July 27th, 2008

Tea-drinker par excellence

I had a dream

Last night I had a dream that I was at some small generic UK roleplaying convention. I was sitting at a table, the kind that you get in pub gardens that have V-shaped trestles and built in benches. It was covered in a white plastic tablecloth, to keep the games clean. Monte Cook came in and sat opposite me and I interviewed him about his new 4e game and all the legal issues that had so far made it impossible for him to publish it.
Tea-drinker par excellence


So I'm finally listening to Third by Portishead and it is very firmly making me want to write dark sparse Lovecraftian fiction. Somewhere between William Gibson and Jack O'Connell. Something unforgiving.
Tea-drinker par excellence


So I wrote something, or at least the start of something.

These days Don seemed to spend most of his time reverse-engineering random-number generators from World of Wonder. Some Chinese backers had been impressed with the work he had done on the bidding habits of Australian derivatives traders for his MSc and had set him up in a neat loft apartment in Stratford - one that had been some 100m runner's in the 2012 Olympics. That meant good facilities and security. Although they had, of course, also installed their own gear to make: dampers on all incoming and outgoing lines, sewage too, to avoid even the tiniest data leeks. And you couldn't touch the windows. They were vibrated over a range of frequencies to block laser telemetry. Not that Don would have opened them anyway. The humidity outside was usually over 90% these days so he had the air con cranked up on full.

World of Wonder was a MMRPG that was big in Korea and, for some reason, Senegal. It had 128 million players who pumped in about CNY 9 billion a year. They battled each other across a pre-Dorothy Oz in the quest to become the Wizard. Don's backers figured that knowledge of the random number generator used to power the game would give them some kind of edge. So they fed him streams from millions of robot players. In turn he wrote data handling and Fourier analysis routines. He figured it would take a month or so to crack the algorithm. He was being paid by the day and handsomely too, so he'd told the Chinese it would take three months.

To make it look as if he was busy, he started applying his routines to other data streams. He hacked into Tower Hamlet's CCTV control centre and took the feeds from their face-recognition database. Laying this over a map of the local authority, he was able to track the real time movements of the population. He had this running on a channel on his HDTV. Millions of tiny little dots milling about, coloured by gender, address, council tax band or whatever took his fancy. The whole flat had been painted with the LED screen so he had different breakdowns running in different rooms: sexual preference in the hall, age in the bathroom and electricity use on the ceiling above his bed. This dimmed away at night to pale purples and greys and Don found it a great aid to his meditation routines.

One night ...