May 21, 2013

Forget that Norton guy; it's The Laffer Utilities Ver. 4.01!

Nowadays nobody seems to remember neither them PC Tools nor those over-priced Norton Utilities we  all used to install in order to have our PCs actually come close to doing stuff, and I frankly do not particularly miss this part of the era. On the other hand, you can't really complain when you are 14, even if the only Sierra product you can afford are the obscure Laffer Utilities. The Laffer Utilities Version 4.01 to be precise; a set of wacky little programs promising to make themselves handy "for everything you do at the office that has nothing to do with work".

Of course being 14 I couldn't really appreciate this kind of humour nor find any particular use for fax covers. An office sounded, well, it sounded implausible at best and, admittedly, Mr. Lowe's jokes aren't always what I'm looking for, but, still... Hey, I actually managed to have fun with the Laffer Utilities.

I printed silly signs filled with the bits The Office writers chose to cut, tried to entertain my parents with semi-randomly generated tabloid-esque headlines, gawked at the brilliantly drawn and incredibly vivid low-res 16-colour graphics and even fooled around with the rudimentary parser-driven AI that answered all questions with a selection of five catch-all phrases. In a desperate effort to squeeze even more fun from said piece of counter-productivity software (it really, really, wasn't suited for my age) I even tried to organize my friends' phone numbers into Larry's database, all the while wondering what on earth a betting pool is.

Ah, yes, good times.

Somewhat surprisingly, I quite enjoyed myself for far too many hours with the thing and Larry's non-gaming offering is something I still remember fondly. I regularly re-open its filled-to-the-brim box and browse the manual to this day. What's more, the complete set of the Laffer Utilities has been made available by Al Lowe himself and you can download it for free over at his radically updated site.

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