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7 Elements of Radically Simple OS Migration

Episode 15

Bot Wars IV - The Screenplay

[Black Screen]

Several screens of multi-coloured static flash by before the words:

INITIAL TESTS INDICATE

UNIT OK

appear in large tasteless block letters on the screen. Another burst of static crowds the screen before a Camera image appears with the top half of the PFY’s upside-down face blocking the screen...

Stephen: There, that’s got it.

Cut to shot of a large shared office space, walls adorned with flat-screen monitors showing everything from the outside temperature and humidity to a screen entirely devoted to a countdown to the release date of Duke Nukem Forever in large red cheque-font letters. Two men stand beside two small robots, one in the process of powering up, the other dormant.

Simon: It’s not going to work...

Stephen: It is. I’ve rebuilt them from the ground up! They’ve got complete building maps, including the locations of all power & network outlets as well as coffee and vending machines...

Simon: Not going to work...

Stephen: They know how to plug themselves in to recharge when the battery is low...

Simon: Still not going to work...

Stephen: They’ve got high torque drive motors, full 360 degree cameras – including up and down - GPS locational awareness and completely new, and vastly improved advanced neural learning AI capable of ...

Simon: Starting to sound like Terminator...

Stephen: (excitedly) It knows about that!

Simon: It knows about what?

Stephen: Terminator. See, in order to make the AI more aware I ran through the footage of all its past mistakes – the stairwells, the lift shafts, etc. Then I played it Robocop and all the Terminators except Salvation. Oh, and I loaded the defender MAME rom – for the noises.

Simon: Defender? Wh... Doesn’t matter, still not going to work....

Stephen: It will! The AI is state-of-the art and the on-board processor turned out to be a quad core...

Simon: Still won’t work. Watch...

Stephen: Watch what? (looking up from the desktop monitor) Hey, the code’s just reverted!

As we watch we see a multitude of LEDs on the front of the powering-up robot flash simultaneously, then three words – ‘booting alternate ROM’ – appear on the LCD panel. A red lamp beside the panel starts glowing.

Simon: Yep, did the same to me yesterday when I tried to make it do deliveries. It ran for a couple of minutes before some watchdog circuit reloaded memory from a secondary ROM.

Stephen: Bugger!

Simon: You can restart it but that just gives you another few minutes. I think the bot company did it so they can only be used ‘for good’.

Stephen: Where’s the fun in that?!

Simon: Indeedy. That said though, it occurred to me late last night that we could clip the Vcc pin of the backup ROM and it wouldn’t be able to load from it.

Stephen: So which chip is the backup ROM?

Simon: You mean which of the 30 or so unlabelled and seemingly identical chips is the secondary ROM? No idea – But I suspect we can find out with a simple soldering iron.

Stephen: Ah, desolder the Vcc pin of each chip in turn until the reset no longer works!

Simon: I was thinking more of holding the soldering iron on a chip till it stops working, but we can go with your idea if you like.

Stephen: Nah, I haven’t got any desoldering braid – and besides it’s a multilayer board.

TARGETS ACQUIRED

Cut to the inside of a robot’s top cover. A mass of closely positioned chips with the identification numbers erased are crammed onto a motherboard. A large soldering iron of the type more commonly used to solder earth tags onto high current electrical equipment hoves into view, moving from one chip to the next.

Stephen: Eeny Meeny Miney...

>hhhssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss<

Stephen: Mo!

Cut to LCD panel on Robot. The words TARGETS ACQUIRED flash momentarily on the display.

Cut to a couple of minutes later. We see the two men standing on a desk with a robot shaped hole in the door...

Simon: High Torque drive motors you say?

Stephen: Uh. Yeah.

Cut to robots-eye view as it approaches the entrance to a stairwell. The word “RECALCULATING” with a circling arrow appears as the picture stops momentarily. The Robot reverses, turns.

Cut to Lift doors opening. Robot rolls into lift.

Cut to Basement. Robot emerges from lift, rolls quietly over to a locked supply then slowly spins through 360 degrees, pausing momentarily to view the flashing red lamp on a CCTV Camera.

Cut to Mission Control

Stephen: Do you think it knows we’re watching?

Simon: You’re the one who gave it all the building information – What do you think?

Stephen: Oh, it knows... A BIT of a design flaw that – on reflection.

Cut back to Basement, which is the same as earlier with the exception of the robot-sized hole in the door of the supply cupboard. The lift doors close silently.

Cut to Mission Control:

Stephen: Where’s it going?!!! Ground... First... Second... Second.

Simon: Uh Oh

Cut to robot’s eye view.

We see a large extension lead being plugged into the wall by a metallic arm.

We see an electric chainsaw being plugged into the extension lead

We see the door to Mission Control with a robot shaped hole in it – approaching quickly...

We see the spike end of a fire axe approaching even quicker...

Cut to Mission Control.

A robot with an axe protruding from its top cover shudders to a stop. The red lamp on the front panel slowly goes dark.

Simon: So the next time you fudge a ROM perhaps you might build in a bit of a failsafe...

Stephen: Yes, another design flaw when you come to think about it. Still no harm done – and still time for a lunchtime pint.

Cut to Pub

Two foaming pints of lager are passed to the PFY in exchange for a shiny new note...

Cut to Robots-Eye view.

RAM OK

ROM O...

booting....

NOW I’VE GOT AN AXE

Cut to Mission Control, an hour later. Simon and Stephen enter Mission Control to find the robot gone. The PFY’s monitor has a text editor open with a single line of text

NOW I’VE GOT AN AXE, HO HO HO!

Simon: You didn’t happen to play it Die Hard as well did you?

Stephen: Uh... I... uh... Bit of an implementation flaw, that...

Simon: To the batstairs Robin! But first..

We see Simon take a snapshot of the dormant robot, print it in colour and hold it up in front of the robot while reaching for a soldering iron

>hhhssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss<

Simon: You know what they say – send a thief... Now, to the stairwell....

Cut to... The landing of stairwell, half an hour later. At the top of the stairs we see a robot waiting patiently. At the bottom of the stairs we also see a robot waiting patiently.

Stephen: So which one’s which?

Simon: Good question. My plan had been just to look for the one WITHOUT the axe hole in the top – but it turns out they’ve both got them...

Stephen: That would be the advanced neural learning AI...

Simon: Another... design flaw?

Stephen: Well, everyone sees with 20/20 hindsight....

Simon: Oooh look, the top one’s moving...

T O B E C O N T I N U E D. . .

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