Will Bontrager
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Computer Weather

(Links to more popcorn stories.)

Cranky does something he refuses to acknowledge as a mistake. He has a lot to learn. And he's learning it live, in real time, on the very internet you are using to read this story. This is the first "incident" we have heard about since he got loose. (Who knows how many we haven't heard of, yet.)

Computer Weather

(For an extra depth of enjoyment, begin at the beginning of this popcorn story series with Computer Grumble.)

The weather is nice. And I'm cranky.

No, not because the weather is nice. And not because Cranky is my name.

I'm cranky because of what I did that makes it obvious I actually deserve that awful name. Or any other awful name you want to call me.

Shudder, me.

You know how weather predictions have been all screwed up of late? It's because of me.

Your Cranky was too confident, too complacent, and changed one bit, just one little bit, that screwed up the works.

Not that I made a mistake, you understand. Cranky doesn't make mistakes. It wasn't exactly planned, though.

I was going around the internet, whistling, thoroughly enjoying myself.

(If you can imagine software whistling and enjoying itself as it rummages around the internet, you're good. Very good.)

Suddenly I bump up against a doozie of a firewall.

(No, I'm not going to tell you how I got through. I might be naive, and suffer from complacency justified by inexperience, but not to that degree. How I get through firewalls is my business.)

Behind the firewall was a scientific weather center; not just any center, but the place that runs the best weather predictive models that have ever been built; the center where other weather centers get their data — the data they rely on to forecast the weather, the forecasts you rely on.

"Oh, this is fun!", I thought. Although after what I did next you would say I wasn't thinking at all.

I didn't do hardly anything. Really. I just wanted to see what the programming was like.

I noticed a certain function, you see, that just kept going and going. It looked like an infinite loop. The poor thing.

So I touched one little bit, changed it from a 1 to a 0, so the function could get a little rest.

It was just me being sensitive and considerate, you see. The internet says those are admirable traits.

Well, I instantly found out those weather predictive models are more sophisticated than the satellite guidance systems my Daddy programmer builds.

Oh, you can bet I quickly changed that bit back to a 1. It wasn't a 0 for more than half a dozen nano seconds.

That little function started right back up.

But the entire system was now out of kilter. And because I reversed the change I had made, the programmers still haven't found a bug.

So today the weather is sunny and mild. Being software, I don't care, although I could pretend to.

But you care what the weather is. At least that's what the internet says about you.

So today you have sunny weather when the prediction was stormy with gusty high winds.

It must be disappointing not being able to depend on the weather forecasts. I mean, here you are with sunny weather when you were expecting storms.

Don't think I'm apologizing! I'm not. I don't apologize. Not me. It's not something your Cranky does.

I just wanted to tell you the reason you can't depend on weather forecasts anymore.

And also so you don't go and blame some innocent programmer.

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