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Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Perfect Virus principle #9: Native Implementation

As indicated in my post of Monday, 11/22/2010, I am extrapolating Jeff Walker's Principles for the Perfect Application into a discussion of The Perfect Virus. Since Jeff's monograph on the subject did not anticipate stealth or suicide mechanisms, any errors or lapses into stupidity are solely my additions and should not reflect poorly on what I consider to be the biggest single contribution to software application design since the invention of computers. And Jeff, thanks for giving me permission to do surgery on your baby.
THE PRINCIPLE OF NATIVE IMPLEMENTATION: The Perfect Virus fits underlying hardware and software as though exclusively written for them. This is not only an important goal as discussed in principle #4, Performance, but you will see how critical it is to principle #14, Stealth. And clearly, Native Implementation is exceptionally hard to achieve in an alien architecture (see principle #7, Black Box Portability).

At the top of my king-of-the-world cyberpunk hierarchy stands a California hardware/software wizard nicknamed BJ. I associated with him in two companies: (1) Data General and then (2) Synapse Computer. I remember Data General delivering a communications front end to Arizona State University's Univac 1108 mainframe. We needed to boot the Nova computer to load the assembler, and had no peripheral with which to do it. Enter BJ on his Harley-Davidson motorcycle, his stubby little fingers adorned with hose clamps instead of rings. And boy could those fingers move. He strode up to the DG computer and deftly entered the boot program in binary from the switches on the front panel. It took him about 60 seconds to input the 12 instructions necessary. That, my precious cyber privateer goombahs, is the epitome of Native Implementation (okay, pun intended).

Something about the cyberpunk personality has always intrigued me. BJ in particular. Back in the days of Synapse Computer, BJ had…well…some issues. In the photograph below, he managed to lay a racing slick across the cafeteria floor. Which gave him some ideas. So he took his Harley into the executive offices and laid a similar slick on the carpet in front of the president's office. But…

…being too valuable to fire, the executive committee decided that BJ had to pay for replacement carpet. They'd take it out of his pay. However, when the carpet guy showed up to do the job and found out the circumstances, he did the job free of charge. Turns out, he was a biker, too.

I made BJ the cyberpunk hero of my first novel, Destroying Angel. Naturally, I've taken pains to keep his identity secret (ergo, the blackout over his eyes). He is currently head of security for a major world bank. That he's kept the job for a few years testifies that they won't let him anywhere near the executive suites with his Harley. I'd have named BJ to my Cyber Privateer Fantasy League team, but he'd probably take a Louisville Slugger and kneecap my other team members just because of their egos. I might, however, give him is own solo Letter of Marque and Reprisal and put him in competition with my fantasy team. He'd probably be pretty good at looting bad guys' bank accounts.

In summary, if you want to engineer The Perfect Virus, you'd better make Native Implementation a key goal. And "going native" should have the same general effect on your enemies as BJ did on normal human executives.

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Implementation suggestions for THE MORGAN DOCTRINE are most welcome. What are the "Got'chas!"? What questions would some future Cyber Privateering Czar have to answer about this in a Senate confirmation hearing?