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Stories from the Verse
Re Verse All
Chapter 142: Beam 113
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Previous chapter: Takano 54
Beam arranged for the newcomers to sit with him again at dinner. He wanted to know what it was about the girl that made her valuable to the woman. He wasn’t really learning anything. The girl claimed that her only acrobatic and fighting skills were things she had learned in recent weeks traveling and studying with the woman, and that the weapon was a new acquisition and indeed a mistake, as she’d meant to get a kau sin ke like her teacher’s and got the wrong word, a kawanaga, instead. The weapon did look like it was fairly new, and the story was thus credible, but then, if you were a ninja you would hide the fact under a good story.
She wanted to know all about the central computer, and particularly why Beam thought it was malfunctioning. Bron and Sophia were all too ready to share the encounters with malfunctioning mining machines, and Beam was going to keep the rest to himself, but when the girl said, “Is that all?” he felt the necessity to tell her about the shutdown of the vermin control system that he’d had to restart. She agreed that the fact that there were malfunctions in two separate subsystems strongly suggested a systemic problem.
“Have you tried running the self-repair function? A computer this important would certainly have one, including antivirus and backup operating system files.”
“I looked,” Beam admitted, “but it all seems to be automated--if there’s a way for a sysop to access those functions, I couldn’t find it. Whatever is crippling the system seems already to have hit the self-repair functions.”
“What about trying to repair the OS from an outside system?”
“Don’t have one. Anyway, I would think a computer from another world would be incompatible.”
“Not necessarily. When I connected to the Wi-Fi, it recognized my devices and upgraded them.”
The woman contributed something here. “That suggests that this world is closely related to our own, probably a possible future.”
Beam nodded; there was sense to that. “Of course,” he said, “that means your devices are possibly already infected, and couldn’t be used to restore the mainframe.”
“True,” the girl said, “and I’d thought of that earlier today. On the other hand, if we ordered a laptop and blocked it from updating, it might have a clean OS compatible with the main system. We might be able to use it to clean the system and restore the damaged functions.”
Again he nodded. “Plausible. On the other hand, an out of the box laptop probably has a ready-to-run Wi-Fi, particularly in this world where everything is connected to the central computer, and we might not be able to disable the upgrade process.”
“True. I know that the newer operating systems when I was still home had the annoying feature that they upgraded themselves without asking, but I think if you knew what you were doing you could turn it off. Anyway, I wanted to get a computer for Missus Hastings, and so it might do double duty if I can find one that will work for her and for us.”
“All right, let me know what you learn.”
So it seemed the ninja girl knew a lot about computers, probably more than he did. The idea of trying to upload a clean OS from an off-the-shelf computer had not occurred to him. In fact, while he was on the subject of things that had not occurred to him, why hadn’t he gotten a laptop for himself while he was here? It really seemed an obvious acquisition. He’d have to take a look when they got settled. Of course, the technology here was at least a little ahead of what he knew--he probably wasn’t going to find brand names or model numbers that he remembered, and the features were going to have new names. He wouldn’t know what was better memory, a better processor, a faster video card. Probably the ninja girl didn’t know, either, though, and she was doing the research already, so maybe he could let her figure out what was a good choice and then he could get the same for himself. The fact that her devices from home were compatible with the system here boded well for his ability to use whatever he got, and having a computer might be a good thing in the long term.
After dinner, they organized and headed toward the residential district.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with five other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #407: Versers Integrate. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter. It may contain spoilers of upcoming chapters.
As to the old stories that have long been here: