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Chip thrills for The Tech (Aahz Maruch)

Published Sunday, November 15, 1998, in the San Jose Mercury News
(Perspective section)

"Chip thrills would make timid tech a better gig"

   SAN JOSE'S new Tech Museum of Innovation has made a nice start, but it
   still has a long way to go. I realize the museum just opened, so I'm
   willing to cut the curators some slack -- but if they're serious about
   capturing the spirit of Silicon Valley, they should look into adding
   the following exhibits:
     The Silicon Valley Virtual Commute Race Course. You have two hours
   to go 15 miles. Think you can do it? Well, buckle yourself into our
   simulator and give it a try!
   Choose from several race courses, including the ''880 Endurance
   Course'': You made it past the Winchester Mystery Puddle, and you're
   finally up to 25 mph. You'll make Brokaw Road in no time. But look
   out! 101 merges into 880, and the freeway goes down to two lanes at
   the same time! Who designed this nutty course?
   Or try the ''17 Face-Off of Doom.'' You're behind one truck in the
   right lane going 21 mph. The truck in the left lane is going 20.5 mph.
   Calculate how many hours it will be before you can pass both trucks.
   Or there's the ''680 Trail of Tears.'' You've got to make it from
   Pleasanton to Fremont with only one full tank of gas! Sounds easy?
   Don't forget Caltrans contractors who block off lanes for no reason at
     The Unreasonable Expectation Workweek Simulator. Ever wonder what
   it's like to work 80 hours a week? You can now experience blurry
   vision, diminished reaction time, the health effects of eating nothing
   but Doritos and the heart-racing excitement of Jolt cola addiction.
   Hey, who are those strangers claiming to be your family? They're just
   part of the mysteries you'll experience at the Tech.
     The ''Find Help At Fry's'' Cyber-Challenge. Your challenge: Don your
   virtual reality goggles and take a tour in the valley's favorite
   electronics chain.
   It's not as easy as it sounds, though. You have to find someone to
   help you, avoid the ''Let me get my manager'' monster, endure the
   perpetual ''Humans as Cattle'' cash register corral, and make it past
   the paranoid doorman without a body-cavity search! Youch!
     The Valley Fair Parking Space Scavenger Hunt. Your mission: Get in
   our car simulator and find parking at the valley's most congested
   mall! Extra points for finding a space within a one-mile radius of the
   mall itself.
   Next year, we hope to make this scavenger hunt even more challenging
   when we violate the laws of conservation of mass with the addition of
   the Town & Country Monument to Bad City Management.
     Sell or Die. Kids will learn valuable lessons playing this
   interactive game designing and marketing superior, technically
   advanced products that fill a niche and meet a need. They'll choose
   whether they will let themselves be bought out by the ''innovative''
   Microsoft, or whether they will resist the urge and have their
   products undersold by Microsoft's inferior competing products.
   The fun is in seeing how long you can last in the face of
   aggressivemarketing practices. Last player to go bankrupt paying legal
   bills wins! Extra points for kids who survive long enough to testify
   in front of the Justice Department.
     Mr. Jobs' Wild Ride. Get in your Apple Stock Rocket and experience
   the wildest roller-coaster ride of your life! Just when you think the
   rocket is about to hit a wall, swerve wildly and unexpectedly to one
   side and avoid certain death (for now)!
   The best part is, your fate is completely in the hands of one
   all-powerful and unpredictable hippie turned power player turned exile
   turned interim CEO for life. And look out! The Larry Ellison Hot Wind
   Machine will try to blow you off course. You'll lose your lunch on
   abrupt policy changes. And you'll scream your lungs out as you
   free-fall on the final Mac Clone Maker Betrayal Drop of Death.
   Riders can then regain their composure looking at the . . .
     San Jose Mercury News Wall of Premature Apple Obituaries. Get up
   close and personal with valley history by reading more than 15 years
   of stories lamenting the imminent death of everyone's favorite fruit
   company. With all that circling, don't the buzzards ever get dizzy?

   Nathan Gilbert ( contributes regularly to the Mercury
   News, to the tune of 35 cents a day.

[Note - reprinted by permission of the author.  My thanks to him - ed.]

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