Friday, February 17, 2012

Driving Code

"What do you mean no residential address?" Aldo hated coders who thought keeping the important bits in wetwear meant job security. He'd need to remind them at his Monday morning team meeting that if his job was subject to off by one errors, so was their job.

"I shouldn't even be showing you this." Laura locked her screen.

"I can't believe the --" Aldo had enough ingrained years to catch himself from swearing at the last moment, at least when talking to HR wonks. "Look, the market is going to eat us alive tomorrow if we don't get this fixed tonight before Anonymous gets whiff of our blood. It's not just my job, it's yours too."

"After the 2015 Yahoo! Legislation, my hands are tied."

Aldo slammed a chair out of his way and it ricocheted down the alley between cubicles until it caught on an ethernet cable and crashed onto its back. Just because some Yahoo! boss showed up on the doorstep of one of his direct reports and squeezed fifteen shots into the poor schlock, it didn't mean there weren't times you were supposed to overlook the law. He had control of his emotions. Aldo stepped over the fallen chair.

His workspace had the team's spreadsheet opened with the row containing Bill's phone number highlighted, but he hadn't answered the phone when Aldo called. He ran his finger down the column of FindMyPhone passwords. Good thing the company issued corporate phones. It'd left the team no choice but to provide Aldo their passwords.

A flag representing Bill's phone moved along Highway 80 away from their offices. Catching Bill would take hours. Aldo looked at the code, but it wasn't just that it was Hungarian notation, it had two layers of macros that resulted in the code looking like something encrypted. Aldo shrugged and grabbed his car's fob.

The team might think he was past his prime, but Aldo had hacked his Audi to disable the speed governors and cleverly inject false position data into the DMV's database spew so they wouldn't send a speeding ticket based on logged data. He engaged the automated driver, and gave Bill's current position. He'd update it when he got closer.

#

Tailing Bill hadn't been enough to get him to pull over. Aldo had needed to pull in front of Bill and slow down like some LA police chase until Billy took notice and pulled over to the side of the road.

"Hey, bossman. Didn't see you. Must be serious stink to get you chasing my tail."

"Your code has gone haywire. It's the financial transactions routine. It's stripping money off the foreign exchange."

"No biggie."

"Losing us cash each time it goes through. If Anonymous gets wind of this, it'll fund their operations for a good six months."

Bill shrugged. "Nothing I can do. IT regs don't let code junkies through the VPN."

"I've got VPN on the dash. Get in the Audi."

Once Bill had pulled up the code, made a one character change and committed it and pushed it out to the production servers, Aldo grabbed his sleeve before he could disappear out of the car. "I want to see that it works this time."

"Hold your pants." Numbers spun on the real-time display and Bill flicked his finger at several numbers. "See that, bossman. It's working."

For the first time in hours Aldo took a deep breath. He would have a job tomorrow. Bill was about to slam the door shut. "Wait. Where do you live, if you're all the way out here and not home yet."

Bill scraped his foot on the rocks on the shoulder. "Couldn't afford a house, so the car is all I got. Put it on autodrive and get out of the congestion charging zone and drive all night. Anything else, bossman."

"No, no." Aldo started to plan how he'd pitch this to the VP. He'd find the angle where he'd appear to be the hero. He pulled the door shut and ordered the computer to call an extended management meeting for tomorrow morning.

23 comments:

  1. Oh, the joys of a high pressure job, deliver or get thrown by the wayside.

    I am never disappointed by what your imagination can produce Aidan.

    I do like the idea of sleeping while the car drives you around, only thing is the fuel bill would probably cost more than renting a house.

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    1. Good point on the fuel bill. I've set another story I wrote in a future with maglev cars... either that or Bill using a more efficient electric car that he powers off work's grid should resolve that issue ;)

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  2. I don't know if it's the Audi connection, but it had a I, Robot feel to it. Like you mention in the story, I'm sure chips will be fitted to cars to make sure we follow the rules all the time, not looking forward to it to be honest. Great story.

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    1. It has been a long time since I've read I, robot. I probably should reread it. I could live with cars enforcing restrictions if they were doing the driving themselves, but I have a feeling rules will be valid sooner than self-driving cars (even though there already are a few on the roads, I don't think society will accept them.)

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  3. This has the ring of truth to it, aye the token ring. Laws may change, but attitudes never do. I noticed Aldo didn't even blink when Bill said he couldn't afford a place to live. Loved this — I think it was Nature's End where I first read the concept of a car with a built-in ticket happy traffic cop, but funny how they never considered how the Aldos of the world could make a few minor changes to the code.

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    1. Unfortunately, I fear built-in ticket happy traffic cop is just like viruses. A field where their constantly working around the clever schemes of the traffic cop and/or speed freak, depending on which side your on.

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  4. Cool. I'm not sure I'm buying that Bill "fixed" whatever was wrong, especially with that bit of humanity thrown in - Bill is homeless. Just makes a guy suspicious. Or really endearing. I'd have to read on, no question about it.

    Loved the futuristic concepts. And the 2015 Yahoo! Legislation fit so naturally. Excellent world building seemingly without effort.

    ........dhole

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    1. Thanks. Yahoo is such a great company name that I couldn't help using it.

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  5. I am surprised that no one in the office seems to notice the wayward nature of the innocent computer chair. Did they expect the anger of their boss to be vented in such a fashion?

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    1. I'm sure there are innocent computer chairs. But, someday I'm going to have to write a story about how the computer chairs, who have had an intelligence we long disregarded take over the world!

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  6. The stress of getting it right and staying on top no matter what, seemed to come over to me. I liked what you created Aidan — a glimpse into a possible future workd ;)

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    1. I think that pressure could force almost anyone to take extreme actions. I find it fascinating.

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  7. oops typo workd should be world ^_^

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  8. Aidan! Hi - how uncomfortable to live in that car but how fantastic the car drives itself while he's sleeping. What a glimpse into a possible future - more pressures eh? Possibly by then the fuel will have evolved as well and not be your traditional expensive fuel?

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    1. @Brinda, I agree. I've always been of the opinion a small house is better than a large house, but squeezing my life into a car would be uncomfortable.

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  9. I was a little confused by this at first, but it settled into a good pace. It's a little worrying that employees cannot escape their bosses though.

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    1. I'm glad that worries you. I felt Aldo edged into the creepy-level with how thoroughly he hunted down Bill.

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  10. As a rare blood courier, I would love a car that would let me sleep while it took me down lonely rural roads at night! Great piece. Roland

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    1. Thanks! I'm glad I'm not the only one hoping for these cars. I'll keep my fingers crossed.

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  11. I like how you create a future world that is both intriguing and real enough for us to relate to. Really enjoyed this.

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    1. Thanks! When I was much-younger and writing poetry, I always wanted to get "real" life (i.e. the average joe's life) into poems. But, poetry was more than about the everyday. Fiction is too, but on the other hand some of the details can make it richer and allow us to relate to the world.

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  12. I was a little disoriented by all the scattered future-notions and tech-talk in the first four paragraphs, but got my bearings thereafter. I love that the exclamation mark made it into the middle of the Yahoo! legislation.

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    1. That makes two, so I'm going to have to evaluate those four paragraphs and figure out ways to make it less tech-talkie. Glad you liked the Yahoo!, I was worried I went overboard with it.

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