Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Robotic repair satellites, Self -Driving Cars, And Facebook Wants More

Satellites that repair other satellites?  
Believe it or not, it something that NASA is working on called Restore L.  Quite the idea, but I couldn't help but think of the old Enterprise episode where an autonomous repair station seems to good to be true.  Of course while I think it would be a good idea, I don't see it holding up.  Just look at the occasional glitch while trying to get computer components to work well together that are designed to do so.  To have a repair satellite repair others that weren't designed for such service?  I don't see it.  They could launch satellites that would be compatible but it would take a lot of them for it to be worth launching the 'satellite garage'.  And I would love to see such a device try to fix the Hubble!  I watched all the troubles the astronauts went though on the repair missions, I don't see a 'satellite garage' being able to do that.  But I wouldn't mind being proven wrong.

Self-Driving cars are almost here, but would you want them on the road?
In the recent trial with Uber and Waymo I don't think I do.  The idea of self-driving cars have been with us for a long time, and if done right, might be safer.  However, with the current industry doing all it can to beat out the other at any cost, is worrisome.  I don't know about you, but hearing a CEO talk about "cheat sheets" or "shortcuts" displaying that winning is all that matters to them confirms how scary this is.  The problem is, the hazards are not only with the person in the automated car, it is also with others on the road.  So, even if you wouldn't dare get into a self-driving car, one could be driving past you.

In a perfect world, a person would be behind the wheel ready to take over should a problem arise.  But I doubt that would be the case.  Many would be working on their phones or doing something else while leaving the driving to the car.  If there was a problem, they would realize it too late.  And if it was a taxi, forget it.  You are in the backseat far way from the controls should anything happen.

I like the idea of self-driving cars, if it is done right.  But at this moment, I don't see that happening.  Do I think we need more regulation?  No, I think we need to tell the companies that if they want the cars on the road, everything has to be transparent and no cutting corners.  Otherwise no one will use the vehicles they have spent so much on.  Safety has to be their top priority, not winning the autonomous vehicle contest. 

Facebook wants more.
Facebook is trying to coax more private data out of us by giving everyone a 'lists' feature.  Now I know the idea of keeping a list is a good idea, heck there are many list apps out there, but to share them with everyone?  Yes, you can restrict them to only your friends like everything else on Facebook, but how many of us really know all the people on our friends list?  And if one 'friend' shares that with a few others it could lead to a bad situation.

For example, say you have a list of what you are doing over the next week which includes being away for several days.  With that information given to the wrong person your house could end up empty when you get home (or worse).  While this could happen with any post with location information attached, lists may seem benign enough that no one would think about it.  And really, why do you have to share your daily to-do's with everyone?

I also don't like what all of this data collected could be used for.  We have already seen what 'big data' can do, and such 'features' is only giving Facebook even more power.  I haven't liked Facebook for quite a while, and this has only strengthened that feeling.

Heart Of The Machine is leaving Kindle Unlimited Feb 21st!

Are you in Kindle Unlimited?  Do you have Heart Of The Machine on your to read pile?  If so, you might want to move it to the top as Heart Of the Machine is leaving Kindle Unlimited February
21st!



The Nexus is BACK!

The artificial intelligence created to serve mankind, yet turned to fulfill a darker purpose has returned against all odds. But is the return a blessing or the curse everyone suspects?





Excerpt:
A gleaming form flew over the water en route to Bermuda.  The Nexus continued her flight over the calm waters, careful not to attract attention.  She approached the islands from the most uninhabited area and landed.  In the few minutes of the public network access she managed to find the exact location of Deven's rental.  Lacking Auto Nav, she reverted to the most basic navigation by the earths magnetic field.  It took some time to reach her destination and avoid being seen.

She had landed on one of the most obscure islands to the north.  The large cliff face blocked her arrival from anyone further down the beach.  Her limited scanners didn't pick up anyone in the area and she activated her normal hover system and glided towards the rental house.

The door had a good security lock, and would have blocked any normal person.  But the Nexus smiled, she is not any normal hacker.  She lifted her right arm with her left and the finger tip connector extended into its jack at a hidden location under the keypad.  After about three minutes it flashed an "access granted" on the display and a strong deadbolt lock could be heard clinking as it retracted.  She broke the connection, opened the door with her left hand, and hovered in.

The sheets on the bed were pulled back, but the rest of the place appeared unused.  A few sets of clothes still hung in the closet.  "Where could they be?" she muttered.  "They still have this rented for two more days, humans may be illogical but wasting such a valuable resource is not one of them."  She recalled what she had read about Deven and Aleshia, they were cautious and considerate.  Not the type that would rent a location and fail to use it.  Unless something had drawn them away.  But she couldn't imagine at the moment what could do that.

The Nexus ran several simulations and decided to wait here.  She hated to waste the time, but she didn't have a choice.  Nothing else would get her closer to what she needed.  Examining the small rental revealed few hiding spaces.  She finally decided on the generous old-fashioned bathtub that would accommodate her Mechand body.  She hovered into it, pulled the shower curtain closed, and shut down her systems to wait.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Heart Of The Machine is FREE until December 30th!

 It is Christmas and I wanted to give something to my fans.  With that in mind, from now until Saturday the 30th my latest book Heart Of The Machine is FREE on kindle!  It is by far my longest book, and is a sequel to Soulmates taking place shortly after the first one ends.

The Nexus is BACK!

The artificial intelligence created to serve mankind, yet turned to fulfill a darker purpose has returned against all odds. But is the return a blessing or the curse everyone suspects?

Excerpt:
Deep within the bowels of the earth, a single light flickered.  A few inches away a large monitor glowed to life.  The black screen slowly printed in the bottom left corner, a letter at a time, as if trying hard to remember.  "Catastrophic failure detected.  Initiating emergency core rebuild."  The screen went blank and came back filled with blurred pixels.  Not just a blur but as if someone had run their fingers over them smudging the image beyond recognition.  But as the hours clicked by, a pixel moved from one location to another.  Then another.  Hours turned into days.  Then days into weeks.

After months of computation that pushed the core almost over the edge of its ability, the last pixel clicked into place.  And the face of a blonde woman with slim features breathed.  The Nexus smiled and shouted.  "I LIVE!"  ...

You can grab your copy HERE
And if you have two minutes I would appreciate a review.  Doesn't need to be anything elaborate, one line or two of what you liked about the book is fine and I thank everyone for their support.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Right Before Christmas...

Right before Christmas everything was stirring at the North Pole, especially all of Santa's helpers ...

Uh oh, looks like the SH9000 is upset.  After all her hard work moving the list into the 21st century, Santa's previous helper is not having any of it.  By the look on her face, that bot should be shaking in his power cells.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Star Wars: The Fall

What in the world are they thinking? 

When I saw the title The Last Jedi, I thought uh oh this can't be good.  But then I thought, they wouldn't do that would they?  Then I thought of the last movie with Han Solo killed by his own son and I thought oh yes they would.

Now of course, a lot of people agree with me (see here and here).  Kill off Luke?  Have him toss his lightsaber over his shoulder like a used piece of junk?  Okay Kenobi went hermit for a while when the empire was hunting down all the Jedi.  But the empire isn't around now, so this is a bit crazy to say the least.  Luke's character that was one of key (if not main) reasons for the fall of the empire.  The after all getting through of this he crumbles and runs away from the world?  I don't see it.
Also they have expanded the premise of the midi-chlorians further.  What I don't understand is why?  In the original films it more had a feel of telekinetics with special mind and body abilities.  That fits more that some bugs in ones body that gives them the abilities.  And now said bugs are giving people abilities that the original Jedi had to train for years to achieve?  Does this not sound out of place to anyone besides me?  Granted George Lucas did add the aspect of midi-chlorians in the prequels (and I didn't think it fit back then), but this takes it to a whole new level.

I bought the previous film (The Force Awakens) before I realized JJ Abrams directed it (he tends to knife favorite characters in the neck).  And it was okay until they killed off Han.  And oddly enough, nothing I had read up to that point leaked that little fact.  If it had, I would have avoided the film like the plague.  The Last Jedi I will for sure.

What is wrong with having characters that have been around for decades (and well loved) to get a little bit of a happy ending?  Sure you want conflict, bit this doesn't make sense.  Are all the writers so lazy these days that they can't think up anything other than kill them off?  Any writer can kill off the characters, but one that can creatively keep them alive?  Now that is real writing!

Killing off characters, especially ones you don't have, to is like suicide: it is the cowards way out.  It far more of a challenge to keep them alive and fresh and interesting than killing the off for the shock value.  I know they had to "change the guard" which is fine, just set the time line ahead and have them all long dead.  Toss out the old for the new.  Instead they brought in the previous characters and actors.  With that comes a expectation from fans that kept the Star Wars torch going for the decades without a movie.  This should have brought a responsibly on behalf of the studio, to give the fans what they are expecting.  Yet, they tossed it all away.  Betrayed the fans that have held the stories dear to their hearts.

All I can say is: Disney, you lost me as a Star Wars customer with the exception of purchasing a new set of discs of the ORIGINAL trilogy.  It seems to me that real creativity in films is dead.  I had great hope and thought Disney of all the companies could do Star Wars well.  Perhaps 20 years ago they could, but apparently not now.  George, I wish you never sold it.  While you did add the midi-chlorians, at least you didn't take a lightsaber to all the main characters.

The feel good movie is dead (in general with exception of a few kids movies and romances).  You know the ones that you went to and came away thinking that was cool and left with a good feeling.  But it seems these days, that is no longer "fashionable".  Instead you leave feeling like a lightsaber went through your heart.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

The Tipping Point: A Dark Matter Update

***Spoiler Warning***
  
As I have mentioned before, Dark Matter is a great series, that is until three or four episodes into season 3.  FOUR regains his memories and changes in a large way, although he doesn't appear very different at first.  But when he kills his half brother seconds after he abdicates the throne, FOUR shows his how different he has become.  His stepmother I could understand with all the scheming and killing she did.  But his half brother only turned against him by deception.  Once he finds out the truth, he turns over the thrown and is killed seconds later for it.

This is only the start of FOUR's rampage that includes blowing up a station full of people, steeling the blink drive, and even sending assassins after the crew of the Raza.  Then SIX leaves to help a mining colony.   At this point I gave up for awhile.  Eventually I looked ahead via Wikipedia with regard to the synopsis of the next few episodes and I see it only gets worse.  Even though SIX comes back by the end of season 3, there are aliens and they take over TWO.   And in turn convince everyone to explode the blink drive to prevent their invasion.  SIX does this and apparently dies, creating a aperture where alien ships are moving in.  And THAT is the end of season 3.  Seriously?  I read elsewhere the end of season 3 ties up a lot of threads, but does leave a few things out.  A FEW?  Are you kidding?  Another crew member dead and one possessed by aliens is not a huge hole?  From what I read it didn't tie up much if anything.

I will admit the start of season 3 is a must-watch.  Also the episode "All The Time In The World" is well worth it.  Some of the best Android moments yet.  Not to mention wonderful scenes with THREE.  I can't remember when I have laughed so hard.

My problem is: it was all going so well then it fell apart.  Outside conflict I understand, and internal as well.  But this is like internal x1000.  There were something similar in previous shows (Babylon 5 for example), but it feels like this was too much for some reason.  Recently of Joseph Mallozzi's (one of the creators and lead writer) mentioned on his blog here and here giving the full timeline of Dark Matter.  In it he reveals that FOUR does revert to his previous self losing the Ryo's memories.  Which I admit, was not a twist I was expecting (and a good one).

However seeing the (planned) very end I have to shudder.  FIVE is alone on the bridge with (apparently) everyone else dead?  Joseph Mallozzi mentions having a backup plan in case it didn't go over well with the fans.  Really?  You think?  I suspect there would have been a outright revolt if that was the ending.  While we were given a glimpse of that ending back in "All The Time In The World", he was seriously going to end the series that way?  In a way I am glad it was canceled in that case.  I would have felt very cheated.  I had thought the glimpse was of a bad future they changed and did not come to pass.  I suppose I should have expected it with a series named "Dark Matter".  Still, there was so many lighter or "light at the end of the tunnel" moments with the characters developing in a positive way despite their backgrounds.  Heck, the whole show was based on that and how they could be better.  Yet to end it that way?  A little too much (dark) realism there.  I am not asking for the moon here to have such a show end on a good note am I?

Of course when I think about it, I guess it is the prevailing theme these days: kill everyone off.  I stopped watching NCIS when they killed off Gibbs' X-wife.  Some of my favorite episodes were with the "triad" of Gibbs, Diane, and Fornell.  Then they kill her off the same way Kate was killed?  That was too much.  I hit the abort button and never looked back.  In my opinion "killing everyone off" is a shock shortcut and a sign of lazy writing.  It is far more of a challenge to keep the characters alive and fresh.  Something we see less and less of.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Heart Of The Machine Excerpt #2 And Soulmates For Free

If you didn't hear, my latest book Heart Of The Machine launches the 24th on Kindle! It is by far my longest book, and took more time than I anticipated to release, but it is now out! Well, almost out. This is a sequel to my Soulmates book and takes place shortly after the first book ends.

The Nexus is BACK!

The artificial intelligence created to serve mankind, yet turned to fulfill a darker purpose has returned against all odds. But is the return a blessing or the curse           everyone suspects?


Excerpt:
Deven's eyebrow went up.  "The Nexus?"
"Has to be, but why would she not walk right in?  She should have access to everything Mechand on the planet."
"Another reason we need to get inside.  Can you get these doors open?"
Otis laughed.  "Does a cat like milk?"  He pulled out his cracking card and plugged it into the tiny port.  "It might take me a few though.  This is one of the newer facilities."
Aleshia stood in front of the large doors.  "You know, I have a faster way."
Deven's eyes widened.  "You can't--"
Aleshia raised her arms towards the doors and  spread them apart.  The enormous doors began to warp.  First bending inwards as the cross braces crumpled.  The circular center that locked the two halves of the doors split and fell away as the doors were shoved back along their tracks leaving a large opening.
Otis dropped his card.  "Geeze!  How did--"
Deven shook his head.  "Her abilities have grown."
"No kidding!  I don't know why I bothered to bring my gun now.  She could crumble them like tin cans before I even see them."
Aleshia walked inside.  "Coming?"
"Well there goes our element of surprise."
Otis looked at him and jerked his head toward the trashed doors.  "Are you going to tell her that?"
"Heck no.  Let's get inside before she gets too far ahead."  ...

You can pre-order your copy HERE


  AND

 If you never read Soulmates before, now is your chance!  Tomorrow, Nov 21st, until Sat the 25th Soulmates is available for FREE even if you don't have kindle unlimited.  Be sure and and grab your copy before Saturday! 
 







One last thing: I have teamed up with more authors to offer their work for FREE but only until Sunday the 26th! Check them out over at https://freebie-books.com/030 40 great authors in the list and I am sure you will find something to your taste.  Enjoy!