New York City Travel Guide pg 9 12 March 2013 Vol.1, No.7
EUS Elections 2013-2014
I d e t o V
Blackberry 10: Too late for a comeback?
The Twisted Tale of Copyright pg 10
+ SIM Locking pg 12 + Resistance pt 3 pg 13
| The Plumber’s Ledger
editor: Brigid Cami
cover design and logo:
Frédérick Chagnon Marc Chelala Christopher Ho
from the editor: In the spirit of the recent Oscars, Abraham Lincoln once said “it is the people’s business — the election is in their hands. If they turn their backs to the fire and get scorched in the rear, they’ll find they have got to sit on the blister.” Candidate information for the EUS 2013-2014 elections can be found on page 8. As for the rest of it:
Alessia Rocha Erika Timoshenko Malavika Subramanian
Kieran Mak Erika Timoshenko Wikimedia Commons
Alex Foty Justin Turcotte
advising: David Bailey
The Plumber’s Ledger is a publication of the Engineering Undergraduate Society of McGill University. The views expressed are solely the opinions of the authors and do not necessarilly represent the position of the eus. For questions, comments, and complaints, as well as more information on the policies of The Plumber’s Ledger, please use the contact information below. Use this contact information also if you have an interest in contributing content to The Plumber’s Ledger on a onetime or regular basis.
The Plumber’s Ledger
We’re hosting Blues Pub!
email@example.com Vol. 1, No. 7 12 March 2013
ISSN 2291-3319 (Print)
ISSN 2291-3327 (Online)
Brigid Cami, Editor
2013 March 12
Vol.1 No.7 |
in this issue: Letter from the Editor....................................................................................................................2 BlackBerry 10: Too Late for a Comeback?.................................................................................4 Sweet Potato and Caramelized Onion Quiche......................................................................6 New York, New York.........................................................................................................................7 EUS Elections 2013-2014..............................................................................................................8 The Twisted Tale of Copyright: How Creativity Became a Commodity...........................10 SIM Locking: Who Really Owns Your Cellphone?..............................................................12 RESISTANCE Part. III.....................................................................................................................13 3 AM Smurf by Justin Turcotte.................................................................................................16
View it in glorious technicolor at www.facebook.com/theplumbersledger 12 March 2013
| The Plumberâ€™s Ledger
2013 March 12
Vol.1 No.7 |
BlackBerry 10: too late for a comeback? ON JANUARY 30TH, RESEARCH IN MOTION (RIM), officially renamed BlackBerry, finally launched its latest BlackBerry OS 10, along with its first flagship device, the Z10. BB10 comes after a year of delays and is the company’s first phone OS running on the QNX architecture. It has been designed from the ground up and is a touchscreen device, unlike the previous versions of the BlackBerry OS. With this new release, BlackBerry hopes to regain the market share it has lost over the past few years and reassert its position in the mobile industry. With the Z10, BlackBerry has gone with a no-button design, like Google’s most recent Nexus phones. However, unlike the Nexus, which has a bar at the bottom containing the softkeys, BlackBerry has decided to rely on gestures to perform system-wide actions. In fact, the bottom edge of the screen is touch-sensitive, and swiping up from there can minimize the running application and display the notifications. You can also wake up the screen with a simple swipe, no buttons required. The unified notification center 12 March 2013
is accessible at all times with a swipe to the left, and integrates alerts from various sources and applications (call logs, messages, twitter, email accounts, etc.). The various gestures thus involve a bit of a learning curve, but they contribute in making the experience a whole lot smoother. BlackBerry has also worked a lot on making its new device suitable for both work and personal life. Thanks to BlackBerry Balance, users can seamlessly switch from the personal space to the workspace, allowing enterprises to enforce their security settings on the “work device” without affecting the “personal side” of the phone. To make up for the lack of apps at launch, BlackBerry has developed a tool to easily port Android applications over to the QNX architecture. Although this move allows for the platform to have many of the most popular apps, such as Skype and Instagram, on a new platform, these apps still seem out of place seeing as they don’t agree with BB10’s design and gesture language.
Other notable features include a new version of BlackBerry messenger with voice and video support, a predictive keyboard that suggests words depending on your messaging history, voice recognition/control, and BlackBerry Protect. To conclude, BlackBerry 10 today is much like Windows Phone 7 back in 2010. It is a solid operating system with many desirable features, but still lacking compared to more established operating systems (read iOS and Android). It is a large step forward compared to BlackBerry 7, which wasn’t designed for touch and was falling behind in terms of innovation and features. For those still yearning for a hardware keyboard, the BlackBerry Q10, expected to launch in the coming month, will combine BlackBerry’s renowned keyboard with its new touch-centric OS. However, just like Windows Phone, the fact that BlackBerry 10 came in so late will definitely slow down adoption. The question that remains is: will BlackBerry 10 save the company from bankruptcy, or is it simply a parachute in BlackBerry’s free fall? • 5
| The Plumber’s Ledger
Sweet Potato and Caramelized Onion Quiche ERIKA TIMOSHENKO HAVE YOU EVER WANTED TO MAKE A QUICHE or a pie completely from scratch, yet always been afraid to mess up the crust? Well this recipe is guaranteed to succeed, no matter what your experience is. It’s simple, it’s fast, and the recipe makes four crusts, so you can freeze the ones you are not using for later. Also, if the 40% cream daunts you, it really does yield the tastiest results!
ingredients 4 cups flour 1 tbsp sugar 1 tbsp salt 2 cups butter, melted 1 tbsp vinegar 1 cup water 1 egg 1 tbsp oil 1 large onion (white, brown), finely chopped 2 tsp brown sugar 2 large sweet potatoes ¾ cup heavy cream (I used 40%) 3 eggs, whisked 2 tbsp finely shredded basil (fresh or dry) salt and pepper to taste a quiche tin
PHO TO | E
1. Mix together flour, sugar, salt, and butter. 2. In another bowl, mix water, egg, and vinegar. 3. Mix the two together, roll out into four balls, and wrap and freeze the ones you are not using for later. That’s it!
1. Preheat oven to 200C. 2. Heat the oil in a saucepan on medium heat. Toss in the onion and cook it until soft, stirring it occasionally. Add the sugar, and continue cooking it for another 2 minutes, or until the onion caramelizes (it will turn a dark brown, and will be more translucent). 3. At the same time, peel and chop the sweet potato into large chunks. Cook it in a saucepan until it is soft. Drain well (you can let it sit in a colander while you cook the onion). 4. Roll out the dough into a flat circle, and line the quiche tin with it, ensuring that it is evenly distributed. Trim off any excess. Note that it will shrink a bit when cooked. 5. Bake the dough in the oven for 20 minutes, until it is a light brown colour. This will dry it out, which will avoid finishing with a soggy quiche. Remove from oven. 6. Lower heat to 180C. 7. Cover the base with the caramelized onions, spreading them out evenly. Then top with the sweet potatoes. 8. Whisk together cream, egg, basil, salt, and pepper. Pour into the pastry base. 9. Bake the quiche in the oven for 40-45 minutes, or until it has set. It should not be hard, but there will not be any flowing liquid. Enjoy! •
Quiche: • • • • • • • • •
Crust: • • • • • • •
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NEW YORK, NEW YORK PLANNING ON GOING TO NEW YORK City this Easter? Here are some ideas to help you during your trip!
the hotel If you are looking for an affordable and well located hotel I have two recommendations. The first is the Carter Hotel: it is very cheap (cost: from approx. 80 dollars per night) and what is great about it is the location. The hotel is near Times Square, which means it is near many other touristic places like the Madame Tussauds wax museum and Broadway. The second affordable option is the Pennsylvania Hotel which is rather old but has a great location as well. If you are planning on visiting the traditional touristic places, being close to Times Square is essential since everything is walking distance from there. Also, I would advise you not to worry much about the quality of the hotel because there is so much to see in the city, at any time of the day (or night), that you will probably not even be in the hotel.
the sights On your visit to New York you might notice that there are a lot of people giving out flyers in the streets. Some of these flyers are actually useful and include discounts for tours or museums such as the Madame Tussauds (cost: approx. 35 dollars) which you don’t want to miss. The wax celebrities are absolutely amazing and the museum also includes a 4D experience of the Marvel superheroes. Also near Times Square you might want to visit the stores nearby such as M&M World, Hershey’s, and Toys R Us. If you haven’t been there yet, you do not want to miss the Statue of Liberty. To get there you have to take the train (do not forget to visit the Grand Central 12 March 2013
Station!) and then you have to buy a ferry ticket (cost: 17 dollars). This ferry has two stops: the first is on Liberty Island and the second on Ellis Island, home to the Immigration Museum. Liberty Island only has the Statue of Liberty, and although in the past it was possible to go up the statue, it is not permitted anymore. So if you want to save time, I recommend staying on the ferry and taking pictures from there. Moreover, there is another FREE ferry in Manhattan that takes you to Staten Island and Ellis Island, too. This one does not stop on Liberty Island but you can still see the statue from the ferry.
the entertainment Another good option during your visit to NYC is going to a Broadway show. It is not the cheapest activity but it is certainly worth it. From my experience, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark is very entertaining. The excellent singing, amazing acrobatics, and special effects come together to make this show a fantastic experience for people of every age.
the food Finally, a good and well-known restaurant is Bubba Gump. It is located on Times Square and on top of the great food you can buy Forrest Gump souvenirs. Alternatively, a good recommendation if you are going on a short and low-budget trip to New York is trying the hot dogs sold on the streets. They are a good, cheap, and fast meal you can find anywhere around the city, making it a very convenient to-go lunch. Additionally, if you want to make it a more complete meal you can also find street stands that sell fruit shakes and you can even order them with protein powder. New York City has many places to visit so you do not want to waste any time! •
PHOTO | Kieran Mak
Vice-President Clubs & Administration
2013 March 12
Mohamed Mostafa | Having managed the TeN committee for a year and in overseeing its continued development I’ve become well acquainted with the portfolio of VP Comm, the EUS and it’s IT in-
Zachary Moreland | Hello everyone! My name is Zac Moreland, and I’m running for EUS President. It’s not uncommon for people to look back on their years at university as some of the best years of their lives. The things that we learn, inside and outside the classroom, as well as the experiences we have and the relationships we build, will stick with us for life. For me, all of these experiences can be summed up by one acronym: EUS. I’m currently in my fourth year of university, and I have been involved since the start. I held the roles of Director of Communications and VP Finance while at the University of Victoria, and I am currently the VP Finance here at McGill. I’ve learned SO much over these years, and surprisingly little of it was from the classroom. I’ve had experience in management, event planning, budgeting, publishing/editing, legal stuff (that’s the technical term, I swear), image processing, comedy, politics, the list goes on. Almost all of this, I’ve learned through my involvement in the EUS, and I intend to continue being involved for the next two years, to learn more, and to pass on whatever lessons I’ve learned to the next generation of student leaders. The EUS has some important issues to address next year. I will now explain a few of these, and my plans moving forward. As great of a school as McGill is, we pale in comparison to other engineering schools when it comes to branding and swag. Next year, we will be focusing a lot harder on selling and promoting EUS/McGill Engineering items, such as branded clothing and cups. We hope that we can start a tradition around one or more items, and that students in Engineering at McGill can wear/use them with pride, and show off our school spirit on and off campus. As I’m sure many of you are aware, a large issue that we will be seeking to remedy next year is the blues pub capacity issue. I plan to meet extensively with the fire prevention office to search for ways to increase our capacity; however, we may need to accept this as implausible. A more reasonably solution may be to seek out other venues, such as the SSMU ballroom. As a trial run next year, I want try substituting one or two blues pubs for a “Pubnite,” in the ballroom, or having them in addition to the regular blues pubs. This in itself has many flaws, but we will never know if it will work unless we try. Since Pubnite has potential to run a monetary loss, the EUS would be running the event, rather than a department (for the trial runs at least). This description is getting a little bit long, so I’ll stop here. If you have any questions about anything that I’ve said, or about other plans that I have for next year, please do not hesitate to contact me at vpfinance@ mcgilleus.ca, or come see me in person in the EUS office, McConnell room 7. Also, don’t forget to come to the candidate debates on Tuesday at 5pm!
Luis Pombo | Hailing from Caracas, Venezuela, I am a second year Software Engineering student pursuing a minor in Economics and I aspire to become the Vice-President Communications of the Engineering Undergraduate Society. Over the last year I have been involved in a myriad of activities both within EUS and the broader McGill community. I have played intramural soccer and basketball, led the foundation of a SSMU club, gotten involved with the Bull & Bear, refereed EUS soccer matches, served as VP Communications of the Spanish & Latin American Students’ Association, and most importantly, I have done all this while taking six courses during both the fall and winter semesters. I am not someone who simply survives demanding environments, I embrace them and use them to fuel my drive to
Eric Keuper | Hey everyone, first off thanks for taking the time to read this. I am very excited to be running for the position of VP Internal in the EUS for the 2013-’14 academic year. I had a very rewarding experience this year organizing O-Week and EWeek with two wonderful committees. This also gave me the opportunity to work with the current VP Internal and see exactly what it takes to produce the events put on by the EUS; providing fun, well deserved breaks from school. As VP Internal I would look to build on the events of this year by continuing to involve other faculties in our productions within the McGill community as whole (for example frosh events with other faculties), while maintaining the identity and spirit of Engineering we know and love. Your support would mean a lot to me, and with it I believe we can make next year the best yet. Thanks, Eric
Lianna Yang | My name is Lianna Yang and I’m running for VP Clubs and Administration. I am a good choice for this position because I am familiar with organizing large events and liaising with the EUS. I was a co-chair for TechWeek 2013 and am currently the chair of the U0 Engineering Council. Currently, the clubs and design teams are disconnected from the EUS Council. This is an issue because these groups represent a significant portion of the engineering student body that is not getting a voice on the EUS Council. I plan to use the position of VP Clubs and Administration to help integrate clubs and design teams into the EUS more fully. You can reach Lianna at firstname.lastname@example.org
EUS Elections 2013-2014 | The Plumber’s Ledger
12 March 2013
Bryan Gingras | Hello everyone! My name is Bryan Gingras, and I am running for VP-External of the EUS. This means representing McGill Engineering students to all organizations outside the University, whether they be companies in the engineering industry, other engineering schools, or the confederations which regroup all engineering students in Quebec or Canada. Since the beginning of the school year, I have been working as the VP-External of ECSESS. As part of my mandate, I was the chief organizer of last year’s Code Jam @ McGill, an annual 48-hour programming competition where students develop solutions to real-life problems. The Code Jam’s latest edition drew a recordbreaking attendance of 129 students. Part of my job required finding sponsors for the event. I was able to recruit five sponsors from the engineering industry, whose contributions totalled $6500. More recently, I organized a two-day field trip to Ottawa, where students had the opportunity to meet with representatives from potential employers, give their resumes and take a tour of their facilities. I was able to reach out to six companies in the Ottawa region, and to work with them to organize the whole trip. As VP-External of the EUS, I will strive to ensure that McGill is better represented on the provincial and national levels. I will do everything I can so that McGill has a stronger representation in the Quebec Confederation of Engineering Student Outreach, as well as the Canadian Federation of Engineering Students. These organizations represent all Engineering students in Quebec and Canada, and it’s time we had our voices heard. Furthermore, I will make it a point to send a stronger delegation to the Quebec Engineering Competition. As VP-External of the EUS, I will update the format of the McGill Engineering Competition to make it more representative of QEC. I will do what I can to ensure that who we send to QEC for categories like Debates are well-equipped to handle the language barrier that exists between McGill and the other Engineering schools in Quebec. I’ll also bid for McGill to host the next edition of QEC, and if I’m successful, I’ll make sure we have translators available for these language-heavy categories. Last but not least, I will expand on new and current initiatives here at McGill. This year, we saw a new committee see the light of day: the Engineering Tournament Committee. As VP-External, I’ll make sure new initiatives like ETC are maintained and given everything they need to grow, so that they may offer interesting events to students throughout the whole academic year. Furthermore, with my experience in ECSESS, I’m well-equipped to bring more sponsors and more money into MEC, and further establish it as one of this Faculty’s landmark events. You can read Bryan at email@example.com
frastructure. As a U4 ECSE I have the expertise to manage this technically demanding portfolio; hiring the most viable candidates to lead its committees and providing the necessary assistance whilst pushing for improved EUS web presence and brand recognition. Vice-President Ensure work of outgoing IT director is continued and completed during my term, miniCommunications mizing disruptions to the operation of the society. Recruit a qualified IT director for at least a two year term and oversee a smooth knowledge transfer. Work with outgoing director to document existing IT infrastructure Taking on younger students keen on learning by involving them and providing guidance as needed. Improve online availability and accessibility of EUS content online. Better involve other executives and committees in publishing. Add some weight to EUS social media presence with higher more consistent throughput across all channels. Drive for better brand recognition of EUS, fostering the pride and comradery we lack in the face of other schools and departments. Work with the existing brand committee Develop the photo-rep positions, ensure their presence and enhance visibility of their work: both online and in the forthcoming yearbook. Maintain the momentum the publications comitee has garnered over the past year Evaluate troublesome publications Where the intersts of the managers of the comittees may overlap, I will endeavour to facillitate between them. You can reach Mohamed at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sandra Buchen | Fellow engineering undergraduates, I am running for VP external in the hopes of improving Mcgill’s relationship with other engineering schools and to represent our school at competitions/events to the best of my abilities. The skills that will help me most are: • Being a hard worker and determined to finish what I start • Speaking French, as not every school representative speaks English • My personality and professionalism I participate in many events (Engineering Games, FROSH, E-Week and parties organized by other engineering school) and have had multiple leadership trainings. I am a very social person and could easily communicate my ideas to McGill students as well as members of other schools. I have witnessed how these events work and therefore I know the importance of good organization and the power of sponsors. My goal is to not only make these events better but to also involve more students. I believe I have a natural leadership talent that will enable me to succeed in this position. Thank you for your consideration. Vote for Sandra Buchen!
succeed, which is why I have decided to run for the position. I believe the job Jason has done this year has been phenomenal, the website boasts a great interface, and the EUS publications are of equally great quality. Yet, there is room for improvement. The Faucet and the Ledger have the potential of appealing to a broader audience, which is exactly what I plan on working on. In addition to this, I vow to make the EUS a more transparent organization by using the newly refurbished website to host more information on what the EUS does by publishing the minutes of every EUS Council meeting, much like the SSMU already does, as well as the information that appears on each edition of the pipeline. If you want publications to be proud of and transparency, a vote for Luis Pombo is a vote in the right direction! You can read Luis at email@example.com
Vol.1 No.7 |
| The Plumberâ€™s Ledger
Note: The above are public domain images of The Simpsons. 10
2013 March 12
Vol.1 No.7 |
The Twisted Tale of Copyright: HOW CREATIVITY BECAME A COMMODITY
(This is a response to last issue’s article on copyright. Whilst I agree with some of the points the author made, I wanted to delve a little deeper and attempt to shed light on some often forgotten aspects of the complex legal mess that is copyright law.) In popular discussions on copyright, one often tends to lose sight of the original purpose of this legal apparatus. The official mission of the US Copyright Office is “to promote creativity by administering and sustaining an effective national copyright system,” or in other words, the fundamental goal of copyright law was to act as an incentive for artists to continue producing their work – to encourage creativity and to promote artistic endeavours as a feasible means of making a living. This is exactly what copyright law is not today. One would assume that any discussion of an artist’s rights over his/her piece of work would take place directly between the artist and the consumer. However, the artists, when signing to a record label or getting funds from a production company also agree to hand over the responsibility of making legal decisions to these big corporations. For instance, let’s take the example of Jon Else, who, in 1999 wanted to include a scene in his documentary where a group of people were watching The Simpsons. Whilst Matt Groening, the creator, gave Else permission to use the footage, Fox Network, 12 March 2013
who was authorised to have the final word, commanded a cool $10,000 . . . for four seconds of footage. Else managed to bring it down to $7000 but eventually gave up and replaced it with footage of a film that happened to be in the public domain due to lack of funds. This incident is just one of countless horror stories but highlights precisely where the system is failing. What started off as a means for artists to make a living is now a means for corporations to go to exploitative extents in order to squeeze every last penny from every avenue. Another example of copyright gone awfully awry is the fact that Martin Luther King Jr’s iconic “I Have a Dream” speech was copyrighted by the King Estate (the rights to which were later bought by the EMI music company). That is, it is illegal to watch the speech in its entirety through any other source than a $20 DVD. Moreover, if a television channel or a film-maker wanted to use excerpts of the footage they would have to dispense exorbitant amounts of money purchasing often time-bound licenses. This is a strange case of history itself being copyrighted and a sure sign that the system is in dire need of an overhaul. This is where an innovative, collaborative, and more flexible tool such as Creative Commons can come in. The nonprofit organization based in California has developed a range of licenses that work within the paradigm of copyright
but allow for a more open and natural sharing process. The fundamental conditions of the license allow redistribution of a piece of work as long as the original creator is attributed and as long as this redistribution is not for commercial purposes. More importantly, the creator and only the creator can decide when to waive these rights and when to enforce them, allowing for no outside intervention. Giants of the internet such as Wikipedia use Creative Commons licenses and it is becoming an increasingly popular solution in fields ranging from academia to media. Whereas it could be argued that embracing a ‘commons’ based approach is unrealistic, uneconomic, goes against the artist, and is decidedly hippy, it might be useful to remember that even the great Benjamin Franklin himself chose not to patent any of his inventions recognising that future generations could and would improve upon them. The key is that information and knowledge are not excludable ‘properties.’ Any piece of work draws inspiration from its predecessors, builds upon existing foundations, and therefore evolves its field. Copyright in its present restrictive form definitely does not allow for evolution or innovation of that kind. (Side note: Good luck to the editor in trying to find a fun image in the public domain to complement this article. I’d suggest the Simpsons but I’m not sure the EUS has that kind of money.) • 11
| The Plumber’s Ledger CHRIS HO
SIM Locking: WHO REALLY OWNS YOUR CELLPHONE? MODERN PHONES AND HANDSETS ARE AMAZING PIECES OF TECHNOLOGY. Right now they are dominating the market. Most cell phones in Canada and the United States are bought through carriers and are paired with a contract in order to subsidize the cost and make them more affordable. The phone you bought is now yours, but in a sense, it’s not. You own the phone, are responsible for taking care of it and protecting it, but you cannot use this phone however you want. You want to sell your phone? It is going to be undervalued and difficult to sell. You want to switch carriers? Tough luck, it won’t work. You should be able to do whatever you want with it – I mean, you own it right? This issue arises from the practice of SIM-locking. To make your phone truly yours, and to be able to use it however you please, you need to unlock it. If you are in Canada, the worst case scenario is that it will cost you some money. If you are a reader from the States, it may even be illegal. SIM-Locking is a capability built into modern cell phones that restricts their use to certain network providers. Most mobile phones are locked in this manner because they are offered at a discount or subsidized price along with a contract requiring use for a certain amount of time with the carrier. This allows the carrier to recoup the cost of the discount within the duration of the contract. If you try to put a SIM card from another carrier in, it will tell you that it is unauthorized and you won’t be able to use it. Unlocking your phone 12
has many benefits, and is usually a very simple process. To unlock your phone, you enter a code that you receive from the network provider, usually based on the IMEI code or MCC code of your phone. Your phone does not change and it doesn’t cancel your service with your current provider. All it means is that the phone is now entirely yours, meaning you can use it with any other national carrier, use it with a pre-paid SIM overseas while travelling, or sell it at full value. You can do whatever you want with it now – it’s yours. While unlocking a cell phone is easy, the regulations and legality of the process has recently changed. In Canada, Bill C-32 ensured that unlocking your cell phone remained legal. Other than that, it did not do much. Bill C-560 would have introduced a measure that would ensure your cell-phone is unlocked at the end of a contract, but it failed to pass. That being said, most carriers will unlock your phone for a fee (ranging from $10-$75), or you can get third parties to unlock your phone. If you are a reader from the US, things have changed immensely. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) makes it illegal to unlock your phone. It is illegal for you to use your own property the way you
want. The worst part is that the DMCA was meant for copyright law, not contract law. This act was used to prevent the copying of music and movies that were sold online, and wasn’t even supposed to be applied to phones (it’s from 1998). The most you can do is go to the carrier and hope they will unlock your phone without charging you an arm and a leg. Currently, there are petitions circulating to make unlocking your phone legal again. • 2013 March 12
Vol.1 No.7 |
RESISTANCE Part III
In the previous issue, after discovering a way to create wormholes for interstellar travel, the crew of the Resistance discovered that the mysterious unidentified object they were racing to discover was nothing short of a gigantic spaceship. Now they must deal with this astonishing discovery.
“WHAT DO YOU MEAN, IT’S A SHIP?” Roy and Sheranne had a hard time comprehending what Nikola said. “Look at it! There are no meteor craters, it’s shiny, and the scans show it’s made primarily out of aluminum. There aren’t many giant spheres of aluminum floating around. And the sensors indicate that its mass is lower than it should be for a full sphere.” “It’s incredible!” Roy continued. “The closest thing I ever saw to that is the Death Star!” “Hopefully, it won’t destroy us with a giant laser beam,” Sheranne replied, humourless. “How soon will we get close enough to land?” “In about 6 hours, Roy,” Sheranne answered. The next few hours were the longest of the trip. They could see with their own eyes their objective, yet it was still some hundreds of kilometers away. On the viewing screen, the ship appeared bigger with each passing moment until it occupied the view completely. They did a few orbits to determine where to land. Their previous assessment that the ship had been spared by the meteor was inaccurate. The surface was filled with small rocks encased in 12 March 2013
the hull, but none had penetrated completely. Since the surface was solid, there was dust to be moved around upon collision, as was the case with the rest of the natural celestial objects. They also realized that the surface wasn’t exactly flat. Meteors aside, the surface was regularly punctured by antennas and satellite dishes. The alien ship was so massive that it had its own gravitational pull, the result of which was a myriad of space debris floating around which made navigation quite difficult. As they were about to land, though they had no clue what they were looking at, an object came flying out the other ship. “What was that?” shouted Roy. “They are shooting at us!” Sheranne looked a bit longer at the hull and replied: “I don’t think so . . . Look, others have gone out as well. They’ve all landed back on the hull. It looks as if they are repairing it.” All three of them looked down at the mysterious object that was moving around on the hull. It was a small robot rolling over the surface. Every time it encountered a defect, small arms sprouted out and quickly and efficiently made the repair. As the engineering expert of the group, Nikola was widely impressed. “Wow, the ship is self-sustaining! I’m pretty sure
those cleansings occur at regular intervals to keep the ship in order. Who knows for how long they’ve been doing this!” “Where does the energy come from? And the material? At some point they will run out, no?” Sheranne asked. “Yeah. There’s two possibilities. One, they haven’t run out yet. Two, they manufacture it onboard using those same meteors. As for the energy, maybe solar or nuclear. Or maybe even antimatter like us.” Everyone seemed satisfied with the explanation, so they continued their observation of the cleaning of the hull. Truth be told, it was quite a boring sight – rather similar to watching those pool-cleaning robots back on Earth. They decided to continue their search. Some time later, they finally saw it. “Look! We found it!” Roy exclaimed. “Found what?” Nikola asked. “A straight line! How many of those have seen today?” He was quite right. It was an odd sight over the giant metal beast. “We’ll increase our altitude to have a better look at it.” They increased their own ship’s altitude and saw a big rectangle with an additional line joining two opposite corners. “Is this what I think this is?” Nikola 13
| The Plumber’s Ledger asked. “Sure looks like it,” responded Roy. “I can’t believe it. A door!” said Sheranne. “So . . . should we knock or something?” Nikola said. “Let’s land on the door and try to make our way in. If there’s any logic in their ship’s design, we should end up in a cargo bay of some sort,” Roy replied. The final maneuvers were made and for the first time in History, a human landed on an alien ship. *** Aboard the Hermes, chaos was king. Roy’s message had broken everyone’s spirit. They had been through so much stress during the terror reign of the Faceless Killer1, that to now know that their mission would still be a failure was heartshattering. Quentin, the Nigerian detective who unmasked the killer, was the first one to regain composure: “Captain, we can’t let them get away! We’ve sacrificed so much for this mission already!” Jennifer West, visibly shaken, replied: “I-I know, but you saw them. They’re so fast, they’re probably there already. Could we turn back now? We could reach Earth 1 See The Plumber’s Ledger, Vol.1, No.2 through 4. The Hermes was the theater of a serial killer who terrorized the ship hoping they would turn around and end their pursuit of the alien ship. It was revealed that the killer had been associated with Roy, Nikola, and Sheranne.
and claim that nothing was too be found. A Company-issued vessel is much more believable than a make-shift ship piloted by criminals.” “We can’t do that Captain. We don’t have enough fuel. We have to stop on an appropriate asteroid to refuel anyways.” Hardened by all the death and disappointment which had
have back home!” “I don’t care about the governments. The Company will buy Peace. It wouldn’t be the first time they bought their way out of trouble.” “But Captain . . .” “It’s an order Lieutenant.” “Yes, ma’am.” The Hermes continued its route with its new-found death mission in the back of everyone’s mind. *** Roy, Nikola, and Sheranne were now in spacesuits on the surface of what they believed to be a door. They decided to drill a hole through it and attach an explosive charge on the inside. This was done so that the explosion would push the door towards space rather than inside, risking damaging what was inside. Torches were out of the question due to a lack of oxygen, and they didn’t have a portable laser powerful enough to get through. Some 30 minutes later, evARTWORK | Alex Foty erything was set up surrounded her in the past month, she and they retreated to what they believed made the most difficult decision of her to be a safe distance. A flick of a switch career: “We’re going after them. They later and a somewhat disappointing exmight get there first, but there’s no way plosion occurred. Because they were opwe will allow them to come back to tell erating in space, there was no sound and the tale.” Everyone on the bridge was no giant ball of fire. Part of the door foldshocked. ed upwards quite rapidly and the shrap“But Captain . . . they are humans . . . nel joined the debris cloud already orbitThink of the political consequences it will ing the ship. They approached the hole 2013 March 12
Vol.1 No.7 | and bent down to see . . . nothing. It was pitch black down there. They turned on their powerful flashlights and tried again. They were right to think they would end up in a cargo bay. The room was humongous – there was a single level, easily three stories high, with an upper ledge surrounding the room. As one might expect when going through a door, they weren’t looking down into the room, but rather at the floor level. They simply had to walk right in. They all looked at each other, fully realizing the magnitude and significance of what they were about to accomplish. They were all radio-linked, so they could easily talk to one another, but right now nothing was said. They nodded and were about to step in when Roy stopped them: “Wait! Set phasers to stun.” “What are you talking about?” Nikola asked. Sheranne was the only one to understand the reference: “We’re not in Star Trek Roy. We got no phasers.” Roy was all smiles in his helmet. “I know, I know. But I always dreamed of saying that!” Noticing the complete lack of response from his companions, “alright, let’s go,” he said. He was the first one to step in, the others following him closely. As one might expect from a cargo bay on a spaceship, there was no air inside. They continued walking straight ahead until their lights could reach the back wall, which was completely empty. They decided to go towards the staircase leading to the upper ledge. There, the notion that they were on an alien ship truly struck them. The stairs didn’t have the same proportions as those they were used to. They were deeper and much higher, suggesting that the builders of this ship were much taller than the average human. Up the stairs, they saw another door, with a single but12 March 2013
ton to the right. Without having much of a choice, someone pushed it. Noiselessly, the door slid to the left and they entered the new room. The room was quite small – at least it must have been for those it was designed for. “It must be the airlock,” Nikola said. Once again there was a single button next to the door facing them. After pressing it, traps on the ceiling opened and they could feel air being rushed in the room. A few seconds later, the pressure stabilized and the door facing them slid open, inviting them to proceed in their exploration of this strange new world. They continued their walk in the hallways, which were fully illuminated. It was completely empty and silent, except for the sound of ventilation (they had a microphone open on the outside to hear ambient sounds as well). The complete emptiness made them feel quite uncomfortable. The hallway was filled with doors with no knobs, but next to each was a black rectangle about two meters in the air. “How about we take a look at those weird black rectangles now? Maybe they can tell us something about this place,” Sheranne said. Nikola approached one, raised his hand, and since there was nothing else to do, pressed it in the middle. To their big surprise, the rectangle started to glow blue. “There seems to be some kind of writing now.” Roy asked Nikola what was written. “How do you expect me to understand a completely alien language that I have never seen before?” “Just take a look Nik!” “Alright, alright!” Nikola stretched his neck to have a better look. “Well damn . . . It says ‘Enter Password’ . . . And I can slide a keyboard from the bottom!” “What? You’re joking!” Sheranne, like
Roy, had a hard time believing this, but after closer inspection it proved to be quite right. (In the coming centuries, it would become a widely-known fact that every intelligent species in the Galaxy had independently developed modern English as their primary language. To this day, how such a thing could happen remains a hot discussion topic amongst historians, anthropologists, and linguists alike.) “What now? It’s good that they speak English, but we still don’t have the password . . .” Nikola brought them back to reality. “Maybe the occupant was lazy and his password is something stupid like ‘abc123’,” Roy said. Before Nikola and Sheranne had time to object to such a ridiculous idea, he pushed them aside and typed it in. To their surprise, a soft, automated voice was heard: “Welcome back John Smith.” Right now, nothing could surprise them anymore, not even hearing such a common name in such an uncommon place. After a couple of trials and errors, they managed to find the ship’s map. They agreed that starting by looking at the library would give them the best opportunity to learn about the strange beings. Before they left John Smith’s room, Sheranne asked the obvious question that no one else had dared to ask: “Guys, we haven’t seen a single living thing yet . . . Our scanners can’t pick up anything either. Sure, everything works and is cleaned up, but . . . where is everyone?” The conclusion of RESISTANCE is in the next issue of the PLUMBER’S LEDGER! Why is the alien ship empty? Will Jennifer West succeeds in her plan to take out the Resistance’s crew? Or will the Resistance succeed in her mission to take down the Company and take humanity out of its sleep? • 15
ARTWORK | Justin Turcotte