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Showing posts by: Cory Doctorow click to see Cory Doctorow's profile
Wed
Nov 4 2009 9:00am

Cory Doctorow’s Makers, Part 53 (of 81)

 

Illustration by Idiots’Books

Sammy was at his desk looking over the production prototype for the Disney-in-a-Box (R) units that Imagineering had dropped off that morning when his phone rang. Not his desk phone—his cellular phone, with the call-return number blocked.

“Hello?” he said. Not many people had this number—he didn’t like getting interrupted by the phone. People who needed to talk to him could talk to his secretary first.

“Hi, Sammy. Have I caught you at a bad time?” He could hear the sneer in the voice and then he could see the face that went with the sneer: Freddy. Shit. He’d given the reporter his number back when they were arranging their disastrous face-to-face.

“It’s not a good time, Freddy,” he said. “If you call my secretary—”

[“I just need a moment of your time, sir. For a quote. For a story about the ride response to your printers—your Disney-in-a-Box Circle-R, Tee-Em, Circle-C.”]

Mon
Nov 2 2009 9:00am

Cory Doctorow’s Makers, Part 52 (of 81)

 

Illustration by Idiots’Books

Hilda eyed Perry curiously. “That sounded like an interesting conversation,” she said. She was wearing a long t-shirt of his that didn’t really cover much, and she looked delicious in it. It was all he could do to keep from grabbing her and tossing her on the bed—of course, the cast meant that he couldn’t really do that. And Hilda wasn’t exactly smiling, either.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to wake you up,” he said.

“It wasn’t the talking that did it, it was you not being there in the first place. Gave me the toss-and-turns.”

She came over to him then, the lean muscles in her legs flexing as she crossed the living room. She took his laptop away and set it down on the coffee-table, then took off his headset. He was wearing nothing but boxers, and she reached down and gave his dick a companionable honk before sitting down next to him and giving him a kiss on the cheek, the throat and the lips.

“So, Perry,” she said, looking into his eyes. “What the fuck are you doing sitting in the living room at 5 am talking to your computer? And why didn’t you come to bed last night? I’m not going to be hanging out in Florida for the rest of my life. I woulda thought you’d want to maximize your Hilda-time while you’ve got the chance.”

She smiled to let him know she was kidding around, but she was right, of course.

[“I’m an idiot, Hilda. I fired Tjan and Kettlewell, told them to get lost.”]

Fri
Oct 30 2009 9:00am

Cory Doctorow’s Makers, Part 51 (of 81)

 

Illustration by Idiots’Books

Death found out about the Disney-in-a-Box printers seconds after they were announced. He’d been tuning his feed-watchers to give him news about the Disney Parks for nearly a decade, and this little PR item on the Disney Parks newswire rang all the cherries on his filters, flagging the item red and rocketing it to the top of his news playlist, making all the icons in the sides of his screen bounce with delight.

The announcement made him want to throw up. They were totally ripping off the rides, and he knew for a fact that most of the three-d meshes of the old yesterland rides and even the contemporary ones were fan-made, so those’d be ripped off, too.

And the worst part was, he could feel himself getting excited. This was just the kind of thing that would have given him major fanboy drool as recently as a month ago.

[More below the fold ...]

Wed
Oct 28 2009 9:00am

Cory Doctorow’s Makers, Part 50 (of 81)

 

Illustration by Idiots’Books

Kettlewell and Tjan looked up when Perry banged through the door of the tea-house they’d turned into their de facto headquarters.

Perry had gone through mad and back to calm on the ride home, but as he drew closer to the tea-house, passing the people in the streets, the people living their lives without lawyers or bullshit, his anger came back. He’d even stopped outside the tea-house and breathed deeply, but his heart was pounding and his hands kept balling into fists and sometimes, man, sometimes you’ve just got to go for it.

[He got to the table and grabbed the papers there and tossed them over his shoulder.]

Mon
Oct 26 2009 9:00am

Cory Doctorow’s Makers, Part 49 (of 81)

 

Illustration by Idiots’Books

Imagineering sent the prototype up to Sammy as soon as it was ready, the actual engineers who’d been working on it shlepping it into his office.

He’d been careful to cultivate their friendship through the weeks of production, taking them out for beers and delicately letting them know that they were just the sort of people who really understood what Disney Parks was about, not like those philistines who comprised the rest of the management layer at Disney. He learned their kids’ names and forwarded jokes to them by email. He dropped by their break-room and let them beat him at pinball on their gigantic, bizarre, multi-board homebrew machine, letting them know just how cool said machine was.

Now it was paying off. Judging from the device he was looking at, a breadbox-sized, go-away-green round-shouldered smooth box that it took two of them to carry in.

[More below the fold ...]

Fri
Oct 23 2009 9:00am

Cory Doctorow’s Makers, Part 48 (of 81)

 

Illustration by Idiots’Books

Suzanne said, “Look, you can’t let crazy people set your agenda. If you want to visit this Death kid, you should. If you don’t, you shouldn’t. But don’t let Freddy psy-ops you into doing something you don’t want to do. Maybe he does have a rat in your building. Maybe he’s got a rat at the hospital. Maybe, though, he just scored some stills off a flickr stream, maybe he’s watching new photos with some face-recognition stuff.”

Perry looked up from his screen, still scowling. “People do that?”

“Sure—stalkerware! I use it myself, just to see what photos of me are showing up online. I scour every photo-feed published for anything that appears to be a photo of me. Most of it’s from blogjects, CCTV cameras and crap like that. You should see what it’s like on days I go to London—you can get photographed 800 times a day there without trying. So yeah, if I was Freddy and I wanted to screw with you, I’d be watching every image feed for your pic, and mine, and Lester’s. We just need to assume that that’s going on. But look at what he actually reported on: you went out and played catch and then hugged after your game. It’s not like he caught you cornholing gators while smoking spliffs rolled in C-notes.”

[“What does that guy have against us, anyway?”]

Wed
Oct 21 2009 9:00am

Cory Doctorow’s Makers, Part 47 (of 81)

 

Illustration by Idiots’Books

A GAME OF CATCH

Pop-quiz: Your empire is crumbling around your ears. Your supporters are hospitalized by jackboot thugs for sticking up for you.

The lawsuits are mounting and fly-by-night MBAs have determined to use your non-profit, info-hippie ride project to get right by embarking on 20 years of litigation.

What do you do?

Well, if you’re like Perry Gibbons, Lester Banks and Hilda Hammersen, you go out into the backyard and throw a ball around for a while, then you have a big cuddle and head inside.

[The pictures shown here were captured by a neighbor of the cult leaders last night, at their palatial condos in Hollywood, Florida.]

Mon
Oct 19 2009 9:00am

Cory Doctorow’s Makers, Part 46 (of 81)

Illustration by Idiots’Books

Hilda and Lester sat uncomfortably on the sofa next to each other. Perry had hoped they’d hit it off, but it was clear after Lester tried his Yoko joke again that the chemistry wasn’t there. Now they were having a rare moment of all-look-same-screen, the TV switched on like in an old comedy, no one looking at their own laptop.

The tension was thick, and Perry was sick of it.

He reached for his computer and asked it to find him the baseball gloves. Two of the drawers on the living-room walls glowed pink. He fetched the gloves down, tossed one to Lester, and picked up his ball.

[“Come on,” he said. “TV is historically accurate, but it’s not very social.”]

Fri
Oct 16 2009 9:00am

Cory Doctorow’s Makers, Part 45 (of 81)

 

Illustration by Idiots’Books

Death was deep into the story now. The Brazilians had forked off their own ride—they’d had their own New Work culture, too, centered in the favelas, so they had different stories to tell. Some of the ride operators imported a few of their scenes, tentatively, and some of the ride fans were recreating the Brazil scenes on their own passes through the ride.

It was all in there, if you knew where to look for it, and the best part was, no one had written it. It had written itself. The collective judgement of people who rode through had turned chaos into coherence.

[More below the fold ...]

Wed
Oct 14 2009 9:00am

Cory Doctorow’s Makers, Part 44 (of 81)

 

Illustration by Idiots’Books

IF YOU CAN’T BEAT THEM, RIP THEM OFF

A new initiative from the troubled Disney Parks corporation shows how a little imagination can catapult an ambitious exec to the top of the corporate ladder.

Word has it that Samuel R.D. Page, the Vice President for Fantasyland (I assure you, I am NOT making that up) has been kicked upstairs to Senior Vice President for Remote Delivery of Park Experience (I’m not making that up, either). Insiders in the company tell us that “Remote Delivery of Park Experience” is a plan to convince us to give The Mouse a piece of our homes which will be constantly refreshed via a robot three-dimensional printer with miniatures of the Disney park.

[More below the fold ...]

Mon
Oct 12 2009 9:00am

Cory Doctorow’s Makers, Part 43 (of 81)

 

Illustration by Idiots’Books

It was two weeks before Death Waits could sit up and prod at a keyboard with his broken hands. Some of his pals brought a laptop around and they commandeered a spare dining tray to keep it on—Death’s lap was in no shape to support anything heavy with sharp corners.

The first day, he was reduced to tears of frustration within minutes of starting. He couldn’t use the shift key, couldn’t really use the mouse—and the meds made it hard to concentrate and remember what he’d done.

[More below the fold ...]

Fri
Oct 9 2009 9:00am

Cory Doctorow’s Makers, Part 42 (of 81)

 

Illustration by Idiots’Books

Hilda left Perry after a couple hours working the ticket-booth together. She wanted to go for a shower and a bit of an explore, and it was a secret relief to both of them to get some time apart after all that time living in each others’ pockets. They were intimate strangers still, not yet attuned to each others’ moods and needs for privacy, and a little separation was welcome.

Welcome, too, was Perry’s old post there in at the ticket counter, like Lucy’s lemonade stand in Peanuts. The riders came on thick, a surprising number of them knew his name and wanted to know how his arm was. They were all watching the drama unfold online. They knew about the Brazilian rides coming online and the patch Lester had run. They all felt a proprietary interest in this thing. It made him feel good, but a little weird. He could deal with having friends, and customers, but fans?

[More below the fold ...]

Wed
Oct 7 2009 9:00am

Cory Doctorow’s Makers, Part 41 (of 81)

 

Illustration by Idiots’Books

Sammy knew he was a dead man. The only thing keeping him alive was legal’s reluctance to read the net. Hackelberg had a couple of juniors who kept watch-lists running on hot subjects, but they liked to print them out and mark them up, and that meant that they lagged a day or two behind the blogosphere.

The Death Waits thing was a freaking disaster. The guy was just supposed to put a scare into him, not cripple him for life. Every time Sammy thought about what would happen when the Death Waits thing percolated up to him, he got gooseflesh.

[More below the fold ...]

Mon
Oct 5 2009 9:00am

Cory Doctorow’s Makers, Part 40 (of 81)

 

Illustration by Idiots’Books

Death Waits regained consciousness several times over the next week, aware each time that he was waking up in a hospital bed on a crowded ward, that he’d woken here before, and that he hurt and couldn’t remember much after the beating had started.

But after a week or so, he found himself awake and aware—he still hurt all over, a dull and distant stoned ache that he could tell was being kept at bay by powerful painkillers. There was someone waiting for him.

[More below the fold ...]

Fri
Oct 2 2009 9:00am

Cory Doctorow’s Makers, Part 39 (of 81)

Illustration by Idiots’Books

Perry got them a cab straight from the airport to the ride. Sweating in the suffocating afternoon heat, his re-casted arm on fire, Hilda had shown him the article about Death Waits while they were being screened for their connection at O’Hare. The TSA guy was swabbing his cast with a black-powder residue detector, and as Perry read it, he let out an involuntary yelp and a jump that sent him back for a full round of tertiary screening. No date with Dr. Jellyfinger, though it was a close thing.

Hilda was deep in her own phone, probing ferociously at it, occasionally picking it up and talking into it, then poking at it some more. Neither of them looked out the windows much, though in his mind, Perry had rehearsed this homecoming as a kind of tour of his territory, picking out which absurd landmarks he’d point out, which funny stories he’d tell, pausing to nuzzle Hilda’s throat.

But by the time he’d absorbed the mailing-list traffic and done a couple phoners with the people back in Madison— particularly Ernie, who was freaking about Death Waits and calling for tight physical security for all their people— they were pulling in at the ride. The cabbie, a Turk, wasn’t very cool about the neighborhood, and he kept slowing down on the side of the road and offering to let them out there, and Perry kept insisting that he take them all the way.

[More below the fold.]

Wed
Sep 30 2009 9:00am

Cory Doctorow’s Makers, Part 38 (of 81)

 

Illustration by Idiots’Books

Lester didn’t want to open the ride, but someone had to. Someone had to, and it wasn’t Perry, who was off with his midwestern honey. Lester would have loved to sleep in and spend the day in his workshop rebuilding his 64-bit registers—he’d had some good ideas for improving on the initial design, and he still had the CAD files, which were the hard part anyway.

He walked slowly across the parking lot, the sunrise in his eyes, a cup of coffee steaming in his hand. He’d almost gone to the fatkins bars the night before—he’d almost gone ten, fifteen times, every time he thought of Suzanne storming out of his lab, but he’d stayed home with the TV and waited for her to turn up or call or post something to her blog or turn up on IM, and when none of those things had happened by 4AM, he tumbled into bed and slept for three hours until his alarm went off again.

[Blearily, he sat himself down behind the counter, greeted some of the hawkers coming across the road, and readied his ticket-roll.]

Mon
Sep 28 2009 9:00am

Cory Doctorow’s Makers, Part 37 (of 81)

 

 

Illustration by Idiots’Books

Perry’s cast stank. It had started to go a little skunky on the second day, but after a week it was like he had a dead animal stuck to his shoulder. A rotting dead animal. A rotting, itchy dead animal.

“I don’t think you’re supposed to be doing this on your own,” Hilda said, as he sawed awkwardly at it with the utility knife. It was made of something a lot tougher than the fiberglass one he’d had when he broke his leg falling off the roof as a kid (he’d been up there scouting out glider possibilities).

“So you do it,” he said, handing her the knife. He couldn’t stand the smell for one second longer.

“Uh-uh, not me, pal. No way that thing is supposed to come off anytime soon. If you’re going to cripple yourself, you’re going to have to do it on your own.”

He made a rude sound. “Fuck hospitals, fuck doctors, and fuck this fucking cast. My arm barely hurts these days. We can splint it once I get this off, that’ll immobilize it. They told me I’d need this for six weeks. I can’t wear this for six weeks. I’ll go nuts.”

“You’ll go lame if you take it off. Your poor mother, you must have driven her nuts.”

He slipped and cut himself and winced, but tried not to let her know, because that’s exactly what she’d predicted would happen. After a couple days together, she’d become an expert at predicting exactly which of his escapades would end in disaster. It was a little spooky.

[Blood oozed out from under the cast and slicked his hand.]

Fri
Sep 25 2009 9:00am

Cory Doctorow’s Makers, Part 36 (of 81)

 

Illustration by Idiots’Books

Sammy didn’t want the writer meeting him at his office. His organization had lots of people who’d been loyal to the old gothy park and even to Death Waits. They plotted against him. They wrote about him on the fucking Internet, reporting on what he’d eaten for lunch and who’d shouted at him in his office and how the numbers were declining and how none of the design crews wanted to work on his new rides.

The writer couldn’t come to the office—couldn’t come within miles of the park. In fact, if Sammy had had his way, they would have done this all by phone, but when he’d emailed the writer, he’d said that he was in Florida already and would be happy to come and meet up.

[Of course he was in Florida—he was covering the ride.]

Wed
Sep 23 2009 9:00am

Cory Doctorow’s Makers, Part 35 (of 81)

 

Illustration by Idiots’Books

Death Waits was living the dream. He took people’s money and directed them to the ride’s entrance, making them feel welcome, talking ride trivia. Some of his pals spotted him at the desk and enviously demanded to know how he came to be sitting on the other side of the wicket, and he told them the incredible story of the fatkins who’d simply handed over the reins.

[This, this was how you ran a ride]

Mon
Sep 21 2009 9:00am

Cory Doctorow’s Makers, Part 34 (of 81)

 

Illustration by Idiots’Books

“There’s litigation specialists at Credit Suisse?”

He was big, Hackelberg, though he often gave the impression of being smaller through his habitual slouch. But when he pulled himself up, it was like a string in the center of the top of his head was holding him erect, like he was hovering off the ground, like he was about to leap across the desk and go for your throat. His lower jaw rocked from side to side.

“They do now, Sammy. Every investment bank has one, including the one that the chairman of our board is a majority shareholder in.”

Sammy swallowed. “But they’ve got just as deep pockets as we do—can’t we just fight these battles out and take the money off of them when we win?”

[“If we win.”]