Book Review: Dave Barry in Cyberspace

Dave Barry in Cyberspace

Dave Barry in Cyberspace should have been entitled “Dave Barry Reveals the Mysteries of the Cyberworld” as Mr  Barry takes us on a tour of Cyberspace in a “simple, practical, well-organized” manner, much of which he admittedly makes up as he goes along.  And lest you think his topics are strictly relating to the nuts and bolts of computing, Barry explains concepts which may have baffled even the most sophisticated users.  For example, take the airline business.  According to Barry, the airline industry, now that it has developed a computerized fare system that ensures that no two passengers on the same flight pay the same fare, is now working on a system that ensures that no two passengers in the history of aviation pay the same amount.  Progress, eh?

And Barry is well-equipped as a master of Cyberspace, having owned everything from a Radio Shack TRS-80 (which he describes as a “mutant toaster oven”) to the latest Pentium models, which enable him to multitask.  Multitasking is so fascinating to him that, while authoring this tome, he checks his e-mail and plays “ABM Commander”; he also points out that those less technically sophisticated authors, Chaucer among them, would have had to exit their documents before starting their favorite game.

Curious about the history of MS-DOS error messages?  You can find the answer within. Planning on buying a computer?  Barry will tell you where and how much (usually, “$350″ less than you will have paid).

Not certain as to which operating system you should install on your computer?  Emphasizes Dave Barry:  “Whichever one is already on your computer.”  Indeed, in Barry’s world, installing a new operating system can result in the following error message:

“The Installation Program has determined that a conflict exists … Shall the Installation Program reallocate the Motherboard Transfer Polarity Replication Allotment…?  Bear in mind that if you answer this question incorrectly, … innocent people could die.”

If you do install your own software, however, the advice Barry gives is invaluable.  “Open the software packaging and remove the manual… Throw it away.”

The hottest topic, of course, is the Internet.  And Barry addresses a question that has puzzled research institutions and computer scientists worldwide, namely, who runs the Internet.  Explains Barry: “A thirteen year-old named Jason.”   And if you’re concerned that, as you embark upon the Information Superhighway, you might make a mistake in typing the complex names of various Web sites, relax, as Barry advise that the worst that could happen if you type a single incorrect character is that “you will launch U.S. nuclear missiles against Norway.”

Barry also  provides the definitive reference on emoticons, those “smiley” symbols that people use to express emotion, such as :>).    Here, for the very first time, are
:-|     Person unsure of which long-distance company to choose
>8-O-(&)Person just realizing that he or she has a tapeworm

Don’t read Dave Barry in Cyberspace in public; you most likely will feel an uncontrollable urge to burst out laughing and, if you’re reading this during a meeting during which you’re supposed to be paying attention, there may be some undesirable side effects!

You can order Dave Barry in Cyberspace right now from

Jonathan B. Spira is the CEO and Chief Analyst at Basex.  This article originally appeared in the Basex Online Journal of Industry and Commerce (BOJIC).

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