable computer?"
<tc> the informatics teacher!
<tc> hey we're not even at half of the story!
<np> what?
<tc> do you log this?
<np> i will if you want me to. ;)
<tc> log it and put in some diskmag... :)
<tc> so we got the drivers, installed w98 successfully, and then...I set resolution to 800x600 true color.

windows replied: NO WAY!

<np> what?
<tc> ehm, 800x600 hicolor. NO WAY!

800x600 16 colors. NO WAY!

errrm... what is the maximum this card can take?

640x480 hicolor !!

<np> ...god.
<tc> problem is that I wrote the program to only work in 800x600! so after all this sucking, I had to leave without the program installed! next day I sent'em a patch however. now they said thanks, and I thought it's the end.


some days later I received a phonecall. the mayoress herself!

<np> no email? ;)
<tc> what is email? :) they even wondered on my cellular phone. nah so...

"The program doesn't work!"

- "What is the problem?"

- "Doesn't work, I don't know."

- "Well, if you want us to help, we have to know the problem."

- "It's not me who use this machine, but they said to me to call you and ask you to come and repair it."

- "Who is using it?"

- "A guy named Csabika!"

argn! Csabika...lamest nickname in Hungarian language.

<np> ;)
<tc> - "Ask Csabika to call me!" na so they told that Csabika is not available, but I should visit them. OK I said, besides they also ordered a new computer for the local doctor, so we travelled there by car with my boss.

so we arrived...almost crashed into a cow, but arrived we first installed the comp for the doctor he ordered a complete configuration, but he on our question whether he needs Win or not, he replied "no". now, the machine had been put on the table...

<np> please no... ;)
<tc> the doc then wanted us to install some program for him. we said it's impossible, there is no os on the machine.

- "Why?", he asked, "It's always shipped with the computer, no?"

- "No.", we replied, "in this case you said you want it without OS. This is why it is so cheap."

- "But it's in the price!"

- "No, it's not. It would cost 25,000 HUF extra."

<np> ...
<tc> - "No way, I once saw an offer by another company, where it was in the price!"

ok... some half an hour discussion about this...

finally: "OK, but then please install a Win for free."

What is 25,000 HUF for a company? nah this was the moment we left immediately. so we headed back to the mayor's office where Csabika was present !!

<np> hoohoo
<np> mr punika at last. ,)
<tc> Csabika was a 13-old guy, a typical peasant kid from behind the cow. nah let's see that program. I asked what is the error? 'The camputa' halts afta' some hours o' workin'!'(he pronounced Hungarian a bit strange :))

ok, let's see the problem! I started a slideshow and watched it...

<np> ...
<tc> while it ran, the door opened...and entered... PESTA BACSI!
<np> pesta bacsi?
<tc> Uncle Pesta you know?
<np> no...
<tc> Pista is a nick for Istvan, Stephen. Pesta is the local form :) Bacsi is for Uncle.
<np> uncle steve, so to say... ;)
<tc> So there came Pesta Bacsi! imagine an old peasant with big white moustache, dressed in furs and holding a pipe...and onion smell. he was the local school teacher as later we learned.
<np> poooaaaa
<tc> Pesta bacsi greeted us: "Hohoooyy! It's soo gooood to see thaat such yaang titaaans are woaaking!" damn. he pointed to my laptop: "Hohooo, what a machine! But I once saaw some smaller one... that fit in a man's palm!" My boss replied: "Yes I have two of those."
<tc> nah so from this moment Pesta Bacsi tried to talk with us like: "whaaat do you woooark?"

guess what...

my boss talked to him to protect me while I am working

<np> i can't guess THAT. ;)
<tc> "...computers."
<np> oh heavenly god.
<tc> "Yaaaou seeell computaaa's?"

- "...yes"

- "Aaand for aaafordaable priceaa?" and such crap.

later he asked me: "Aaare you aa programaaaaa?"

- "yes"

to my boss: "And yoaau? Some helpaaa'?"

meanwhile the slideshow I started suddenly halted, and the computer gone reset! I asked what was it.

Csabika replied: "Ah nuthin'... electricity goes away every twenty minutes"

AAAAAAAAa! this was the "bug"!

<np> OH GOD
<tc> so I told 'em to buy an UPS and that will fix it. now Pesta Bacsi started to tell what does he want from the program! he wanted it to control the videotape! told him this would be some 400,000 HUF. "whaayy?" i told him it's too long to explain :)
<np> so i hope you left fast...
<tc> yes for sure. ok we arrived home... next day: phonecall!
<np> ...;)
<tc> "The program doesn't work again! What do you do for our money, it's not a service, what do you think..." etc etc. angrily like a harpy...

"What's the problem?"

- "The picture disappears!"

- "How?"

- "It blacks out!"

- "Do you see anything on the screen?"

- "Just some lines!

- "Lines?"

- "Yes... and they move!"

guess what...

<np> i don't know.. moving lines?
<tc> yes
<np> errr....
<tc> always after five minutes
<np> no...
<tc> exactly
<np> I KNOW IT.
<np> no
<np> no
<np> no
<np> no
<np> no
<np> no
<tc> but yes!
<np> i deny any knowledge about that
<np> no
<np> no

okie... they managed to fix it!

<tc> and I think it was the first time Csabika used a true telephone! :) na ok...

silence...for two hours! TELEPHONE!

<tc> "GRRRRRRRRR what do you think, our money, your service, it doesn't work etc"

- "ok calm down, what's it?"

- "no picture at all!"

- "lines?"

- "no lines!"

- "no picture on the monitor, or the tv?"

you know they used some cheap vga-to-tv box.

- "neither on this nor that!"

- "and anything else?"

<tc> "the green lamp on the monitor... now it's red!"

they again wanted me to travel there.

<np> ...man...
<tc> instead I told them to push the vga card back in the mainboard. nah ok. days passing...

tick... tack...today


"what is the problem again?"

besides the mayoress now wants their money back...

today's program: the computer halts after some hours of operation

<np> ;)
<tc> now we told 'em we'll travel there again, install OUR OWN computer to do the work for two days. if it doesn't fail, then it's not the program's bug, and they'll have to pay 60,000 forints for our visit. plus tax. but we seriously think about giving their fuckin' money back. we're now in the middle of a three million forints project, and we don't have time to show them the enter key.
. .    .				     .
<np> true...
<tc> now, will you sleep better now? :)
<np> i won't sleep for the next hours. got work to do... ;)
<tc> me too... program the coordinates of piliscsev to the warhead :)

End of tc buffer Wed Apr 05 01:07:51 2000


Isn't that a story of good ol' Hungary, eh? ;)

Tomcat & Netpoet