Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Archive

Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

[Note: This is a piece of fiction in progress, and is really in its early stages. Its taking shape as a scratchpad of ideas about the world of the future in which the Pleroma rules.]

Hanlen had been working for the company for years. Everyone did. That was the way of things on this the year of 2132 on the remnants of what had once been the third satellite of the solar body we call Sol. It wasn't work by what our standards might be as drawing sweat from the brow or a return from a difficult day at the office. He considered it serious and important work and for all intense purposes it was far more so than he would have known. 

A lot had happened in one hundred and twenty years. Civilization had twice been brought to the brink of war, and ultimately its own destruction. Inevitably the better part of human nature succeeded and rejoiced and the urban sprawl continued until there existed no land that was not urban. In the course of that time government as we know it had changed to resemble what we would call a dictatorship and had merged into a single body the world over. By 2067 citizens the world over were united under one country, the only one there was: Utopia. 

Unlike its namesake it was far from the perfect state of the equilibrium of human existence. The dictator wasn't human, nor of organic origins at all, though it did manifest itself in the consciousness of what we would call local representatives of government. Just like the software of the early twenty first century it ran in a non-linear programmatic sequence. Unlike the primitive software of the twenty first century, it executed outside of regular space-time in harmonic spheres, the mixed in-organic/organic hardware that we would call a computer and exploited the quantum properties of the human brain for both processing and input within these representatives. The programs ran in something called collapsed space, which was named for the collapse of the wave function as explained by Schrodinger in his (cruel) thought experiment. One possibility would collapse into reality and the next possibility would stem from that one. The program would computer all possibilities simulaneously yielding a result upon observation by a conscious observer. This result was called the harvest and the entirety of this program was called Pleroma.

Life was very different from ours. As alien to us as our lives are to the numerous creatures that populate a coral reef. The internet had ceased to exist, or better described it was a part of every consciousness. The entirety of human experience and knowledge was accessible to anyone, if you had the right level of access for that particular piece of information.  There were no search engines, just pure thought. Hanlen thought about this and discovered this had been the case since the Penrose/Hameroff Consortium of Human Consciousness had mapped the relationship between microtubules in the human brain and quantum non-locality. Amazingly, we had been capable of faster than light transmission of information and communication all along. What that meant in our terms is that our brains took advantage of quantum non-locality, and had the potential to affect any number of a subset of properties of a particle instantly regardless of distance. Any one of us could make a particle dance regardless of our distance from it. This was a side-effect of everyday thought. Its most profound implication was however that whatever made us uniquely us, was not a part of space/time as we know it but beyond it. This still gave Hanlen the shivers when he thought about it. Everything that he was, without the organic hardware of his body existed in something that was independent of both space and time. We had all of the clues but were as close to an answer as we are today.

Hanlen had been an archive analyst for twenty two years. He never found his job boring as one might have found their job boring in the twenty first century. There was no such thing as money as the currency was access to knowledge. We literally earned the right to have access to more information or an access to a higher level of information. The promotion was made by Pleroma itself, which would modify part of the genetic code within the recipent of the promotion, allowing them the level of access they had earned, though the notion of level was more more of an arc than it was a series of steps on a staircase. Analog versus digital. Infinite versus finite. This information naturally transitioned itself to others as it was acquired by those with access. This fed the longing for the answers to age old questions such as what are we or where did we come from and yielded more curiosity and motivation to feed that curiosity with answers.

Most of the original surface matter of the world had been replaced by composite constuction materials and there existed no natural habitats. There were forests, animals and plants, but all were part of the Pleroma and engineered as contained tiny habitats for human experience or for the computing power of the Pleroma itself. The ecosystems which brought forth those species of animal and plant had long since gone from being information as a series of amino acids to information as a series of wavelets, the smallest indivisible unit of information used by harmonic spheres. 

Most of the labor that was performed by people had been replaced entirely by nanotechnology and emergent collaboration. This enabled many nanites (microscopic robots) to work together as a collective and essentially become and organism unto itself, much like an ant colony. There were three basic types or roles for nanites, builders which would fuse two elements together to yield a compound molecule, demolisher which would desconstruct such molecules back into their constituent raw materials and couriers, which would transport raw molecules or raw materials to and from their required locations. The nanites were guided by the Pleroma through the issuing of a task called an intent. A complete intent encompassed everything required to create the end product of what the complete intent represented.

The nanites themselves were fuelled by raw oxygen, which they got by demolishing carbon dioxide, yielding a lot of carbon, which was most often used as a sturdy and abundant building material. The oxygen wasn't consumed, as the energy was gained by the process which combined it with hydrogen to yield water. The side effect was that the carbon dioxide levels of the atmosphere was converted to solid matter and used as a building material by the nanites. This made up for the lack of plant life which historically had been able to eat carbon dioxide as part of their respiration requirements and yielding much oxygen for us.

Most people didn't notice the plants missing, for most people's conscious attention was employed in simulations for the Pleroma, where they would experience a living and breathing world. One that no longer existed in the terms of what we define as being reality and the world had to some lost its lustre for those who sought a newer palette and canvas. The Pleroma provided this and it was where most of existence was situated in terms of being the foci of human consciousness.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Updates: Canadarm Anniversary

Back again and one day late for the Canadarm 31st anniversary (since its first use since its deployment). A work horse for the Space Shuttle program and Canada's contribution to the space program in in the mid 1980's.

Have you ever dreamt of flying a space shuttle mission? Here's an official short little flash based mission simulator from the Kennedy Space Center that serves as an educational tool as well that's youngster friendly.

For a very detailed simulation of the space shuttle try Space Shuttle Mission Simulator a commercial program with a freely downloadable demo. It supports a wide number of features including head mounted displays and head tracking for those who want real immersion. Throw in technical support and a good library of expansions and you have a great program. I only got a short peek at it and its great indeed, with the most accurate instrument panel I've seen.

On a low budget? For those of you running a Windows based PC, you can download Orbiter, a great free shuttle simulation with a modern dynamics taking into account such factors as the buoyancy of the atmosphere and a highly accurate instumentation model. It would be perfectly rounded out with SpaceShip 2 a sub-orbital space craft in development and one of the pioneer craft of commercial spaceflight.

Looking for something a bit further into the future where we've already tackled all of the rough bits regarding space flight? You might want to check out Frontier: First Encounters on the PC. Its a bit more of a game than a simulation but it originated way back in the early days of computer as the first space simulation game known as Elite first released on the ZX Spectrum and the Commodore 64. Imagine that! There was a space simulation game that included IFR (Instrument Flight Reckoning) based and VFR (Visual Flight Reckoning) based space station docking in 1984. It was a completely ground breaking program at the time and will get its place on my links page. There were two sequels to the game, Frontier and Frontier First Encounters, both similar to each other but ground breaking in the sense that they simulated nearly the entire milkyway galaxy in 1993 on two 720KB 3 1/2" disks! 

Another first was the fact that you could seamlessly fly from ground to space without transitions that were common in most space games at that time. It pioneered all space simulations for the PC including Google Earth utilizing LOD (Level Of Detail) and icosahedron subdivision rendering for its geometric representation of planets and moons. Looking a little dated compared to most modern space simulation games, a group of programmers and artists in the FFE community combined forces in two teams to take on the monumental task of updating Frontier First Encounters to utilize modern 3D hardware, which required reverse engineering a few hundred thousand lines of machine code culminating in FFED3D and FFEGL. Highly recommended, and lots of information and resources out there from the Elite and Frontier community. Special thanks to David Braben and Ian Bell, the original creators of those programs. For more information on these great programs please check out Frontier Astro, a great site detailing all of the Elite series of games.

Lastly, for an updated version of Elite! Check out Oolite, a multiplatform version of the original Elite, with updated graphics and object orientation which translates to lots of expandability.

What space themed blog entry would be complete without Star Trek and Star Wars? Well this one certainly wouldn't. Have you ever wanted to command and fly a Federation starship? Have you ever wanted to lead an away team on a surface mission? You can with Star Trek Online, a massively multiplayer online Star Trek game. It lets you do all that and more in a huge universe with cameo appearances and mentions of the crew of all of the Star Trek series. The best part is that its free to play, you just need an internet connection. Highly recommended.

Last but not least is Star Wars Online, an online massively multiplayer version or Star Wars: Knights Of The Old Republic. Another excellent online game with a free to play version. You can join the Galactic Republic or the Empire, with four different classes and many different races to choose from in each faction. This game takes place a few thousand years before the Star Wars movies and includes many of the locations from the movies. Again, highly recommended.

That should be enough space food to keep your tribbles happy for while. 

Until then, may the force be with you at warp 9.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Thank You

To every armed forces veteran
both the living and the deceased
who have put at risk their own lives
to improve the quality of life in some way shape or form
whether here or in another part of the world
maybe you fought landlocked in a huge network of trenches in Europe
or stormed beaches against insurmountable odds and over the bodies of your fallen brothers
maybe you patrolled treacherous jungle in support of free society
acted as the neutral peace keeping friend between two warring enemies
maybe you provided emergency assistance 
recovery from homeland attacks or natural disasters
or fought for the rights of women and children to attend schools and use hospitals and vote
a large part of our freedom is because of your effort

Thank you always and on this Remembrance Day

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Good day to everyone. Not doing much for a Saturday so here's to enjoying the weekend.

Watched a couple of great movies last night, Knowing and MI:4 Ghost Protocol. Both were enjoyable and I specifically liked Ghost Protocol, and to top it off it had a great ending.

I also noticed a news item concerning cyber-threats by the Public Safety Department and Vic Toews which is good news. The main thing that I hope that they address is the problem of illegal monitoring by civilians. For an idea of what this problem entails, see Van Eck Phreaking at WhatIs and here care of DefCon. This club or gang possess this technology in their apartments and use it against non-members of their club and will often walk up and down the street announcing this information (my particular harassers in that way seem to constantly blame it upon Oriental culture, mostly out of my affinity for it).

Until they take this threat seriously, there will be considerable problems for Canadians and others in the world whose private information is used illegally or even intimidatingly by perpetrators of this activity. In my neighbourhood it is used to protect crack cocaine.

I've had situations whereby my neighbours might announce specific lines from something that I writing as I am writing it, and without an internet connection whatsoever. They need to address the fact that there are Canadians conducting illegal monitoring against other law abiding Canadians, using means and technology that does not require the presence of an internet or network connection whatsoever, with some computers and phones being vulnerable to this.

I trust the companies asking for the information, but not the people in the next apartment who can read the information from my computer screen with illegal technology, often without me having an internet connection whatsoever.

I hope that Public Safety Minister Vic Toews addresses problems like this and that investigations are made with regard to this activity.

It would be great to watch a movie from one of the online movie rental providers or buy a dvd and watch it without having a neighbour say "you totally ripped up Knowing and Ghost Protocol".

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Congratulatory Message

The American Election

I'd like to say congratulations to President Barrack Obama on his election win for the Office Of The President Of The United States Of America. The people have spoken.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Er... Happy Election Day, Eh!

I just wanted to say that I hope that the election goes well and without too much controversy. I'm not going to say who I'd vote for after all I'm Canadian, eh. Have a great and safe election and many congratulations to the candidate elected by the people.

Brian Johns

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Ahhh Movember is here...

Movember is here, so if you want to grow a moustache or borrow one, and lend a whisker of support for Men's Prostrate Cancer and Mental Health, head on over to the web site and get all of the information you need in order to join.

Want to be involved in bring attention to some issues that need attention from you and others? Check out Care2, a place where you can lend your support for petitioning and earn points for doing so. Once you have accumulated enough points, you can buy a school book for a student in an impoverished country or offset a pound of carbon for the environment.

I recently watched The Avengers motion picture, based on the Marvel comic book of the same name, and let me tell you, what a great action movie it was, with a special emphasis on gelling as a team. Joss Whedon helmed the picture and kept pacing in a steady ascent right to the close of the picture. Highly recommended for movie fans, and great food for aspiring team players out there that need a little bit of inspiration to hang on a little bit longer before waylaying one of their team mates.

Speaking of which, it looks like the beta test phase of Marvel Heroes Online has finished and the game is ready for you to join. It's a massively multiplayer online game set in the Marvel universe. From a quick glance, it looks like you can play as an existing superhero or you can play as one of your own design. I wonder if they have Damage Inc. included in the game? Time to call on my buddies Myles, Pete, Buzz, Joe, Steve, Darrell and some other friends (oops, that was 25 years ago)! I guess I'm still a kid at heart.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Back Again With Smiles...

Good to see everyone again. It has been a hectic few weeks, though I haven't done a lot, but I've been practicing the keys, and doing a bit around the apartment. A fair bit of good food too and even a (non-religious) fast not too long ago just to kind of clean the system out.

Nobody should be made to feel afraid of the world: Put a stop to school bullying!

For my spare time in the evenings I've been watching some flicks and playing a couple of video games.

One of the movies I recently watched was The Departed, directed by none other than Martin Scorcese and starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Mark Wahlberg, Martin Sheen, Ray Winstone, Vera Farmiga and Alec Baldwin. The movie of course is a great movie, definitely not family material but if you are a fan of Scorcese's previous work you won't be disappointed. Great performances by the entire cast and Mark Wahlberg turns in the most hilariously cynical performance as an Undercover Officer Handler. Two thumbs way up.

Another favourite that I watched, was The Player, a Robert Altman film and of course a masterpiece of film making en par with his usual style, starring Tim Robbins and an all star cast filled with cameos by many Hollywood legends, and is highly recommended if you are a fan of the Hollywood of the nineties. Not exactly family entertainment but a great film. Two thumbs way up again.

Beyond that, I've been playing two games produced by Bethesda Softworks, that have been around for about five years, the first being Fallout 3, the third game in the popular roleplaying saga Fallout, this time given a huge treatment via Bethesda's 3D engine technology used in the Elderscrolls series of roleplaying games. The second is from the Elderscrolls series itself known simply as Oblivion, a great first person rpg romp.

If there's some family out there and during the middle of October someone had a birthday. I didn't forget you so Happy Birthday and a Happy Halloween to you as well!

All of the best to everyone, and I should be back at the typewriter again soon, with an update to a couple of the stories as soon as I can get a window of opportunity with enough peace to work on them. I've been playing with some other ideas as well, but like I said, I need a window of opportunity.

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