Intellivision Truckin’ interview

My “Truckin'” interview (Episode 23) with Intellivisionairies was recently posted.

While I was developing “Microsurgeon” (Imagic 1982), I was driving back and forth on the I-5 freeway to the Los Angeles area to visit friends and family.  There are thousands of trucks of all colors and sizes traveling on the road.  Many carry goods to retailers or for delivery.  I often thought about what it must be like to drive a truck down the thousands of miles of major highways in the U.S.  So I designed and programmed “Truckin'” (Imagic 1983) in order to give game players the feel of the open road, a taste of logistics — planning the best path, and the challenge of delivering goods as safely and efficiently as possible.

Below is a short video of the gameplay on Intellivision.

Interconnected brains

When I wrote “Agent Lenore” several years ago, I was thinking about the growing freelance marketplace for software engineers and others.  As a science fiction writer, I took the idea and extrapolated into the future, wondering how freelance work might be shared in some cooperative fashion between man and machine.

Idealist that I tend to be, I thought it would be even better if people could freelance while doing other things.  Wouldn’t it be nice to get paid for your skills while sleeping?  After all, many of us who do brain work for a living have probably at one time or another felt like our minds were hooked up to the company’s computers.

So I found it fascinating to read about Brainets this year in research entitled “Building an organic computing device with multiple interconnected brains“.  If you’d like to read “Agent Lenore” it is part of my e-book anthology “Science Fiction: Robots & Cyborgs.”


Golden Globes insult science fiction writers

Yes, I think it is an insult to science fiction writers to nominate “The Martian” in the category of Best Musical or Comedy.  While some science fiction movies are meant to be humorous, such as “Mars Attacks!”, the best of them are thought-provoking and often quite serious.

“The Martian” was supposed to be a movie that presented travel to and survival on Mars in a mostly realistic fashion.  While I admit that I was a little disappointed in some aspects of the movie — Matt Damon’s character was a bit too snarky and a bit too resourceful — I did think it was an overall good movie and certainly not a comedy.

While I realize that the Golden Globes nominators weren’t considering science fiction writer’s feelings when they nominated “The Martian” for Best Musical or Comedy, they nevertheless showed that they don’t consider hard science fiction — at least that was what “The Martian” was supposed to be — seriously important enough to be dramatic.  After all “Interstellar”, another attempt at hard science fiction in movies, didn’t even get nominated at all.

So, although I admit to having a little fun — not just me, see EW and other online commentary — with the Golden Globes here since they chose to flippantly put “The Martian” in this category, I am happy that a science fiction movie is being recognized.  Just remember, though, that when you see Matt Damon’s character throwing a few funny snarky lines at the audience, it’s not all that funny to face the possibility of death on Mars.

Does this trailer look funny or musical to you?

“It Came From the Desert” meets next gen game engines

On YouTube gaming, the post “Top 5 Best Next Gen Game Engines of The Future” by EETech  (see video below) presents some nice looking demonstrations of coming game engines.

Their choice for #1, Euclideon Unlimited, starts by presenting a quick history of advances in computer graphics.  They begin with Activision’s Pitfall (at 7min 41sec), a nice example of some first or second generation video game graphics.  But, after a couple of other early games, they show Cinemaware’s “It Came From the Desert” (at 7min 45 sec) — a game that I developed scripting tools for in 1988.  Although I would have preferred to also see my video game “Microsurgeon” (Imagic, 1982) in the list, I was happy to see that Cinemaware’s game made it.

As I said, these future game engines produce some beautiful images.  Soon we’ll see if they also produce some wonderful games.

How does Pi = 1000 * 8080?

The Raspberry Pi Zero is $5!

It comes with a 1GHz processor, 512MB of Ram, HDMI, USB, and other nice features. I remember in the 70’s when I was programming a Sol-20 8080-based computer, the processor running at 2MHz. Considering also the tiny amount of memory, I’d say the Raspberry Pi is about 1000 times more powerful than the Sol-20 was. That’s how Pi equals 1000 times more powerful than an 8080 system.

Not to mention, it easily cost $1,000 and more to put together a Sol-20 system back in the 70’s, and the Pi is only $5.  In the video below, you can see other early systems and their comparison to the Pi’s cost.

Modifying genetics epigenetically

Epigenetic changes can change gene expression, effectively acting like a genetics modification.  Scientists have had meetings recently to discuss the ethics, dangers, and future of gene modification therapies.  Looks like they’ll have to have future meetings to also discuss epigenetics modification.

I recently published “Science Fiction: Genetics”, an anthology of four of my stories related to genetics.  One of my short stories, “The Library of Pain”, examines epigenetics modification in relation to a possible future tool for psychologists.  “The Scientist” magazine announced their choices for the top 10 Innovations of 2015, and one is a “CRISPR Epigenetic Activator.”  Perhaps my futuristic device isn’t so far in the future as it might sound.

Dna clip art