Here's a story of how the Li'l .Sig came to be and how he influenced Rec.Juggling.
Everyone on R.J. was able to put these little waivers at the bottom of their posts that said legal stuff about their employers not being responsible for the content of this post, blah, blah, blah. Some people had cute little Ascii drawings or some little saying. I did not have this capability on my system. So I came up with the idea that I would put at the bottom of my post an explanation of *why* my .Sig was not there.
I tried to always make it relate to the content of my post. If my post was instructions on making a diabolo at home, I would say at the bottom ".Sig not available as it is off trying to make a diabolo out of a sewing spool" or some such.
Somewhere along the line Arthur Lewbel "loaned" me his .Sig to use. I don't know how that happened, but he became "Uncle Arthur" thereafter. Lot's of Rec.Jugglers started emulating my Li'l .Sig and putting their own explanations in. Soon, .Sigs began to take on personalities of their own. A tradition was born.
<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><> A funny thing happened to me as I was reading email...
I was contentedly typing away at my PC, when I heard a soft knocking at my door. Somewhat irritated I went to the window and looked out... nothing. Then, another knock. Perplexed, I opened the door. When I looked down there was a cute little .sig standing on my doorstep with a knapsack thrown over its shoulder and spinning a stage ball on its finger.
"Mr. Big sent me" said the little .sig. "He said I was supposed to come over here and teach you some Internet etiquette"... then it giggled. At least I think it was a giggle. Kind of a maniacal system beep. Whatever it was... I didn't like the sound of it.
"Well," I said, "I'm sorry you had to come all this way, but you apparently don't understand what I'm doing. I'm trying to create a NEW and more EXPRESSIVE 'net language." The little .sig knitted its brow in concentration (which is not easy for a .sig to do). After a few moments I could see that it wasn't catching on. "You see I'm something of a revolutionary- sort of a George Washington for the .sigless".
"Ermmmm" whined the .sig (the little creep was starting to get on my nerves). "The boys back at MIT aren't gonna be happy about this... we'll be in touch."
The little .sig turned on it's heel and left in a huff (which is even harder for a .sig to do). I've never considered .sigs to be threatening. They're usually just cute little literary allusions. Ah well, it takes all kinds.
I figured that since I was already up, I might as well take the dog for a walk. I didn't know if it was my imagination, or if the pooch had somehow picked up on my agitation, but I could have sworn she was acting a little edgy. Suddenly, she stopped. Just stopped dead in her tracks with her head cocked at that funny angle when they are listening real closely. She looked left, then right, then up at me. I could see confusion in her eyes. Confusion and... what?
Just then her whole body went rigid, ears flattened back against her head. The beginnings of a growl rising up in the back of her throat. "What's up pup?", I whispered. She ignored me. Then, from somewhere around the bend in the road, I heard it. Faintly at first. So faint that I thought it was just the wind. But with more concentration (and my head cocked at that funny angle when I'm listening real close) I heard it too. What was it? An electrical short on the telephone pole? Someone's radio tuned between stations? Then it came to me... I had heard that sound once before. My blood turned to ice as I recalled the horror. It was the sound of a read/write head trashing a 40MB hard drive.
The dog got smart. It turned tail and headed for home. I was frozen to the spot, paralyzed by fear. Then slowly, almost casually, *it* lumbered out from behind a bush. It was a mad, slavering .sig that had been sent out to track me down. That damn cute little .sig had warned me... "they'd be in touch".
Thankfully my feet thawed out and of their own volition began running back the way we had come. My mind was reeling. This sort of thing only happens in bad Cyberpunk fiction. I jumped over the dog and into the house. I could hear the .sig outside... slavering.
I took a chance and peeked out a window just in time to see it climbing up the side of my house and prying open the telephone junction box. It began to pulsate with an eerie green light, then it disappeared. The house was silent except for the muffled whimpering of the dog under the living room rug.
I wandered towards the kitchen to get something to calm my nerves, a Snickers bar should do the trick, but as I passed my office I noticed a light at the bottom of the door. I opened the door and wasn't exactly surprised to see my CPU glowing with that same eerie light. I sat down in front of the monitor resigned to the fact that this really was happening and that it would end here... where it had all begun.
An image began to take shape on the screen. It was the little .sig again. "OK Salberg, Mr. BIG is on line now and he wants to talk to you." In the background I could just make out Mr. BIG's visage. Dark hair, scraggly black beard, a piece of chalk in one hand and a Jugglers World magazine in the other.
"So tell me Salberg" he rumbled, "what's with these .sigs of yours? You know we only use automatically machine generated repetitively boring .sigs. What are you, some kind of subversive?
"No, er, uh- yes... YES I AM! I'm spreading a new word through the 'net, a new way of expressing your personality. A .sig personality for the .sigless. It's caught on. I know you've seen that or you wouldn't be so terrified of me now. Lot's of people have given their .sigs new life and I'm proud... DAMNED proud!
Mr. Big's eyes glittered lightly in the phosphorescent glow of the evil cute little .sig perched on his shoulder. "Yes, we've seen these things. And I assure you they will be dealt with. We are working on a .sigbot at this very moment.
Then he laughed. His shaggy head reared back and he laughed. And in the gaping maw of his mouth I saw the truth. Diodes and coax cables intertwined inside his head. Mathematical equations flashed behind his eyes. "We know how to deal with your kind in here". The monitor began to pulsate. The screen bulged out in the outline of a grasping hand and arm. It reached out for me... reaching... grasping...
"Honey wake up! You're having a nightmare". It was Jenn shaking me awake. "You were screaming something about pseudonyms and parenthetical personalities". I looked around the room. Relieved, I realized that it had in fact been just a bad dream. I took some deep breaths and lay back down. My head bumped into something on the pillow. I held it up and saw it was a book...
INTERNET ETIQUETTE and THE PHYSICS OF JUGGLING
by A. Lewbel
Oh dear god... the horror.
.sig out trying to find a braver dog...
P.S. Sorry Arthur, you just happened to be there.
See what happens when you loan someone your .sig!