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December 18, 2013

#1305: Undocumented Feature

Undocumented Feature

An old Windows utility has an undocumented feature.

[[Windows popup with “Loading support forum…” text and an hourglass icon.]]

If you open “Help” and click on the background, you get dropped into a “support” chat room.

Only a few of us ever found it.

[[Background of a chat room, with lines like “Morning!”, “Hey!”, and “You never finished that story”.]]

But we became friends.

We kept launching the program to check in.

[[A figure sits with a laptop on the left side of the panel. Another figure looks at a monitor on the right side of the panel.]]

Eventually some of us were running VMs just to keep accessing it.

As the internet aged

[[More background of a chat room, with lines like “But none of us gets through li..”, “You know?”, “Yeah…”, “You should talk to Kim about th…”, and “I did”]]

So did we

We don’t know who runs the server. We don’t know why it’s still working so many years later.

[[Three large question marks.]]

Maybe we’re some sysadmin’s soap opera.

It will probably vanish someday

[[5 figures floating randomly in a bubble.]]

But for now it’s our meeting place

Our hideaway

[[Camera zooms out, with darker nodes and edges starting to come into view beyond the bubble.]]

A life’s worth of chat,

[[Camera zooms out further. Many dark grey nodes and edges are visible, the bubble just a small space within them.]]

Buried in the deep web.

But even if it lasts forever, we won’t.

[[A sunset.]]

When we’re gone, who will remember us?

Who will remember this strange little world

[[Two figures looking at each other inside a bubble.]]

And the friendships we built here?

[[Blank panel, except for centered text.]]


This place is irrelevant. Ephemeral.

[[Panel with a bubble on it.]]

One day it will be forgotten

[[Bubble begins to fade.]]

And so will we

[[Bubble continues to fade, only barely visible.]]

[[Bubble disappears, leaving the panel blank.]]

[[Blank panel, except for centered text.]]

But at least it doesn’t have fucking video ads.