Author Topic: How to use computers as a mage  (Read 11000 times)

Offline Nightfall

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How to use computers as a mage
« on: October 14, 2018, 06:19:05 PM »
First, stop thinking like a mage, a caster of spells, start  thinking like a maker of magic doodads, like Butters (and Bob!).

OK, now you realize that the problem is not that you can't use computers, they work fine, you just can't be next to them while you do it. So, how do we use one from way over here while it is way over there?

First, you must have  a large enough place that you can have the computer at one end of  a long house, say a wing, or in some way well away from any mages, and in a rather long rectangular room. You use it from one side of the room, the computer is 20+ feet away at the other end.

Seeing the screen- This is the easy part, use a projector, and project the screen onto the wall at the end of the room the computer is in. This way, the screen will be big enough that you can see it from across the room.

Controlling the thing- Keyboard, have one, push key, it is simply a regular looking keyboard that merely connects one big solid piece of metal to another, a simply on/off switch, for each key. From that, a series of wires runs to the actual keyboard, above which is a series of solenoids, when the switch is pushed, power goes to the solenoid, which then extends a rod to push the actual key on the actual computer keyboard, one for each key. You will want surge suppressors on each wire, just in case...

Next, make that computer have two screens, the other is a touch screen, which shows the same thing the projector does. Now, have a similar series of solenoids spaced about the screen to touch it when you push a button at your end.

You now have a touch screen and keyboard controlled computer, good enough. Sound, well, hook up big speakers and have them shout at you from across the room (it is only 20 or so feet).

Possible  additions: It would be good to have some sort of circle or barrier to magic energy between you and the computer. This will have to be self powered (like Marcones desk circle, or Harries wards), it does not have to be very  powerful, just enough to stop stray magic eddies, or spells cast in another part of the house.

Other things, a magic wireless keyboard, magic headphone, or a magic powered mouse, and a much smaller remote screen, may be possible, but will take a lot of work, and are probably not worth it. The screen is easiest, just use a magic seeing eye or mirror, put it in front of the computer screen, it will transmit to a magic mirror were you are what is on the screen, doable, but you would have to make one, and the projector is available now. Magic keyboards/headphone/mouse would depend on using a magic crystal tuned to put out radio or IR signals identical to those put out by wireless versions of keyboards and headphones and mice, the problem being to shape the signal into something the receiver and computer will understand, which will take some knowledge of wireless technology, as well as some considerable work to design a magic powered processor to process the signals (which send commands to the crystal, which turns that into IR). The keyboard would be fairly simple (comparatively), headphones harder (as long as you don't mind AM radio quality sound), and the mouse would take some work, and probably only give you an old fashioned analog quality mouse.

So using a computer is possible, as long as you have a big house, or better a headquarters, the White Council HQ could set this up and have at least one computer available for use.

Offline DanceGeek5678

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Re: How to use computers as a mage
« Reply #1 on: September 01, 2019, 06:03:50 AM »
Quite right. I have mused this myself.
A physical channel from wizard to keyboard over a long enough distance should be simple enough with levers or cables and pulleys or even just a long stick, really. And a good telescope to see a screen, or a really big projector, or both, or whatever. Touchscreen, trackball, or mouse get trickier, but still not unthinkable.
Captain Luccio has to have had similar notions. I have expected an internet research station to appear in White Council HQ for several books.

Offline Belial666

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Re: How to use computers as a mage
« Reply #2 on: September 01, 2019, 09:42:42 PM »
Quote
the problem is not that you can't use computers, they work fine, you just can't be next to them while you do it
Nope! The problem is that uncontrolled magic breaks the computer. So make sure there's none around. Like, make a circle around the computer, activate the circle, cast a light spell inside the circle until you use up the very limited amount of magic within, then turn on the computer.

Offline g33k

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Re: How to use computers as a mage
« Reply #3 on: September 03, 2019, 07:03:49 PM »
Use a Butters.

Get a muggle friend, teach him how to draw & empower a circle.  Make the circle big enough for your friend and the computer, and likely a big screen for visibility.

Sit down with your friend, and explore the internet with them; just... let them do the driving.

Do a "discharge spare/ambient magic" thing when done, then leave the room.  Have the friend shut everything down & pack it into faraday-cage carry-cases, before they break the circle.


Offline Regenbogen

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Re: How to use computers as a mage
« Reply #4 on: September 03, 2019, 07:11:40 PM »
Or if you like pain use thorn manacles, than you can do it on your own without embarrassing yourself in front of the 'muggle'.
Or you are skilled with inventing magical items capable of blocking magic other than the manacles.
F√ck subtle

Offline Fcrate

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Re: How to use computers as a mage
« Reply #5 on: September 03, 2019, 08:21:36 PM »
I believe that Harry was experimenting with something like that in Larry Fowler's studio,  and it worked quite well until he lost control of his emotions.  But it was never mentioned again. Still,  a big enough room and screen, and a special voice activation mic could do the trick nicely. My friend is quadriplegic and he's a computer programmer.  He used one of those. A little expensive but worth it, as he's 6m away from the mic and it still works.
هل أخذت الغاب مثلي منزلاً دون القصور
فتتبعت السواقي وتسلقت الصخور
هل تحممت بعطره وتنشفت بنور
وشربت الفجر خمراً من كؤوس من أثير

Offline Regenbogen

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Re: How to use computers as a mage
« Reply #6 on: September 03, 2019, 09:35:49 PM »
@Fcrate:
That would be an idea. Combined with the big screen or a beamer.

At Larry Fowler's Harry used a magic suppressing spell he had to concentrate a lot to keep it up. Strong emotions or exhaustion weaken the concentration. So a focus would be better. The wizard would just have to keep it going with a limited amount of power and concentration, and only when it starts to weaken. Not all the time.
F√ck subtle

Offline Braincandy

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Re: How to use computers as a mage
« Reply #7 on: September 12, 2019, 06:25:53 PM »
I've given this some thought from time to time. The simplest way would be to just see if you could by a PC off of Vaddurung, since his computer could not care less about Harry being near it.

After that, most of my ideas have been touched on. We saw some of it in action in Skin Game, when they had to get around the anti-wizard protections in Marcones bank. Thorn Manacles, creative uses of circles, etc. Another one would be to use running water. I could build a PC that sits inside of a water tank. As it is, people build them sitting open in a tank of mineral oil because it looks cool and it dumps heat like no other. You could enclose that and sit the whole thing a big water tank. If you could make a monitor waterproof, and I don't see why you couldn't, you could put the whole rig in a clear tank with running water and make it all but immune to the feed back. You'd still have problems with keeping a keyboard and mouse running but those are smaller problems.

Offline g33k

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Re: How to use computers as a mage
« Reply #8 on: September 12, 2019, 10:21:07 PM »
Distance alone is no protection; not when the wizard is focusing his will and intent on interactions with the internet via the computer.

Harry hexes things down at a distance regularly; granted, his long-range Hexus spell is specific and intentional, but we see him unwilling to even step into an Intensive Care ward; the one time I recall, he only did so when he could be sure he had empty rooms adjacent to the one where he was interviewing Pell, and he STILL kept the time to a minimum, and left ASAP.

And THAT was with him intentionally keeping his focus on Pell, on Pell's testimony, and symptoms.

To interact online, Harry would de facto be focusing his will upon the computer.  There's no other way TO interact with the internet.  It'd be one blown computer after another!

Similar with running water:  there is a dampening effect, but it's not a reliable warding.  In White Knight, Harry freezes a big chunk of water in the bay.  In Small Favor, Harry raises a shield while standing in open water.

The only reliable way I see, canonically, is for a muggle in a circle to run the thing, and follow Harry's directions.

Mind you, it could get pretty sophisticated...  Get a projector, and a screen outside the circle.  Harry could interact with this sceen largely as if it were a touchscreen, while the computer-operator, watching Harry carefully, could duplicate things on the active/electronic screen.

Offline g33k

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Re: How to use computers as a mage
« Reply #9 on: September 12, 2019, 10:26:38 PM »
I've given this some thought from time to time. The simplest way would be to just see if you could by a PC off of Vaddurung, since his computer could not care less about Harry being near it. 

I'm pretty sure those were magical devices that handled Monoc (and likely other Vadderung interests) via controls that looked a lot like advanced computers... but were not.  I sincerely doubt there was any default "internet connection."  Or any electricity, circuitry, etc.

Offline Fcrate

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Re: How to use computers as a mage
« Reply #10 on: September 12, 2019, 11:42:33 PM »
Distance alone is no protection; not when the wizard is focusing his will and intent on interactions with the internet via the computer.

Harry hexes things down at a distance regularly; granted, his long-range Hexus spell is specific and intentional, but we see him unwilling to even step into an Intensive Care ward; the one time I recall, he only did so when he could be sure he had empty rooms adjacent to the one where he was interviewing Pell, and he STILL kept the time to a minimum, and left ASAP.
And THAT was with him intentionally keeping his focus on Pell, on Pell's testimony, and symptoms.
About Pell's situation, well playing with internet isn't the same as playing with people's lives. Even a small malfunction could kill someone in the intensive care ward.
As for focusing his "will" on the computer, that doesn't strike me as accurate, in the books, Harry has to deliberately gather his will for any given spell, with the intent of a spell. e.g: In Hexus, he's making an effort to destroy the electronics. Will and Focus are two different things, just because he's focused on the computer doesn't mean he'll work magic on it. Maybe if he was reading something that affects him emotionally it would be different, but a big projector isn't a lot of technology and should be able to handle a calm wizard.
هل أخذت الغاب مثلي منزلاً دون القصور
فتتبعت السواقي وتسلقت الصخور
هل تحممت بعطره وتنشفت بنور
وشربت الفجر خمراً من كؤوس من أثير

Offline g33k

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Re: How to use computers as a mage
« Reply #11 on: September 17, 2019, 07:10:41 PM »
About Pell's situation, well playing with internet isn't the same as playing with people's lives. Even a small malfunction could kill someone in the intensive care ward.
As for focusing his "will" on the computer, that doesn't strike me as accurate, in the books, Harry has to deliberately gather his will for any given spell, with the intent of a spell. e.g: In Hexus, he's making an effort to destroy the electronics. Will and Focus are two different things, just because he's focused on the computer doesn't mean he'll work magic on it. Maybe if he was reading something that affects him emotionally it would be different...

Harry doesn't have to gather his will to hex things down; it just happens around him.  Constantly.  Even when he wants it not to.  He only needs an act of will to take out things at a distance, or to do it with tactical timing.  Electronic things near Harry fail, no matter what (even sophisticated mechanical things fail, hence his avoiding automatic weapons).

Georgia loans him a modern SUV, and various electronic subsystems begin failing... worse and worse.  Occasional rides in Thomas' Das Truck soon begin to impact it, too.

Murphy & Butters keep needing to turn off their computers before Harry can be in their offices.  Bony Tony stores info on a USB drive, in the confident expectation that this will keep it away from any powerful wizard; and Harry's professional assessment (as a wizard) is that it's likely a solid strategy.

Harry could maybe cruise the internet for a little while doing emotionally-lightweight stuff... cute-cat videos, heartwarming human-interest pieces, etc.  Not using a computer in the regular way, but via some of these "at a distance" methods the thread has been exploring.  Absolutely agreed!

But when he begins using the internet?  Professionally, as an investigator, as a wizard?  Harry cares about the stuff he does.  A "calm" wizard Harry is not, not when he cares the way he does!  Early-on he did a fair amount of just-paying-the-bills jobs, finding lost valuables &c, stuff he didn't care about.  I don't think he has any of that sort of "spare" time any more...

... but a big projector isn't a lot of technology and should be able to handle a calm wizard.
In fact video projectors are EXTREMELY high-tech, and will inevitably be intensely susceptible to Murphyonic-Field disruption.
 

Offline Braincandy

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Re: How to use computers as a mage
« Reply #12 on: September 18, 2019, 04:37:52 AM »
Distance alone is no protection; not when the wizard is focusing his will and intent on interactions with the internet via the computer.

Harry hexes things down at a distance regularly; granted, his long-range Hexus spell is specific and intentional, but we see him unwilling to even step into an Intensive Care ward; the one time I recall, he only did so when he could be sure he had empty rooms adjacent to the one where he was interviewing Pell, and he STILL kept the time to a minimum, and left ASAP.

And THAT was with him intentionally keeping his focus on Pell, on Pell's testimony, and symptoms.

To interact online, Harry would de facto be focusing his will upon the computer.  There's no other way TO interact with the internet.  It'd be one blown computer after another!

Similar with running water:  there is a dampening effect, but it's not a reliable warding.  In White Knight, Harry freezes a big chunk of water in the bay.  In Small Favor, Harry raises a shield while standing in open water.

The only reliable way I see, canonically, is for a muggle in a circle to run the thing, and follow Harry's directions.

Mind you, it could get pretty sophisticated...  Get a projector, and a screen outside the circle.  Harry could interact with this sceen largely as if it were a touchscreen, while the computer-operator, watching Harry carefully, could duplicate things on the active/electronic screen.

Yet, in Skin Game they were able to use running water to operate near sensitive electronics without blowing them. I don't want to get too deep into that since this isn't the spoilers board but I assume you know what I am referencing. I think it's fairly clear that if Harry were to get clever, he could find a way to use a computer. He's never going to do it, because that's not who Dresden is, but he theoretically could without too much trouble.

Offline Fcrate

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Re: How to use computers as a mage
« Reply #13 on: September 20, 2019, 12:32:43 AM »
Harry doesn't have to gather his will to hex things down; it just happens around him.  Constantly.  Even when he wants it not to.  He only needs an act of will to take out things at a distance, or to do it with tactical timing.  Electronic things near Harry fail, no matter what (even sophisticated mechanical things fail, hence his avoiding automatic weapons).
I meant that the effects are far stronger when he gathers his will to cast a spell. Otherwise they're pretty random.
Georgia loans him a modern SUV, and various electronic subsystems begin failing... worse and worse.  Occasional rides in Thomas' Das Truck soon begin to impact it, too.

Murphy & Butters keep needing to turn off their computers before Harry can be in their offices.  Bony Tony stores info on a USB drive, in the confident expectation that this will keep it away from any powerful wizard; and Harry's professional assessment (as a wizard) is that it's likely a solid strategy.
Which is what? 3-5 meters max?
Harry could maybe cruise the internet for a little while doing emotionally-lightweight stuff... cute-cat videos, heartwarming human-interest pieces, etc.  Not using a computer in the regular way, but via some of these "at a distance" methods the thread has been exploring.  Absolutely agreed!

But when he begins using the internet?  Professionally, as an investigator, as a wizard?  Harry cares about the stuff he does.  A "calm" wizard Harry is not, not when he cares the way he does!  Early-on he did a fair amount of just-paying-the-bills jobs, finding lost valuables &c, stuff he didn't care about.  I don't think he has any of that sort of "spare" time any more...
In fact video projectors are EXTREMELY high-tech, and will inevitably be intensely susceptible to Murphyonic-Field disruption.
 The projector is high tech but the screen isn't, and I've seen many rear projectors before, Harry doesn't even need to be in the same room as the equipment.
Sorry for replying in quote, I'm very lazy.
I think it's fairly clear that if Harry were to get clever, he could find a way to use a computer. He's never going to do it, because that's not who Dresden is, but he theoretically could without too much trouble.
I agree, but I also think that Jim Butcher made it this way for a reason, as it adds to Harry's character, and difficulties.
هل أخذت الغاب مثلي منزلاً دون القصور
فتتبعت السواقي وتسلقت الصخور
هل تحممت بعطره وتنشفت بنور
وشربت الفجر خمراً من كؤوس من أثير

Offline Steelblaidd

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Re: How to use computers as a mage
« Reply #14 on: February 08, 2020, 03:31:29 AM »
The option that I worked out was to put the computer in a magic circle and the  crate a magic mirror type artifact that communicates with it using  LiFi.

https://purelifi.com/lifi-technology/