Retiring a legend
Early one morning in January 2008, I was sitting in the Ottawa, Ontario airport, waiting for a flight back to Chicago O'Hare. It had snowed all week (of course, I was in Canada, in January). Chicago was getting snow (of course, it was Chicago in January). I was bored and the prospects for it to get better weren't looking up. I knew I was in for a long day.
The week had been exceptionally fruitless. The engineering staff and the Marketing team were trying to come to some common ground on what we were going to do with the product for the coming year. There was a lot of tension as we all expected layoffs to come. I left the week deciding it would be in my best interests to see what my options were (that's coder-speak for "see if any of my friends have job openings").
As I sat in the hard plastic chairs inside the international terminal at YOW, I started playing Bejeweled 2 on my company-issue Palm Treo 650. If you know me, you know I worked for Palm from 1999 to 2005. I have lots of apps for my Palms and Bejeweled is one of my favorites. I played and played and played that day. And never lost the game. Same with the next day, and the next. At the end of the month, I was over 10 million points, which was way more than I had ever scored before, by a factor of 10.
In early February, my fears about the company were well-grounded and I lost my job. Fortunately, my feelers had yielded fruit and I had a job offer 2 days later. But, I had to give up my Treo and my game of Bejeweled. So, I backed up the memory of the phone and sent it away, along with my laptop and closed that chapter of my life.
Now came a difficult choice. I was going to work for Motorola, which makes cell phones. I really liked my Treo and I had that game of Bejeweled still on my data card. So, I pestered a friend who is still at Palm and got a newish Treo 650 for $100 and a Tri-tip sandwich. With this new phone and using a great Palm App called BackupMan, I was back running with my previous game of Bejeweled. Yeah!
Twenty million points, thirty million, forty…
Three months later, while in the company booth at a trade show, I got "caught" by my boss' boss using my Treo. Dumb move on my part, but not fatal as he also came from Palm. He suggested that I hide the Treo when doing booth duty and told my boss to get me the standard company-issue 3G phone that gets corporate email.
Fifty million points, seventy five million, …
The Treo then became a glorified GameBoy. Without a SIM card, it still worked fine as a PDA. I kept it on the nightstand and took it in the bathroom when I needed some "quality time". I carried it on countless flights to California and to Brazil and DisneyWorld. All the while, I kept racking up points on this same game.
One hundred million, two hundred, three…
In the mean time, I've been steadily working on new phone models from Motorola and playing with these cool new Android phones. I have the Google Android Developer phone (not a Motorola product) and the new HTC Magic that I got at the Google IO conference last week. I've been writing code using Eclipse and I'm beginning to like what I see. I'm looking forward to seeing the things that Motorola have announced.
Four hundred million, five hundred, six…
By this point, there were two apps that I was still using on the Treo–Bejeweled and Datashield. Datashield is a nice password program for the Palm, but it doesn't run on Android. Knowing that the Treo's days were numbered, I had recently exported my passwords to a new program on the Android phone, which just left Bejeweled on the Treo.
Seven hundred million, eight hundred, nine…
Last week, I hit the milestone. Right before leaving on yet another trip to California, I rolled Bejeweled over the top of its number counter. The programmers who wrote it may not have expected someone to play the same game for 16 solid months, but they made sure to check that condition. Because that's what good programmers do.
When the game hit 999,999,999, it didn't allow any more points to score, effectively ending the game. With that milestone, I will be retiring the Treo from daily use. Elijah will probably end up with it once he's shown that he can keep track of a $39 flip phone.
By the way, my
high-score is on the Astraware web site for all to see. Looking at the scores, apparently there is a man named Jamison who also suffers from obsessive behavior.
Now to find the next completely pointless time-waster…