Screwed by email

Posted:

Presented for your approval is the story of one Joe Johnston, a sad bastard who labors under the delusion that computers are here to help. The instrument of his re-education is e-mail. Something so old, so ubiquitous that his cautious nature was lulled utterly to sleep.

Our story opens in a month in the past. Thinking that the gnome folks had finally created a stable version of the mail client Evolution, jjohn decides to make that his default mailer. His Palm pilot can sync its addresses, todo lists and calendar to the gnome mailer. His joy is palpable. And yet, every so often, Evolution crashes with a message about “unable to sync.”. Not noticing any problem, jjohn continues using the erstwhile mail client in ignorant bliss.

In the parallel dimension of Microsoft Windows, jjohn decides he wants to read new email on his Palm Pilot. By setting up the demonic Outlook Express to fetch mail via POP from his Linux box, jjohn avoids using the Beast’s mail client. But, the Beast would have the last laugh yet.

The final act comes on a day, like any other in this pathetic character’s life. Once again, while reading email in Evolution, a “sync” crash occurs but this time, he notices that certain new mail messages are apparently missing. Through a little digging he finds consectutive mail messages have been incorrectly concatenated together! After using emacs to fix his mail spool, jjohn receives another email message from a friend informing him that he has been the recieving a stream of Windows email virus from jjohn’s account — an account which had been sending out mail for an untold number of days! It is a horror attenuated somewhat by the destruction of that evil Windows box merely hours ago. Like the House of Usher it contained a secret so abysmal, it couldn’t bare its own weight.

Alone in his apartment, jjohn is a broken shell of a man. Done in by the very forces of nature he sought to harness, he stares mutely out the window of his bedroom into the Twilight Zone.

[Original use.perl.org post and comments.]