Tone DEF: a DEF CON Love Story

In which a DEF CON N00b , Max, tries to be more extroverted while attending a Skytalks session. Drama ensues.

I never really cared for saunas, and the early-August Las Vegas atmosphere was far worse – 104 oppressive degrees with a thick, distasteful aroma of…some ungodly New York City subway-esque mixture best left unexamined. I tried not to breathe too deeply, as John and I exited the Flamingo and waited for the walk signal across Las Vegas Boulevard toward Caesar’s Palace. John looked down at me, a bit concerned.

“Max, you OK? You look kinda out of it”

“No, I’m good. Very excited to be attending DEF CON!”

Full story here

An Open Door


Whereupon we get introduced to our main characters, reflect upon the ease by which skids could cause trouble, and ruminate on the morality of ethically motivated gray-hat hacking,

I texted 8bit as soon as I arrived at the front door of his apartment; the bottom floor of a creaky blue two-family house between Harvard and Alewife. He often wore noise-cancelling headphones while coding, and both knocking and shouting had proven ineffective at getting his attention. Fortunately I’d only had to climb in through his window once, when a cold New England winter day had depleted my phone.

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This story asks the question “what does it mean to be human?”, contrasting a robot that’s becoming more human against some boys who are, perhaps, becoming less human.

Memory Check...OK
Boot Loader...OK
Ronix 9.2.73p11
Signed: Certificate Authority is City Robot Services
Initiating hardware boot sequence...

Sunita’s hands were tired and achy after several hours’ work modding Smudge. She stretched, and used the front edge of her wheelchair’s armrests to peel off the tight-fitting programming gloves. Their electrical contacts left rectangular imprints on her fingertips, and five lines that traversed fingers and palm before converging at her wrists; two brown circuit boards. While waiting for Smudge to restart, she wordlessly rubbed her hands and forearms together to dispel the uncomfortable but familiar combination of numbness and dull pain. Smudge was an older model robot — a refurb was all they could afford with the small insurance payout from the accident — and it took him a few minutes to fully boot. Sunita closed her eyes and slowly inhaled the aroma of her Amma’s cooking. Saag Paneer, her favorite. This, at least, was one advantage of a small apartment – always knowing what’s for dinner.

Finally, Smudge completed his startup process, pale blue eyelights illuminating from within his translucent white head. His hydraulics whined quietly as back, neck, and wheels all extended, bringing him to his full four-foot height.

She looked over and greeted the robot. “Hello Smudge!”

“Good afternoon, Miss Sunita!”

Click here for the full story


Thanks for joining me, and for reading my stories. I created this site to share my thoughts and perspectives, and to garner an audience for my writing.

While I’ve written many, many technical documents and reams of marketing collateral over the years, I still consider myself a beginning writer of fiction. So bear with me on this journey, and I welcome your feedback on what my assuredly rough (but hopefully consistently improving) work.

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