Sunday, November 20, 2011

Solid State Society

I read a lot of fantasy and technology books. One of my favorite series is the Daemon series by Daniel Saurez. The series has two parts: Daemon and Freedom™. It is about a video game developer who creates a daemon; a program that sits in waiting until a certain trigger or event occurs. This particular daemon activates upon news of the developer's death. It begins as a virus infecting several key computer systems throughout the world. Afterwards, it starts to hold data of several corporations hostage and begins hiring and forming an organization of people who carryout the Daemon's orders, which eventually leads to a major self-sufficient society across the world that is the metaphor for ultimate democracy.

In other words, a computer program takes over the world and makes it a better place.

Allow me to list what the critics say:

"Daemon is the real deal. A scary look at what can go wrong as we depend increasingly on computer networks."
~Craig Newmark, Founder, Craigslist

"Both entertaining and credible... an impressive debut novel."
~Chicago Sun Times

"I came away from this novel with a... new fear of computer capability."
~New York Times Bestselling Author Robin Cook

"A chilling yet entirely plausible story of technology gone awry."
~St. Petersburg Times

"A thought-provoking novel that presents real technologies in a new and terrible light. It's a hard book to put down."
~Tom Leonard, Lead AI Architect Half-Life 2 (Valve Software)

"Someday, we may be defending our systems against automated threats that aren't just dumb viruses - and the ideas in Daemon will move from the fiction to the nonfiction section.."
~Jim Rapoza, eWeek (Ziff Davis)

That's right. The events in these books could actually happen.

The company involved in the book is called Cyberstorm Entertainment. Cyberstorm is your typical big-name game company, like Blizzard Entertainment. The company created many bestselling compter games. The games were used to contact the hardcore gamers that would carry out the Daemon's tech work. The best gamers and hackers would eventually find a gate or a character within the games that gave them orders that the Daemon would issue. Any curious gamer or hacker would carry out the first few orders, and eventually they would learn what the Daemon was and the power they could have if they continued to follow it.

Eventually, the Daemon was spread to other outlets, such as news outlets. As more people served the Daemon, a network was formed for the members to communicate through, called the Darknet. Since the Daemon was a part of a rich company, it was allowed assets so it could provide weapons and other utilities for the followers. As more people converted, a credit system was created for those who were a part of the Darknet. Completing assignments given by the Daemon granted credits that served as currency. The Darknet also worked like a Tumblr feed: members would post news and tips about locations and such, and others would uprate or downrate them in terms of importance. Eventually, whole communities would be converted, and Darknet credits served as the main currency instead of the US dollar. Other currencies would fall in value as the Darknet credit rose, and more and more people would join for the better benefits.

The entire series has been verified as plausible. Both books are filled with resources in the back that include information on how everything works. We face a scenario that could happen, but where do we begin?

We would need a big-name technology company that is in almost every household. There are two companies that are especially suited: Google and Apple. A huge majority of people have some Apple product in their household. Let's be honest, though; the Daemon originates as a simple virus in its early stages. The hardcore techies who are to be recruited by the Daemon use Windows, not Mac. This knocks Apple out of the running.

Nearly everyone who uses the internet uses Google. While most only use the search engine, many others use Google's other features: Earth, Docs, and so forth. Many people even use Android phones; the Android OS is a product of Google. Simply put, implant a small virus that is downloaded everytime a device contacts Google or some branch of it. The developers at Google are smart; they can figure out how to get it downloaded without being marked as harmful.

One simple event triggers the Google Daemon to activate. Locate the die-hard Google fans (like me) and begin giving them orders. Start small and work your way up. The prime operatives would be techies with Android phones. Some techies know how to develop Android software. They are entwined with Google. They would be the prime recruits for the Daemon early on; of course they will obey what Google tells them!

Google is a big company. They have the assets to be able to provide the operative with the utilities they need. Google already has a big network that many people are connected through. It wouldn't be that hard. Google has already shown the power they hold over the internet. One thing would lead to another, and eventually the Google Daemon would rule the world under its cybernetic fist. Since the Daemon can be entirely self-sufficient, the internal workings of the company itself would not be affected at all.

So, how would we benefit from such a society? What does it do for us?

We would live in a society with no true leader. A computer program leads us; tells us what to do. Completing tasks grants you credit to buy whatever you need. A credit system would replace the US dollar. Other than that, businesses would remain much the same. Credits would be saved to your account, and it would just be deducted whenever you bought anything. Businesses just handled their expenses and such with credit. The Darknet also operated on an experience system, similar to an RPG. The more tasks you completed, the more experience you gained. The more you leveled, the more notoriety you gained among the Darknet and the more powers and permissions you received on the Darknet. Even a homeless man could make a living on the Darknet. Our society, surprisingly, would be a lot better if it was run by a computer daemon.

I, for one, welcome our new computer overlords.



Friday, September 9, 2011

Only Toonami

I remember coming home from school everyday and waiting until the clock struck 4pm. Everyday at 4pm, the legendary action block Toonami came on Cartoon Network. Toonami was your typical block of Dragon Ball Z, Sailor Moon, Gundam Wing, etc. When we were kids, that block and the Simpsons were the only important times for TV.

 For many of us nerds, this was our first taste of Anime. True anime, not that Kids WB crap.  We loved Toonami, and as we grew, it grew with us. We grew to love Tom, the show's host (many of us are too young to remember Moltar, the original host). We cried when Tom 1 was destroyed during The Intruder, and we were in awe when Tom 2 showed up in all of his awesome glory.

Tom 2 eventually became the sleeker Tom 3, and shows like DBZ gave away to shows like Outlaw Star and Zodiac Warriors. We endured with Tom through Trapped in Hyperspace, stayed up late to catch the Midnight Run, and rose early to catch the Rising Sun. We stayed with SARA as well, the ship's computer. Her companionship was oftentimes the only thing that kept Tom on track aboard the Absolution. Eventually, Toonami got handed a Saturday night time slot, and we were introduced to Tom 4.

Sadly, during the year 2008, Toonami met its end.

That was the last time we thought we'd see Tom.

We thought wrong. The community didn't stay quiet. The people loved Toonami. They wanted it back. During the ensuing years, many people across the web banded together to created live streams that replicated Toonami. While most have failed, a few have really taken off, such as Toonami Aftermath. Toonami Aftermath is a 24/7 stream that's basically the greatest thing to happen to us since the original Toonami (at the time of this typing, Toonami Aftermath was relocating and was down. It may be back up by now). It has everything from anime, to american action cartoons, to movies, to even the original Toonami comercials featuring Tom. What more could you ask for?

 We could ask for a new Toonami. We could ask for is a new Tom 5. Well, that's what the community is also delivering. Enter Neotoonami, a community that is recreating Toonami on a whole new level. It is a group that is making a new ship, a new Tom, and a new line-up of shows. They've posted previews of their work, and honestly, I'm awestruck at it. These guys are doing an amazing job, and I personally can't wait for Neotoonami to kick off.


Honestly, what does this all mean? What's it all represent? This is what a community has done. This is what a group of 100% people has created. The Internet is a powerful place. When people want something to happen, they band together and they make stuff happen. When Toonami went off the air, several streams sprang up created by fans who wanted it back. These are PEOPLE, not some corporation or company kicking up this stream. These are people. Just like Anonymous, they have moved the Internet and brought joy to many fans around the world. 

It just makes you wonder... when an Internet community comes together, what else can they do?

Stay Gold,


Thursday, September 1, 2011

Going Digital

Our world is slowly becoming more and more digital.

So I was downloading another game off Steam recently (Steam's weekend deals are the high points of my weekends) when I really got to thinking about how we've advanced in terms of digital technology. Anyone remember the old days, when owning a CD player made you popular? The good PS1 games came on 2, 3, 4 discs, and every computer game was on a CD? Now, I'm sitting here listening to music I've downloaded en masse while running full-fledged computer games without a thought of a CD.

Now, computer games (seriously, who buys standard edition computer games at a store anymore) come loaded on DVDs. Musical CDs still sell,  but many people just resort to a service like iTunes. More and more, we have no need for portable storage. Sure, we have flash drives that most of us carry around, but a lot of us are able to store files on our phones, or in a program like Drop Box to access on any other computer.

Sure, you can say, "but m'lord, the size of common flash drives double every year! And the engineers are close to perfecting Purple-Ray!" Purple-Ray, you say? Purple-Ray is the newest invented technology for disc storage. It is the next step above Blu-Ray: boasting a 100gb storage space and the ability to fill that space in 25 minutes. This can be expanded to 400gb, and they say that the speed can rival today's fastest hard drives. But, what's the use?

Enter: The Cloud. Cloud-based computing is relatively new to the public, but many of us use it already. The Cloud is an area of the internet that our devices connect to. We are free to read and write whatever we want to the cloud, so we may access later on the same device or another device. Many people use this now-a-days instead of portable storage. It sounds great, but that' only for personal storage, right?

Wrong. It may be the future of console gaming as well. OnLive is a fairly new console that many gamers have not heard of yet. It consists of a small box (shown in the picture) that connects to the internet. It connects to the OnLive cloud, and with your OnLive account, you can purchase games and stream them directly to your TV. What makes the idea so powerful? All of the processing and everything that a console normally does happens cloud-side - the console itself merely transmits the images of the game. The console itself has no NEED to upgrade. While OnLive doesn't have a very big library right now, it can still make deals with other game companies to get bigger hits available. I believe this service has potential.

What does this all mean? Now, onto my point. Everything we know and love is becoming digital. Everything is becoming a part of the internet, the cloud, everything. More and more of our lives are becoming automated as well. We merely click, and everything we want to happen happens.

Taking a step back, at a glance, the internet looks just like a big mesh of data. If one could harness the internet, they could do powerful things. We saw in the novel Daemon what happens when a computer mastermind writes one program. Anyone could do the same thing. But I digress... what else could lurk on the internet? I have an idea...

That's right. The internet is a huge place. We can't keep the whole place in check by ourselves. Like our own world, what if there's myths and legends about the internet? I honestly wouldn't doubt if there is an actual digital world out there somewhere. With the mass of unused IP grids the government owns, it could exist somewhere. Then again, isn't Digimon just an MMO that the kids in the series got sucked into? Perhaps there are thousands of Digital worlds out there already... Azeroth, Thedas, Middle Earth, Hyboria. What if we ourselves are in a digital world? Damn, our graphics are good, then.

I wouldn't totally rule out the possibility... but if a rift opened between our world and digital Azeroth, I'd gladly grab my Digivice and go digital.

Fare well,


Sunday, August 28, 2011

Human Revolution

My apologies. College started this week, so my posts got kinda limited by that.

So, a certain game came out this week. Deus Ex: Human Revolution is the third installment in the Deus Ex series. It takes place in the year 2027 in a cyberpunk world, where major companies have advanced into the world of bio-mechanical augmentation. You play Adam Jensen, a private investigator investigating attacks on the company you work for. Throughout the game, certain events lead to you replacing parts of your body with bio-mechanical prosthetics. While it's only a few at first, you eventually get free reign on new parts that really augment your body and grant you the ability to do some really amazing feats that normal humans wouldn't be capable of. I just downloaded the game but I haven't started it, but I've heard that it's an amazing game by all means (the first game in 2000 was hailed at the greatest PC game of all time, so I see why this one would be good).

The year 2027, and we can replace body parts easily and still act completely normal. Really? That's a small time frame to me. That's only 16 years away!

Maybe "only 16 years" is all we need. I was chatting with my friend tonight as we were on our way to a local game store. He brought up a professor at a major university that I can't recall right now. The guy was a literal "D" student in college, and he is now the head of the prosthetics research department (or something like that, it's been a long night!) at the university. This guy lost his legs in an accident when he was younger, and now he is using a pair of prototype prosthetic legs to get around. The pair of legs are really advanced. The professor says that he predicts that It will be maybe by 2020 when we have prosthetic limbs that are connected to a chip in our heads that allows us to control them with our minds.

But like all technology, it starts up slow and picks up speed. As soon as new technology is made available, only the richest and most notorious get access to it. However, eventually it gets mass-produced and everyone as access to the technology. That's what I'm thinking of: a future where robotic human-like limbs are available publicly for anyone to snag when they need it. It sounds cool, but honestly it sounds more and more like a certain awesome anime series about Human augmentation and human minds inside robots.

Okay, let's be honest. Who would willingly chop off their arm to accept a robotic one? In the future, I expect incidents to drop a bit lower as more and more people progress to computer jobs and stay at home more (and new vehicle technology reducing crashes). You have no need for a robotic arm if you still have your arms. Drive safe? No wild stunts? You're good to go for a 100% human body, my friend.

That's what I'm scared of, though. In an interview with the professor, he was asked if he would take his original human legs back if he was given the chance. And shockingly, he aid "no." He said that he the robotic legs he possessed were far more advanced than human legs. He could perform athletically with his robot legs than he could with his original human legs. That is what scares me. He prefers robotic parts to human parts.

I say that's where the line is crossed. I will accept that in the future, we may enter a time where we can trade our human parts for superior robotic parts. There's one problem, though. What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think about actually putting robotic parts to use? Manual Labor. Poor people that can't afford a good education must rely on manual labor to make a living; it's all they have. They may not be able to afford such human-augmenting parts. The rich people, however, will be able to. They'll use their new parts to work manual labor jobs, and of course they'll be hired because they'll perform better than the poor pure-blood humans. It's another idea of the rich getting richer, and the poor getting poorer.

I mean, robotic parts aren't all bad. If you break your real arm, it's going to take a few months for it to fully heal. You may be out of work for awhile. However, what happens if you break your prosthetic arm? Get a new one. It's that simple. Heck, we can even have interchangeable parts. With how easy it could be to repair and replace a robotic part, people would be getting out more. People would be taking more risks. This world would become so much more active.

The progress on bio-mechanical prosthetic technology is advancing. The breakthroughs will open up so many new possibilities that we, as humans, could hope to advance the greatness of the human race. But, I'll ask the question again; would you willingly chop your own arm off to break your own limits?



Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Portal to Purgatory

So has anyone thought about how Portal is a giant allusion to Purgatory?

There is (seemingly) no reason to be putting Chell through these horrible experiments - it's for GLaDOS' sadistic pleasure.

But what if it's REALLY a test?

Not a scientific test, but a test of character and determination as to redeem oneself? Perhaps GLaDOS' taunts of "All your other friends couldn't come either because you don't have any other friends because of how unlikable you are. It says so right in your personal file: 'Unlikable. Liked by no one. A bitter, unlikable loner whose passing shall not be mourned...' It says you were adopted. So that's funny too." isn't just pointless mocking but a reminder of Chell's former life?

It's also heavily implied that GLaDOS could possibly be a much more knowing being as some kind of tester for Purgatory. Quotes like, "Speaking of curiosity, you're curious about what happens after you die, right? Guess what? I know."

Quotes like this have a much more significant meaning when thought of in this context.

"I feel sorry for you, really. Because you're not even in the right place."

"This is your fault. It didn't have to be like this."

"You're not a good person. Yo know that, right? Good people don't end up here."

See ya,


Monday, August 22, 2011

Wake Me Up When You Go-Go...

Ugh. First day of classes in the morning. As you may or may not know, I'm majoring in accounting and minoring in CIS. I have a Tuesday/Thursday only schedule this year, but I still have to wake up at 6:00am to make it to school on time. But hey, Mondays/Wednesdays/Fridays off is pretty rad.

Why do we do it? To be successful. We have all sorts of people around us, but only some go to college to be successful. Sure, you can be successful without college. But, the road to more education leads to more wisdom.

Honestly, I don't want to not be learning something. I want to always be expanding my mind. I'll probably always be studying something. I honestly want to learn something new everyday. Why not? That sounds enlightening, if you think about it. To learn something everyday! To always be learning! Our minds should always be growing; we're humans! We should always strive to be successful! No matter how much hard work you put into something, always remember; strive to be successful! Don't just be a couch potato.

Anyone have a problem with that? Screw 'em. You're the one doing the hard work. Strive for excellence.

Keep it real,


When You Thought You've Been Kicked in the Nuts Too Many Times...

Sorry, I had an epic post planned out for today, but one game of Magic Online went on waaaay too long, and my tiredness will degrade this post to me ranting.

You know those types of gamers. The power gamers. The type that strive to beat you in everyway possible. There's many different types out there. They may be the players in Magic who play blue decks. They may be 4000-resilience PvPers on WoW ready to destroy you. They may be the Tic-Tac-Toe player whose ready to win or draw trying. Whatever the case, the fact is that we know them.

I consider myself a power gamer. I always try to be the best. I've always tried to be the best hunter on WoW. I've been studying Day[9] religiously over the past few weeks to get better at Starcraft II. Honestly, it kinda bugs me. Why WOULDN'T you strive to be the best? I don't like knowing there's improvement... there's always improvement.

Either way, power gamers usually ruin the game for everyone. They're ready to drop you at any sign of life. They're the bullies of the game world, kicking you until you stay down. They may be nice guys, but honestly? Join me now in saying "screw you, power gamers!" and let's get some sleep.

Sweet Dreams,