Wednesday, May 23, 2018

7. Tipsy and the Hardhack Solution

Hardhack Rat had never met Tipsy but he knew all about her. "What are you doing here Tipsy?" Tipsy's laugh was like water trickling over smooth rocks. "I have an ickle job for you," she said; "It's from the Wabbit." Tipsy pulled wads of low denomination bank notes for her frock and threw them in Hardhack's direction. She dusted her paws. "Maybe you could tell me if you have a 3D printer?" Hardhack was delighted. "Of course I have." Tipsy smiled sweetly. "Then perhaps you could print me a little dwink?" "No problem," nodded Hardhack. He pressed a button and turned to sort through the banknotes. He studied them for a while, then studied them some more. Only then did he look up. "What is the nature of the financial inquiry?" he asked. Tipsy pouted. "The Wabbit wants to know where the notes have been." "They look as if they've been washed," sighed Hardhack. Tipsy giggled. "The Wabbit says dirty money has its very own indelible trace." Hardhack thought the Wabbit said a lot of things, but he took the notes nonetheless. "I'll have to scan them and subject them to rigorous probing." "Probe on," suggested Tipsy.  Hardhack smiled and lifted a coffee pot. "Your drink is ready." Tipsy looked at the coffee with horror. "It's spiked with amaro," grinned Hardhack.
[Background photo credit:Argonne National Laboratory under the specified license]

Monday, May 21, 2018

6. Wabsworth & the Outside Auditor

Wabsworth was an android copy of the Wabbit and knew all the tricks of the spook trade. The stranger looked like a banker, so he trailed him along the porticos, keeping a suitable distance. But in the quiet of the early hours, he had no option but to make himself visible. The stranger was well aware he had company but paid no particular attention. He was interested solely in empty properties and closed down shops. Wabsworth watched as he peered through shutters and rattled letterboxes. Occasionally he heard him dictate notes into a recorder in a strange language. "He's talking shorthand," thought Wabsworth. He grinned to himself. "Maybe he's an endangered species." His circuits whined as he ran images through a finance database. There were bankers, accountants, stockbrokers, insurers, even arbitrageurs. But no match emerged for the man in the suit. The stranger made a sudden stop and looked back. Wabsworth dodged behind a pillar out of professional courtesy. The stranger slipped a hand in his jacket and took out a crumpled note, which he dropped indifferently on the sidewalk. Then he walked briskly on. Wabsworth let him go. He bent down, scooped up the scrap of paper and tucked it in his fur. "A pizzino," murmured Wabsworth. He knew a pizzino wasn't a small pizza, it was a coded message. "Now I know who you are," murmured Wabsworth.
[Used by the Sicilian mafia, a pizzino is a small slip of paper carrying high level communications. First mentioned in the Adventures here in our early days.]

Friday, May 18, 2018

5. The Wabbit and the Horse's Mouth

For the Wabbit and Lapinette, it was child's play to break in. "This it is," said the Wabbit. He pointed to the bottom of a flight of steps, where two statues stood guard. "Dark horses," murmured the Wabbit. "Better keep an eye on them," whispered Lapinette. The Wabbit heard a horse whinny and noticed the shake of a head. He glanced in the indicated direction. A washing machine in the corner revolved and splashed gently. The Wabbit ears twitched. He held up a paw and listened. It was playing looped sound composed of metallic chinks. Then the machine span rapidly and stopped with a shudder. Lapinette heard tinkly piano jazz. The Wabbit crept round the back, reached across and pressed a button. With a bang, the door shot open and money sprayed out. Lapinette lifted a sodden note. "These are so, so low denomination." The Wabbit shrugged. "Things went sour for the Bank of Despond?" Lapinette pondered for a second. "Maybe the money you moved broke the bank." The Wabbit frowned. ".. and they want revenge." The washing machine door crashed shut and the drum clattered. "I hear ominous ticking," said Lapinette. They backed abruptly away but bounced from a dark horse, who squealed long and hard, then snickered. Lapinette looked it straight in the flank. "Should we stay? See what comes out in the wash?" The dark horse shook his head vigorously.  "Nay," translated the Wabbit.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

4. The Wabbit at the Bank of Despond

"I don't recall ever seeing this building before." The Wabbit dismounted and kicked the door soundly. "It's real enough." He clutched his foot and grimaced. "I've been down this street a hundred times," said Lapinette, "and this building isn't here." Mo and To sniggered in a punk fashion. "Where is this Bank of Despond anyway?" said To. "The address said Edinburgh," said the Wabbit, "so I did a quick satellite search." "I'm betting there was zilch," said Lapinette. "A shut down newspaper building." shrugged the Wabbit. Mo laughed and laughed. "Ha ha, this is it; it's a pop up bank." The Punk Snails sneered in unison. The Wabbit squinted up. "I can climb up there." He placed a foot on a window ledge and gradually scaled the building. "Ah," he exclaimed. He grabbed a piece of broken masonry and hurled it at a window. Tiny fragments of glass showered Mo and To. They wiggled their antennae. "Cool!" said To. "Amazing," said Mo. The Wabbit opened the window and glanced inside. Then he sighed and shook his head. "No Gangbankers?" shouted Lapinette. "No Gangbankers here. But plenty of money." "Toss it down," shouted To. "I can't," said the Wabbit, "it's wet." Lapinette's ears swayed. "What's that sound?" "Sounds like a washing machine," replied the Wabbit. Mo and To slithered in a sideways shuffle. "The Money Laundromat." yelled To. "It stinks" shouted Mo.

Monday, May 14, 2018

3. The Wabbit and the Flying Bankers

The Wabbit and Lapinette prowled the city in search of the Gangbankers but found no leads. "Can you hear howling?" asked the Wabbit. Lapinette caught a glimpse of shadow, then the sky filled with a single engine plane. The Punk Snails looked up. Their antennae wiggled. "It's them!" shouted Mo. "Take cover," yelled To," but it was too late. Lapinette's automatic spat bullets. They tore through a wing and the plane banked suddenly. "She's gonna stall!" shouted Mo. The Wabbit saw a stick of explosive heading straight for him, so he grabbed it and hurled it back. It caught the undercarriage and detonated. Fragments fell on the Snails. "Cool," said Mo. The plane spiralled and sank out sight. An explosion followed. "Super cool," said To. "They landed," laughed Mo. To nudged Mo. "A-may-zing," he drawled. The Wabbit and Lapinette held tight as the Snails slid to and fro in a slithery dance. "Gangbankers," growled the Wabbit. "Where do they get their money?" said Lapinette. "They're bankers," shrugged To. "They rob their own banks," explained Mo. Lapinette frowned. "Wabbit, is this anything to do with your Dinosaur Fund?" The Wabbit thought hard. Having observed strange activity, he'd wrenched significant monies away from a small merchant bank. The bank duly collapsed. His face was grim. "The Bank of Despond."

Friday, May 11, 2018

2. The Wabbit and the Gangbankers

Morning was on its way and shops were flickering into half life. Mo and To, the Punk Snails, were hanging on the corner and the Wabbit was pleased to see them. "See anything unusual?" Mo and To sneered in synchrony. "Nothing surprises us." Lapinette jumped onto To's shell and pulled out an edged weapon. "Oooooh" said Mo. "We just got shot up by some hoods," explained the Wabbit. To waved an antenna. "You mean the gangbanking gang?" "To, that's rude" yelled Lapinette. "Not any more," sneered Mo. "Bankers ain't shit on their own," sneered To. "They 'ave to be in a gang." said Mo. "We 'ate them," drawled Mo. "They're 'orrible," agreed To. The Punk Snails waggled their antennae in a circle. The Wabbit pulled out his automatic and waved it. "I don't like the sound of these gangbankers." He hopped onto Mo. "Are we going somewhere?" giggled To. "These bankers dissed us in our own city," hissed Lapinette. "Criminals!" yelled Mo and To. The Wabbit smiled and politely asked, "Where does that gang hang?" "Corners, shadows, penumbra," sneered Mo. "They lurk," said To. The Wabbit raised an eye. "They are without purpose," sneered Mo. "No moral centre," sniffed To. The Wabbit shrugged. "Then they might be hard to find." He gently nudged Mo with a foot. Mo slid forward followed by To. "These gangbankers sure made us mad," murmured Lapinette.

Friday, May 04, 2018

1. The Wabbit and the Rogue Bullet

It was late. People were going home. The sound of traffic died away. All that could be heard was the creaky, squeaky sound of one ramshackle bicycle. The Wabbit let his grin go lopsided and drawled. "The city was asleep. The rats and the cats and the bats were all in their holes." From some late night club, some late night musician guy played jazz. The Wabbit strained to hear the notes, but they flew by without lingering. "There are a million stories in the naked city," he drawled. "We'll never read them all," smiled Lapinette. Her giggle was clear and airy and it swayed off down the street. The Wabbit watched it go. He stuck a paw in his fur and whistled softly. "What about a bite to eat?" "Everything's closed," said Lapinette. "I know a place that's still open," said the Wabbit. Lapinette raised a quizzical eye. "My place," said the Wabbit. "That doesn't count," laughed Lapinette. A loud bang bounced along the walls and rattled shop windows. "Just a car backfire," said the Wabbit. They looked at each other and shrugged. There were five more. Lapinette frowned. "Backfires don't come in batches of six." "They weren't meant for us," offered the Wabbit. A bullet zapped between his ears. "These cats is making a big mistake," snorted the Wabbit. "They zigged before they zagged," scowled Lapinette. "You go that way, I'll go this way," said the Wabbit. "Cut 'em off at the pass," nodded Lapinette. "Dead end street," hissed the Wabbit ...

Wednesday, May 02, 2018

The Wabbit at the Adventure Caffè

Skratch descended on the Adventure Caffè with some vigour. He was about to deliver a lecture on what he called 'kiddie movies' - but he could see the Wabbit had upstaged him. "If that's a blade server," he said, "I could have got you one at half the price." The Wabbit looked at the empty table and chortled. "It's the only server here." "And they don't take bitcoins," grumbled Lapinette. "That's a shame, now we're in the money," said Wabsworth. He rapped the table for attention. "So. What was that for a sort of adventure we just had?" Skratch waved a paw. "It was a kiddie techno-thriller." There was a long pause. Skratch continued. "We distinguish it from standard thrillers, through quantity of specific technical detail." "Do we indeed?" smiled Lapinette. "Genres are fluid," shrugged the Wabbit, as that put paid to the matter. "But this one had a kiddie movie feel," meaowed Skratch. "What exactly do you understand by a kiddie movie?" asked Lapinette. Skratch purred. "A kiddie adventure is serious business. Protagonists must be extra brave and bold, and also staggeringly intelligent." Lapinette grinned and bowed. Wabsworth chuckled. The Wabbit nodded gravely. He quietly winked at Wabsworth, adopted a puzzled frown and poked the blade server. "How the devil does this thing work?"
[Blade server: A series of linked blades in a chassis.]

Monday, April 30, 2018

8. The Wabbit and the Bit Coin Miner

Wabsworth led the way and he was grinning, because the Wabbit had devised a way of salvaging Hardhack Rat. "Where are you taking me?" asked Hardhack. "To your new workshop," replied the Wabbit. "I thought I was going to jail," smiled Hardhack. The Wabbit chortled. "Who do you think we are - the FBI?" Lapinette called from the door. She waved a box. "I found one. I got it, it wasn't easy." Wabsworth forged ahead. "Hardhack, you're going to be a Bitcoin miner." Hardhack smiled. "There's hardly any left to mine." He extracted his USB drive and gave it to the Wabbit. There was a lightning flash. "That's what they said about oil," shrugged the Wabbit. Lapinette knew the Wabbit was concocting something for his Dinosaur Fund. The Fund underwrote unorthodox missions, but no amount of massaging could prevent falling returns. "Economies are struggling," mused the Wabbit. This fell on deaf ears. The Wabbit grew impatient. "Eh, Wabsworth?" he prompted. Wabsworth nodded. "Currencies are failing, they will adopt Bitcoin, there's nothing else." Lapinette wasn't so happy. "It sounds like a Ponzi scheme to me." Hardhack nodded too, clasped his claws and looked at the box. "Early in, early out. Is that an ASIC miner? I'll need blades." Wabsworth mused like the Wabbit. "We'll have cryptographic, frictionless, programmable money." "Half of it maybe," grinned the Wabbit.

Friday, April 27, 2018

7. The Wabbit and the Block Train

Hardhack Rat wasn't hard to follow. The Wabbit watched him look left to right before opening a concealed corridor door. He gasped. It led to a bunker containing the biggest computer the Wabbit had ever seen. Something glinted in the light and the Wabbit picked it up. Lapinette took it and scurried around the stacks. "Professor Rat, Professor Rat sir, you dropped this." She threw it. The USB fell short and slid along the floor to Hardhack's feet. "I told you, my lady, that students may not enter the facility," snapped Hardhack, seizing the USB. Lapinette put her paws to her face. "Oh, tell me Professor, where does it go?" Hardhack snorted. "It goes here of course." Wabsworth perched on the stacks and waited. There was a snick as Hardhack plugged the USB in a slot on his side. Wabsworth heard it and dialed. The USB flickered. Hardhack froze. Lapinette poked him and yelled, "What is your intent?" Hardhack's eyes glazed. "I forgot." Lapinette looked up. "Wabsworth. Hack off." Wabsworth dialed a series of digits. The USB flashed. "Now start remembering, Hardhack!" shouted Lapinette. Hardhack started to sing. "Oh, the block chain train is a mighty good chain. The block train chain is the train to hack." He just wouldn't stop. "Wabsworth!" yelled Lapinette. Wabsworth chortled, swiped keypads, then frowned. Now Hardhack's singing was frantic. "He's rocking round the block," said the Wabbit.
[Background photo credit: ESO (under the license specified)]

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

6. The Wabbit and the Lair of the Rat

Hardhack became increasingly desperate as his bus pirate was nowhere to be found. Lapinette loped after him. "Professor Rat, Sir. You dropped your bus." She caught up with him and panted. Then she thrust something into his claw. "You dropped your bus, Professor Rat." Hardhack took the red case without looking. His teeth chattered nervously. "Students are no longer permitted in the building." He clutched the bus to his chest. The Wabbit groped in his fur for something he'd bought in a market because it looked technical. "You might be interested in this, Professor." He produced a shiny USB drive and offered it to Hardhack, who snatched it away. "I'll be going now," he snapped. Without a backward glance, he bolted to a stairway and disappeared. "He took the bait," chuckled Wabsworth. "And now the switch," grinned the Wabbit. "Clickedy click," murmured Wabsworth. He pushed two walkie talkies together and made a series of keypad entries. "Streaming," said Wabsworth. From the corridor came sounds of glee. Wabsworth typed on. Now Hardhack's cries were pure joy. "Now I have everything, everything and more!" Lapinette nudged the Wabbit sharply in the ribs. "Everything tastes of porridge""

Monday, April 23, 2018

5. The Wabbit and Hardhack Rat

They tracked down Hardhack Rat in an old abandoned technical college, long forgotten on the edge of town. Wabsworth said he might be there, and he was right. There, Hardhack paced dusty corridors in search of something he appeared to have mislaid. "The bus, the bus," he chittered, "where's my bus?" The Wabbit nudged Wabsworth. "If he wants to catch a bus round here, he's won't get a sniff of one." Wabsworth gasped and whispered a stream of technical jargon. "A bus pirate! He's sniffing traffic." The Wabbit scowled. "Our traffic." Suddenly Hardhack's ears twitched. "What was that?" He glanced from side to side. The Wabbit threw his voice and it bounced a whispering bounce from a far wall. "Mice, ice, ice ..." "I hate mice," squealed Hardhack, "but not as much as I hate rabbits." He turned without warning and glared, but the team nestled neatly in the shadows. Hardhack turned back and chittered to himself. "Years at Hacking College and they ask me to fix phones. Now it's payback time." He scuttled down the corridor like Nosferatu. Lapinette drew close to the Wabbit. "Does he sound disgruntled to you?" The Wabbit's laugh was wry and dry. "He was the last winner in the rat race." Lapinette waited until the scuttling died away. She wrinkled her nose and twitched her ears. "Let's find him his bus and give him traffic." "Heavy traffic," hissed the Wabbit.

Friday, April 20, 2018

4. The Wabbit and the Rathole Update

The big balloon made an unexpected take-off and confused everything. Susan the Biplane crash landed, narrowing missing it. The Wabbit pulled out his special screwdriver. "Is everything connected to the Internet now?" he asked. "Not me," said Lapinette. She vaulted down from Susan's wing. "I don't suppose you got an update?" said Wabsworth. "I give updates, not get them," answered Lapinette. The Wabbit prodded Susan with his screwdriver. "Looks like Susan got an update." He prodded again. Nothing. "There was a virus attack," he explained. "Name?" asked Lapinette. "I'm still Wabbit," said the Wabbit. Lapinette sighed. Wabsworth smiled. "Hardhack Rat. That's what we're calling it for now." The Wabbit tapped his screwdriver on the fuselage. "Hardhack sends Logic Bombs via the Internet, timed to initiate at vulnerable points." Wabsworth nodded. His circuits whined while he considered. "And he breaches our protocol parameters without difficulty." "But what's the motive?" asked Lapinette. "These sort of types don't need a motive," replied the Wabbit. Lapinette shook her head. "What types?" "Evil Computers," replied the Wabbit. "They're all evil," said Wabsworth.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

3. The Wabbit and the Alphanumerics

The Wabbit hauled Wabsworth to a discreet location and removed his maintenance panel. A green glow pulsed. The Wabbit tutted, clenched his teeth and produced his favourite screwdriver. He jabbed swiftly at a point just under Wabsworth's shoulder. Wabsworth jerked and his head slumped. Now the Wabbit worked frantically on a concealed keypad hidden in Wabsworth's fur. He turned the screwdriver handle three quarters and murmured, "Sniff 'em out!" It whined like an old fashioned modem. The Wabbit's ears quivered and his eyes narrowed. "Aha!" he yelled. He placed a paw on Wabsworth's head, just under his glasses. He spoke into his radio. "Transmit logic bomb cleaner." He nudged the radio into contact with the screwdriver and waited. Wabsworth suddenly shook his head, sneezing phantom alphanumerics that glistened and died. "Where in the binky was I?" He gasped, convulsed and expelled a series of equations. The Wabbit tried to catch them but to no avail. He scowled. "We were compromised." Wabsworth's circuits whirred. "Did you get an update?" The Wabbit laughed. "I don't get updates. I'm kept completely in the dark." "There was a DWA update," insisted Wabsworth, "it took all binking night." "What did you do?" asked the Wabbit. A silence fell as Wabsworth thought. "There was a movie with it..." The Wabbit's stare was a question. "It was 'Hackers'," groaned Wabsworth.
[A Logic bomb is a piece of malicious software often delivered via the internet, timed to initiate at specific intervals.]

Monday, April 16, 2018

2. Lapinette and the Byzantine Failure

Susan the Biplane had reported bugsy software. The Wabbit wasn't around - so Lapinette took her for a test flight. They soared over the mountains, buzzed down the river and for a while things seemed normal. But suddenly Susan looped, spun and dropped. "Sorry ma'am," said Susan. Lapinette's tummy went walkabout but she pretended she was fine. "Hold attitude, Susan." Susan wobbled and shook like a jelly. "I'm having an attitude problem," she said. "Not for the first time," thought Lapinette. "It's my instruments, Ma'am," said Susan, "they're beeping and bopping, bipping and burping, blabbing and .." Lapinette threw several switches, one of which was the radio. She ran a silent diagnostic, ran it again and switched the radio back on. "I need oil," said Susan, "poodles of oil." She lurched dramatically and stood on a wingtip. Lapinette spoke into her radio. "Come in, Control." The radio crackled. "I haven't been out, have you? Would you like to go out?" Lapinette sighed and looked at the instrument panel. "Can you switch to analog," Susan?" "I love Kylie Minog," replied Susan. She began to sing I should be so lucky and dropped so dangerously low that Lapinette spotted people she knew. Lapinette flipped the switch and grabbed the joystick with one paw. With another she grabbed her radio and selected shortwave. The Wabbit's voice cut through the whine. "Having fun?"