Aphelion Issue 234, Volume 22
November 2018
 
Editorial    
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I'm writing this from my i-Pad, sitting outside waiting for the charcoal to burn down in the grill. That's right, we are finally using the new patio for the first time! I'm quite excited about that! Spring has finally arrived in Georgia. The pollen count is already off the charts, but that is just life in the country for you. Never a dull moment.

There! The coals are ready, at last. I'll just put the burgers on and come back... Oh! These are some good-looking burgers. Bratwurst, too. Looks like I have a few minutes before I need to turn anything. Good...

Yesterday I was in the monthly chat for the Larry Niven e-mail list. Just before everything got started in the chat, someone congratulated me on completing the manuscript for the Mare Inebrium short story collection that I've been working so hard to finish. While I was explaining it to a few of the list members who didn't know about it, Larry himself came in and congratulated me! I was quite boosted by the experience, as you can imagine.

As the chat itself got underway, the group cast about for a topic that we hadn't already talked to death. D.J. Rout, Aphelion's newest Mare Inebrium author and fellow Niven List member, suggested a story idea that Larry got excited about. If you see the news of a new Draco Tavern story coming out, it might just be that very one. So keep a sharp eye out for that announcement next year. Don't ever let anyone tell you that Aphelion writers can't change the world! We can, and do, every day.

Indirectly, that very exchange gave me this topic for my editorial. Namely, chat rooms and why I am sad that they aren't as common as once they were. You see, back in the early 2000s, perhaps 2002 or so, someone thought it would be fun to crash every IRC chat server that they could gain access to, using what was known at the time as a "Bot Net." That is, some huge number of virus-infected computers that the villain had gained control over. This- person, shall we say, instructed their army of zombie computers to tie up every access point that the chat room users needed to join chat networks and talk with their online friends. The network servers became overloaded, everyone attempting to use the service was cut off from the net, and the unprincipled bugger behind the attack surely giggled themselves into a coma over the havoc that they had wrought. The owners of the chat servers attempted to wrest control of their computers back from the bot net, but by the time the good guys had regained control, almost all of their regular customers had given up in disgust at being unable to use what they had been so frequently used to availing themselves thereof. In short, people gave up on chat because they were having so much trouble connecting to a service that had been freely available before. These hackers killed chat, for a great huge number of ordinary people. Oh, some people attempted to move to networks that were better protected from attacks. Others tried to rebuild the channels of communication that the hackers had compromised. To no avail. Most chat users had gone on to other things like Private Messaging, and Flash-based chat applets, and smaller, privately-owned chat server networks. The damage had been done. Chat, as we frequent users knew it at the time, had joined the Dodo and the Passenger Pigeon in extinction. Which was a very dark day, indeed. Aphelion was itself affected, since there were several of us who frequented the networks that had suffered.

But we eventually found a way to continue communicating with one another in groups. We adapted, we survived, and eventually we regrew our lost circles of friends. Some friends we never did find again, but we did try. And all our suffering was caused by some bozo, or group of like-minded bozos who thought that it would give them some sort of "coolness factor" to mess with the rest of the online community. Sad, really. I sometimes wonder how nasty their lives must have been for disrupting world-wide communications to have looked like a fun thing to do.

Time and technology do keep marching on. Every new cyber-threat is eventually met with a deterrent. But how many stories never got written because the putative writers never got to brainstorm their ideas with their online friends? What new adventures of new heroes never came to be because of some hackers deciding to crash the chat networks? The world will never know, and that makes me sad. I wanted to read those stories! Now, I won't get the chance.

Dan



BOILERPLATE:

First off, if you do the Facebook thing, feel free to join us on the Aphelion page there. The link is Aphelion Webzine. As an aside, the Editorial Mafia and I have found Facebook to be useful while we transition between e-mailing lists. Given our different locations and schedules, it's come in handy as a way to discuss production details of new issues. Sometimes there are several of us using Facebook at the same time, so it's almost like the old chat room days.

Dan's Music Page This is my promo page here at Aphelion. All the links below, and more information about the albums, are located here.

The Never Bank On A Learning Curve CD on the Create Space website. My first album, with a wide range of styles and genres, covering the past three years of my working with the MAGIX Music Maker programs.

The Second Helping CD on the Create Space website. My second album, with just as wide a range of different musical styles, showing just how much I've learned in the past three years.

Dan's Studio-D Page on the Bandcamp website. Digital downloads of the albums, or each individual song if you prefer it that way. Just click on the album cover thumbnails and you'll see a list of each song on the album. Next to the song titles are links to read the liner notes, or to download the individual song. You can listen to each song for free. There is also a link to download each entire album at one go. I cannot say enough about Bandcamp! This is an amazing website. I have Rob, and many other friends, to thank for finally talking me into checking it out.

Here are some links to pages I have up promoting my music. When my book comes out I'll add those links to the promotion page, too. So far, there are links on that page to the Create Space Preview songs, the Create Space page for each album, the Amazon.com listings, and the link to the digital downloads page.

And here's a link to my Sound Cloud page:

Dan's Sound Cloud Page where all my music has been stored for your free listening pleasure. These are not as high a quality recordings as the ones on the CDs or on Bandcamp. But SoundCloud does have the virtue of having everything collected together in one place.

Check those links out, buy a CD or download if you like what you hear. And once again, thank you for your time,

Dan all my music has been stored for your free listening pleasure. These are not as high a quality recordings as the ones on the CDs or on Bandcamp. But SoundCloud does have the virtue of having everything collected together in one place.

Check those links out, buy a CD or download if you like what you hear. And once again, thank you for your time,

Dan


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ON THE COVER

Title: Heavyweight Stars Light Up Nebula NGC 6357
Photo Credit: NASA, ESA, and J. Maíz Apellániz (Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía, Spain) STScI