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Archive for the ‘Science Fiction’ Category

The Reliability Revolution

Posted by Charles Gray on March 28, 2017

We like to talk about technology in terms of the new and shiny. This computer can render things down to the molecule. This car has… an autopilot.
But in all of that hype, laypeople and sci-fi writers alike miss another, likely far more important technological revolution.

Reliability, or the growing of the Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF).

For example, in the 1950s, MIT’s Whirlwind computer had an MTBF of about eight hours. What that would translate out to would be a computer that would be lucky to make it through a single workday. Then you get the interns running around with shopping carts loaded with vacuum tubes.

 

640px-colossusrebuild_12

Just imagine the poor guy in charge of fixing that.

Today, your average laptop or desktop will have a MTBF measured in years. I’ve replaced far more computers because they became obsolete than because they failed. The same goes for cars— oh, we moan about the good old days, but today’s cars are more reliable than their predecessors were— they’re just a bit more expensive to fix, and major problems usually aren’t fixable by the owner. I overhauled the engine for my 1967 Dodge Dart— couldn’t do that with my 2013 Mazda.

But on the whole, we spend less time fixing stuff today than we ever have, and that’s a tremendous revolution. The first computers weren’t just limited by the initial expense, but by the ongoing process of keeping them running. Most computer purchases in the 1950s and 1960s came complete with long-term maintenance contracts because you knew the beast was going to die.

Okay, Jake, you tell the President what happened to the plan to eradicate world hunger.

Today, that’s unusual short of some outside events like a disgruntled employee with a fire axe or a really cutting edge system.
The fact that we can say malfunctions have become unusual, something we talk about, is a sign of just how incredibly this unsung technology of reliability has progressed, and one of the reasons advanced technology has become so ubiquitous.  After all, how many computer would you have if they broke down every day.

Posted in fiction, Science Fiction, technology, Uncategorized | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

The Girl Who Stole a Starship Cover Preview

Posted by Charles Gray on March 16, 2017

Well, one of my stories is almost finished, going through final edits (otherwise known as: am I over editing? I think I’m over editing. Wait a minute, that phrase sucks).  I’ve also started working on the cover since us poor folk can’t hire those fancy pants graphic artists with their Highfalutin ways. I’m gonna give it a few more brush ups, and show it off to other people, and see what else I can do with it.

 

Here it is:

 

the girl who stole a battleship

 

The book itself should be out on kindle in the next two weeks, or possibly earlier if I don’t find anything that demands major changes.

 

Posted in Ebook, Science Fiction, Uncategorized, Young Adult fiction | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

COMMEMORATION VOYAGE UP FOR SALE.

Posted by Charles Gray on November 1, 2014

Well, a small story I’ve been working on for awhile, “Commemoration Voyage” is now up for sale at Amazon, as well as Smashwords.

Here’s the cover, done by yours truly:

commemorate1This story is set in the mystic galaxy setting, where earth, after thousands of years in a region of null-magic has emerged, and galactic (and Terran) society will never be the same…  I’ve actually got a pretty large number of stories set in this universe, whether done, half-done or just a glimmer in my eye. Give it a check, if you’re of a mind to do so!

Posted in Fantasy, fiction, Hunters, My stories, Science Fiction, Self-publishing | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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