Monthly Archives: January 2015

Personal Drones: A Clear and Present Danger?

This has little to do with writing, and more to do with human nature. I also find myself conflicted by my love of toys and fear of the misuse of technology.

I’ve gotten into flying remote control drones with video cameras on them. Example of one of my videos:

They are extremely fun to fly, and then you have the added bonus of being able to relive the adventure over and over again from the point of view of the drone’s camera.

Bear in mind I’m flying toys, not professional drones. But even as I was first flying them, and watching videos of the big professional models (some of which can carry many pounds of payload) it crossed my mind how easily it would be to weaponize these.

Then yesterday I was reading about how the Secret Service was freaked out because they found one on the White House grounds.

As I was telling some friends the other day, it’s only a matter of time before these are either going to be severely restricted or outlawed altogether. While I don’t really want it to happen, I feel it needs to happen. You can easily buy a drone that can be remotely piloted, or even have a course automatically set, and it can fly for miles — and carry pounds of anything, anywhere.

Explosives? Nerve gas? Biological agents?

Yes. All of the above. Easily.

Think you can protect yourself by jamming the remote control signal? Think again. They can be programmed with a destination and then guide itself there with onboard GPS. For the price of a good camera, you can have your own personal guided weapon.

Friends urged me to not say anything about this, as it will give bad people bad ideas — but I’m sorry, the bad people already have the bad ideas, and that’s why I must unhappily urge that these fun, awesome devices be locked down and regulated. Because if you don’t do it now, something bad will happen, and then they’ll be locked down and regulated anyway.

Doing it now will save lives, because I guarantee you deranged minds are already plotting evil.

This is not something I want to be able to point to and say, “I told you so.”

Still doubt it? Check out how far this readily available drone flew, and think what could have happened if the remote pilot was a terrorist:

 

Do you want to be a writer?

This goes out to anyone who dreams of being a writer, and especially to those tortured souls doing NaNoWriMo each November.

Follow the Great Nike Way: Just do it.

If you write something, even if it’s unpubished or unpublishable, you are still writing. That’s what writers primarily do. They write.

If you are writing, and you say you are a writer, then you are a writer. You don’t need a permit, or certificate, or a degree that states you are a writer. You don’t need anyone’s approval — in fact I would hazard to say the more disapproval you get from others, the more legitimate your claim. You are a writer because you say you are a writer, and you actively write things.

If you want to be a writer, then just start writing. Anything. It doesn’t have to be good. It doesn’t even have to make sense. It could be fanfiction — it doesn’t matter.

That’s what the yearly NaNoWriMo craziness is especially useful for: jumpstarting your lifelong love/hate relationship with writing things.

If I never audaciously made the claim, to just about everyone’s amusement and scorn, that I am a writer, I would never have been published, and I wouldn’t be making my living right now as a working writer. It’s not my title, but it’s a big part of what I do, and I wouldn’t be able to do it if I were not, in fact, a writer.

But even if I wasn’t earning my keep as a writer, I would still say I’m a writer because that’s what I am.

It’s a chicken and egg thing. One of the two has to have come first, otherwise there would not be any chickens. You will not become a writer until you decide you are one. Once you decide you are one, start typing words. And then make the commitment and tell someone, “I’m a writer.”

Expect people to guffaw. “Really? Are you published?”

That’s usually when your face turns red. But guess what? It matters not. If you keep writing you will be published. And, an unpublished writer is still a writer. Publishing, especially in this day and age, is inevitable, because you now have a number of options, only one of which is traditional publishing. Your goals should only be two-fold at this point:

    1. Start writing and keep writing.
    2. Do everything you can to keep learning how to make your writing ever more enjoyable for your reader.

Notice I didn’t say anything about making your writing better. “Better” is extremely subjective. No matter what you do, someone will hate your writing. Accept it. Shrug it off. It’s true in everything in this weird thing we call “life.” You can never please everyone. Someone will always look down their nose at you.

You goal cannot be to please everyone otherwise you are guaranteeing failure. Your goal is to find and cultivate a core group of people who “get” your writing, and make it ever more enjoyable for them to read you.

I’ll cover that, and lots of other stuff, in future blogs … so stay tuned!

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Further reading: