Modernizing It's All About the Pentiums

One of my favorite rap songs is Weird Al's It's All About the Pentiums. In some ways the exaggerative style of the lyrics have protected the song, and it has aged relatively well, given the subject matter, but even so there are some parts of it that just seem like they could stand to be modernized. Here are a few of my suggestions. (Note that I'm only listing the parts I suggest changes for. The full lyrics, if you don't know them, are available elsewhere.)

original lyric comments suggested revision
Defraggin' my hard drive for thrills While defragmentation is not entirely obsolete
as such, it seems a lot less relevant now than
ten years ago, and indeed there are much
geekier things one can do with a filesystem
these days than defragment it. Unfortunately,
tuning the filesystem parameters for
performance doesn't seem to fit the metre
here, so I had to go with something older,
older even than defragmentation, but something
all geeks still do from time to time.
Partition my hard drive for thrills
(or stet)
Installed a T1 line in my house While residential frame relay is still geeky
in general, T1 is no longer the same kind of
overkill that it was when the song was
written, and many ordinary consumers
have that much bandwidth from DSL or
even cable modem service. My revised
lyric, however, should be good for at
least ten years more.
Installed an OC3 at my house
Upgrade my system at least twice a day The first line here would have been fine
as it stands, except that changing the rhyme
makes the next line easier to work with.
This latter did not age well and is arguably the
worst lyric in the song. (The part about Y2K
was laughable within six months after the song's
release, and probably should not have been
included in the first place.) The line can't even
really be upgraded with a modern equivalent,
because there isn't one. PnP is a very bad
memory for most geeks, with no modern equivalent
really, and nobody is very much afraid of 2038,
most software having already been upgraded to
64-bit datetime values as I write this.
That makes this line a good choice to slip
in something that wasn't on most people's
radar when the song was written in the
nineties. Network security and reliability
seems obvious.
Social networking and user-created content are
another option, but security seems more
likely to still be an issue in ten years.
Threading and Unicode seem too technical,
managed code too likely to be taken for
granted in another ten years.
My battery backup is certified green.
I'm strictly plug-and-play, I ain't afraid of Y2K My generator's clean. My firewall is lean and mean.
You think your Commodore 64 is really neato No one could have predicted in 1999 that the
Commodore 64 would be cool again in 2007, but
the retro trend, among teenagers and gamers,
has really changed the flavor of meaning
this line carries. A small brand substitution
should restore the original sentiment.
You think your Packard Bell is really neato
In a 32-bit world, you're a 2-bit user Yeah, there is still a lot of 32-bit stuff
out there, but the cool CPUs now are all
64-bit, and the days of 32-bit software
are numbered. I wouldn't have revised the
song for this, and it may even be a little
ahead of its time, but since we're making
changes, this should be updated too.
In a 64-bit world, you're a 2-bit user

Wow, look at that. With only six changes (and most of them are very small changes, and two of them scarcely even necessary) a song from 1999 feels current in 2006. Given the subject matter, that's actually fairly amazing. It's hard to find a computer book from 1999 that's worth the paper it's printed on, so these lyrics really have aged quite well.


Andy said...

I still think having your own personal T-1 is up-to-date. I'm surprised, though, that you have no mention of wireless networking.

Jonadab said...

Having your own personal T1 is still pretty up to date, but it's not the same kind of cartoonishly preposterous overkill that it would have been when the song was written, back when normal people had 36k dialup and people and businesses with relatively high-bandwidth needs had 64k or 128k ISDN. Fiscally T1 might still be fairly preposterous, but in terms of the connectivity and sheer computer-geek drool factor, it's not what it was. It's _better_ than "consumer broadband", yes, particularly if you care about latency and full duplex, but it's not as _overwhelmingly_ better as it used to be, particularly compared to business-grade DSL service.

An OC3, on the other hand, is equivalent in bandwidth to about a hundred T1 lines, so it's clearly overkill for anyone other than an ISP or data center.

Wireless... yeah, it just didn't occur to me. It's something you only need if you really care about being able to sit anywhere in the house and use a laptop, rather than going to where the computer is. Otherwise, wireless networking is very much More Trouble Than It's Worth. But yeah, it's got great buzzword value, so it probably should have been included. Not sure where to put it though.