There doesn’t seem to be a lot of Technical Writing humor. I guess that this means that we are a pretty humorless lot. But, a few of us DO know how to laugh and make others laugh.
A reader of another blog of mine sent me this precious gem:
CAT v.6.1b: Completely Autonomous Tester, Manufactured by MOMCAT (Maker of Many CATs)
User Installation & Maintenance Documentation
- User Friendly
- Low Power CPU
- Self Portable Operation
- Dual Video and Audio Input
- Audio Output
- Auto Search Capability for Input Data
- Auto Search for Output Bin
- Auto Learn Program in ROM
- Instant Transition (Energy Saving Standby Mode When Not In Use)
- Wide Operating Temperature Range
- Mouse Driven
- Self Cleaning
After basic KIT construction, the unit undergoes six weeks of onsite ROM programming and burn-in testing. Listed features are installed during this period. Since MOMCAT uses local suppliers, there may be a variation between individual units. Some of the units may not meet general standards. MOMCAT’s quality assurance may reject inferior units. Users may sometimes salvage rejected units. Beware of Far East clones. These may violate import restrictions.
A suitable transportation case should be used for transportation to the operating site. Failure to properly ship a CAT unit may result in loss or damage to the unit and serious injury to the user.
Upon receiving the CAT unit, the user should examine the unit to verify that all I/O channels are free of debris and operational. The user should look for minor bugs in or on the system. Bugs are indicative of the MOMCAT production environment. The user may manually remove any bugs. Bring the CAT to operation in an environment temperature of 20degC (+/- 3deg tolerance). Use a quiet room with the primary user(s) present. Open the transportation case and let the CAT unit autoexit. Initialize the self learning program by displaying the output bin. The next step consists in displaying the input bins. These should contain H2O (liquid state, room temperature, 99% purity) and dry energy pellets. Immediately afterwards, you must display the output bin.
If the user already has a CAT unit successfully installed, it may be possible to download the BASIC routines to the new CAT. For the first day or two, the CAT will stay in self learning mode. When the learn buffer overflows, the CAT will autoswitch to sleep mode. This is normal. The MMU system will store the new information to permanent memory. After 72 hours, the CAT will be interacting with the operating environment. The unit may often be placed in direct sunlight. If all basic environment requirements are satisfied, the CAT system will produce a slight hum. This is normal.
A new CAT should not exit the primary site facility. Full portability comes after extensive burn-in. Some users never let the CAT unit autoexit the site. The advantages are longer unit life and fewer bugs. Contact with pirate CAT units may lead to unplanned BATCH iteration. Contact with untested CATs may lead to virus infection. If allowed to exit, some CAT units may try to port across a street. Fatal errors may happen. These errors are never recoverable. Such situations are not covered by warranties. If you decide to let your CAT out, it should have a READ_ME.TXT file with a system address and URL.
Your CAT should have a system name. The name may have to be repeated until the system can read it correctly. This lets you issue voice commands to bring the unit to an online state. Many owners give their CATs a secret password as well. You can also get the CAT’s attention by booting the system. While this is effective, it is discouraged. Too much booting will abuse the system. The manufacturer is not responsible for injuries to the user.
MOUSE is a killer app. This is pre-installed. At present, there are few productivity applications for CAT. Many owners use their system for game playing. CATs play best when they are young. Older units suffer a system timing decay which leads to reduced response and flexibility. Some of the better CAT games are:
- CACHE – The CAT will CACHE a data code. Similar to the K9 unit game, but the object code must be smaller.
- MIRROR – Place the unit in front of a mirror and watch it attempt to parse itself. Some units may ESCape. Reboot the system by calling its name.
- STRING – The CAT attempts to parse a data string.
- JUMP – Move the data string through the air. The CAT unit will reach new heights of operation.
- CHASE – Played between two CAT units or a CAT and a K9 unit. Units take turns as one is the data and the other attempts to parse it.
- DANCE and SING – Offer fishy data code to elicit a range of audio output.
CATs will self-recharge. This takes 20 hours in a 24-hour cycle. CATs are self cleaning and require little user maintenance. Do not clean the unit with alcohol or benzine-based solvents. This can lead to violent explosions.
A CAT unit should be taken once a year to a VET (Very Expensive Technician) for a system checkup. Do not attempt to open a CAT. There are no user-serviceable parts inside. If a unit emits strange smells or sounds, it should be serviced immediately by a VET.
You may examine the CAT system to determine if it has a male or female scuzzy port. If the port is male, then the CAT unit may emit a non-toxic aerosol. The VET can remove this component. CATs with female ports are plagued by periodic heating problems. The VET can fix this permanently by removing an internal part.
Due to manufacturing faults or poor maintenance, there are a number of defective CAT units available at reduced prices. Defects may include missing components, impairment of video/audio input or slow and erratic functioning. Such units may require more careful maintenance, but are generally reliable so long as the user does not require high-performance or advanced functions.
Poor maintenance or accidental damage may lead to your CAT unit acquiring defects during its service life. Manufacturer-installed back-up systems can compensate for most acquired defects although advanced functions may no longer be available.
When acquiring a CAT unit, it is worthwhile considering a defective unit as the unaffected functions will provide years of user satisfaction.
High-Specification CAT Units:
Standard specifications for CAT units are given at the end of this User Manual. High-spec CAT units are available at additional cost from specialist manufacturers (Pedigree Siamese, Pedigree Persian and other suppliers). In general, these offer little more than a pleasing exterior while all manufacturer-installed functions are identical to that of the generic CAT. High-spec CAT units may offer one or more of the following:
- High-volume, frequent-use audio output (Pedigree Siamese and multiple colour-way Oriental clones).
- Plush coat exterior (Pedigree Persian) Note: this unit requires additional care if the external appearance is to be preserved.
- Cable-less units (Manx).
- Underwater operation (Turkish Van – limited colour options).
These are generally intended for the specialist market although previously used high-spec CAT units are sometimes available on the secondhand and nearly new market. Manufacturer rejects of high-spec CAT units are available at lower cost; these have minor cosmetic imperfections, which do not affect overall function.
Your CAT unit is susceptible to viruses if allowed to network with other units. Most will be auto-eliminated by resident anti-viral software. The VET can install additional anti-virus software against some of the common viruses. If you suspect your CAT has a virus, have the unit serviced immediately by the VET. Remedial action may be possible. Some CAT-specific viruses will cause no immediate symptoms, but will result in gradual system degradation. Affected units should not be allowed to interface with other CAT units but will continue to function adequately for several years. Certain multi-platform viruses require your system to be permanently powered down with immediate effect.
Your CAT unit is prone to a number of internal and external bugs, which are generally preventable or treatable. External bugs are unsightly and may cause surface damage or trigger too-frequent operation of the CAT’s self-clean mechanism. External bugs may be treated with specialist external cleaners, which offer short-term protection against re-infection. Internal bugs may cause errors at the CAT’s input port. The input port may spontaneously enter duplex mode and display output functions. This is an error condition. Internal bugs may be removed from the system by application of anti-bug pellets into the input port. Debugging may be undertaken by the user. Failure to debug the system will impair system performance.
CAT systems are normally user-friendly. However, in certain documented situations, a CAT may pose a danger to the user. Repeated jamming or obstruction of air ports may lead to a CAT deploying its auto-defense mechanisms. Do not strike a CAT. Its CPU clock rate is over 500 mHz. Twin D-shaped five-pin connectors have an average seek rate of 3 milliseconds. Children should not poke anything into the CAT’s I/O ports. CAT may BYTE.
In dry, cold weather, a surface electrostatic charge may build up. To avoid electric shock, stand on an insulated surface. Do not operate the CAT above water. This may lead to user damage. Carry a CAT firmly. Do not swing it by its “tail”.
As CATs become older, the learning program will recognize every situation. The CAT may become too smart for its own good. The Ctrl key on many CAT units is defective. CATs like to have their own toys. They often have hobbies, such as bird watching or studying tropical fish.
If you properly care for your CAT, it will give you years of loyal service. Many users get a second or even third unit. Most users don’t need the extra capacity, but they enjoy the ability to run complex simulation games.
The average service life of your CAT is 12 years (with occasional recoverable system glitches) but may be as long as 20 years. System functionality slowly degrades after 10 years, but compensatory mechanisms permit continued operational life for many years. Symptoms of system degradation include faulty audio and video input. Progressive system degradation leads to reduced functionality and ultimately causes your CAT to spontaneously power-down. This is a normal operational mode and is not recoverable. In cases of severe system degradation where the power-down function is not automatically invoked, consult a VET who will help your CAT to power down in a controlled manner. There are no salvageable parts.
CAT users can find other users on the msn group called The Scratching Post. Additional user FAQs can be found on rec.pets.cats.
The CAT unit is guaranteed against catastrophic failure. Nine coupons are included. Previously used CATs are available from specialist outlets. These may come without warranty. Some have been salvaged from poor-maintenance situations but will still give years of reliable service.
Models mainframe, desktop and laptop models (smallest footprint in the industry). Interface Touch sensitive interface for maximum user friendliness. Memory 16 MB with 1 MB in ROM.
Upgrades available real soon now. Expected Lifetime 12 years with +/- 72 months (although 20 years is common).
Weight: 3-6 kilograms without optional cables.
Speed 3 milliseconds search/find with self-uprighting supertwist technology.
Colour Graphics: Either paper white, monochrome (black/white), 64 gray shades, or maximum of 16 million colours with 40 gigabits of high-resolution pixels.
Sound Chip: 16 octaves, digital MIDI output (MI/OU).
Power Consumption 250/350 grams protein daily (2 micrograms per second.)
Operating Range -30 to +45deg C (-22 to 105 degF)
Vibration 5-500 Hz, one octave/min, dwell at all resonance points.
Fully software interrupt-driven with audible service request calls; instantaneous mode changing and short-term data buffering. Interrupts with audio output include ‘Awaiting Power Input’ and ‘Output Expected’ (failure to respond to output request will result in accidental damage to surrounding area). Hardware interrupts (no audio output) include ‘Heat-invoked Sleep Interrupt’ and (with audio output) ‘Closed Door Entry Request’. Interrupts are non-maskable.
Your New PC (Pussy Cat)
Bilateral frontal whisker array.
Bilateral adjustable audio dishes (range: 20-20,000Hz).
Stereoscopic scanning device with night vision.
Limited colour recognition.
Velcro ™ flavor sampling device/energy collector.
Odor sampling devices (2).
Internally mounted purrbox.
Single speaker with separate growl mode.
Rear-mounted, fully-jointed semaphore device.
Processor: Parallel neuron array with Random Access Memory and Autonomic control of system software.
Calcium-based skeletal structure.
Byte-to-bit conversion array.
Retractable Document shredder/Hole-punch.
Mouse (Standard Catnip).
Natural-fiber protective covering in various colours and textures.
Your PC will come preloaded with one of the following:
DOS (DOmestic Shorthair)
OS (Other Shorthair)
PS (Pedigree Longhair)
DLH (DOmestic Longhair)
MS (MegaSoft, installed in units with fuzzy covering)
RX (ReX, only installed on units with crimped-coat covering)
Conversion to Eunuchs can be done by a simple operation. This is recommended to prevent the proliferation of cheap PC clones. Any of the above system software will run in parallel with Eunuchs).
May include the following:
Your PC will automatically convert from laptop to desktop as needed. There are no user-serviceable parts inside.
Operating your PC:
To start up your PC, push the power button (on any electric can opener).
Your PC has an energy-saving mode known as Sleep. Your PC will Sleep automatically if unused for a short period of time, or you may invoke Sleep mode by placing your PC in a soft, warm area. To wake your PC from Sleep, you may press the power button as in Start, shake the mouse, or tap any of the PC’s input devices (see specs).
To perform a warm boot: Remove your shoe, and then tap the PC gently with your toes.
To perform a cold boot: Same technique as for warm boot, but leave your shoe on.
To reboot: Repeat the warm boot.
Cleaning your PC: Use only mild soap and water, no solvents. Surface wash only. Total immersion is not recommended. If partial immersion is necessary, wear proper hand and face protection and make sure your PC is fully dry when finished.
Compatibility and networking:
Your PC is designed to independently assess compatibility with other PCs. Running Eunuchs will generally give your PC greater compatibility with other PCs. It may be necessary to install a firewall between incompatible PCs as each may attempt to breach the other’s security systems. Compatible PCs may share thermal energy and cleaning tasks and may network for gaming purposes.
Please note that your PC will be incompatible with units of type BIRD and FISH unless appropriate security measures (such as a firewall) are installed. Your PC may tolerate one or more DOG units provided they occupy a subordinate position within the hierarchical structure.
Alternating supply of canned cat food and dry cat food.
Direct supply of water.
Direct access to solar and thermal energy sources.
PC HAS DIFFICULTY EXITING: Perform a warm boot.
PC SHARES FILES FROM DINNER/TABLE/PLATES WITHOUT PERMISSION: Boot your PC prior to running food-related software.
PC HANGS UP PHONE DURING CONNECTION TO ISP: Try invoking sleep mode prior to connecting to ISP. Otherwise, perform a warm boot.
PC IS FROZEN: PC is probably scanning for small life forms. Reboot until it responds.
Letter to MOMCAT Feline Technical Support Division:
I am experiencing operating problems in a recently acquired CAT v.6.1b (Completely Autonomous Tester, Manufactured by MOMCAT (Maker of Many CATs); model type “Sml Blk/Wht male [neutered]. I understand that acquisition of this model on the second-hand market waives all rights to a warranty, guarantee or parts replacement should a defect occur. Your Customer Services Division informs me that the perceived bugs are actually “features” and are within normal operating tolerances. I want to make sure these “features” are normal at such an early stage in the unit’s operation or whether there is some necessary adjustment required to ensure long-term performance, and to avoid degradation in the unit’s performance over time or critical equipment failure.
My recently acquired CAT v.6.1b is my second unit, allowing me to enjoy the ability to run complex simulation games as per your user manual. The primary (master) unit is a CAT v6.1a (Med Red/Tab female [neutered]); the v.6.1b operates as a secondary (slave) unit. In this respect I have experienced no operational defects. However, fuel consumption is giving cause for concern and the secondary unit appears to require a higher operating temperature for optimum performance.
When given the same amount of fuel as CAT v6.1a (Med Red/Tab female [neutered]), CAT v6.1b Sml Blk/Wht male [neutered] consistently reports a low fuel condition. I am experiencing considerable difficulty in reducing the volume and frequency of the audible warning system and am concerned that the output wattage may actually be causing the low fuel situation in the first place. Is it possible to adjust the volume or to introduce a timeout in the audible warning system in order to reduce fuel consumption? When CAT v.6.1b reports a low fuel condition, some sort of feedback mechanism triggers the same error message in the v.6.1a, which had never previously suffered this problem. Do the complex simulation games lead to increased power consumption requiring more frequent refuelling? The unit provides hours of amusement, but the fuel economy leaves much to be desired!
Please advise your Research and Development Laboratory of this improvement opportunity. Modifications to the audio output would, I believe, increase life expectancy of the model and reduce wear and tear on the CAT v6.1x series (Generic CAT). The current configuration is causing great frustration and an owner will require great self-restraint in order to avoid deliberately damaging the unit should the low fuel warning sound repeatedly around 3 a.m. The unit was acquired from a facility for the reconditioning and resale of previously owned CAT units. Staff at the reconditioning facility reported that the fault was already present when the unit was presented to them by a previous owner who expressed a desire for a quieter, more economical model.
I recently reported another malfunction in CAT v.6.1b Sml Blk/Wht male [neutered]. The unit intermittently fails to recognize its tail as an integral part of its machinery/casing. Your customer services department has informed me that this is a well-documented “feature” of the unit and should not cause any damage. I am advised that this feature usually becomes less frequent as new routines are downloaded.
I have a few other suggestions for the V.7.0x series, which I understand to be under development. These are:
User-configurable volume on audio output device.
User-configurable activity cycle (currently the “snooze button” does not work).
Ability to run on “Economy” as well as “Premium” fuel type (for short periods at least).
On/Off switch to prevent self-triggered nocturnal activity.
I look forward to receiving details of how to adjust my CAT v.6.1c to improve fuel economy.
Yours, CAT Owner