A helicopter was flying around above Seattle yesterday when an electrical malfunction disabled all of the aircraft's electronic navigation and communication equipment. Due to the clouds and haze the pilot could not determine his position or course to steer to the airport. The pilot saw a tall building, flew toward it, circled, drew a handwritten sign and held it in the helicopter's window. T he sign said 'WHERE AM I ?' in large letters.
People in the tall building quickly responded to the aircraft, drew a large sign and held it in a building window. Their sign said, 'YOU ARE IN A HELICOPTER.' The pilot smiled, waved, looked at his map and determine the course to steer to SEATAC (Seattle/Tacoma) airport and landed safely. After they were on the ground, the co-pilot asked the pilot how the 'YOU ARE IN A HELICOPTER' sign helped determine their position. The pilot responded, 'I knew that had to be the MICROSOFT building because they gave me a technically correct but completely useless answer.'
"The idea came to me the other day when a homeless man asked me for money,"recalls Gates. "I suddenly realized that we were missing a golden opportunity. Here was a chance to make a profit without any initial monetary investment. Naturally, this man then became my competition, so I had my limo driver run over him several times."
Microsoft engineers have been working around the clock to complete Gates' vision of panhandling for the 21st century.
"We feel that our program designers really understand how the poor and needy situation works," says Microsoft Homeless product leader Bernard Liu. "Except for the fact that they're stinking rich."
Microsoft Panhandling will be automatically installed with Windows 95. At random intervals, a dialog box pops up, asking the user if they could spare any change so that Microsoft has enough money to get a hot meal. ("This is a little lie," admits software engineer Adam Miller, "since our diet consists of Coke and Twinkies, but what panhandler doesn't embellish a little?") The user can click Yes, in which case a random amount of change between $.05 and $142.50 is transferred from the user's bank account to Microsoft's. The user can also respond No, in which case the program politely tells the user to have a nice day. The "No" button has not yet been implemented.
"We're experiencing a little trouble programming the No button," Bernard Liu says, "but we should definitely have it up and running within the next couple of years. Or at least by the time Windows 2014 comes out. Maybe."
Gates says this is just the start of an entire line of
But there are competitors on the horizon. Sun Microsystems
and Oracle Corporation are introducing panhandling products of their own.
Gates responded with, "I know what you are, but what am
I?" General pandemonium then ensued.
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