Microsoft and Seagate have recently launched a joint comic book series about IT professionals, called Heroes Happen Here (HHH). It is linked to a Microsoft product launch (Windows Server 2008, Visual Studio 2008 and SQL Server 2008) and the associated marketing campaign. HHH will run through the end of June, and the writers are soliciting storyline ideas about IT challenges that can be incorporated into the strip. I have heard HHH described as Dilbert meets the Justice League, and it does have some of that self-depreciating superhero spirit. It's a fun read.
As an unrelated aside, many of you may not know that the actor Masi Oka, who portrays the character Hiro in the Heroes television series, has a computer science degree from Brown. That is an interesting coincidence, given Andy van Dam's recent appointment to chair the CRA committee on education.
Inquiring Minds Want to Know
All of this made me reflect on the comic books I read when I was a kid – Superman, Batman, the Fantastic Four, The Flash, the Green Lantern and a host of others. Each superhero has a back story: how they obtained superpowers, their personal lives and cover story, their arch nemesis and (usually) a secret hideaway. (Should you suddenly find yourself imbued with superpowers, I highly recommend that you consult the book How to Be a Superhero: Your Complete Guide to Finding a Secret Headquarters, Hiring a Sidekick, Thwarting the Forces of Evil, and Much More!! It's a great read.)
Some of these back stories have always bothered me a bit. For example, is that pair of black plastic geek glasses really a disguise for mild mannered Clark Kent (aka Superman)? Doesn't anyone in Metropolis ever notice the eerie resemblance? Perhaps more disturbingly, did you ever calculate how big and how close the planet Krypton must have been for earth to be littered with Kryptonite? The astrophysics is seriously scary. By comparison, only a handful of Martian meteorites have been found on earth.
What about Batman? When you drive a unique, custom car to the Batcave in broad daylight and at high speed, isn't is possible someone might track you? The Batmobile isn't exactly a non-descript gray Ford Taurus after all. Ah well, I suppose that is part of the fun.
A Nearby Phone Booth
Excuse me, as an aspiring superhero, I hear my name being called via the ether. It's time to shed my mild-mannered exterior as an aging computing researcher and become (cue theme music) Balding Computer Guy,™ who fights for truth, justice and high-performance computing everywhere using his secret powers – petascale computing and planet-spanning data centers.
I'll just step into a nearby phone booth and … Hey, wait, what's that cold draft? Where'd the phone booths go? Geez, a mobile phone just isn't the same …