Monday, November 25, 2019

Grab three of my ebooks for free this week!

With the beginning of the holiday insanity, I figured I should offer up some of my ebooks for free.  These would be great for that long drive to the in-laws or while standing in line for some big Black Friday deal.  Or if you’re just looking for something to read.  So these three ebooks will be free from Tuesday November 26 through Saturday November 30.

Partway to a new colony world, board member Geoffrey Ames is woken from hibernation by the caretaking crew of the Lucian. They require him to look into the matter of their fellow crewman Morgan Heller. Morgan’s claims – such as being over 1500 years old – would normally land him in the psychiatric ward, except he can back up some of his other claims.

A Man of Few Words is a collection of fifty of my flash fiction stories. What would really happen if a “T-Rex on steroids” attacked a city? Why do science fiction writers make the best lovers? How does a company get to Second Base with VIPs? These questions and more are explored using less than 1000 words and in various genres from humor to horror and general fiction to science fiction.

The majority of the stories were previously published (most on my website) but all were revised for this collection. In addition, each piece is accompanied by some background information on the origin of the story or a funny tale about the writing of it to give a fuller experience.

As a science fiction writer, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how technology will change the way we live.  I’ve come up with these ten short essays about science fictional elements that will – almost certainly – one day become science fact as a way for people to start coming to terms with them.  Because I’ve spent time thinking about clones and AIs, I feel that I’ll be okay when they do finally show up whereas most people will probably freak out.  I hope these essays will get people to start thinking about the future because, no matter what we do, the future is coming.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Caffeine of the masses

There was a guy I knew from college who I had … disagreements with on Facebook a few years ago.  Most of these disagreements were because I’m not an asshole while he was some flavor of libertarian.  Like, he basically called everything he didn’t agree with socialism, and he gave the impression that if a Democrat politician said, “I propose ….” he’d immediately start screaming, “Tyranny!” I say some flavor of libertarian because I think there were times where I asked him what exactly he believed, and he replied with things like, “It’s not my job to educate you.” Eventually, he unfriended me because, I don’t know, I hurt his feelings, or something.  I do miss poking the bear, especially since I’ve recently had an interesting idea that I’d love to hear his response to.  Even though it would probably just be, “That’s deranged socialist thinking.”

I can’t remember what the issue was – possibly gun laws – and I can’t remember if it was my friend or someone from his libertarian circle jerk piling on, but I think they said something along the lines of “socialism makes people slaves to the state.” And even if I’m misremembering things, the statement is something negative about socialism, so they’d probably agree with it.

Anyway, the question I’d like to ask him was if he drank coffee in the morning.  His response would probably be something like, “IS THERE ANYTHING SOCIALISTS DON’T WANT TO DESTROY?” which I would take as a “Yes.” I would then have a hypothetical question and answer bit.  Why do you drink coffee in the morning?  I’m tired and it wakes me up.  Why are you tired?  I didn’t get enough sleep.  Why didn’t you get enough sleep?  I have to get up early and go to work.  Why don’t you just stay asleep until you are fully rested and go to work later?  BECAUSE THAT WOULD BE INEFFICIENT FOR OUR CORPORATE MASTERS.  I’d then point out that for some jobs – like in an office – there is some evidence that not having set start times leads to happier employees who are more productive.  But why do facts matter.

The point of this, is that if the state told everyone to take these pills that altered their brain chemistry to decrease violent tendencies and make them “better” citizens, my friend would be crying “TYRANNY!” And for once, he’d be right.  Meanwhile, it’s “normal” for people to self-medicate, altering their brain chemistries to be more efficient cogs in the corporate machine.  And just bringing this subject up means I’m a deranged socialist.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Self-driving car kits

Or would they be called KITTs?

I’m not sorry.

Anyway, I’ve been thinking about this lately and I’ve realized that there are basically three things needed to turn a regular car into a self-driving one: the computer, sensors, and the human/car interface.  And I wonder if car manufacturers will start designing their new cars for these future self-driving kits.  At first these kits would probably have to be installed at dealerships, but eventually you might just be able to order one online and install it yourself.  Or maybe you’d order one and a drone would fly it and a robotic mechanic to your place.  The mechanic would install it, then fly back with the drone. 

Getting off the idea of drones flying robotic … handybots to your house and back to self-driving car kits, for the computer, we probably already know roughly about how big they’ll be.  So the manufacturers only need to leave a space for it.  If nothing else, they could just stick it in the trunk.  But then there needs to be a way for it to get power and to send and receive signals.  And I wonder if it would be better to already have a cable in the car that you just have to plug everything into rather than having to take all the seats out to run a cable.  Would having these cables pre-installed be seen as a feature worth a little extra over the basic model?

The sensors – cameras, lidar, GPS, etc. – are usually placed at the corners of the car and maybe the roof.  Again, we probably have a rough idea of how big they’ll be, so they just need to leave space for them in the right spots, and a way to power and communicate with them. 

Probably the biggest issue with upgrading a car to self-driving will be the interface.  Like you could put one of those fancy touchscreens in my current car, it would just take ripping the entire dashboard out and putting a new one in.  That kind of defeats the purpose of a simple kit.  I wonder if in the next few years we’ll see cars with touchscreens that just need a software upgrade to go from normal car to self-driving.

So that was just some ideas I had.  I probably would have kept them to myself but then I thought of that joke and had to share it.  I’m still not sorry.