Trope-a-Day: Explosive Overclocking

Explosive Overclocking: Played straight with nanotech devices, including both assemblers and nanocomputers (which make up a large number of the processors out there).  One of the chief limitations on nanotech devices is the problem of heat dissipation from such tiny machines, and the limitations on the ways there are to work around it, like reversible computing.

But this being the case, you can sometimes get more temporary performance out of your nanostuff by disabling the thermal protection limiter or skip-cycling some of the thermal waits, and other such dubious techniques – assuming that the extra heat is survivable (don’t try this trick with in-body nano), and that it doesn’t explode – because, yes, this heat buildup is often quite literally explosive – before you get what you want out of it.

In any case, unless it saved an awfully significant amount of stuff or people, expect people to call you an idiot afterwards.  Maybe even if it did.

But in general, things have documented never-exceed limits for a reason, and since the Imperials are in the habit of trusting people not to be idiots, the never-exceed limits are the real never-exceed limits.  As we said under Instant Cooldown, stay under the red line.

(Especially, I hasten to add, if you’re using any of those nifty brain modifications, neural implants, or autonomic-systems-under-conscious-control features to overclock your body.  Yes, maxing out the adrenal ramp on a standard baseline can let you throw a car.  It will also, at the same time, let you break a couple of bones and tear gods only know how many muscle fibers and ligaments doing it.  So unless it’s an emergency, pay attention to what the warning systems are saying, people.)

((While I personally don’t think it should, the highly specific way in which one can bugger the circuitry of an off-the-shelf powercell, causing the superconducting loops to stop superconducting and the whole thing therefore to turn into a small but effective grenade, may also count.  Seeing as the equivalent from the Vorkosigan ‘verse is listed, belike.))

Trope-a-Day: Easy Logistics

Easy Logistics: Averted, even with nanotech, cornucopias, and suchlike, because it’s not like they don’t still require supplies of feedstock and energy, not to mention being inefficient to use for bulk manufacturing of things like ammunition – which is not a good place to be if the other side isn’t obliging you by being equally inefficient.

There’s a reason why the Eighth Lord of the Admiralty has the biggest stratarchy (the Stratarchy of Military Support and Logistics), which works very hard to keep equipment, fuel, ammunition and materials standardized, and to maintain the largest set of depots and fleets of oilers, tenders and transports around anywhere.  Tactics win battles; strategy wins campaigns.  Logistics wins wars.

Valuematic Vending

“Valuematic Vending Technical Services. Could I have your name, service contract reference, and planet of installation, please?”

“Certainly, I can answer a few general questions, yes.”

“Yes, our system is designed to be programmable by the customer.”

“The model 4400v nanofac is capable of assembling essentially any carbon compound, yes. Within the bounds of the usual run of carbon chemistry, anyway, as certain exotic bond types are only available in more advanced models, but I can assure you that the 4400v is fully capable of producing all commonly used plastics, fabrics, foodstuffs, pharmaceuticals –”

“You want it not to be able to produce pharmaceuticals? Sir, have you considered not entering requests for –”

“If you could supply us with a list of all the chemical structures you wish to lock out –”

“I’m afraid we don’t maintain a list of which chemical structures are psychoactive in your species, sir, but as I said, if you could provide us with such a list, I can supply you with a routine to lock out those structures through your policy server.”

“Well, if you have them configured stand-alone, you can apply the routine individually to each 4400v. Do you have physical access to each machine?”

“Ah, that may be a problem. Could I ask again who you represent, sir?”

“I’m afraid we don’t actually support that level of hierarchical control on our JITPOS systems, sir, and I regret to say that corporate policy is not to provide superuser ackles on any system to anyone other than the registered owner.”

“Sir, before I answer that, you are aware that a 4400v-series is capable of manufacturing carbon-compound synthesizers, as well as the carbon compounds themselves?”

“Oh, any source of CHON atoms should do. Most oxygen-breather – you are oxygen-breathers? – planetary atmospheres would contain everything it needed.”

“Sir? Are you still there?”

“Valuematic Vending Technical Services. Could I have your name, service contract reference, and planet of installation, please?”

“Yes, our model 4400v nanofac is capable of manufacturing a wide range of organic explosives and other accelerants…”

Trope-a-Day: Ambiguous Robots

Ambiguous Robots: Between one advancement and another, mechanical robots, biological bioroids, cybernetic implants for biological bodies (including nanocytes and nanosomes), biological organ-implants for mechanical bodies (including skin and flesh coverings, with active nerve integration), and biomimetic materials… well, yes, the middle ground is getting rather ambiguous, isn’t it?  Half the time, even the designers aren’t sure.