Barney and Bill (PG)
Some will say that this is definitive proof that Bill Gates is the devil:
CNN: - Microsoft, Barney teaming up - August 19, 1997 http://www.cnn.com/SHOWBIZ/9708/19/barney.ap/index.html
Upon reading the above-referenced web page the following scenario burst full-fledged into my brain...
'Hello, and welcome to the Microsoft ActiMates Barney Help Line. My name is Alan. Would you please read me the serial number printed on the battery cover under Barney's tail?'
'Thank you. Could you please describe your problem?'
'I see. Have you tried removing the batteries and reinstalling them?'
'Have you used the ActiMates Barney PC Pack to connect Barney to your computer?'
'OK, what version of the PC Pack are you using? It's printed on the CD.'
'Kids do the darndest things. Well in that case, would you please cover Barney's right eye with your hand, squeeze his left hand three times, and tell me what he says.'
'I'll repeat that: 'LOVE PLAY HAPPY.' Is that correct?'
'Thank you. That error code indicates that there may be an incompatibility between the Barney's firmware and the PC Pack. Normally, I'd tell you to upgrade the PC Pack, but without the serial number on the CD I'm afraid you'd have to buy a whole new copy. Can you possibly send in your Barney for a firmware upgrade?'
'Eight to twelve weeks.'
'Please don't yell, ma'am. Under the circumstances, the best I can suggest is that you try a firmware reset. Do you know how to place Barney in Maintenance Mode?'
'Yes I can, ma'am, but I have to read you this warning first: 'Using Maintenance Mode incorrectly can cause serious problems that may render Barney completely unusable. Microsoft cannot guarantee that any problems resulting from the use of Maintenance Mode can be solved. You use this mode at your own risk.' Do you agree to these terms?'
'Please state your full name slowly and clearly for the tape.'
'Thank you. Is the child in the room?'
'That's good, this could be rather traumatic. I'd like you to reach way back into Barney's mouth with your finger. You should feel a small round button under the fabric. Press the uvula -- excuse me, ma'am, I meant the button -- and hold it for at least three seconds, then tell me what Barney says.'
''LOVE LOVE HAPPY LOVE FRIEND,' is that correct?'
'That means your Barney was made in Singapore, so you should twist Barney's head to the right about 120 degrees, until you hear a click.'
'Now press both of Barney's feet with one hand while you suqeeze his right hand three times. He should say 'LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE'.'
'What was that, ma'am?'
'He's not supposed to have *that* in his vocabulary! One moment, please...'
'Thank you for holding, ma'am. I'm sorry, but apparently your Barney has the VERMIN virus. Do you have a copy of Norton Playmate for Barney, or McAfee's Barney Gets His Shots?'
'I'd recommend you purchase one of those products at your local toy or computer store and use it to remove the virus. If that doesn't help, please call back, and reference case number 022161-DDL.'
'Thank you, and have a good day.'
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begins with Interstate 80. Not the most engaging topic, I know, but when you think about it, I-80 runs all the way across the North American continent linking San Francisco and New York. It's not just a ribbon of asphalt, it's a portal to far away, almost magical places.
My visits to major cities like Tokyo, London and Washington DC have been business affairs. I haven't rode a lot of roller coasters or ridden in open air buses, but I have visited with senators, bought yams from the back of a truck and barely escaped complete embarrassment when I was introduced to Matt Wiener in Vegas.
As I wrote the book I realized that over the years exotic, distant places have become more like the mundane places I've called home. But, as it turns out, there really aren't any mundane places, only mundane ways of looking at things.
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