The first (and some might argue, foremost) aspect of Baseline_Dental_Health is Cleanliness, and cleanliness, as we all know, is a trait we can never encourage too much.
- A Citizen with clean teeth is not only demonstrably happier than other Citizens, but their smile is correspondingly more pleasant to observe.
- They make better subject matter for video documentation.
They are less likely to produce offense in those fellow Citizens they work alongside, and are more likely to practice successful Anger_Management.
Their tongueprints are far easier to accurately read, increasing speed and accuracy of everything from opening their personal equipment locker to signing for R&D prototypes.
- They tend to live longer.
- Their aim, when using properly-issued laser weapons in an authorized fashion, is better.
- Their handwriting is more legible and they type faster.
- They are far less likely to participate in Secret Society activities.
- They are able to extract confessions from traitors with much greater success.
- Their ideas are almost always less arbitrarily destructive to valuable Computer property.
They demonstrate a better-than-average grasp of such complex issues as nuclear engineering, hydraulic load-balancing, and the Zeta_Vector_Principle. 1
In fact, there is almost no aspect of Service Firm operations-- or, indeed, life in Alpha Complex-- that is not performed better by a Citizen with a nice clean set of choppers. Is it any wonder that Friend Computer has placed cleanliness in such high regard? Is it any wonder that Friend Computer has ordered and/or approved the development of so many technological aids to help with this regard?
1 All of these claims are true.
It's somewhat unfortunate that this review board is (by its very mandate) forced to review so many of the less successful recent attempts to assist with Baseline_Dental_Health, because for every horrific and traumatic tool gone terribly, terribly awry in this report, there are undoubtedly two or even three unqualified miracles. I wish we had the time and extra space to list some of those breakthrough success stories, but duty calls, and so it is with a heavy heart that I write this entry on the Fire-and-Forgetpicks.
Why are you bringing up that sordid chapter of Complex history? you ask. I thought we had put that well and truly behind us. I wish it were so, fellow Programmers, but I've recently uncovered disturbing new information about the time-- the hours, the minutes, the seconds-- leading up to the Toothpaste_Disaster, and I fear we may have as much to fear from the aftermath as we did from the event itself.
It is sometimes easy to forget that, not so very long ago-- perhaps ten or twelve year cycles-- the standard Personal Instrument of Cleanliness (PIC) in a Typical-Use Tool Haversack (TUTH) was nothing more than a small pointed probe-- perhaps 1.731 inches long and a seventh of a centimeter wide at its thickest-- made of bulk-grade plastic. Citizens had to manually poke this simple device around inside their own mouths using their own hands in order to achieve what laughably passed for Total_Oral_Cleansing in those days. It was clear, even at the time, that the TUTH PIC was neither sufficient for its appointed task, nor was it being used correctly by many (if not most) of the Citizens to whom it was issued. 2 Initially considered a P4 concern at best, it was moved to the fast track as a result of the Maxiofacial_Mandate. An official QwalitieStandard for Baseline_Dental_Health was established and, unsurprisingly, very few Citizens achieved it.
2 This latter problem was eventually traced to a series of highly influential vids produced jointly by HON and KON Sectors and directed by Johnn-Y-WOO-4, who was just coming into his own as a vidmaker deserving of wider recognition. A key part of the success of these HON-KON films, of course, was the eminently charismatic Chow-Y-FAT-1, whose TUTHPIC-chewing grin became the very definition of Competent Observable Operations Locution (COOL) 3 and inspired Citizens across the Complex to emulate his look. Unfortunately, Chow-Y's use of the TUTHPIC-- while compelling to watch-- did nothing to promote proper oral hygiene.
3 (And whose two-guns-blazing style of combat produced no end of headaches for PLC, as every Troubleshooter in Alpha Complex began trying to requisition "two slugthrowers that never run out".)
Thus began the rapid-fire string of improvements and enhancements to the Personal Instrument of Cleanliness, taking it from its humble origin as a little splinter of high-density polyethlyene, to the multi-function instrument of ultimate dental hygiene it has become. Before describing the unfortunate "third-generation" effort that resulted in the devices named in this entry, a quick review of the revision history highlights of the first two iterations of the PIC is called for:
R&D Development Log 334.212.FF.C3.60.8E/PIC-[1,2,3]
1.0.0 - Simple plastic probe 1.0.1 - Identical unit, with simple instruction sheet 1.0.2 - Modified polyethlene mixture to slightly increase weight 1.1.0 - Added rubber grip, unbreakable diamond tip 1.1.1 - Fixed several minor bugs that could cause diamond tip to break 1.1.5 - Modified polyethlyne mixture to slightly reduce weight 1.2.0 - Length slightly increased; distributed with glossy user booklet 1.2.1 - Minor typo corrections in manual to reduce permanently- defunctionalizing misuse rate 1.5.0 - Plastic content reformulated; length and thickness increased; available in five designer colors 1.5.1 - Sixth color added 1.5.2 - Sixth color changed after corresponding rise in seizures noted 1.6.0 - Diamond tip becomes spin-capable, actuated by pressure on rubber grip end 1.6.1 - Minor bug fixes to sensitivity of pressure-trigger and maximum RPM of rotating diamond tip 1.6.5 - Automatic Spring-Back [tm] retractor; distributed with two-volume user manual 1.6.6 - Minor bug fix to spring mechanism response strength
Further developments on the 1.x series PIC were shelved when the 1.7.0 design specs were leaked through filesharing channels by Infil-Traitors within R&D. The v1.6.6 went into mass-production and became the standard PIC that most of us recall so well from our early clones' careers. All prior versions were end-of-lifed.
The 2.0 PIC was jointly designed by R&D and PLC specifically for introduction during the first Consumer Hour (cf Compulsory_Consumer_Hour) two yearcycles ago. Response was overwhelming, generating the most feedback PLC has ever received on a new product release. While most of the feedback was extremely positive, it was clear that there were some small number of deficiencies that needed to be corrected-- and, more importantly, a wealth of new features that Citizens were clamoring for. R&D did its best to meet, and satisfy, the flood of feature requests head on, with a truly heady and commendable vigor. Where the entire 1.x PIC development life lasted yearcycles-- and the stagnant 1.6.6 model remained in use yearcycles longer-- the 2.x program released iteration after iteration over just a few monthcycles. Unfortunately, records of the 2.x development process are spotty for reasons that will be discussed shortly:
2.0.0 - Original Consumer Hour release: new plastic formula, twelve colors, bi-directional tip rotation, servo-controlled Twist-Grip [TM] 2.0.2 - Dual-Function Jack-Hammer Tip [TM] option; four additional colors 2.1.1 - Diamond jackhammer/drill-tip replaced by low-wattage laser 2.1.4 - Plaque Targeting Recognition System gives laser self-aiming capability 2.2.0 - User-settable criteria for laser wattage and definition of "plaque" allows PIC to be used as a backup ranged weapon 2.2.5 - Eight additional colors (24 in all); microbattery replaced by minibattery 2.2.6 - Floss-Away Reel [TM] added to grip, using Stimu-Thread [TM] 2.2.8 - Floss-Way Reel optionally equipped with monofilament wire, allowing PIC to be used as a backup close-in weapon 2.3.2 - Fresh-Spritz [TM] disinfectant dispensed with each use <4> 2.4.0 - Breath-Cleanser Tablet [TM] dispenser added to main cylinder, with a capacity of four tablets 2.4.2 - Capacity increased to 16; sixteen additional colors 2.4.3 - Optionally loadable with pharmaceuticals conforming to Standard Pill Spec P13/145R 2.4.9 - Fully-articulated head-mounted deployment arm for hands-free operation; minibattery replaced by standard battery 2.5.0 - Multi-tasked to assist with hygiene functions beyond dental: comb, nose-hair trimmer, nail clipper, earwax spoon added 2.5.4 - Pumice stone, emory board, conditioner reservoir, toilet paper, and Barber-Shop 2.0 software package added 2.5.5 - Antibacterial soap, backup nosehair trimmer, spinning brushes, riding crop, switchblade, Soap Bomber [TM] and Catheter Assistant [TM] added 2.5.6 - Fire extinguisher added 2.5.7 - Unit no longer head-mounted; now installed in Pull-Along Radio Flyer [TM] painted in owner's security Clearance color 2.6.0 - Multi-tasked to assist with general Complex cleanliness: additional brush set, three sprayers, floor polisher, wax cloth, chamois, glass cleaner, gun oiler, all-purpose lubricant, six-barrel rotary chapstick applicator, chainsaw, cutting torch, oil-absorbent foam tank, Foam- Be-Gone [TM], side impact airbags, and septic tank added 2.6.1 - Additional standard batteries added 2.6.3 - X-Ray, multicorder camera, voice-recognition, fully independent mission parameter processor, Anthropomorphized User Interface [TM], long-term memory banks added 2.6.5 - Standard batteries replaced by atomic micropile 2.6.6 - Self-powered wheels added to unit; PIC 2.6.6 is now virtually indistinguishable from Series II ScrubBot 2.7.0 - 128 entirely new "PIC-Only" colors, to distinguish from Series II bots
4 It is believed, but not known for sure, that the unlisted 2.3.3 release made PIC fully compliant with the Thirty-one_Official_Flavors; it is not known what the original Fresh-Spritz [TM] flavor set was.
It's hard to say where the 2.x series would have gone from there. PLC was showing diminishing returns on sales, even with ever-higher-profile placement of new models on Teela-O and in several mandatory-intake Documentaries. It seemed like the life was slowly draining out of the Personal Instrument of Cleanliness product line, despite its undeniably rich feature set... but it all became moot as development of PIC 2.8 entered the Preliminary Spec Phase (PSP), because it was discovered that virtually the entire 2.x research and development cycle-- as well as the joint-Service distribution and marketing campaigns-- had been paid for using credits infected with the Communist Public License (CPL). The source of the original infection will, perhaps, never be determined, but the effect of the CPL is well-known: virtually every aspect of the 2.x PIC had potentially become subject to the CPL... and everything a 2.x PIC had been used on was potentially subject to the CPL... and so on. What was to have been a glorious product release became, instead, a harrowing purge-- an attempt to eliminate every evidence of the 2.x PIC's existence and operation. But it was too late; the project files had been compromised too long. While it is unlikely that they were the origin of the CPL'd credits, a foul aberration-ridden tribe of the most communistic, the most mutated, the most traitorous Commie_Mutant_Traitors imaginable had exploited the license to gain complete access to the PIC source repository:
PIC had been stolen by the Open_Sores_Community.
I will try to refrain, at this point, from ranting at length about this threat to our Alpha way of life. Most of you already understand the danger they represent. Open access to intellectual property? Free distribution of useful software? Security as a personal responsibility instead of one handled by a duly trusted and equipped central agency? Unrestrained filesharing? Why, I've even read confession transcripts in which their members actually advocate allowing groups of peers to collaboratively assemble repositories of information as a team, using nothing more than the honor system to prevent inaccurate or deliberately misleading information from being introduced! Were even a fraction of their horrific agenda to succeed, it would fundamentally undermine the engines that drive R&D, PLC, and CPU at the very least! Merely dictating these words to my assistant is making my skin crawl. I think I'm going to need to soak in a tub of Calm-Thyme [TM] for a bit before I can continue.
RUB-R-DKY, you're the one...
You make Commies eat your gun...
RUB-R-DKY, dum-de-dum-de-duuuuuuum de dum!
Okay, I feel a lot better now. Where was I? Oh, yes, PIC 2.x was stolen by the Open_Sores_Community and its entire set of intellectual property was effectively dumped for free on the open filesharing nodeworks. Within hours, the first "PIC 3.0" specs were being bandied about; within days, several competing "releases" of PIC 3.0 were turning up in the aftermath of routine Internal Security sweeps. These "competitors" 5 apparently identified their versions through the use of clan designations, such as the Blackcaps, the Sirians, and the Freebuds.
5 I use the term jokingly, of course; free products are unable to actually engage in competition, as there needs to be something to compete for.
It was the Blackcaps that created, and ultimately released, the Fire-and-Forgetpicks. Their claim (ludicrous on its face) was that the PIC had become uselessly overburdened with extraneous functionality-- somehow missing the fact that every change made during the 2.x development process was based on Actual User Feeback List (AUFL) suggestions. Still, citing performance and simplicity as the chief priorities of any developing technology, they created and released their version of the "PIC 3.0".
The FFP, when you come right down to it, was more like the 1.x generation PICs than most of 2.x was: a small polyplasticine splinter with diamond drill-tip, powered by a tiny Half-Life Battery [TM] and propelled by a very small Repulsor Lenz [TM], equipped with rudimentary targeting memory and a basic inter-unit MIDAR comm system, and loaded with a small squirt of ultra-pressurized Dental Cleansing Foam (DCF). In short: squeeze by the thick end as the sharp end is pointed at the destination mouth, and it was on its way. Capable of high-speed magneto-levitational flight up to 1200 meters, it would reach and enter the target mouth by any means necessary-- the drill-tip providing armor-piercing functionality-- at which point it would identify the part of the mouth "most in need of it" 6... where "it" was the explosive release of its DCF payload.
6 The actual function call within the unit, upon entering the destination mouth, was findMostNeedsIt(); this function proved to be a morass of incomprehensible irregexp pattern-matching routines written in the trinary assembly language of floor tiles.
Needless to say, while this sounded good in theory, the in-practice results were horrific. Add to this the fact that the combination of a rudimentary sensor system with MIDAR resulted in spontaneous flocking algorithms... Well, it wasn't long before entire boxes (treasonously smuggled into PLC centers that should have known better) of accidentally-activated FFP learned how to swarm. There are rumors that FPP's were capable of intercepting wifi datastreams, using them to augment their targeting databases with medical information, maps of the Complex, etc. None of these rumors have been verified, to the best of my knowledge. However, it took the combined efforts of virtually every Service Firm to establish clear and reliable protocols for detecting, tracking, hunting, and destroying Fire-and-Forgetpick swarms.
It was officially believed (as of a year ago) that the need for open hostilities against the 'picks had been concluded. Reports since that time of occasional 'pick-inflicted casualties in the field have been contained to INDIGO Clearance and higher. I think only a fool (or someone of BLUE or lower Clearance) would have believed that the Fire-and-Forgetpicks have been completely exterminated. And it looks like the resurgence that we all feared has happened, and we missed it it all the surrounding chaos: While revisiting, once again, the incident involving the TNT Sector Chapstick_Factory, I stumbled across a backup copy of a transmission log that someone had unsuccessfully attempted to erase all evidence of. 7 The log in question was from an Internal Security microphone planted in the main storage bay of the factory. The time-track on this snippet indicates it occurred mere minutes, at most, before the first widespread effects of the Toothpaste_Disaster become apparent Complex-wide.
00:A2:A8:61 MIC 1/VOICE A: BOOOOOOORING. BOOOOOOOOR... 00:A2:A8:70 MIC 1/VOICE B: HAHA. HEY! WANT AN OLD CHAP STICK? 00:A2:A8:74 MIC 1/VOICE A: HAHAHAHA. THAT JOKE NEVER GETS OLD. 00:A2:A9:03 MIC 1/VOICE A: BOOOOOOOR... 00:A2:A9:04 MIC 1 RECORDS 0.45 SECOND SEISMIC EVENT AT 3.22 HZ 00:A2:A9:05 MIC 1/VOICE B: WAIT A SECOND. DID YOU JUST FEEL THAT? 00:A2:A9:10 MIC 1/VOICE A: FEEL WHAT? 00:A2:A9:13 MIC 1/VOICE B: FEEL... 00:A2:A9:14 MIC 1 RECORDS 0.90 SECOND SEISMIC EVENT AT 3.22 HZ 00:A2:A9:15 MIC 1/VOICE A: WHOA. I FELT *THAT* ONE. 00:A2:A9:38 MIC 1/VOICE A: IS THAT... IS THERE SOMETHING OUT IN THE HALL? 00:A2:A9:50 MIC 1/VOICE B: I DON'T HEAR ANYTHING. 00:A2:A9:54 MIC 1/VOICE A: WELL GO *CHECK*. 00:A2:A9:56 MIC 1/VOICE B: *YOU* GO CHECK. 00:A2:A9:58 MIC 1/VOICE A: NO, *YOU*. 00:A2:A9:60 MIC 1/VOICE B: WHY SHOULD I BE THE ONE WHO CHECKS? HUH? 00:A2:A9:68 MIC 1/VOICE A: SEE THIS GUN? 00:A2:A9:75 MIC 1/VOICE B: YEAH. 00:A2:A9:86 MIC 1/VOICE B: OKAY. 00:A2:A9:91 MIC 1/VOICE B: IS IT JUST ME OR DOES IT SMELL MINTY IN HERE? 00:A2:A9:98 MIC 1/VOICE A: WILL CHECK THE DAMN HALLWAY? 00:A2:AA:04 DOOR 116 OPENS. 00:A2:AA:08 DOOR 116 CLOSES. 00:A2:AA:14 MIC 1 RECORDS 1.8 SECOND SEISMIC EVENT AT 3.22 HZ 00:A2:AA:15 MIC 1/VOICE B (?): <unintelligible noise> 00:A2:AA:18 MIC 1/VOICE A: WHAT? 00:A2:AA:21 MIC 1/VOICE B (?): <unintelligible noise> 00:A2:AA:26 MIC 1/VOICE A: I CAN'T... DAMMIT. 00:A2:AA:29 MIC 1/VOICE A: SOMETHING IS STARTING TO SMELL REALLY FRESH. 00:A2:AA:36 MIC 1/VOICE A: WILL YOU STOP MESSING AROUND OUT THERE? 00:A2:AA:45 MIC 1/VOICE A: I'M COMING OUT AND YOU'D BETTER NOT BE... 00:A2:AA:48 DOOR 116 OPENS. 00:A2:AA:50 MIC 1/VOICE A (?): OH MY DOGG! THEY'RE... 00:A2:AA:51 MIC 1/VOICE A (?): PICKS! OH MY DOGG, THERE'S... THEY'RE... 00:A2:AA:52 DOOR 116 CLOSES. 00:A2:AA:53 MIC 1/VOICE A: OH G-BUS, OH G-BUS, OH MY DOGG 00:A2:AA:55 MIC 1/VOICE A: IS THERE A MIC IN HERE? SOMEONE COME GET ME. 00:A2:AA:58 MIC 1/VOICE A: RIGHT NOW. THERE ARE PICKS EVERYWHERE. 00:A2:AA:64 MIC 1/VOICE A: SOMEONE. PLEASE. THEY'RE... 00:A2:AA:67 MIC 1/VOICE A: THERE HAS TO BE A MIC IN HERE. SOMEBODY! 00:A2:AA:70 MIC 1/VOICE A: THE MAIN FLOOR... PICKS ALL OVER IT... 00:A2:AA:76 MIC 1/VOICE A: IT'S REALLY STARTING TO SMELL LIKE MINT IN HERE. 00:A2:AA:80 MIC 1/VOICE A: SOMEONE, PLEASE, BEFORE THEY... 00:A2:AA:81 DOOR 116 OPENS. 00:A2:AA:82 MIC 1 RECORDS UNIDENTIFIED HIGH-PITCH NOISE 00:A2:AA:83 MIC 1 RECORDS UNINTELLIGIBLE VOCAL NOISES 00:A2:AA:84 MIC 1 RECORDS 3.6 SECOND SEISMIC EVENT AT 3.22 HZ 00:A2:AA:86 DOOR 116 REPORTS JAM. 00:A2:AA:91 MIC 1 LOSS OF SIGNAL 00:A2:AA:92 TNT SECTOR LOSS OF POWER
7 All that I can establish for certain about the deletion attempt is that it was authorized by an anonymous High Programmer, and that the attempt occurred recently-- in fact, it occurred after the convening of this review board. I hesitate to leap to any conclusions for the moment.
It's unfortunate that the original microphone recording has been destroyed and only this transcript remains; the "high-pitch noise" could be describing the sound of an FFP swarm, but the actual sound recording would be unmistakeable. If you've reviewed even one post-operational debriefing from a nest-busting sweep, you know as well as I do that you never forget that sound. But this leads to some disturbing questions: Not only who performed the deletion, but why? And why now instead of immediately after the incident? Is there a connection between this "pick" sighting and the virtually simultaneous onset of the Toothpaste_Disaster? Can we extract any useful information about the moments leading up to the Disaster from this log? And, perhaps most of all, are there still Fire-and-Forgetpicks surviving somewhere in Alpha Complex?
I fear the worst, but hope for the best.
X-Refs: Anger_Management, Baseline_Dental_Health, Chapstick_Factory, Commie_Mutant_Traitors, Compulsory_Consumer_Hour, Documentaries, Toothpaste_Disaster, Total_Oral_Cleansing, QwalitieStandard, Thirty-one_Official_Flavors, Zeta_Vector_Principle
So that was you accessing that backup. Not a problem. I may have more about that, but am still looking through my archives. As much as I hate to say it, we may have to fight Fire-and-Forgetpicks with Fire-and-Forgetpicks. My labs are tentatively working on an earlier model (2.1.4) with search and destroy code for the 2.8 and any later models. As a side note, I did have sucess in retraining several older models, to new functionality. I eagerly await your official 4.0 model.