Your source for information on the
covert world of computing
Agent Fax Modem here, together with new partner Rana
Skulky, bringing you the secret world of secrets in the computing industry.
These secrets have been given to me by a mysterious group of individuals who I
never really know much about to distribute so the truth is known. Well, one
perspective of the truth anyway.
So here, with flashlight and cellular
phone in hand are The Psi-Files
Sitting in my basement P.S.I office, glancing at my
collection of UFO posters, geeky magazines and cheap mail-order video tapes of
Alien Autopsies I came to the conclusion that I was the saddest federal agent
in history. After a few days of wallowing in self-pity I decided to do
something about it and go out and dig some dirt on some companies. Hoping to
implicate them in some kind of conspiracy or two, just to cheer myself up.
The trail of newsgroup message, web site news updates and
half-page, mis-informed articles in the national press led me to the offices of
Symbian. A new collaboration of Psion, Nokia, Erricsson and Motorola. The
bizarre name suggested to me that there was more to this company than the press
were saying, and also suggested that I was perhaps a bit too paranoid about
life. After dark, I crept inside using an air vent...
Seven hours later, a passing security guard helped me
dislodge my head from the vent shaft, but not after beating me several times
with his torch. After thanking him for the beating (the penalty of not thanking
him being further beatings) I left for my car.
The following morning I visited my friends The Cloned
Mudmen who told me that Symbian has been a shadowy organisation working behind
the scenes in the consumer electronics industry for sometime, but it's as
researchers for the CIA that they are best known for. According to my sources
Symbian created the first Adaptive Network computer system and since then has
been developing computer programs for the American Government.
I returned to my office mulling over the revelation from
The Cloned Mudmen, however I found that the P.S.I had assigned a new agent to
work with me. Rana Skulky is, without a doubt, the sexiest federal agent in the
world and shouldn't be employed in any agency except a modelling one. However,
she doesn't discuss herself and always goes on about being scientific!
We returned to Symbian, the Executive we spoke to was far
too polite and helpful to be involved in any conspiracy and we returned to my
car. As I walked home after making an unsuccessful pass at Skulky my mysterious
informant, Sharp Poke, met me and told me two important things. Firstly,
Symbian had developed the first sentient Smart Phone and secondly, Skulky had
stolen my car.
Skulky refused to pick me up from Symbian's head office as
she was already collecting the money from the sale of my car and so I snuck
into the basement of Symbian and located their secret research room. The site
that greeted me was fantastic. A mobile phone wired in into the building's
telecommunication system, it's LCD display displaying thousands of pages of
information every second.
As I photographed the machine, several shadowy figures
appeared and destroyed all the evidence, dumping me near my apartment and
speeding off in their station wagon. This prompted me to realise that maybe
this secret was worth exposing.
The next morning Skulky and myself went to visit Rick
Wiltcheck, a hotshot programmer who used to work for Psion. He explained about
the Symbian Project, collaboration with the mobile phone companies, Psion and
the CIA. Together they attempted to create a genuine Smart Phone, an
intelligence agent that could go everywhere, transmit everything and wouldn't
even be on the payroll.
However, during tests the prototypes became sentient and
began attempting to take control of all the information resources in the world.
Several of the prototypes were destroyed, but one managed to wire itself into
Symbian's basement. This Smart Phone has been absorbing information around the
world for years and is rumoured to have damaging information on every important
person in the world. As such it has been blackmailing people for a chance to be
released to a mobile phone shop where it can serve mankind in its proper
Rick Wiltcheck said that Psion do not want this phone to
hit the street, besides the fact that it's potentially psychotic, but it would
also mean their Palmtops would become redundant as the phone can store all of
it's information on the backs of radio waves. This would make compact flash and
RAM chips useless and Psion's main income would vanish, leading to
Skulky and myself pondered on what to do about this, we
thought about storming Symbian's HQ and disconnecting the phone manually from
it's information points, but we decided against it as this would mean an
expensive action scene which the budget would no way spread to. After a few
hours we hit gold and managed to disconnect the Symbian Smart Phone and saving
Psion from extortion and blackmail. We cancelled its Cellnet subscription.
What case will Skulky and myself tackle next? Wait and
Episode 2Peeling Cases - A
Perfectly Ordinary Evolutionary Step
While hanging out
in a desolate underground car park the other day, shining my heavy duty torch
into the distance while dialling for a pizza on my P.S.I issue cellular phone I
was approached by my highly mysterious and blatantly obvious informant Sharp
Poke. He told me to investigate peeling cases in Psion Series 5's, claiming
that there was more than just a slightly unappealing (no pun intended) cosmetic
reason behind the strange complaint. Having been placed in mortal danger many
times by Sharp Poke I said no, however, after ten sunglasses wearing standard
secret agent type goons beat me up and told me to lay off the case I decided
maybe there was something there.
I arrived at Haven, a small town in
Texas, after spending several days talking with the locals and poking my head
around corners I realised I was looking in completely the wrong place and so
caught a plane back to England where I visited a Cambridge doctor who, with the
help of my Psion Series 5, uncovered a chilling truth.
Dr C. Dre Aack
explained that the Psion 5 goes through several, evolutionary changes during
it's life. The first and most obvious change is it's skin peeling. When the
Psion 5 is taken out of it's box for the first time after packing a small
molecular change begins to take place as the Psion begins it's evolution
towards a more 'perfect' lifeform.
We subjected my Psion 5 to a
reversed positron beam channelled through an interphasic compensator, however
this had no effect and so we shone an Ultraviolet lamp at it instead, this is
what we saw...
As you can see, the green areas of the case
is where the molecular change takes place, or where our positron beam screwed
the case up. Needless to say, the peeling continues unless the machine is taken
back for 'repair', at this point the biological agent that begins the process
is halted for several weeks.
Step two in the biological transformation
is when ROM 1.01 is installed. This begins the evolution of the internal
aspects of the Psion, users will note memory leaks occur, this is actually
physical blocks of memory being 'changed' in some way, for what purpose I am
Dr Aack did comment that this sort of change is gradual and
may take several steps before it is complete. Just what have Psion created? Is
it a machine or something far more sinister...
Nanobots Are Shipped With Every Psion
It has been leaked to me that nanobots, microscopic robots developed by
governmental powers, are being shipped with every Psion 5. These nanobots have
a variety of hidden missions to achieve and it is rumoured that Microsoft are
behind the scheme.
I have determined that here, in this rocky Arizona
landscape near some hick American town, lies a secret research centre
controlling the robots. Their mission is to gather information on rival
Microsoft products and destroy Psion from within. Their secret weapon?
Microscopic lasers that sever hinges and crack screens in Psion machines.
Already many people have experienced this sudden and deadly sabotage where
the sides of Psion's blast outwards, spraying the nanobots onto nearby
computers and consumer electronic items. The nanobots, having completed their
primary objectives of destroying the Psion, then go about collecting secondary
information on the environment. All information is sent back to Microsoft and
this information is then used to target specific individuals with 'upgrade'
offers which are actually secret computer viruses designed to force the user to
think their computer needs to be upgraded. Intel are involved in the secondary
plan, though I can't prove this.
Psion themselves have been busy,
while contamination of their stock is a problem they have retaliated by
planting a spy in Microsoft. This spy has been responsible for Windows CE being
so abysmal and also has been rumoured to have caused the new operating system
Windows 95.5 to crash on American TV.
P.S.I Headquarters, Basement office, second door to the
left past the boiler room, Thursday 13th August 1998, 08:45:23, 24, 25,
Modem's office was a tip, paper, posters, PC Disks, copies
of the beta version of extrabars laid everywhere. Amongst the mess was Modem
himself, furiously rummaging through the junk, obviously looking for something.
Skulky strolled in, she hung her long overcoat on the coat stand, slowly, ever
so slowly, took off her sunglasses and stared down at her partner. "What's
wrong Modem?" she asked politely.
Modem looked up and flung his hands in the air. "I've lost
my Psion 5, I had it here, but, well, I dunno, it's just gone."
Skulky chuckled. "Think it's aliens?"
"No, the cleaners."
Skulky sighed. "Well it can't have gotten far, it doesn't
have legs. I'll help you look for it."
"It's got my addresses, phone numbers everything inside
"You do have a back-up don't you?"
"Sure I do, a Berrata 7.6mm, in my ankle holster."
Skulky was rummaging through the junk on the desks. "Data
backup you idiot! Do you use PsiWin 2.1 to backup your information?"
"No, EPOC's supposed to be stable, why should I have to
Skulky picked up a small DAT tape. "Hey Modem look, I
found the tape with all that alien autopsy and UFO information on it, the one
that we thought had been taken by the mysterious men. It's been under your porn
magazines the whole time." Modem tossed it aside. "I need my Psion, I can't
live without it, I just can't, Skulky, help me, help me please!!!" he said
"Modem calm down..." Skulky said, gently shaking him.
"Modem, stop groping me...Modem..."
Modem sailed over his desk, landing in a crumpled heap on
the other side of the table. He began to mumble to himself, his hands gently
caressing the Psion Software and Accessories catalogue that laid nearby.
"Poor Modem, he's got withdrawal symptoms."
Psion Customer Repair Centre, same day, a little later in
Skulky guided Modem into the repair centre's reception
centre. "Now Modem, you just sit down here and look at the nice pictures of the
Palmtop computers, okay?"
"Okay Skulky." he replied softly, his hands were quivering
and sweat was dripping down his face.
"Excuse me, I'm Special Agent Rana Skulky from the P.S.I,
my partner's lost his Psion 5 and he's suffering some kind of withdrawal, is
there anything you can do to help?"
The receptionist held her hand up slightly to indicate she
was on the phone, but her conversation didn't stop. "We're sorry but all our
lines are engaged, please try again later or hold for further assistance..."
the lady smiled as she placed the receiver onto a tape recorder which began to
play patronising music. "I'm sorry, I was just fobbing off some more customers.
How are you? Can I help you today Agent Skulky?"
"My partner's lost his Psion 5, it's really important that
we find it or a replacement, he's suffering some kind of withdrawal
"Look Skulky, a Psion 3c poster, isn't it beautiful."
Skulky sighed. "Modem, put the poster down, no! Stop
licking it, just sit down and star at their demo machines." Skulky turned back
to the receptionist. "Is there anybody we can talk to?" "I'll buzz you in for
our technical director."
"Hmm, I see, yes, of course." muttered the technical
director of Psion's Repair Centre. As he peered into Modem's vacant eyes.
"Do you know what's wrong with him Mr Meener?"
"No, I just like muttering." he replied, sitting back in
his chair. "The truth is that only a new Psion 5 or his replacement one will
snap him out of this delirious state, not to mention restore his face to it's
normal appearance." "But he always looks like this Mr Meener."
"But why is he suffering so bad? Is it due to a breakdown
in the strands of DNA that hold the essential building blocks of life?"
"It's got nothing to do with that, why do you ask?"
"Just getting some tecno-mumbo-jumbo into this week's
"Oh I see, well the reason why he's reacting so bad is
because we lace all of our palmtops in narcotics."
"You mean you're a front for an international drug
"No, we're just really cunning in how we get a dedicated
user base. Why do you think the Amiga has a few hard-line whiners still
thinking it's a good computer. We just borrowed the idea from them."
"I see." Skulky paused for a moment. "That means that
you're breaking the law, I have to arrest you!"
"Ah, but you won't."
"Why? Because if I do you won't help my partner?"
"No, because I have a big gun pointing at your head." he
replied, pulling out a very big gun and pointing it at her head.
Skulky, Modem and Mr Meener all spun to look at the office
window as a huge muscular man swung in via an abseiling rope and landed,
unscaved, on the floor. He rose and pulled out an unfeasible large gun and
pointed it at Mr Meener. "Oh my god, it's McCain, the extremely hard cop who
disregards all orders with no apparent consequences." shrieked Skulky.
"Isn't he the one who speaks with an Austrian accent
that's never satisfactorily explained?"
"Da, that's me." bellowed McCain. "Sorry to smash your
plans for Agent Skulky Mr Meener, but the games up. We know all about your
narcotic coated Palmtops. I just needed you to admit it to the Agents, that's
why I stole Agent Modem's Series 5." Modem grabbed his Psion and sniffed it
passionately. "At last, it's back, hello baby, how are you?"
Mr Meener fired his gun towards McCain, the bullet grazed
his arm, and ricocheted off into the wall.
"Ouch, that hurt." McCain said walking towards Mr Meener.
"Time to show you the door ya?"
"Wait McCain, we can work this out can't we? I can get you
involved, it'll mean lots of cash for you, that's be good yeah?"
"Wrong! As I'm an action policeman I never need income
because I'm always working to destroy evil schemes."
"Sounds familiar." Skulky muttered.
"Time to say goodbye Mr Meener." McCain said, raising his
gun. "Download this and unzip it!"
P.S.I Headquarters, Basement Office, even later that
"Boy, it's a good job McCain came and rescued us against
direct orders, I hope he doesn't get into trouble for it." Skulky said to
"He won't, it's always the same way, he's far too popular
to be punished for any serious length of time. Take us, two agents who appear
to do anything we want, week after week with no positive results or conclusive
conclusions, could we be anything other than fictional characters?"
Both agents began to laugh, then realised the cliched
ending of the characters bellowing with laughter and ceased immediately.
Episode 4The Search For ROM
Deep in the Amazon Jungle, surrounded in the undergrowth
of exotic trees, plants and animals, with only a few light beams and two
industrial maglites to show the way, P.S.I Agents Fax Modem and Rana Skulky are
working on their latest case.
Skulky sighed as her left high heel sunk deep into a pool
of muddy soil. "I don't care what you think Modem, this Sharp Poke character is
yanking your chain, he's a conman, a prankster and he's probably a psychopath."
Skulky said sternly to her partner as she shook the mud off her shoe. "Why did
you tell me to come in this cocktail party outfi?"
"Because you look more sexy..." Modem replied.
Skulky took the light end of her half-metre long torch and
smacked him around the head. "What are we looking for anyway Modem, this had
better not be another goose hunt for the complete solution to Matt Ripley's
Modem shook his head as he swished his long black overcoat
about, showing off his immaculate white shirt even though they were brushing up
against many dirty plants. He also gave Skulky a macho flash of his bigger gun.
"Something better, ROM 1.1!"
Skulky stopped in her tracks and horror spread across her
face. "Modem, you can't, it's too big and secret for us. We're in way too
deep." she said gasping.
"Look Sulky, we can't ignore the fact that in 1984 fifteen
computer companies announced upgrades that never happened, in 1992 a further 23
did the same thing. We have to find out where these upgrades and updates are
going, it's something I have to do."
"You said you had to check my apartment for aliens the
other night, but that was just a sad attempt to get into my bed." she replied
dryly. "If this is another come-on I'm going to shoot you."
Mulder stopped, adopted an absurdly tough looking pose and
whipped his gun out and held it up.
Skulky stopped in her tracks, pulled out her revolver and
combat rolled behind a nearby log. She jumped up, gun at ready. "What did you
see? Was it a government anti-conspiracy squad who are always really lame?
Maybe you saw an assassin or double-agent."
Modem shook his head and holstered his gun. "No, I just
wanted to look hard for a moment. Let's go."
Skulky got up and walked after him. "You are so pathetic
Modem nodded vaguely, his eyes were looking down at a
valley, in the middle of the deep gorge was a large building with lots of wire
fencing and Bat-Lights around it. "Looks like we've found the secret government
hardware and software development site."
"How do you know that?"
"I saw the sign." he said, pointing to a signpost next to
him. "This must be the place."
"But why would the government want to stop hardware and
software from moving forward?"
"They don't, but somebody does." Modem replied as they
negotiated their way down the slope towards the installation.
"Just some shadowy group of individuals that have been
moved into positions of power by people who are even more shadowy."
"I suppose you could say they could cause a fundamental
shift of power in the world?"
"I could, but I won't, it would be too cliché."
Modem and Skulky sighed together as they sat in the large
storeroom they were locked in. Skulky glared accusingly at Modem as he sat
fiddling with his pocket-knife and packet of sunflower seeds. "That was grade-A
stupid." she said. "I've never known such a stupid plan in all my life."
Modem rolled his eyes.
"Even The A Team came up with better plans than that."
"What was wrong with sticking our guns at the guards and
saying that we were federal agents. It works on the TV."
"Yes, but these are hardened mercenaries who don't care
what you wave at them, they're not there for plot devices or tension."
Modem looked up as the door to their prison opened. "Maybe
now we'll get the answers we want."
"Oh sure, like the head of the operation is going to walk
in and tell us everything." scoffed Skulky.
Through the pouring light of the door walked a man dressed
in the same sort of dodgy suit as Modem. The man stopped in a convenient
lightbeam area so Modem and Skulky could just about see him, but not enough to
get a firm description. In his hand was a joint of cannabis. "Hey there agents,
what's happening? Allow me to introduce myself man, call me The Cannabis Joint
"Why?" asked Skulky.
"Hey chick, it sounds cool." he replied dreamily. "I guess
you're kinda wondering what groovy things we're up to here? And why we haven't
released ROM 1.1?" the man took a puff of his joint. "Oooooh yeaaaaaaaah. Well,
we aren't a government installation, that signpost was just a ruse and a plot
diversion. This whole installation is run by a consortium of really cool and
great guys who control the software industry."
Skulky clicked her fingers. "You mean Microsoft?"
"No, they're not cool guys, they're just ego-centric."
"No, we don't want ROM 1.1 to be released because it'll
leave such a big gap between WinCE and Psion that Microsoft will suffer a
groovy sort of cascade economical effect and will go bust, we can't let that
Modem nodded. "I see, because Microsoft is so big and
powerful that their collapse will have lasting repercussions for the computer
"No, we all use Microsoft Office. Now if you excuse me,
I've got to go and talk with my elephants, soon you will be dead and I'll be
even higher than I am now. So long you crazy kids."
Skulky sighed. "What a nut." she turned to her partner.
"Modem, how do we get out of this locked room, they're going to kill us if we
Modem smiled. "We can use my sunflower seeds, this duct
tape I found on the floor by these boxes, and my pocket knife."
"If we grind up the sunflower seeds and then finely chop
them with my pocket knife like so."
Skulky was watching intently. "Right."
"Then, if we use the duct tape and pick up all of the
"Then when we throw them at the wall, the resulting
reaction with the Taceyon Particles will result in a rift in the space/time
continuum which will create a stable wormhole back to our office." Modem tossed
the duct tape at the wall and a large swirling vortex of light appeared.
"That's brilliant Modem."
"Its also totally unsubstantial." he said smiling.
"But what about this building and Cannabis Joint Smoking
Man's plans to conquer the world through software manipulation?"
"Skulky, we mustn't move too quickly or the series will
run out of steam by Season 3 leaving us to reuse old plot devices and ideas
until our contracts run out."
Skulky nodded. "You're right Modem, let's go home."
The truth about ExtraBars Hawaii, July 24th
Agents Fax Modem and Rana Skulky are relaxing on the
beach, Fax Modem has his Psion 5 on his lap and is furiously tapping the screen
with his Point 5. Beside him is a cocktail with over 300 novelty items in it.
Rana Skulky is sitting on her beach chair, sunglasses on with a lemonade. She
is watching her partner working on his Psion 5.
"You know Modem, that was pure class, telling Assistant
Director Skinless that we had to go track down UFO's in Hawaii, we then get to
balance all this off on our expense accounts."
Skulky frowned. "Modem! Are you listening to me?"
Modem sighed. "I'm sorry, ever since I registered Mis5ile
Defence I haven't been able to put it down."
"That game again?!" she exclaimed. "You've been playing
that game for 14 hours straight? I thought you were hacking into some
government agency or something to learn about ROM 1.1." she replied.
Modem handed her a piece of paper. "Actually I did notice
something strange. I got this off 5Alive News the other day." Skulky begun to
read the paper. "Prolific author Jason Kneen has announced the final release of
Extrabars following an exhaustive round of beta releases."
Skulky gasped. "Modem, that's, that's impossible. Jason
Kneen is an undercover P.S.I agent. We planted him into the community to keep
releasing beta versions of a great app so people would keep e-mailing him. It's
a way of acquiring information. He wasn't authorised to release a full
"The truth is, there is no beta version, they're all the
full version with different numbers."
"What's happened to Agent Kneen then?"
"I can only think of one thing...he's been kidnapped.
Think about it, he's been a repository of information for over a year, he knows
what everybody wants from a utility. A software company would love to get their
hands on that information."
"You don't mean!"
"That's right, Multi-Coloured Software. They've been
kicking themselves ever since they released CalculatePro5Lite as freeware when
they could have charged a good deal of money for it. They want a good utility
to boost revenue." Skulky sighed.
"We better find him."
"Yes, I have an idea who to ask, The Lone Programmers at
Palmscope HQ, Bedford in England several minutes
As Matt Rapley sat behind his desk in Palmscope's office,
he leant back in his chair, giving a better view of Skulky's cleavage. "So
Modem, you want my help?"
"That's right, I figured you owed me after I decided not
to expose the truth about FERN." replied Modem.
"Too true." replied the young programmer. "Okay, I did
find some information. The last transmission we received from Agent Kneen was
that Multi-Coloured Software were working on a rival application to ExtraBars.
But, since Jason hadn't confirmed a release date they couldn't be sure when it
was best to release theirs or what features to include. With Strengthbase
around the corner they didn't want to expose too many new products at once."
explained Rapley, showing an all too irrelevant graph on his computer.
"So they kidnapped him?" asked Skulky.
"Not at all, they head-hunted him. By paying him a
ridiculous amount of money he quickly switched sides and finished ExtraBars.
For every registration he gets, Multi-Coloured Software gets £3."
"The fiends!" Skulky sighed. "I just can't believe it,
where is he?"
"Multi-Coloured Software are holding him in protective
custody in their office toilet."
Modem and Skulky turned to leave. "Thanks Rapley."
Multi-Coloured Software's Head Office, 03:00.
The two agents half-metre torches shone around the darkly
lit offices. "Modem! Have you found it yet?"
"No, have you?"
"Uh-uh, you'd think they'd put the light switch on the
wall near the door." she replied. "This is ridiculous, how come we always
wander around in the pitch black?"
Modem flicked a switch and the lights flared into life.
"It's probably to hide the duff special effects and recycled sets. Since we're
a written adaptation we don't have that problem."
Skulky picked up a box. "Hey look Modem! A pre-release
copy of Strengthbase, now I can finally catalogue my collection of James Last
CDs." The two agents walked to a door marked JASON'S TOILET.
"You think he's in here?" Modem asked.
Skulky tapped on the door. "Agent Kneen? Can you hear me?"
"Yes! Get me out of here, quickly." Modem raised his foot
and kicked hard, his foot smashed into the door, there was a sickening crunch
as his foot twisted around and he collapsed in agony on the floor. Skulky
reached forward and unlocked the door.
"Thank you agents, I've been a prisoner ever since they
"Matt Rapley said you had been head-hunted?"
"No, it's a lie, Multi-Coloured Software told him that
because they want to release Photo5."
Skulky sighed. "What about the software company? We must
bring them to justice for their crimes!"
Jason shook his head. "No Agent Skulky, by freeing me you
will stop the full version of Extrabars from being released and the software
company can now slip into the background to be brought back for another
episode. We can't remove all the faceless organisations too quickly, that will
force us to resort to standard ROM 1.1 stories for weeks at a time." Jason
looked at the floor. "Is he unconscious?"
Skulky and Jason began to leave. "More than likely." she
replied. "More than likely."