Post by Dorothy J Heydt Post by Peter Trei
Thus the invention of the "screen saver", which ran a moving
image (eg, flying toasters) on the screen when it was not in use.
Not really needed on LCD/LED screens.
For a while I worked for a professor whose office and labs (and
my office) were on the sixth floor of the Biochemistry building.
Just down the hall from my office was a small room with a printer
in it, and a computer connecting the printer to a local network.
It was a UNIX system, so no flying toasters; it played Lissajous
patterns all day. It was supposed to be kept locked, and
everyone who had the right to use it had a key.
But one day I went to get some printout, and found that the door
had been left unlocked and there was this, um, slightly weird
(even in the context of Berkeley) fellow sitting in front of the
monitor, earnestly observing the Lissajous patterns.
I gently asked whether he was a student, or any other kind of
member of the University community. He wasn't, so I did have the
right to ask him to leave. (Every entrance to the campus has
this little plaque in the sidewalk reading "Property of the
Regents of the University of California. Permission to pass over
may be revoked at any time.")
I forget now what-all I said to persuade him to leave. I finally
succeeded, and he wandered off, and I got my printout and went
back to my office and called the campus police. He LOOKED
harmless, but he was definiately not in the same reality as the
rest of us (even in the context of Berkeley), and I wanted the
cops to know about him.
I must have persuaded him to leave campus altogether, because
they never saw him.
Maybe I've said, I've got some collections of articles
from _Scientific American_ about nathematical recreation,
by Martin Gardner - reproduced with readers' letters -
wherein I learned about the "flexagon", a hexagonal
(or other) construct of paper with two outside faces
of triangle segments, and several more inside.
Fold it so, unfold it thus, and a new facet appears.
It's rather hypnotic.
And one reader wrote that he'd seen a friend get their
necktie caught in the thing, they kept folding it,
and seconds later they had been engulfed.
Someone else then wrote that their own flexagon
had emitted a strip of colored fabric, followed by
a confused, amnesiac, rather hungry tie-wearer...
and he really didn't want to go back in.
The "screen saver" may have a practical benefit
of hiding by default sensitive information on the
computer screen, as well as the entertainment of
swirly shapes or comical cartoons. As an art form,
government regulation of energy-saving screens
that switch off instead was the opposite of supportive.
Although I hear that determined artists still create
"video installations" that theoretically play for
500 years, though not many people are going to watch
all of that.