Pilots, part 7

We thought the explosion of applications for switching on earth was hard to keep up with. Once we got into space, things went even more Wild West on us. Understand: the launch cost of a satellite used to be millions of dollars for anything bigger than a shoebox. After Switch Orbital started commercial flights, the price dropped overnight to roughly the cost of a ticket to New York from Los Angeles. The result was an explosion in the number of satellites, from just a few hundred to hundreds of thousands in the course of just a few years. Collisions became a real problem, especially in popular orbits like geosynchronous. After the Hubble 2 was trashed by that stupid Italian company's media broadcast satellite, governments got together and laid down the law -- after a brief pause to invent the law. Now the Orbital Traffic Authority will forcibly de-orbit any unauthorized satellite, especially if it's anywhere close to the major commercial orbits. But by that point who cared about the satellites? The Indians...
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Pilots, part 8

This is the final installment of Pilots. Hope you enjoyed it! If you are by any chance some sort of masochist and would like to read more things I've written, I recommend Code, a play I wrote five years ago. And not just him. Him, the boat, the switch lake, half of the neighbouring switch lake, the monitoring station, that idiot tech, a goodly-sized chunk of mountain were sent instantly into geosynchronous orbit. He's sitting there, in fucking outer space, feeling the atmosphere whip away at hurricane speeds, the lake rapidly freezing. He looks up and sees the earth above him, that big blue globe. He works out where he is. No more than ten seconds have gone by. And he switches back. He puts the lakes -- what's left of them -- the mountain, the fucking idiot tech, everything right back, perfectly. The tech suffered a mild head wound from being thrown against the wall by the outrushing atmosphere, but he was fine. Nobody had been hurt, although the ice and atmosphere he lost did very expensive damage to...
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Web companies are user interface companies

Since Intuit acquired Mint earlier this week, there's been a lot of coverage of Mint.com, and since it came to the attention of the general tech community that their core service of account aggregation is actually a wrapper to Yodlee, there's been a lot of dismissive coverage to the effect that a $170m exit is pretty good going for just "a marketing company". This seems terribly unfair. Mint are not a marketing company. They might not even be a technology company. What they are is a user interface company. And, probably, so are you. Firstly, they're definitely not a "marketing" company in the traditional sense of being driven by advertising -- their entire marketing budget is in the region of $50k. Of course, they did wonders with that money, making clever use of viral marketing and social media. But fundamentally, the reason their viral campaigns worked was because they had a useful service at the core. But are they a technology company? They didn't invent the account-aggregation technology they're using...
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