The Pig & The Ghostwriter... The tale of a clairvoyant computerBy Raymond Weisling
This is a true story. It is about a funky Intel 386 computer that ran Windows 3.1 but had some other strange capabilities that appeared over a year or two. The setting is Solo, Central Java, Indonesia.
It started, I guess around early 1994, when I formed a map production group, with four assistant graphics operators. I had a 386 DX computer left over from an earlier project, but it was not used much, primarily because I have always been a Macintosh user and Windows 3.1 was pretty awful. But we didn't have a lot of money for new Macintosh computers, so we decided to try the 386, which we nicknamed The Pig (actually using the Indonesian form "Si Babi"). The building that we used only had two circuits of 2200 watts each, but we were running quite a bit below that when everything was turned on. The Pig wasn't used every day, since there were manual tasks associated with the map work, such as tracing maps onto vellum paper for later scanning. But when all tracing was done, we had to call on The Pig to help out.
The problem was that The Pig often started up with a power demand or surge, and with the other computers already loading the sensitive magnetic circuit breaker, The Pig might trip the breaker and everyone on the Macintosh computers would lose their work. At first, this happened with surprising regularity, and each time we forgot to tell the others to save their work to disk first because The Pig was going to be turned on. After this happened too often, we all agreed to be more careful.
The protocol was established that everyone had to be told to save their work first, and after everyone nodded that their files were done saving (large files could take 20-30 seconds to write to disk); The Pig was ready to be turned on. We added the Muslim expression "In the name of God" (Bismillah), and pressed the button. It always worked; The Pig was merciful and didn't kill the power. This was very consistent. A few times, in haste, someone forgot the protocol, and The Pig would retaliate. It seemed if it was a chance to do damage, it would but with no chance, and in fear of God, it would be such a nice Pig.