Technology: Cartoons become collector's item

日期:2019-02-28 05:17:06 作者:却丸谩 阅读:

By BARRY FOX Money cannot buy the present every computer buff will want this Christmas – a ‘screen saver’ program called Opus ‘n Bill. Legal action taken in California to prevent the distribution of this program has turned a $40 screen saver into a collector’s item. Screen savers are programs that protect the cathode ray tube of a computer screen. A static image displayed for a long time may ‘burn’ an imprint into the phosphors of the screen, leaving a permanent mark. Early savers just blanked out the screen to protect it. Modern savers, however, use moving images to illuminate all of the phosphor coating randomly. The Opus ‘n Bill screen saver features the cartoon exploits of a goofy penguin and a cat – characters who appear in a syndicated newspaper strip cartoon drawn by Berkeley Breathed. He worked with Delrina, a software company based in Toronto, to produce the program. The cartoon also satirises Bill Gates, president of the software company Microsoft, and the penguin shoots flying toasters out of the sky. No copies of the original program were sold in Britain. The few copies left in American shops were snapped up as soon as the news spread that they were banned. But New Scientist managed to buy a copy, which had been wrongly filed in a New York shop. The sales assistant said that if he had known it was on the shelves, he would have bought it himself. Delrina has had to withdraw the program after a rival software house claimed Delrina had copied its ideas. Berkeley Systems of California already offers ‘Flying Toasters’ – domestic toasters, equipped with wings, flying slowly across the screen – on a program called After Dark, which has become something of a minor classic. In the Opus ‘n Bill screen savers, cartoon characters visit President Clinton and pull down their trousers to display philosophical messages. In another sequence the cat and the penguin meet a bespectacled billionaire from a company called ‘Microsquash’. And in the ‘Death Toasters’ sequence, the penguin uses a shotgun to blast flying toasters out of the sky. Although the software was packaged with notes ‘to make our lawyers happy’, saying that Death Toasters is simply a good-natured parody of Flying Toasters, the Californian company did not see the joke, and sued. In late October a San Francisco judge ruled that Delrina should stop all sales of the toaster program. Delrina says it may play safe and take out the Microsquash sequence altogether. Bill Gates, the boss of the world’s biggest software company, might not see the joke either. ‘Microsoft has a lot more money to spend on lawyers than us,’ says Delrina. As far as New Scientist knows,