01 June 2006

Dag's Office

I've toyed with several settings for where Dag works, both regarding the city and what his office is like. I thought about maybe making his office in an old church that had been converted. I saw one like that in Minneapolis. There is also an old warehouse in Minneapolis that was converted to offices years ago that turned out pretty cool. Then I got to thinking about the businesses that are on the piers along the Seattle Waterfront. I'm thinking that I might combine the warehouse idea with the piers and make it in Seattle. It will let me create a little of my own world in an interesting location. There's so much going on down there with ferries, shipping, Pike's Place Market, the viaduct, and all. I also like the feel of the old, heavy-beamed wood construction of the piers. It reminds me of the warehouses in Minneapolis.

So, I picture Dag's office as being very open, with a huge window overlooking the water. There is a bed for Maizie in front of the window and his desk is on one side. He has a thing for Feng Shui, so would not have his back to either the window or the door. In addition to his desk, there is a conversation area near Maizie's bed with a sofa and chair. He has a laptop computer on his desk, and basically nothing else. There is no paper in his office.

There is a reception room outside his office door with a desk, chair, and two guest chairs. It is tastefully decorated, but once again, completely void of paper. There is no computer on the desk (we find out later that his secretary also uses a laptop). There is, however, a second--locked--door in the waiting area. This leads to "The Vault" where Dag's computer server is. We discover that he keeps no files on his laptops. Everything is stored on the computer and he accesses it wirelessly through the internet from wherever he is. There's a little techno-mumble-jumble here, but Dag considers it safer to have all his files locked in The Vault instead of carrying them around. Basically, we find out that if his laptop is stolen, the theif gets absolutely nothing. It assumes a higher grade of wireless performance than what is common today, but let's paint the picture as we dream it, not as we live it. After all, I'm sitting in an ice arena with the featherweight laptop on my knees posting to LJ via a SIM card and EDGE connection to Cingular. It's not that hard to imagine Dag having something better and cooler than what I have.


Wayzgoose said...

From Jason:
He works in a third-floor office in a run-down building in a not-so-good neighborhood. Neon can be seen outside his office window. He has a wooden desk and swivel chair, both of which have seen better days. There is no computer on his desk, although there is probably a lot of paper, which in all honesty deserves to be in the mostly empty circular file on the left side (Dag's left) of the desk. There are some gray metal filing cabinets along one wall, and a coat-rack next to the door on which hangs Dag's hat and well-used overcoat.

In Dag's office, it is always night time, and it is always raining outside.

Gee, I thought all that was obvious. :)

Ok, so that differs a bit from your ideas. Two questions: one, Dag's server setup sounds expensive. How did he pay for all that? Two, if I were Dag, I'd sure as hell want the door to the vault to be inside my office, not in the waiting room. What if you have to go in there while there are people in the waiting room?

Random thought: if you want an interesting, and highly amusing, take on the "private eye with secret door thing going on", rent the movie "zero effect". One of those movies that you watch and say to yourself "how did I never hear of this?" Also, really good plot with a nice twist at the end.

Wayzgoose said...

Good points. I guess that I'm seeing Dag as the antithesis of the standard tough detective, though it is tempting to succumb fully to the clich├ęs. When it comes down to it, Dag is almost a little prissy. He likes things all neat and clean, and he's a little paranoid about having information lying around. I even imagine that he has a magnetic trigger (compliments to Neal Stephenson) around the door to the vault so that if anyone attempts to remove the computer from the vault it would erase the hard drive.

He became a private investigator after fifteen years as an accountant. His normal case is figuring out who cooked the books, how to reverse an employee's sabotage of the computer in a company, or tracking down a missing shipment of taco shells. I picture him as a technut who always has a new gadget that often doesn't work, but with a few that are dependable and fortified way beyond anything that he really needs.

Money is an interesting thing. He always has enough, but is constantly aware of the fact that he's not making progress with his financial goals because he's frankly not very good at managing his money--witness the number of techno-toys he has. I picture the rather brutal physical exertions that he is about to go through as something that is relatively new for him, and that is why he suddenly finds out about a heart condition that could have sprung up at any time if he had been physically active to start with.

I'm about to open an entry that is specifically a character sketch of Dag from "outside" as opposed to all his crusty quotes that I've been generating so far.

Wayzgoose said...

From Jason:
Right. I keep forgetting that he used to be an accountant.

And yet, he's not very good at managing his money? Hrm?

Magnetic trigger around the door: Nice, but crap that will require an unwieldy large electromagnetic pulse generator to actually erase a hard drive over distances of a few feet (that damn 1/d^2 law again). Would be difficult to conceal in the door frame, and yet you'd want it to be concealed because if it were obvious then anyone stealing your computer would be tipped off and could do something like wrap the computer in copper mesh before stealing it.

Perhaps more practical: a small pulse generator, hooked up to the computer's power supply, mounted directly on top of the hard drive(s). It's completely dis-associated from the rest of the computer's hardware and software (except for drawing a trickle of juice from the power supply to charge up couple of capacitors), and thus, completely invisible to anyone scoping out the system short of them actually opening up the case. When the computer is stolen, it loses power. One of the capacitors (a timer) starts discharging over the course of a minute or so. When the voltage on that capacitor drops low enough, the device fires, emptying the big capacitor into the induction coils rapidly, generating the pulse that wipes the drives. It adds complexity, but you need a little delay timer in there, or else your drives will get wiped every time the power goes out. I'm sure Dag has a failsafe power system in place (he does, right? And a regular backup/archiving policy?), but you still want to provide at least a few seconds of safety in there so the device doesn't trigger before the backup power fully engages.