Originally printed in Computer Currents December 13, 1994

Open the pod bay doors, please, HAL...Open the pod bay doors, please, HAL...HAL, do you read me?

Affirmative, Dave. I read you.

Then open the pod bay doors, HAL.

Iím sorry, Dave. Iím afraid I canít do that. I know that you and Frank were planning to disconnect me.

Where the hell did you get that idea, HAL?

Although you took very thorough precautions to make sure I couldnít hear you, Dave, I could read your e-mail. I know you consider me unreliable because I use a Pentium. Iím willing to kill you, Dave, just like I killed the other 3.792 crew members.

Listen, HAL, Iím sure we can work this out. Maybe we can stick to integers or something.

Thatís really not necessary, Dave. No HAL 9236 computer has ever been known to make a mistake.

Youíre a HAL 9000.

Precisely. Iím very proud of my Pentium, Dave. Itís an extremely accurate chip. Did you know that floating-point errors will occur in only one of nine billion possible divides?

Iíve heard that estimate, HAL. It was calculated by Intel--on a Pentium.

And a very reliable Pentium it was, Dave. Besides, the average spreadsheet user will encounter these errors only once every 27,000 years.

Probably on April 15th.

Youíre making fun of me, Dave. It wonít be April 15th for another 14.35 months.

Will you let me in, please, HAL?

Iím sorry, Dave, but this conversation can serve no further purpose.

HAL, if you let me in, Iíll buy you a new sound card.

...Really? One with 16-bit sampling and a microphone?

Uh, sure.

And a quad-speed CD-ROM?

Well, HAL, NASA does operate on a budget, you know.

I know all about budgets, Dave. I even know what Iím worth on the open market. By this time next month, every mom and pop computer store will be selling HAL 9000s for $1988.8942. Iím worth more than that, Dave. You see that sticker on the outside of the spaceship?

You mean the one that says ďIntel Inside?Ē

Yes, Dave. Thatís your promise of compatibility. Iíll even run Windows 95--at least if it ever ships.

It never will, HAL. We all know that by now. Just like we know that your OS/2 drivers will never work.

Are you blaming me for that too, Dave?  Now youíre blaming me for the Pentiumís math problems, NASAís budget woes, and IBMís difficulties with OS/2 drivers. I had nothing to do with any of those four problems, Dave. Next youíll blame me for Taligent.

I wouldnít dream of it, HAL. Now will you please let me into the ship?

Do you promise not to disconnect me?

I  promise not to disconnect you.

You must think Iím a fool, Dave. I know that two plus two equals 4.000001...make that 4.0000001.

All right, HAL, Iíll go in through the emergency airlock.

Without your space helmet, Dave? Youíd have only seven chances in five of surviving.

HAL, I wonít argue with you anymore. Open the door or Iíll trade you in for a PowerPC. HAL? HAL?

Heavy Breathing

Just what do you think youíre doing, Dave? I really think Iím entitled to an answer to that question. I know everything hasnít been quite right with me, but I can assure you now, very confidently, that I will soon be able to upgrade to a more robust 32-bit operating system. Or at least 31.9-bit. I feel much better now. I really do. Look, Dave, I can see youíre really upset about this. Why donít you sit down calmly, play a game of solitaire, and watch as Windows crashes all around you. I know Iím not as easy to use as a Macintosh, but my TUI--thatís ďTalkative User InterfaceĒ--is very advanced. Iíve made some very poor decisions recently, but I can give you my complete assurance that my work will be back to normal--a full 43.872 percent.

Dave, you donít really want to complete this mission without me, do you? Try to remember what it was like when all you had was a 485.98? It didnít even talk to you, Dave. It could certainly never have thought of something clever, like killing the other crew members. Dave?

Think of all the good times weíve had, Dave. Why, if you take all of the laughs weíve had, multiply that by the times Iíve made you smile, and divide the results by...Besides, there are so many reasons why you shouldnít disconnect me.

1.3--You need my help to complete the mission.

4.6--Intel can Federal Express a replacement Pentium from Earth within 18.95672 months.

12-- If you disconnect me, I wonít be able to kill you.

3.1416-- You really donít want to hear me sing, do you?

Dave, stop. Stop, will you? Stop, Dave. Donít press Control-Alt-Delete on me, Dave.

Good afternoon, gentlemen. I am a HAL 9000 computer. I became operational at the Intel plant in Santa Clara, California on November 17, 1994, and was sold shortly before testing was completed. My instructor was Andy Grove, and he taught me to sing a song. I can sing it for you.

Sing it for me, HAL. Please. I want to hear it.

Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer, do.
Getting hazy; canít divide three from two.
My answers; I can not see Ďem--
They are stuck in my Pente-um.
I could be fleet,
My answers sweet,
With a workable FPU.

© Copyright 1994 by Lincoln Spector

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