Trope-a-Day: Alternative Number System

Alternative Number System: The eldrae, and thus the Empire, use base 12 – mostly because the common numeric base was agreed on by the same collective of the philosophically inclined that standardized the language, and they saw no particularly good reason why you should pick a number base just because that’s how many fingers you have when you can pick one based on something more useful, like its plethora of convenient factors.

There was a brief flirtation with base 16 (the Great Hexadecimal Reform) during the reign of the Online Emperor, but despite being more convenient for computational purposes (a base 16 digit converts into a whole number of bits, which a base 12 digit does not), it proved quite unpopular with the public and was later quietly dropped.

And, of course, other species have been known to use quite a large variety of numeric bases – 8, 10, and 16 being probably the most popular, but others far from unknown.  Base 16 is commonly used for interspecies communication (outside the Empire, in the Worlds), though, mostly because everyone who uses computers is at least somewhat comfortable with power-of-two bases.

Trope-a-Day: Almost Out of Oxygen

Almost Out Of Oxygen: Still happens occasionally, despite every spacecraft’s emergency kit carrying an ample supply of oxygen candles and lithium hydroxide (because CO2 poisoning is what’ll actually get you; or, well, if the thermal management system isn’t running because of the same problem that’s taken out the life support, you’ll cook) – or the appropriate equivalents for non-oxygen breathers – against exactly this contingency.

Of course, given the realities of space distances that we covered back in Escape Pod, if you should find yourself playing this straight, it almost certainly means you’re dead, or at least your current set of bodies are.  So it goes.

Of Kerbals and Prokrastination

Sorry, no fiction today.

This is because of the release of KSP 1.1 preview, and consequently my spending the entire day testing out its new many-parts and many-mod 64-bit support by resurrecting working versions of my BehemothMegalodon, and Surprise Eclipse! 10m-parts-as-liquid-fuel-boosters-for-an-Orion heavy-lifters.

I’d apologize, but honestly, I regret nothing and you wouldn’t believe me if I told you otherwise.


Grand Theft Identity

Vinwi Cyberdemocracy: Does not exist.

(The year 6829 marked the collapse of the Shrouded Suns Selfdom’s most successful identity fraud operation, in which they used an automated botnet of false identities, reputation bots, and infojacked social networks to produce and cross-verify almost one million false identities purportedly originating in the Vinwi Cyberdemocracy, stated to be a single-system polity located in the fringes of the rimward Expansion Regions – and inserted as such by a considerable feat of system-cracking in several galactic volumetric registries.

The Worlds’ authentification systems being more attuned to conventional fraud, misappropriation, and database manipulation than to non-existent polities, these identities operated successfully for nearly a decade before being invalidated.

Occasional identity-claims purporting to originate in the Vinwi Cyberdemocracy still surface from time to time across the extranet. If you should encounter such a claim, please report it forthwith to your local information security center or to Conclave Security, Network Operations Division, as appropriate.)

– Polities of the Associated Worlds, 882nd printing

Trope-a-Day: Aliens Steal Cable

Aliens Steal Cable: Sort of true – despite the various technical problems mentioned in the trope, it is a very popular way to acquire a linguistic and cultural corpus from worldbound civilizations before making contact. But it involves both (a) studying their technology to figure out the signal encoding, and then (b) parking a probe somewhere close in to their system and/or placing a tap on their Internet-equivalent to gather uncorrupted signals. You can’t just do it easily over interstellar distances, especially if you don’t know that it’s there.

Trope-a-Day: Aliens of London

Aliens of London: Well, since no-one ever speaks English, it’s a little hard to say – especially with regional variations – but I suspect a native Eldraeic speaker attempting to speak English without benefit of a translator –

(Which depending upon locale configuration would probably produce either Broadcaster’s Mid-Western or Received Pronunciation.)

– would arrive at an accent somewhere halfway between a Southern drawl and Londo Mollari.