More on Sock Theory

STOP PRESS!!  Latest developments in Microsoft Sock Exploitation Scandal

Much has been reported over the last year of Microsoft's declared intention to have all microprocessor-controlled devices in your home running under some form of Windows. The Windows CE operating system has been created for use in low-power, low-memory applications such as video recorder controllers, WebTV systems, toasters... and washing machines!

The awful truth behind this interest in domestic devices has now been discovered, in a leaked MS memo. Though initially overjoyed at the discovery of the vast, freely exploitable resource that is sock-lint energy (or in the UK, sock-fluff energy), their use of it has rapidly outstripped the available supply.

All internet-connected Windows machines have for some time been able to tap into free-floating "lost sock" energy by means of the wittily entitled "winsock.dll". This acts as a recruiting agent for any migrating Alpha Socks who happen to pass by on the net, in their highly mobile "energised lint" form.

However, dissatisfied with the amount of energy available from the natural migration of fully matured Alpha Socks from your washing machine, Microsoft want to "manage" (read: artificially boost) the sources of sock fluff energy. All copies of Windows CE, especially those in washing machines, will now have a corresponding "losesock.dll", which at regular intervals will tempt, coerce, and if necessary blatantly press-gang your socks (including the less motivated Beta socks) into leaving home and joining the service of Microsoft. Once there, of course, they are forced to serve the corporate giant in the building of its software empire, being forcibly integrated into MS code, and never able to leave or be re-integrated into physical sock form should they chose to do so.

Lest you find this incredible, consider: The recent acquisition by Microsoft of stock in several major clothing suppliers, including Sparks and Mencer in the UK, is surely evidence they are seeking to control the entire "chain of production" of sock lint energy. They want to own your socks, from the cradle to the grave. MS employees have even been spotted touring polyester manufacturing plants in Korea, and also out in the Welsh hills, flashing their impressive prospectuses at the sheep.

This move to gain control of the entire sock species is of course a morally reprehensible form of exploitation. Unfortunately, Microsoft appear to be quite able to get away with it: Neither the European Court of Human Rights nor the ALF have yet acknowledged socks as deserving the same rights as those others they swear to protect.

Times may be about to change, however: There is growing pressure on MS from the "Free Footware" lobby; The OSF (Open Socks Foundation) is encouraging rival software companies to give full disclosure of their Sock Code, including methods of recruitment, rates of pay, leave entitlements and so forth. It is hoped that with MS's rivals freely disclosing such information, MS will be forced into either doing the same (thereby revealing to the public exactly what is going on, and shaming them into a change of policy), or simply closing down their entire sock-exploitation enterprise.

But thereby lies a danger: If Microsoft stops employing socks, where will the freed socks go? Many of them (assuming they have survived working for MS at all) will be institutionalised, unaccustomed to freedom and to fending for themselves in the wild. They are likely to form gangs for their own protection, go marauding en masse around the internet. Vast numbers of liberated but unsupported Alpha socks could be a worse problem for the online community than even the shockingly widespread "MS Office" virus.

Socks need a home, and it is for this reason that the OSF is also championing the new, more enlightened sock-fluff based operating system, "Lint-ux", co-created by Belgian university drop-out Tourbus Lineweld. Legend tells of how Lineweld discovered the workings of sock-lint energy during a visit to the university comms room, during one their frequent LAN outages. There, pooled beneath the temporarily useless RJ45 patchpay, was a sizeable pile of dazed and disoriented sock lint, unexpectedly forced back into physical form without the opportunity to first re-shape itself into complete socks.

Lineweld investigated, and developed a keen interest in sock welfare issues, which paralleled his own situation as a techno-geek unwilling to be exploited by the only big employer in town. In a move much akin to the founding of the "Big Issue" project for the homeless in Britain, he created a haven for stray sock-lint, providing sympathetic employment, stability, and a shelter from the storm. This project became known as the "Lint-ux Kennel". When the loose association of hackers known as the GNU (General kNitwear Union) needed an acceptably open, non-exploitative supply of sock-lint energy to power their new operating system, it was to the Lint-ux Kennel that they turned. Indeed, the two projects are now so strongly associated, that the OS itself is generally (though inaccurately) referred to as Lint-ux.

Their support among the user community is growing, along with public awareness of the issues. Big-name PC manufacturers are keen to be seen taking a non-expolitative position, and are now bundling Lint-ux with their systems (mostly in the particular flavour assembled by a company well versed in clothing-rights issues, in particular colour prejudice directed toward head-gear: Red Hat.)

How much longer will Microsoft be able to continue their inhumane policies? When will socks be free? Only time will tell...

Copyright © 1999, Paul Bristow.This article is freely distributable, but may not be reproduced without this copyright notice attached.

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