Friday, July 25, 2008

The Friday Challenge - 7/25/08

The responses to the 7/18 Friday Challenge were slow in coming in — which is a good thing, I think. Once in a while it's worth spending a little time in thoughtful contemplation before you begin writing. Anyway, the contestants are, in the order their entries were received:

Rigel Kent
Passin Through

If I've missed anybody, please let me know, and I'll fix it ASAP. As always, you are encouraged to read, comment on, and vote for your favorite(s), and God willing and the creek don't rise, I'll announce a winner on Sunday evening.

Now, as for this week's Friday Challenge, most of you probably saw the head-start that I posted yesterday. If not, here it is, bubbled to the top again.

Commenting on my offhand observation in another post that I lead an interrupt-driven life, AJW308 asks:
Could BRB be another uploaded cybernetic intelligence?
Oh, dear God in Heaven, no! I spend all day working with state-of-tomorrow's-art supercomputers. The last thing I would ever entrust my consciousness to is something as frail and unstable as a heap of silicon-based electronic hardware and its associated roach-motel of a software stack!

In fact, there's a free story idea for you. How about if, in some not-too-distant future where implanted wi-fi brain augmentations are as common as Blackberrys are today, one of the leading implant vendors releases an inadequately tested OS software update that has the unfortunate side-effect of turning a certain subset of users into psychotic homicidal cannibals? And the hero of the story is a lone, brave, software tester who is trying to figure out just exactly which combination of base software, patches, updates, aftermarket mods, and open source spaghetti code caused the problem and how to fix it — while at the same time fighting off his own implant's regression errors, which are continually throwing his brain into earlier and more primitive patterns of thinking!

There, bet that is a story you could sell to Analog.

In fact, whadaya think? Shall we give you a head-start on tomorrow, and declare this one to be the next Friday Challenge?

By overwhelming acclaim, this is now the current Friday Challenge, so have at it. In response to a comment from newcomer Yorick, though, I guess it's also time to reiterate the remarkably casual rules for this contest.

The Friday Challenge works like this. Each week, I spot you an idea, a question, or if I have an extraordinary amount of free time, the opening paragraphs of a story. Then it's your turn to pick it up, run with it, and see where it goes. The deadline for each Friday Challenge is midnight the following Thursday, although this is more of a bungee cord than an actual deadline, with links to the received entries being posted, along with a new challenge, on Friday. Regardless of whether or not you have submitted an entry, everyone is encouraged to read, comment on, and vote for their favorites among the entries received, and the winner (or sometimes winners) is|are announced on Sunday evening. To make things slightly more interesting, we always play for what's behind Door #2, except on occasions when a special prize is offered — for example, that vintage Captain Planet videotape, which strangely enough, remains unclaimed.

As for the mechanism for submitting an entry: there are three known ways. If you have your own website or blog, the easiest way to submit an entry is by posting it on your own site, and then posting a link in the Comments attached to this post. If you don't have your own site or for some reason don't want Ranting Room readers following you there, the next easiest way to enter is by posting your entry in its entirety in the Comments attached to this post.

However, HaloScan has a number of secret undocumented limits on posts — and we're discovering new ones all the time — so if you run afoul of HaloScan's secret limits, there is always the Third Way: put your entry in a plain text, rtf, Word, or pdf file, and email it to me at This is the guaranteed slowest way to get your entry in front of other readers, but I promise I will get around to PDF'ing and posting it. Eventually.

Any more questions? Ask away. Otherwise, the Challenge has been issued; you have until next Thursday to make your reply. Good luck.