Citizens of the Imperium

Citizens of the Imperium (http://www.travellerrpg.com/CotI/Discuss/index.php)
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-   -   embracing retro 'puters (http://www.travellerrpg.com/CotI/Discuss/showthread.php?t=39323)

BwapTED August 14th, 2018 08:01 PM

embracing retro 'puters
 
I was looking through The Imperial Fringe.

Library searches on world info are measured in hours.

I've often argued that the computer tonnages aren't really that huge when one considers what a ship's computer has to do and all the shielding, cooling, redundant features, etc.

But let's back up.

Traveler computers are retro. Traveller info tech is retro. That's the baseline.

Why not just embrace that?

Libraries contain micro-books of the sort so common in sci fi of the early and mid 20th Century. Search engine? You mean the micronized card catalog?


Jump cassettes? Loads of cassettes!

TL 5-7 computers resemble computers from Babbage Engines through 1960s machines, but after that it gets funky.


This aint our future.

edit-

Looks as if I misread something in my skimming of that adventure. It's surveys, really, not library data searches.
Ooops!

ShawnDriscoll August 14th, 2018 08:56 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by BwapTED (Post 591026)
I was looking through The Imperial Fringe.

Library searches on world info are measured in hours.

I've often argued that the computer tonnages aren't really that huge when one considers what a ship's computer has to do and all the shielding, cooling, redundant features, etc.

But let's back up.

Traveler computers are retro. Traveller info tech is retro. That's the baseline.

Why not just embrace that?

Libraries contain micro-books of the sort so common in sci fi of the early and mid 20th Century. Search engine? You mean the micronized card catalog?


Jump cassettes? Loads of cassettes!

TL 5-7 computers resemble computers from Babbage Engines through 1960s machines, but after that it gets funky.


This aint our future.

I've always treated the Traveller Universe as an alternate future. I get more players starting games quickly that way, instead of playing Retcon the Universe at the table.

Ulsyus August 14th, 2018 11:08 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by BwapTED (Post 591026)
...
Library searches on world info are measured in hours.

...Traveler computers are retro. Traveller info tech is retro. That's the baseline.

Why not just embrace that?

Libraries contain micro-books of the sort so common in sci fi of the early and mid 20th Century. Search engine? You mean the micronized card catalog?


Jump cassettes? Loads of cassettes!

TL 5-7 computers resemble computers from Babbage Engines through 1960s machines, but after that it gets funky.

This aint our future.

Well, it was CT so what was included was internally consistent with other CT products. There's no reason it all couldn't be played using T5, which would provide a bit more scalability WRT technology.

If the PCs were in a TL6 or 7 system then perhaps the searches would take hours.

mike wightman August 15th, 2018 03:18 AM

I didn't have a problem with the size of CT computers back in the day and I still don't

A Traveller ship computer, even in CT, days if anything is too small not too big.

It is equivalent to today's supercomputers, not an I-pad.

What a model 1 can do:

run a nuclear fusion reactor (ever seen the size of the server rooms at CERN?)

run the environmental systems - this includes gravity and acceleration compensation

run the avionics, sensors, comms

control a maneuver drive

run or plot an n-body hyperdimensional transit

Now harden the thing so exposure to radiation in space isn't going to cause it to go belly up...

I see this argument a lot - mostly from people who think a desktop can do all this stuff. They can't. Our desktops also have one other advantage, the interwebs which is actually several millions tons of computer equipment (a local network can be smaller :)).

As to a library data search taking hours - there is a difference between Wikipedia and actual research. I would allow players to get a brief overview in a couple of minutes, but proper info takes longer.

whulorigan August 15th, 2018 06:04 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by mike wightman (Post 591058)
A Traveller ship computer, even in CT days if anything is too small not too big. It is equivalent to today's supercomputers, not an I-pad.

What a model 1 can do:
  • run a nuclear fusion reactor (ever seen the size of the server rooms at CERN?)
  • run the environmental systems - this includes gravity and acceleration compensation
  • run the avionics, sensors, comms
  • control a maneuver drive
  • run or plot an n-body hyperdimensional transit
Now harden the thing so exposure to radiation in space isn't going to cause it to go belly up.... . .

And, just to be clear, can do almost all of these things simultaneously. The CT Hand Computer was supposedly the equivalent of a Model/1, and it is TL11, not TL7-8, and is thus definitely much more powerful than an I-pad.

Plus, I like the interpretation (I believe Supplement Four on CotI has previously said it) that the size of the CT Ship's computer necessarily also includes the volume of the physical hardware of all of the ships electronics (Comms, Sensors, possibly back-up/redundant computer processors, etc - since CT has no design sequence for these obviously necessary but otherwise taken for granted pieces of shipboard equipment) which when things like antennae and detectors are considered, are not small devices.

The size of the ship's computer only starts to become an issue when you add in additional design elements to the standard design rules that detail the electronics systems separately.

RandyB August 15th, 2018 08:02 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by whulorigan (Post 591060)
And, just to be clear, can do almost all of these things simultaneously. The CT Hand Computer was supposedly the equivalent of a Model/1, and it is TL11, not TL7-8, and is thus definitely much more powerful than an I-pad.

Plus, I like the interpretation (I believe Supplement Four on CotI has previously said it) that the size of the CT Ship's computer necessarily also includes the volume of the physical hardware of all of the ships electronics (Comms, Sensors, possibly back-up/redundant computer processors, etc - since CT has no design sequence for these obviously necessary but otherwise taken for granted pieces of shipboard equipment) which when things like antennae and detectors are considered, are not small devices.

The size of the ship's computer only starts to become an issue when you add in additional design elements to the standard design rules that detail the electronics systems separately.

As with any of the games from that era, when you try to go beyond the level of abstraction presented and zoom in on greater detail, it stops "making sense". 'The fault lies not in the games, but in ourselves.'

BRJN August 15th, 2018 10:00 AM

The section in Interstellar Wars about Vilani computers (which are hard-wired for ONE task and not reprogrammable) would also help explain why the ship's computer is so much bulkier than your iPad.
One Vilani world is TL6. Despite being "technologically backwards" (and really do use building-sized central computers) they still could sustain the Cold War, equip James Bond, and create an Apollo Program from made-in-homeworld materials.

mike wightman August 15th, 2018 11:46 AM

I assume any Traveller TL7+ computer system to be as capable as what we have today.

Siri, Cortana, Alexa - they are all voice command interfaces. Imagine how smart they will be at TL8+

Now how big is a TL9 quantum computer needed to operate a jump drive?

I think the disconnect in Traveller computers is that the underlying technology and capability improves with TL - the size increase models this but we have the usual problem that the CT rules for building lower TL stuff at higher TLs are missing.


A TL15 model 1 computer is going to be very different to a TL 5 model 1 computer, IMHO the TL5 model 1 should be a lot bigger than 1t.

Enoki August 15th, 2018 12:25 PM

Well, it could be they have to be hardened for the use they'll see. That could mean a considerable increase in size to allow them to work in vibration, radiation, extremes of temperature, etc.

If a ship were to say lose its atmosphere and the temperature drop to near absolute zero, most commercial computers today would no longer work. That's one example.

whartung August 15th, 2018 02:00 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by BwapTED (Post 591026)
But let's back up.

Traveler computers are retro. Traveller info tech is retro. That's the baseline.

Why not just embrace that?

Because it's not Jules Verne, and it's not Steampunk.

We've seen where physics takes us as knowledge of electronics progresses. We've seen computability as a mathematical concept when made real in machine, both digital and analog.

Nothing we have today in terms of electronics and computing is revolutionary. Even the transistor wasn't revolutionary. It's all been incremental refinement over the years. There's no new physics here.

But saying we don't have computers, we have EtherCalculators, or whatever, that's as handwavium as the M-Drive.

Finally, the computers in Traveller, from a game play and mechanic perspective, are not that important. Space combat is space combat, whether the computer is one ton or 20..


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