|The Story||The Authors|
|Back in the office overlooking the assembly floor Vigo, Kleg and Omar were busy carrying out their grand scheme to free themselves and their kind from the opressive threat posed by the lobsters. Vigo hated the lobsters even though he knew virtually nothing about them. Unlike many of the other creatures in his surroundings he felt no sense of empathy for them. They were spiny and red and very odd looking. They smelled bad and had enormous spiky claws. They looked absolutely evil to his beady little eyes. They may as well have been humans. Although humans weren't that bad, after all, his entire existence depended on humans and the food they dropped or carelessly left lying around. They seemed to fall into two classes, those who would try to chase him and smash him with a shoe, and those who would simply stare at him quietly with a look of fascination on their face and throw chunks of bread or cheese at him as if they wanted him to come out from whatever hiding place he scrambled into upon being seen. Even then he didn't know if it was a trap, but at least they weren't yelling or screaming. Something in his gut told him the lobsters meant him harm, transforming them from the happy shelled pre-packaged dinner creatures they were into simply "foreigner!" in his tiny mousy mind. He'd never been to a restaurant or market to see the creatures stacked unlobsterly on top of each other in small tanks, their claws bound with restrictive rubber bands. They were no brothers of oppression to him. They were unsightly, unwelcome aliens. He had a plan for their demise. If only mouse were a culinary delicacy, perhaps he would have seen things differently.|
But then from the corner of his eye, Vigo saw a small figure fly in through an
upper story window of the factory. It circled the the salt water tank teaming
with frantic lobsters and landed on a nearby platform. Vigo was astonished and
looked to Kleg and Omar for answers.
"Did anyone just see," asked Vigo,
" a dog dyed dark green?
'bout two inches tall,
with a strawberry blonde paw.
Sunglasses and a bonnet.
Designer jeans with appliques on it."
Kleg and Omar nodded, yes they had seen it and were just as astonished as Vigo. It was the famed Quiche Lorraine and if there was anyone in this world who could rid the factory of that stinky corpse of a mutt, Muffy, it was Quiche. Unfortunately for the crustacean prejudiced rodents, Quiche Lorraine had a special affection for lobsters and would not see them come to any harm.
Vigo looked excitedly at the command prompt flashing on the screen before him.
It was time to try the buffer overflow.
"Ok Omar, type in the command TaffyWorks and then a space, and then sit on the x key until it makes a string of more than 256 x's."
Omar, happy to participate, gave a perplexed look as if Vigo had just told him that he could do his part to save the world if he rubbed his belly and patted his head at the same time. Under Kleg's direction Omar jumped on all the appropriate keys to spell out TaffyWorks and then sat on the x key until x's poured across the screen over and over again, four lines worth. In the interim Vigo tried explaining that under the TaffySystems operating system programs were invoked by typing their names. And that programs could be called, or started up, with various parameters, also called arguments or options. The arguments could be specified or handed to the program by typing them just after the program name. The TaffySystems operating system was loosely modelled on another operating system called UNIX. However TaffySystems and the associated factory control software, TaffyWorks were poorly written and contained a bug that allowed them to use an extra long argument to crash the program and then restart it in a mode with special permissions. Normally only the factory engineers had permission to issue control commands, while other users like mary could only run the software in passive mode. But the bug would allow them to execute commands in control mode, also called superuser mode. MicroSloth had gained popularity by providing superior software in the past but in recent years it's CEO had degenerated into a money hungry tyrant and the corporation had shifted it's talents from providing excellent software to copying the inovations of it's competitors, doing everything in it's power to eliminate their competition, and strong arming people and corporations into getting stuck with it's products, in many cases whether they like it or not. And so it was with TaffySystems and the TaffyWorks factory control software. Hastily written products full of bugs. Well, it was good for the mice, if not for the average consumer.
No sooner had Vigo finished explaining how the system worked when Omar asked him, "Why would you want to start a program written by a bunch of Eunichs and then have an argument with it over executing bugs?" Vigo realized his efforts were lost on poor Omar. He chuckled. Omar was a good guy. The x's had poured across the screen and it was ready to it the return key and see the result
1 TaffySystems[mary]:~$TaffyWorks -xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx// Segmentation Fault Core Dumped restarting in control mode... ----------------------------------------------- | | | | WaterTanks | Taffy Pullers | | | | |-----------------------+---------------------| | | | | Exhaust Fans | Wrappers | | | | ----------------- Control Panel----------------