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Frequent Answers to Questions

(These are the answers we provided frequently to questions. Any correlation between the answers and the actual questions is purely coincidental.)

Updated February 8, 2002.

1. Just what the heck is the deal with the "Napoleon Camplex"?

The Napoleon Camplex is the latest enhancement to the world famous IBM Almaden CattleCam. You may recall that the CattleCam was once abducted by aliens, and that we rescued it. In the process we came across some amazing alien technology. In looking through the stuff we didn't sell on e-Bay, we came across a Pan/Tilt/Camera. We designed the Napoleon Camplex as best we could using the alien documentation.

2. Why the Pan/Tilt camera?

Our dedicated followers of the CattleCam are no doubt aware that the cattle are wiley buggers, and spend a good deal of their time out of view of the CattleCam, in a vain attempt to avoid being abducted by the aliens. With the Pan/Tilt (and Zoom, we might add) camera, there is a better chance to actually observe the cattle.

3. What is the relationship with the original CattleCam?

We felt that the current world-wide demand for live pictures of cattle was not being met by the original CattleCam. We hired some very expensive consultants who assured us that this was indeed the case. In fact, they devised a (very expensive) plan to help us meet the projected growth rate in cattle viewership. The end result is that we now have the Napoleon Camplex, and the consultants have since retired to Tahiti. Word has it they are still laughing.

4. Where did you come up with the name?

While many of the details are subject to Confidential Agreements with the Aliens (arrived at during settlement negotiations), we can disclose the following information. The term "Camplex" refers to the fact that there are now multiple cameras at CattleCam. It is also a well-known fact (by those who know) that Napoleon Bonaparte had a strange fascination with cattle, and was abducted by aliens.

5. Do you have any evidence of the Napoleon-cattle connection?

We're so glad you asked. The more enlightened among you may recall the famous painting by Jacques-Louis David of Napoleon crossing the Alps at St. Bernard pass. The painting on display at the Musee du Louvre, Paris, shows Napoleon on horseback. Many scholars have pointed out that the painting has glamorized the crossing, and that they believe Napoleon actually road on a mule. However, it's pretty clear to us that he road on a cow, as you can see from the image on our home page.

6. Amazing, but just how is it you know Napoleon was abducted by aliens?

All we can disclose to you, the general public, is that he hasn't been seen for quite a while.

7. Sounds to me like you have been abducted one time too many yourself.

Our attorneys have advised us not to discuss such matters without first securing the book and movie rights.

8. Why is the interface so cryptic?

Remember, we're talking about alien software here, not something designed by "expert programmers" from the greater Seattle area. You'll just have to experiment for yourself and see what happens.

9. Let's get down to technical details here. How does this thing work?

We provide two basic methods for using the Camplex. First, you may conduct your own observation campaign. This will allow you to control where the camera is pointing. The image is updated on every action you take. However, as you exist merely as a source of tax revenue, you have no priority over others who may be using the Camplex at the same time. The Camplex has a very sophisticated queuing algorithm that ensures that only significant donors get priority, and the rest of you can wait behind the metering lights. (This is just like the special limo lanes on the freeway.) The second way to enjoy the Camplex is in Voyeur mode, where you just get to see what everyone else is up to.

10. What are the browser requirements?

We find the experience is greatly enhanced by using a browser. You can get the content with telnet (if you are sufficiently clever, but since you are reading the FAQ, we can rule that one out), but in general, any sort of modern browser will do just fine. You do need JavaScript (or Active scripting) enabled to fully appreciate the new alien interface in Campaign mode, but it will still work without it.

You should also have a high speed internet connection. This site was designed to annoy primitive dial-up users. We explicity decreased the image compression and increased the background graphics. - The Napoleon Camplex is clearly the "killer app" for high speed internet, so get with the program.

11. Does the Camplex use cookies?

Salt licks perhaps, but cookies, no. What with the alien technology, we can track your whereabouts without resorting to mundane cookies, for heaven's sake. However, covering your head with aluminum foil is a good way to prevent the aliens from tracking you.

12. The night vision mode isn't very impressive. Nothing like we see on TV. What gives?

Aliens don't have much use for night vision. (Haven't you seen any Steven Spielberg movies?) Aliens and their spacecraft always have gobs of really bright lights, making "night" more of a mood than a lighting condition. Basically, night vision is for weenies with tight lighting budgets.

13. What is the origin of the settlement negotiations with the aliens? And can we get one?

We'll answer these in reverse order. No you can't. Now stop whining and get back to burning your dot com stock certifcates. As to the first question, in the process of liberating the original CattleCam from the aliens, certain items belonging to the aliens and us were allegedly damaged, including someone's feelings. In an effort to fend off a multi-party legal action, especially one with the potential for pain and suffering-type damages (the aliens use a different term that reflects the plaintiff's eligibility for compensation for pain and suffering caused by spending time with attorneys while bringing a legal action), it was determined to be in everyone's best interest to settle quickly. In fact, once one of the aliens' spacecraft settled quickly on a group of the attorneys, things sped up quite nicely. We are not at liberty to disclose the nature of the agreement to limit the potential for future incidents. However, we were able to obtain the rights to certain alien technology and lots of other cool information.

14. So the aliens have lawyers? I thought they would have a highly advanced civilization, and be above such things.

My, aren't we naive?

15. Can you tell us what the aliens got?

Aside from the joy provided by settling on some attorneys, they are allowed them to explore your internal organs whenever they so desire, abduct cattle, display odd patterns of blinking lights at night, spook aircraft and livestock, etc. There are some other details that we won't disclose so that you can get your sleep. We need you to remain productive so you can continue to pay your taxes (as long as it remains relevant to do so).

16. What about your internal organs?

As a party to the agreement, they are, of course, excluded.

17. You mentioned that the aliens have some cool video compression technology. Why don't you use it?

We would prefer to use the original alien format, but we haven't been able to secure a technology license to the decoder, which would allow you to see the movies. As is typical of aliens, the encoder is freely available, but you can't get a decoder due to legal issues. Trust us, it would have been great: better than HDTV quality at a ridiculously low bit rate, with sound that's out of this world and no digital rights management (DRM - better known as URR - User Rights Removal).

18. Can you provide the details on the legal issues?

Apparently, the company that owns the technology has an exclusive licensing deal with a breakfast food manufacturer (BFM) for distributing free decoders. However, this BFM has not secured the distribution rights in our galaxy for the particular product with the decoder promotion. This is due to ongoing litigation with their celebrity spokes-entity. The celebrity has a different endorsement deal covering this galaxy and others in this corner of the local group. Other galaxies are apparently not covered. For example, you can pick it up most anywhere the Coma cluster.

19. Why haven't we heard of this celebrity, if (he/she/it/they/other/n.a.) is so popular as to have a galaxies-wide endorsement contract?

It's very simple, really. The celebrity is famous due to performances available on digital content. Of course, since we can't license the decoder for the digital content, we can't see these performances. This tends to cut down on the fame angle, which is probably why you haven't heard of the entity. (Of course, it has nothing to do with your spending all your time reading web sites like this one.)

20. Why don't the aliens use Digital Rights Management (DRM)?

The aliens are substantially more technically advanced than we are, and much wiser as well. They recognized long ago that DRM was folly, and wisely sent all those that backed it to "rest planets" with plenty of sunshine, fresh air and large carnivores. Amazingly, since then, their prices for digital content dropped to very reasonable levels, while very few content provider executives can afford luxury spacecraft. (And the universe is a better place because of it.) It turns out that with lower prices, more content was actually sold and everyone was happy, even the carnivores.

21. Why were the large carnivores happy? Wouldn't a lack of recording company executives leave them famished?

This is a good question. It turns out that the relocated executives realized that the carnivores would be happier with properly selected digital content (music soothes the savage beast or some such). However, at the monopolistic prices DRM allowed, the carnivores couldn't afford the digital content they liked. This left them in rather nasty moods, whereby they would tend to ingest any executives that wandered too far from the fire. One particularly clever executive came up with the concept of providing DRM-free content so the carnivores would be happy. He went to the carnivores to inform them of the news. Of course, the carnivores were delighted to finally be able to afford digital content, and were grateful for the executive breakfast as well. Now the carnivores are content to enjoy their digital content and the occasional executive as well.

22. What ever happened to the content provider executives?

It turns out, everyone was so happy once DRM was eliminated that no one remembered to retrieve the executives.

23. We'd like to know who is responsible for the Napoleon Camplex so we can contact our own attorneys and get the paperwork started.

The Napoleon Camplex is a figment of the collective imagination of the Advanced File Architecture Group at the IBM Research - Almaden. Any resemblance to a functional website is purely accidental.

24. Any implementation details?

Well, we did have to overcome some sticky issues to make this site available to the general internet population. The Camplex software runs on an IBM ThinkPad(R) , and controls a PTZ camera with a VISCA interface. The video feed is digitized and captured by the ThinkPad. The camplex control software was developed specifically to host this type of site. As the Camplex controller sits inside the firewall, a mecahnism was developed to pass camera control commands from an end user to the Camplex. We developed a message passing protocol, BML, to perform the bi-directional firewall traversal. We further developed a set of autonomic controls to keep the whole thing from falling apart on a regular basis. That way we could also classify the Camplex as an autonomic computing project.

25. What is BML?

BML stands for Bovine Markup Language. BML allows us to process CGI requests on the firewall system, and forward them as general Bovine commands. BML is very flexible, powerful and has many security attributes. We fully expect BML will displace XML one day.

26. Surely you are joking. XML is clearly the NBT (Next Big Thing) - it's been endorsed by everyone who is anyone.

Do we need to go over the history of NBTs? (Remember NeXT? The Newton? The pure-play Dot-Com? JAVA? JINI? Deregulating the electricity market?) We find being anointed the NBT is the KOD (Kiss of Death). Mind you, we are the people who are trying to convince you that our cattle are hiding from aliens.

27. Sometimes when I move my mouse, there are little screen corruptions left behind. What are these, and how can I avoid them?

You have run into a common problem with today's sophisticated GUIs. These little areas on the screen are known in the industry as "Drag 'n droppings". You can avoid them by installing Linux. Where this is not practical, try squinting. Try not to leave them in an e-mail, where they may be found to be offensive.

28. Ha Ha. Very funny. Obviously you are just trying to distract us from the real conspiracy! Tell us what's really going on.

Remember, you asked us. The Napoleon Camplex was designed to destroy the productivity of the human race. While billions of people are distracted, spending every waking hour is a fruitless search for cattle, the aliens will simply walk in and take over. (Ed. note: don't wait up, this could take awhile. The aliens can't walk very well, since they don't have any appendages that would qualify as legs. Plus it's a very long walk from the Coma cluster, even with dozens of legs.)

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