A lot of attention is given to the forerunners and dot com CEOs of our generation, famous people like "that bald guy who started Amazon", "that fat guy who started ebay", and "that guy who hung himself after Pets.com tanked". I think it's high time some attention is given to the people who are true innovators on the Information Sugar Tollhouse. I'm referring to people who affect your life every day, yet you aren't even aware of it. They perform their work quietly and efficiently without calling attention to the role they play and I think we need to recognize these icogs in the smooth-running ewheel of the interweb.
Profile: Janus Marcovi, Inventor of the "Amazing X10 Wireless Web Camera"You don't change the X10, it changes you.If you've ever gone online, and I have a hunch that you have, then you've seen advertisements for the X10 web camera. It appears in pop up windows nearly wherever you go, offering you access to unlimited realms of wireless webcam cinematography excitement. Naturally, behind these wonderful ads is a wonderful product, created by Janus Marcovi, a retired fish merchant living in Trenton, NJ.
I met up with Marcovi in his home, where he spends his days constantly improving on existing technology and conversing with his cats (he owns five). The home was unspectacular, a two story colonial brick building with a rusted iron gate, but inside was a magical workshop of delight and I was happy to be welcomed inside. Marcovi himself was a stooped man in his fifties, a gem-loop constantly squeezed over his left eye, wearing a clinging mat of cat hair over his black coveralls. He proudly displayed a few of his newest creations.
The first was a truly innovative device that projected prerecorded or transmitted images onto a glass screen using something he termed "cathode ray technology". He had named the device "The J34 wireless television set", although he admitted a number of wires were actually required to use the device. He was also part way through his prototype of "The N40 wireless dry erase board", a communication medium that Marcovi claims will "revolutionize the boardroom or the bedroom". He even explained how it could be easily mounted to a refrigerator and by employing glitter and "star sticker" peripherals could cause a "dramatic shift in the chore scheduling paradigm".
At the end of my visit he sent me on my way with a tin of sweet-meats and the answer to a question that had long been burning inside me. Why do half-naked women and babies always hang around the X10?
"All my inventions are like that," explained Marcovi, picking a fennel seed from his yellowed teeth, "I think I imbue each with just the right proportions of sex appeal and cat hair to bring the women and babies running. Women, okay, babies do not run."
Rich "Lowtax" Kyanka had this to add: "I think the apex of moviemaking genius occurred during Poltergeist 2, when Coach Hayden Fox threw up that giant grub."
Profile: Number 86, Animated GIFThis closeup of #86 shows the zeal with which he approaches his sport.
Number 86 is a legend on the internet. His bold moves and no-nonsense behavior have inspired fans and athletes alike, yet so little is known about the man behind the GIF. Who is #86 and what makes him tick? I had a chance to interview this star on AOL Instant Messenger.
PupyLuv: You are one of the most renowned stars of the information age, how does it feel?
Eighty-Six: I JUST GIVE IT 110% AT ALL TIMES! FOR THE FANS IN THE STANDS YOU KNOW! HUT HUT HUT HUT!
PupyLuv: When you're not handling the pigskin how do you like to unwind?
Eighty-Six: COACH GAVE ME THE THIRD DEGREE FOR TAKING SUDAFED, HE SAID I COULD GET EJECTED FOR DOPING IF I'M NOT CAREFUL. I JUST TRAIN, PUMP IRON, YOU KNOW, PROTEIN SHAAAAAAKES. HIKE!
PupyLuv: What do you think is your biggest asset on the grid iron?
Eighty-Six: STICK AND MOVE! I CAN STIFF ARM A TORNADO! HUT HUT HUT HUT BLUE THIRTEEN HIKE!
PupyLuv: Who do you idolize or who are your biggest influences?
Eighty-Six: HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT JESUS CHRIST.
PupyLuv: What has been your shining moment, your greatest achievement?
Eighty-Six: FOURTH AND TEN, QB TELLS ME TO RUN THE BALL. I STEAMROLL OVER THEIR DEFENSIVE TACKLE AND HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT TOUCHDOWN!
PupyLuv: Last question, are you an animal lover?
Eighty-Six: I OWN A DOG NAMED TOUCHDOWN!
It was truly an exhilarating experience interacting with an athlete/scholar as well-spoken as #86. Perhaps in the near future I'll get a chance to sit down and talk with his good friend "E-mail Icon of Mailbox Eating Letter".
Rich "Lowtax" Kyanka had this to add: "And what's the deal with airports? I mean, come on! They're not made out of air and they sure as hell aren't a port! Who's the genius that thought of that one?"
Profile: Jim Eggers, The 1000th Person to Submit Alex Chiu as an ALoDEven Alex Chiu is behind you 100% Jim Eggers!I caught up with the esteemed Mr. Eggers just as he was getting ready to board a bus to take him home from Lowell Creek Junior High School. In my least-creepy sounding voice I invited him to get into my car. After I sweetened the deal with some "Kit-Kat" bars and a dollar bill the boy agreed and we sped off to the woods off County Road 40. In a secluded clearing I sat down with Jim and talked about his doings on the world wide web.
At first he was reluctant to take all the credit for his incredible Alex Chiu find, deferring to his classmate Pete Maxon as the true pathfinder. However, after consuming a few cans of sweet Coca-Cola laced with mild narcotics, he was more than willing to discuss his discovery at length.
"I thought it was pretty crazy," said Eggers, sweat beginning to bead on his forehead, "I mean this guy had these rings that, like, he claimed were going to make you live forever. This isn't the matrix [Editor's Note: He is referring to the movie "The Matrix", which detailed an artificial reality computer that was made to convince humans to sell candy bars for charity, but it wasn't a charity it was a computer, not the one that made the reality though, one that liked money.] you can't dodge bullets and stuff and jump off buildings and live."
After we enjoyed some tuna salad sandwiches I brought along in the cooler, I massaged Jim's shoulders as he continued to discuss the monumental importance of the Alex Chiu web site submission.
"I read Something Awful sometimes and I am on the forum as FartyFace but I got kicked off for being racist or something," he said with a groan, finally relaxing against my expert hands, "then I decided, hey this site would make a great Awful Link of the Day, that R-Lo guy would really like Alex Chiu."
Just as I told the police, I drove Jim home after that and that was the last I saw of him. I don't know, apparently he ran away or something.
Rich "Lowtax" Kyanka had this to add: "Hello operator? I'd like a direct line to Portland, Oregon. NO, I WILL NOT TELL YOU TO WHICH NUMBER! RESPECT MY PRIVACY AT ONCE, DESK MAVEN! WORK THAT DAG-BLASTED ROTARY PHONE DIALING DIGIT OF YOURS, MINDLESS HARPY!"
There are many more unsung heroes of the Internet! God willing I will profile all of them. I would also like to state that contrary to what the Oakfield County prosecutor believes, I do not drive a 1997 blue Ford Escort. It is aquamarine.
Do you wish to know what computers will be doing in the year to come? With a sigh I shall exert the minimal effort it takes to reveal all. Feel free to print out these predictions and share them with your friends via fax.
Old mixed signals feeling a little stale? Try some new ones!
day 2: still working on the car
The Something Awful front page news tackles anything both off and on the Internet. Mostly "on" though, as we're all incredible nerds.