Archive for computer

Dark Web

Posted in Classic Sci-Fi, Lucerne Village, Unknown with tags , , , , , on April 6, 2012 by javedbabar

Jens’ computer crashed for the fourth time this week and was stuck on a black screen. “Piece of shit!” he said. “You’re going to the dump next week!” He tried all the tricks he could think of – pressing Esc, Ctrl-Alt-Del, Log Out, and F12 – but nothing worked. He should have gone to Future Shop like everyone else, rather than bought it from Seo. It had seemed like a great idea at the time, this local guy building a computer to your personal specification, rather than a Chinese child screwing together his 400th machine of the day. By the time you added tax, shipping, software, and extended warranty – all of which Seo offered “for free” – there was little price difference, but he was regretting his decision now. Piece of shit. And their relationship had soured since Jens began seeing Seo’s ex-wife Maggy.

The fan and hard disc were still spinning.  Despite the black screen, the computer was still working on something. Hints of lines, and then shapes, began to appear. It seemed like an early math class. Circles, triangles, and squares were followed by more complex shapes, like pentagons, hexagons, and septagons, all ghost shapes, faint glows on the dark page, enmeshing each other, absorbing, expanding, and fragmenting continuously. Very beautiful in a way, but not responsive to his commands. There was no going forward or back, just shapes unfolding. He decided to return the computer to Seo right now and tell him to fix it or else.

Seo took a while to answer the door. He often had a dozen machines hooked up, running a dozen programs each. “I just can’t abandon them,” he’d said before. “They’re like schoolchildren. Look away for a moment and there’s a pencil in someone’s eye.” When he appeared, rubbing his eyes, he said, “What’s up, my computer illiterate friend?”

“Your machine’s broken down again. I’m getting fed up with it. Can you please fix it once and for all, or return my money?”

“Mister Jens, don’t be so hasty. What makes you think it’s broken down?” There was the sarcasm, so apparent since he’d heard about Jens and Maggy.

“Shall I send it to Future Shop for checking? I’ll give you the bill.”

This proposal had a sobering effect. Seo said, “No no, of course not. I will take care of it. What seems to be the problem?”

“The problem seems to be that I’ve got a black screen with strange shapes appearing. That’s very pretty but not very useful.”

Seo fired up the laptop and pushed buttons. “Mmmm… You know it seems to be working fine. You are online…”

“What do you mean I’m online,” said Jens, scanning Seo’s roomful of junk – scattered circuit boards, computer shells, and coloured cables, plus beers and takeaway boxes. No wonder Maggy couldn’t bear it anymore. “If it’s working then why can’t I sign into my hotmail?”

“You’re in cipherspace, my friend – encrypted cyberspace.”

“What do you mean?” said Jens. This didn’t sound good. He shouldn’t have viewed those German websites while Maggy was away. They must have left their Deutsche Mark on his computer.

Seo said, “What we use daily is the visible web, but there’s lots more besides. The internet grows and decays in a chaotic way. The Dark Web, for example, picks up abandoned addresses, technical failures, and disputed domains. It uses them to divert traffic or mask illegal activity.”

Jens shuddered and said, “Is someone using my computer for illegal activity?”

“I’m not saying that. I’m not sure. But there’s also the Invisible Web – areas that can’t be indexed by standard search engines. It’s not really sinister, just uses alternative protocols. Many pages don’t exist until they are created dynamically – by a specific action or search – so there’s no way to find them.”

“Is that what the shapes are?” said Jens. “Information being formed?”

“I’m not sure yet. I think you’ve gone beyond the Dark and Invisible Webs, into the Darknet.” Seo sounded like a scary teacher.

“What’s the difference?” said Jens, clicking his fingers nervously.

“The Darknet consists of private file-sharing networks. Some of it is benign – just music and film swapping sites – but it’s also used by shadowy groups like political activists and drug dealers. And terrorists. How did you get into this area?”

“I didn’t get into any area,” said Jens. “I told you. My computer crashed. That’s why I brought it to you to fix.”

“Ok, I’ve reset the defaults and beefed up the filters. Sorry for the trouble.”

“That’s it? You’ve fixed it? Will it be ok now?”

“Do not worry, my friend. It won’t take you anywhere you don’t deserve to go. Sorry I mean want to go. Just stick to Google and you’ll be ok. Give my regards to Maggy.”

Jens was tired of computers and didn’t switch it on again that night. He was awoken at dawn by a loud banging on the door. Before he knew it a team of black uniformed men had burst through the door, guns trained upon him, all shouting. They immediately seized his laptop on which they later found anarchist, animal activist, and pro-life items; images of gang rape, child porn, and bestiality; criminal, extremist, and terrorist literature; and top secret political, financial, and telecomms documents. During his interrogation he told them about the Darkweb and how Seo had said that the problem was fixed. They said that no one called Seo lived in Lucerne. There was no record of him. They had however found an unidentified female body tonight with abusive messages from him on her phone. Where had Jens been this evening?

Funk Patrol

Posted in Classic Sci-Fi, Lucerne Village with tags , , , , , on March 25, 2012 by javedbabar

The child has a computer! The child has a computer! The child has a COMPUTER! Hunza’s instinct was to run but that would draw too much attention. Instead she walked towards the child and sat down nearby. Maybe it wasn’t a real one, she thought, it could be a toy – but even toy computers were forbidden in the Black Zone. They were allowed in the Brown Zone, and of course real computers resided only in the White Zone. Hunza could walk away, pretend she’d never seen it, but it was too late. A camera was sure to have seen her. She had no choice.

She said, “What are you doing, child?”

The child was young – three or four – and not aware of his actions. That was good. It wasn’t his fault. It was faulty parents. No, not faulty – that was a Brown Zone term – more stupid. Yes, stupid parents. Oh My God! It was Brain Training! It was Brain Training! It was BRAIN TRAINING! Hunza couldn’t believe this was happening. She had found a child with the highest form of contraband! She snatched the child’s computer, and he burst into tears. When he’d stopped crying, she said, “Where did you get this?” and he burst into tears again. This wasn’t getting her anywhere, so she said, “Where do you live?” The child pointed towards a crazy mosaic tree house, 200 metres away. “Come on, let’s go.”

“You are this child’s parents?” Hunza said to the couple within.

“Yes we are,” they said, not seeming concerned. “What’s the problem Officer?”

“I must report a very serious offence to you. Here is the charge sheet. Your child had a computer.”

“He had a ‘puter?” said the mother.

“Yes, a ‘puter.” said Hunza.

“You are a puta!” shouted the mother. “A big fat puta!”

“A Cosi Fan Tutte!” shouted the father, his voice transforming into singing. A Cosi Fan Tutte! You are a big fat COSI FAN TUTTE!”

Hunza sang too, “Shut up or I’ll shoot ya! I will, I’ll shoot ya! Honest to God, I’LL SHOOT YA!”

The father grabbed a mandolin and began plucking its strings. The mother ran to another room, and returned banging bongos. The child was bemused at first, and then realized what was happening, and blew into a plastic trumpet, creating broken birdsong and a baby camel’s groan. Neighbours heard the commotion and ran to join in. A tall white man rapped about his “cracky homey hood”. An East Indian woman performed barely-perceptible, moving-nonmoving, Tai Chi moves, while her midget partner practised kendo. A black bodybuilder chanted the Kabbalistic names of God. A Chinese girl made yoga-bridges, almost becoming a hoop. A man in a wheelchair told racist jokes which everybody laughed at, while a woman on a drip and oxygen support mimed filthy porn. Hunza ripped up the charge sheet and threw it in the air, and as it fluttered down like snowflakes, began breakdancing. Everybody made a human pyramid, with the man in the wheelchair at the top, and the woman on drip and oxygen pretending to pleasure him. The pyramid soon collapsed with uproarious laughter.

What a fabulous community I live in, thought Hunza, so wonderfully eccentric, filled with every kind of art imaginable and the highest proportion of Crazies in the Valley. She was doing a good job, she felt, as a Senior Officer of the Funk Patrol.

She encouraged Crazies to join in with the Funk, but most stood on the sidelines. Every now and then a Wacky Wallflower would summon courage and share their inspiration with others – this was a big step in their returning to the fold. There was also a parallel movement of disillusioned Funksters drifting away to the sidelines, to remain there till their inspiration returned. Crazies were the most highly valued members of the Black Zone, and this crossing back and forth was precious. It enhanced their in/sanity.

“Funk Patroller!” shouted a man known to her, who had good form. “Have you considered changing your title to ‘Funk Petrol-er’? That’s what they called gas in Europe –

you know, petrol – before it ran out. Isn’t that your job really – to add fuel to the fire? To make it roar? I’ve been thinking about that a lot. The metaphor of fire. It’s an element that doesn’t exist of itself. It’s more a transformative state. A way of being free. If you…”

Hunza had to think quickly. This man was a poet, but was now becoming a philosopher. In the Black Zone, that was a truly crazy thing to do. Truly crazy! TRULY CRAZY! If he was thought to be logical, White Zone computers would see him as a threat. The cameras that watched them around-the-clock – as entertainment feed for the liquid brains in huge, cooled metal buildings – would pick up on it quickly. They would instruct slithering robots from the Brown Zone to come and deal with the matter. The robots would caution the local Funk Patroller and remove the Logical Aberration. Humans were retained for fun, not for thinking. The computers were much better at that.

Hunza snatched a bamboo pole from the midget kendo practitioner and bashed the philosopher on the head with it. He fell, clutching his temples, and shook on the floor, frothing and laughing. Cameras whirred nearby. Hunza wondered, “Did I deal that with that comically, not logically? I really hope so.”