Scanning For Viri

(In the style of Lessons of the War, Part I. "Naming of Parts" by Henry Reed - see here for the original poem)

Today we scan for viri.
Yesterday we did real work
And tomorrow, hopefully, we'll do real work
But today, today we scan for viri.

The wind blows the trees,
Waves of branches breaking against a metal fence,
And the clouds scuttle by.

First we run stinger.exe.
This removes the stinger virus
Which blocks your SQL servers
And distresses your children.

There are blue and red and silver and black
cars in the car park.
There were drops of rain, falling and blowing
whilst we scanned for viri.

And the Stinger program will find 30 other viri
When you run it on your PC;
But copy it to you C: drive first.
And if you don't have a CD drive here is a floppy disk
To scan for viri.

The car windows glitter as the sun
Moves - and clouds pass.
My eyes, blinded by reflections,
Peer at the screen
As I scan for viri.

And when you have run the Stinger.exe
You must run the FixWelch.exe
Which is found in the "Other" folder.

Sometimes, early, a white and black cat
Stalks the empty car park - owning the tarmac
And all small living things it sees.
It never scans for viri.

When the FixWelch.exe has finished
You must patch you operating system.
The patch files are in the folder with
The name of your version of Windows.

But not for Windows NT - I have to find
That patch myself, from when I patched my machine
Two days ago, before we started
Scanning for viri.

At lunch time some cars go;
Visits to the shops, the bank,
To buy tickets for the game
And cards for our loved ones.

If you are running Windows 2000
Then you must have Service Pack three or four.
The Service Pack disk is in the MSDN library
Locked in the third cupboard on the left.

There are no birds flying past today -
Too windy; too gusty to fly close
To a hard object that might
Give you a virus.

And if you are running Windows NT
Then you must have service Pack 6
But we don't have a copy of Service Pack 6
So you will not be able to patch your machine
Until you do find a copy.

A white van drives past, delivering something
From somewhere to somewhere else;
Unaware that we are
Scanning for viri.

And when you have patched your machine
You must change the administrator password
(which I will not write down here to keep it secret)
And you will remember it, and I will remember it
But the viri won't know it, for it is secret.

My hand rubs my chin, feeling the small bristles
And roughnesses that have come since the morning.
The sun dries the ground, the shadow of the building moves across the cars.
A blackbird hops among the grass at the foot of the trees
And a patterned brown butterfly flashes by.

And when you machine is finished we will stick a sticker on it
To show that you are now clean of viri and patched correctly.
And when every machine has been done and you are all clean of viri
We will allow you to reconnect to the network, a few at a time;
For we are cautious and do not trust these things electronic.

Today I've been busy; copying CDs and floppies, running programs, showing people what to do.
Yesterday we did real work
And tomorrow, hopefully, we'll do real work
But today, today we scan for viri.

Peter Sheil - 2003