I've got some serial stories I'd like to tell about living with (and in) technology and the industry. submitted by
Do autonomous trucks dream of CW McCall?
“For a bright shining moment, we added a lot of shareholder value”. Falstaff had a comic with that caption in his double sized cubicle, the kind reserved for senior engineers. For a while he thought it showed that he didn’t fully buy into the corporate line, but that he’d still do as he was told as long as he had a shot at the big payout. RSUs, the big acquisition. The end of year bonus. That was the deal in the before time, when things mostly worked out for most people it seemed.
Falstaff knew he wasn’t the smartest, but he didn’t complain, didn’t pick fights and lived pretty well. His bad habits didn’t impact his work life and he still might hit it big enough to quit and try something else. To have options.
Then everything happened at once. The fires. The diseases. The chaos. Nobody knew who was in charge for a year or so. Things came back. A few years passed and the wealthy parts of the coastal cities looked shiny again. Most people called it normal. To the casual eye, it was. You could still get sushi delivered to the office late at night, ski in the Rockies if you could take the time off. Things were pretty good if you stayed where you belonged and kept your metrics up. Things fell off as you went East or to the not-so-quaint rural areas that couldn’t swing a music festival or good photo opportunities for social media. Go far enough and you found the places where the Feds just walked away. Not our problem any more.
That’s how Falstaff saw the world and his place in it. He had’nt had much sleep. Drugs, risky behavior and the self-loathing kept him occupied, making his morning commute that much less pleasant. He stopped staring at the RVs and tents parked on the land next to the on-ramp as he got on the 101. He jabbed the infotainment system to find some noise to sooth or at least distract him.
“Today, the Department of Energy announced that repairs have been completed ahead of schedule for the Diablo Canyon Power Plant. Radiation levels are now below acceptable levels for the first time in three years”
“We’ve got an autonomous truck accident with a car by Exit 6 on the 280 Eastbound, so expect delays while CHP and a support team from Freightliner gets that cleaned up”
It didn’t work. He still felt adrift and unhappy in the morning commute, so he silenced the radio and drove to the office.
The office was uneventful. Park, security checkpoint, a long walk to his building, a coffee on the way to his cubicle. He pulled the privacy screen closed behind him and sat down. A quick scan of his eyes and there was his project- a payment processing application that would cut out another payment application for a small percentage of a massive stream of money.
He looked over last night’s chatter, split the tasks into ‘do the work’ and ‘show that I’m adding value’ categories.
The fear and sadness caught up with him. He wasn’t ever going to get out. If he ran as fast as he could, he’d stay exactly where he was until his rent outpaced his income. His stock options would vest just fast enough to keep him going, but he’d never get out.
The morning dragged. Tweak this, report this to someone else. The bureaucratic minutiae and make-work washed over him until lunch. He looked forward to lunch with Tran, hoping that might get him out of his funk. Tran wasn’t so much a friend as one of the few people who admitted how screwed up everything was, so there wasn’t any danger of speaking the obvious and getting a negative reputation.
Tran was out today, so Falstaff ate leftovers and instant noodles in his cubicle.
His phone buzzed. There was a message on MomTalk, a chat for wealthy mothers to discuss brunch, day drinking and their children.
An engineer friend of Falstaff’s set it up as a joke to lampoon the women she couldn’t stand and her friends played along, adopting over the top personae and complaining about nonexistent spouses and domestic staff. After things came back, it was a way to talk freely, if in code.
Heather: Hey. I’m in deep trouble. The Nanny’s unhappy and I need someone to pick up the kids.
Falstaff sighed. Tran must need something.
Sheila: Missed you for lunch. Not feeling well?
Heather: Serious. My kid is stuck under my desk and I need him to come home. UNDERSTAND? NOW!
He got up, took his brown cardboard biodegradable instant noodle container and walked a few rows over to Tran’s cubicle. Where Falstaff’s cube was disorganized and well worn, Tran’s was sparse with better furniture. Falstaff felt under the desk and noticed a decal with one end loose. A quick pull and the label peeled off into his hand, along with a small flash memory card, the size of a fingernail.
He stood up and quickly looked up and down the aisle between the cubicles. Nobody noticed. Nobody really paid much attention to him on a good day unless they needed something from him anyway.
Back in his own cubicle, he went back to the chat:
Sheila: How urgent is this? Chip can have dinner with us or we can drop him off on the way to fencing class.
Heather:NO TIME. FAMILY’S HERE AND THINGS ARE TENSE.
Heather:RUN. GET OUT NOW.
Falstaff was concerned. Tran didn’t make jokes. Laughing at Falstaff’s attempts at humor was enough. He had figured that Tran’s talk of ‘having gangsters in his family’ was an attempt to seem dangerous despite being a cubicle denizen, the way middle aged men bought loud motorcycles that they never rode.
He folded the decal over the card, pressed the sides together and dropped it in the instant noodle cup, then pushed it down with the corn-plastic chopsticks.
The background chatter got quiet and multiple employees raised their heads prairie-dog like. Several members of the company security detail were looking through Tran’s cubicle. Geoff, the brush-cut ex-cop security guard for this building was standing in the aisle attempting to look like he mattered to the operation as the more polished and definitely better paid detail carefully boxed the contents of Tran’s cubicle.
Falstaff picked up his phone and noodle container and started walking towards an exit away from the commotion. Geoff noticed and walked briskly after him. As Falstaff walked out of the building, Geoff called out his real name, then jogged behind him, puffing his half a size too small corporate logo’d golf shirt.
Ironed golf shirt.
Falstaff heard Geoff behind him, but decided to ignore him. Geoff was a blue-badged contractor, safely ignored. Normally.
Geoff ran in front of him and blocked his path to the parking garage.
“You wouldn’t happen to know where Tran is, would you? I’ve seen you with him ”
Falstaff tapped on his white badge. “You’re not my real dad. You can’t tell me what to do”
Falstaff squeezed past him into the parking garage’s doorway.
Geoff glared at him while Falstaff got in his car and put the noodle carton in the fancy retracting cupholder. He started his car and drove off as calmly as he could manage. Despite his attempt at seeming indifferent, his mind was racing. He attempted to make good time without getting attention. Luckily, silver Porsches were a cliché and therefore almost invisible in the Valley.
Twenty minutes later, he was in his mid-grade two bedroom apartment overlooking the parking lot. His cat, Hank, greeted him with a raised head and half open eyes.
Falstaff gave the cat some perfunctory petting, while trying to sequence the next few tasks.
He went to the refrigerator in the kitchen, carrying the ramen cup in one hand. He selected a can of energy drink and thought for a second.
His smartwatch and phone went in the freezer. Fishing the wrapped memory card out of the cup, he picked up the can and walked to his couch, where a bestickered high end laptop rested. Debating between speed and security, he turned off networking on his laptop, then inserted the card into the laptop gingerly, mounting it read-only in case Tran left something aggressive on the card.
Huh. A couple really large encrypted files. And seven smaller files with long filenames of seemingly random numbers and letters. He ejected the card and gingerly placed it on the arm of the couch.
The file names were bitcoin addressses. A lookup showed a total value of almost $600 million in value there.
The files themselves were encrypted. Falstaff stared at the wall for a minute or two, then realized that Tran had decided to quit and take an unauthorized retirement bonus from their shared employer. Enough money to kill for.
Who knew about this, and more importantly, who knew Falstaff had the key? Tran did. Perhaps his gangster friends knew.
He pulled his phone out of the freezer. A few project related emails and three MomTalk direct messages.
Heather:I have investors. They’re quite insistent. They’re on their way to you.
It was time to go. Now.
Falstaff put the laptop down and ran to his bedroom. He pawed through a closet and pulled out the giant duffel he used to carry two week’s laundry from his grad student apartment to the cheaper off-campus laundromat. He quickly shoved a variety of clothes, some scuffed hiking boots and some corporate branded technical outdoors gear into it.
Behind a shelf, he found a long, antiquated Russian bolt-action rifle and a few paper-wrapped boxes of bullets. It wasn’t the firearm someone on the run would want, but it’s what he had. It went into the duffle bag, which he dragged into the living room. Hank jumped down and inspected the bag.
“Hank, I’ll hook you up in a second”
A quick scour of the kitchen and Falstaff had two thick trashbags and a box of water jugs with his current employer’s old logo on them, which he emptied into the sink and turned on the faucet.
As the sink filled, he filled the trashbags with whatever looked useful- tools, hobby electronics, his laptop and cat food. He pulled out a fat stack of cash from the bottom of his drug stash box. He contemplated forced sobriety, then carefully closed the box and put it in the bag, along with the cash.
Don’t change everything at once, he thought. Now isn’t the time to risk sobriety.
Falstaff rummaged around in the hall closet and dug out a bright pink cat carrier and stuffed Hank into it, then turned to the overflowing sink in his kitchen. He opened and filled the bottles in what he hoped was an efficient use of time, then pushed them back into the box.
His phone buzzed again. He contemplated throwing it back in the freezer, then thought better of it, shoving it and the watch back in his pocket.
Hank started meowing.
“We’re not going to the vet today, dude. Shut it for now”
Falstaff looked out his window. Typical traffic. Typical parking lot. A few charging stations, a fence and tents on the other side. He opened the window and threw the bags into the bushes below. He picked up Hank’s carrier, his laptop and looked at the box of water bottles.
Wait. Stop. Think. Breathe.
Tran’s card. A minute of searching found where he left it on the couch. He stuck that in his pocket, then ran out of his apartment. He considered the elevator, then decided on the stairs as they were closer to the bags and his car.
A few minutes of pushing and shoving had the trash bags in the front trunk , the oversized duffle in the passenger seat and Hank’s carrier seat belted in the tiny back seat. He spun the tires and entered the flow of traffic, such as it was.
He looked at his phone. More people seemed to want a response. Ignoring them, he found the closest florist’s shop and fifteen minutes later, pulled into the strip mall that contained it.
A few minutes later, he was in possession of three “Birthday Balloon Extravaganzas”, finishing off the shop’s tank of helium and a bit of Falstaff’s cash. He tied the strings around his smartwatch and let it rise and drift past the confines of the parking lot. The hastily constructed wad of tape and ribbon connecting his phone to the other two Extravaganzas generated a more labored flight, but eventually it drifted away. He looked into the shop’s camera and flipped it the bird as he left and jumped back in his car.
Soon he was back on the road, relaxing with his elbow out the window. Despite the stop and go traffic, he felt safe enough to relax and make longer range plans. Even Hank had settled down for the moment. The hot air felt less oppressive somehow. He contemplated the right set of music for an escape from civilization, trying on a few genres to decide. The screen also showed that the freeway was less than a quarter mile on the right and traffic would be light.
Then he looked again at the screen and thought about antennas. His radio talked to the cell tower, which talked to the Internet. Every application knew where he was.
Which meant Tran’s investors or their ex-employer could know as well.
One hand on the wheel, he looked around for something to pull the radio out of the dashboard. Hank meowed.
“You have an idea? No? Please be quiet”
Rummaging around in the glove box, he noticed an old folding knife. Falstaff slowly pried the radio from the dashboard while occasionally looking up at the tailgate of a modern SUV ahead of him. Realizing there was a rear-facing camera on the SUV staring at him, he slid down below the dash as best he could.
A few more stop and go cycles and the radio was free of the dash. He unplugged cables by feel, but one took his attention away from the road while he pried at it with his knife
He was distracted by a horn blast by his ear. Another SUV was forcing itself into his lane while the driver gesticulated at him.
Falstaff reciprocated by waving angrily at him, knife still in hand. The driver of the SUV held the horn down, angering Falstaff enough to open the window and throw the now free radio at the noise.
Feeling the embarrassment, he jerked the wheel to the right and accelerated into the bicycle lane with a chirp of tires and howl from the engine behind him.
A minute later, he was on the highway, quickly leaving Silicon Valley. He hoped to make the Nevada line before anyone figured out what he was doing.
The one thousand universes are:
Real Life, Super Mario, The Legend of Zelda, Pokemon, Sonic the Hedgehog, Crash Bandicoot, Halo, Call of Duty, Earthbound, Five Nights at Freddy’s, DC, Marvel, Ghostbusters, Pac-Man, Mega Man, Bomberman, The Lego Movie, Scooby-Doo, Super Meat Boy, Memes, Wreck-it Ralph, Skylanders, The A-Team, Knight Rider, The Goonies, Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter, Blend S, Vocaloid, UTAU, Spyro the Dragon, The Simpsons, Futurama, Harry Potter, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, The Lord of the Rings, Mission, Impossible, Gremlins, Gnomeo and Juliet, Powerpuff Girls, Powerpuff Girls Z, Beetlejuice, My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic, My Little Pony Equestria Girls, Black Rock Shooter, Lego Dimensions, Portal, Plants Vs Zombies, Machinarium, Rock 'em Sock 'em Robots, Baldi’s Basics, Puzzle Puppers, Crane Game Toreba, Snipperclips, Puyo Puyo, Kirby, Lego City Undercover, Ninjago, Legends of Chima, Nexo Knights, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Poptropica, Resident Evil, Peanuts, Robot Chicken, Scribblenauts, Splatoon, ARMS, Bee Movie, Shrek, Octopath Traveler, Bubsy, Drawn To Life, Drawn Together, Toy Story, A Bug’s Life, Finding Nemo, Wall-E, The Good Dinosaur, Inside Out, Captain Underpants, Timmy Failure, Spongebob Squarepants, The Loud House, The Fairly OddParents, Invader Zim, Cow & Chicken, Samurai Jack, Adventure Time, Regular Show, Steven Universe, Clarence, Uncle Grandpa, Plague Inc., Sailor Moon, Ghost Trick, Ace Attorney, Professor Layton, Looney Tunes, Yu Gi Oh, Beyblade, Yo-Kai Watch, Cars, Team Fortress, Half Life, The Sims, Cory In The House, Annoying Orange, My Hero Academia, Mr. Peabody and Sherman, E.T. The Extra Terrestrial, Back to the Future, Rick & Morty, Family Guy, Doki Doki Literature Club, Angry Birds, Fruit Ninja, Jetpack Joyride, Out There, Akinator, Dragon Ball, Super Smash Bros, Star Wars, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Lonely Wolf Treat, Syrup and the Ultimate Sweet, First Kiss as a Spooky Soiree, Contract Demon, Romance Detective, Tunnel Vision, KAIMA, Her Tears Were My Light, Mermaid Splash Passion Festival, The Twilight Zone, Disaster Log C, Yandere Simulator, Yanderella, Mikoto Nikki, Mix Ore, The Dark Side of Red Riding Hood, Makoto Mobius, You Me And Empty Words, Shihori Escape, Tsukimi Planet, Full Boko Youchien, Love Live, Menherafflesia, Roco Kingdom, Seer, Mole’s World, Hawaiian Slammers, Planes, Frozen, Tangled, One Piece, Fairy Tail, Naruto, Shin Megami Tensei, Persona, Digimon, No Matter How I Look At It It’s You Guy’s Fault I’m Not Popular!, I Can’t Believe My Little Sister is This Cute, THE [email protected]
, High School DxD, Hihi Puffy Ami Yumi Show, Momoe Link, Minecraft, Locked Heart, Confess my Love, Transparent Black, Nintendo Badge Arcade, Swapnote, World of Goo, Rayman, Little Inferno, Amazing Alex, Banjo - Kazooie, Yooka-Laylee, Sly Cooper, RWBY, Despicable Me, Nomad of Nowhere, Bravest Warriors, Xenoblade Chronicles, Punch Out!!, Contra, Silent Hill, Tokimeki Memorial, Spelunker, Spelunky, Zork, Bit Trip, VVVVVV, Runman Race Around the World, N, Princess Tomato in the Salad Kingdom, Hitman, Tomb Raider, Metal Gear, Fire Emblem, Animal Crossing, Metroid, Gradius, Zone of the Enders, I Wanna Be The Guy, Jumper, Braid, Alien Hominid, Castle Crashers, Charlie Murder, The Emoji Movie, Castlevania, Animator vs Animation, Brave, Hello Neighbor, The Storey Treehouse, Wacky Game Jokez 4 Kidz, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Bayonetta, Mii, Wario, Donkey Kong, Yoshi, Unikitty!, Sword Art Online, Squid Girl, Slenderman, The Flintsones, The Berenstain Bears, The Jetsons, Okami, Sushi Striker 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Cartoons), The Day My Bum Went Psycho, The Day My Butt Went Psycho, What’s With Andy?, The Andy Griffith Show, Leave it to Beaver, Pikmin, Face Raiders, Part Timers, Trollface Quest, Coraline, Aladdin, Chibi Miku San, This Man Sono Kao o Mita Mono ni wa Shi o, Vsauce, Kirarin Revolution, Stellar Theatre, Hanazuki Full of Treasures, Penn Zero Part Time Hero, The Croods, Shawn the Sheep, Shakugan no Shana, Early Man, Walking with Dinosaurs, League of Angels, League of Legends, World of Warcraft, Starcraft, Stardew Valley, Rune Factory, Story of Seasons, Harvest Moon, Botanicula, Fingered, Lucky Star, Akame ge Kill, Kill la Kill, Cowboy Bebop, Recovery of an MMO Junkie, KonoSuba, God’s Blessing on this Wonderful World!, Natsuiro Haisukuru★Seishun Hakusho ~Tenkou Shonichi no Ore ga Osananajimi to Saikai shitara Houdoubuin ni Sarete ite Gekisha Shounen no Hibi wa Sukuupu Dairenpatsu de Igai to Motemote nanoni Nazeka Mai Memori wa Pantsu Shashin Bakkari toiu Genjitsu to Mukiainagara Kangaeru Hitonatsu no Shima no Gakuen Seikatsu to Sekirarana Koi no Yukue.~, Short Circuit, Boyhood, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, In Another World with My Smartphone, Wizard101, Sociolotron, Lego Island, RuneScape, Façade, Bad Rats, Iron Soul, Crisis City, Space Dude, Lula, Money Town, The Magic School Bus, Soda Drinker Pro, I Was A Sword When I Reincarnated, My Reincarnation as a Hot Spring in a Different World is Beyond Belief ~ It's Not Like Being Inside You Feels Good or Anything!?, Island, Crush Crush, Yandere I Love You So I Want to Kill You, Kimi to Kanojo to Kanojo no Koi, Kimi to mita sora no uta, City Connection, Cinders, AdVenture Capitalist, Tiny Tower, Pocket Planes, Pocket Trains, Pocket Frogs, I Am [Shape], Melancholic, Stargazer (song), Love Trial, Pou, One Chance, Dear Diary The Secrets of Anna, Episode, Kim Kardashian Hollywood, Sabreman, Kameo Elements of Power, It’s Mr. Pants, Whatever Happened to... 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Hey all! I first became interested in cryptocurrency in early 2017 as I'm sure many people did. I remember visiting my parents that October and just bombarding them with how excited I was, what an opportunity it was, yadda yadda yadda. The typical "I JUST GOT INTO CRYPTO AND NOW EVERYONE I KNOW MUST KNOW ABOUT IT" mentality. As one might expect ol' mama & papa were not super receptive but not necessarily dismissive. submitted by
...so color me surprised when, after briefly talking about crypto again with my mom today on the phone, she starts texting me asking about the difference between the Trezor One and the Model T. I thought she was trying to figure out a suitable gift for my birthday that's coming up soon until she started asking which one would be more suitable for a beginner. I suggested the One despite the pretty touchscreen on the Model T as it just felt like overkill. She's not gonna be on Binance juggling altcoins all over the place (at least I don't think so...) so I told her the Trezor One would be totally suitable for her to use and sure enough, she bought one!
I'm flabbergasted. She has NEVER shown any interest in crypto outside of me occasionally talking about a project I find interesting. She didn't say anything about trying to make money and I wasn't talking about altcoins pumping like crazy so she isn't doing it as some get rich quick scheme, she just...went ahead and bought herself a Trezor. She works at a bank for crying out loud. Did I mention I'm flabbergasted?
The whole situation is really exciting for me because I really do love my mom and we get along great but we share hardly any common interests so this could be a great opportunity to bring us closer together.
So as the title says, dear reader: What kinds of things would you recommend I show her? I'm planning on helping her set up the device when she gets it as well as sending her a small amount of BTC or LTC to play around with but despite my love of the stuff I'm blanking on what I could have her do with it that would really impress her or interest her. I was thinking to maybe start with something like Coinbase Earn because she could get a little bit of money and it could help her understand crypto assets that AREN'T Bitcoin. Thoughts? Ideas? Opinions?
For reference she lives in rural Indiana near Indianapolis and is fast approaching 60 years old. She loves horses, gymnastics, cats and dogs, and gluten-free food. She also loves her beautiful, beautiful son (or so I'm told).
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