Columns - 2001

    Grating eXPectations

    by Doug Brook
    Deep South Jewish Voice Columnist

    Our investigative mole liberated this document from the inner compound of a large software company for your edification. We cannot identify the company, except to say that it has hotels on Illinois Avenue, Park Place, Boardwalk, and all points in between... whether it admits it or not.

    The document is a design draft for potential additional features in a new computer operating system. For legal reasons, we cannot identify it here, except to say that it is awaited by some (fools) in the industry with great XPectatations.

    External Specification: Proposed Judaic Features in Wxxxxxs XX.

    Abstract: The features described in this document are designed to appeal to our Jewish customer-base, both current and potential, to ensure that we obtain their interest in our products over those of our competitors, whom we believe are powerful and on the verge of driving us out of the industry if we fail to market aggressively to ensure our company's tenuous survival.

    While we have not been asked to provide these features, our research into ancient Jewish texts through two correspondence courses makes us certain that these features will provide tremendous benefits to our Jewish users and therefore are critical elements of their computing experience. 1.0 Sabbath System Monitor

    The Sabbath System Monitor (SSM) provides many features for maximizing the observance of Shabbat in the strictest manner possible. Features include:

    • PC Power Shutdown an automatic control panel that automatically shuts down the system at candlelighting time every Friday night and for all holidays. The schedule is maintained via our website, which the control panel accesses regularly for synchronization. This control panel launches early during PC startup and, if there have not yet been three stars in the sky signifying the end the holy day, prevents the PC from starting up.
    • Complete Power Shutdown an expanded control panel which, through our peripheral product line, can control all electrical appliances and other power usage throughout the home. Hence, it provides the same functions as the PC Power Shutdown to all lights, televisions, appliances, and competitor's computers.

    2.0 Website Sabbath Enforcer

    The Website Sabbath Enforcer (WSM) provides extensive functions to your website to ensure that nobody can use your website on the internet in violation of the rules of Shabbat or holidays.

    • Tied in with the PC Power Shutdown, since all of our software products are inseparably integrated and interconnected, WSM ensures that a user's website is shut down on Shabbat and holidays so users are not using electricity to their benefit during this period.
    • Because the internet is truly worldwide, thanks to our company's unique foresight and innovation in proliferating our Ixxxxxxt Exxxxxxr product, it is difficult to determine where an internet user might view a website from. Because of this, to rule out any possible accidental use of the website in a part of the world where Shabbat might have already started or not yet ended, WSM shuts down a user's website late Thursday night and does not let it start again until late Sunday.

    While not available in this release, a future update to WSM should be able to confirm with users worldwide whether they have actually performed Havdallah, or any other appropriate rituals marking the end of the holiday.

    3.0 System Kashrut Monitor

    The System Kashrut Monitor (SKM) will skim (note the user-friendly acronym tie-in) all text on a user's PC and enforce the strictest rules of keeping Kosher to assist users in not being subliminally influenced to break these dietary codes for any reason.

    • All references to pork, shellfish, and other non-kosher animals found in any documents will be automatically replaced with similar kosher references that should provide no appreciable difference in meaning or local idiom. For example, the phrase "he sat at the dinner table and pigged out" was optimized by SKM to read, "he sat at the dinner table and ritually-slaughtered-cowed out".
    • All references to improper ritual slaughtering procedures, direct or otherwise, will be removed. For example, terms like "blood letting", "hack", "spitfire", and "forced corporate breakup".
    • All cookbooks viewed in online bookstores will first be checked for adherence to kashrut before being displayed.
    • All recipes downloaded from websites or exchanged in email will also be checked.
    • To ensure the separation of milk and meat products, no words describing milk and meat will be displayed on the screen within three hours of each other. For instance, if the word "cheese" appears on-screen in a document, the word "beef" cannot appear on the screen until three hours have passed.

    While not available in this release, a future version of SKM will let users set the amount of time between dairy and meat occurrences based on the user's preferred halachic interpretation.

    4.0 Centralized Synagogue Installation

    The Centralized Synagogue Installation (CSI) provides control to local synagogues over their congregants' PCs. This benefits users by letting synagogue staff automatically install and maintain all the features in this document without the users having to do anything at all.

    CSI installations in synagogues are in turn controlled from a central system at our corporate headquarters, to ensure we can provide the very latest to all synagogues and, hence, users, without their concern or awareness of any improvements we make for their benefit.

    5.0 Future Considerations

    Any contents of this document might change in the future as needed to comply with court orders, as long as they do not interfere with our ability to provide our users with what we know to be the best possible computing experience in this great, free country of ours.

    Due to the highly secretive nature of this document, and the circumstances under which our investigative mole acquired it, this newspaper will self-destruct in five seconds. I hope you already got to read the editorials.

    Doug Brook is a technical writer in Silicon Valley, so do not show this column to any of his co-workers at Cxxxxq. His play Retrograde was recently published in the 8 Tens @ 8 Festival anthology, available everywhere. For more information, online ordering, or an archive of past columns, visit his website at

    Copyright Doug Brook. All rights reserved.