last update 03.09.2006 12:01
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Neal's Last Words


Neal's Last Words

by Byron "Neal" Massey

Zamboni Races

This week I decided to take a closer look at the Zamboni vs. Bartmoss/Joan battle. I already listed the commonly enountered Sentries in my "Big Morphing Boon" article. I decided to do the same thing for Walls and Code Gates, so I would have a definite set of ICE to use when comparing different icebreaking setups.

I took the list of Code Gates and weeded out those I seldom see:
Cortical Scanner
Endless Corridor
Gatekeeper Riddler
Sphinx 2006 Tumblers
Twisty Passages

Then I identified those I ocasionally encounter, group A:
Ball and Chain
Misleading Access Menus Nerve Labyrinth

That left the most commonly enountered Code Gates, group B:
Haunting Inquisition Keeper
Mazer Quandary

I did the same thing for Walls, discarding the unpopular:
Iceberg Mobile Barricade
Reinforced Wall
Sandstorm Scaffolding
Toughoniu m(TM) Wall
Walking Wall

Then I listed the Walls that are sometimes encountered, group A:
Laser Wire
Razor Wire Shotgun Wire
Snowbank Wall of Ice

That left the most popular Walls, group B:
Crystal Wall
Data Wall Data Wall 2.0
Fire Wall Rock is Strong
Wall of Static

Now I could use the wieghted average cost for each type of ice to determine exactly where Bartmoss/Joan and Zamboni stood.

The weighted average is computed by

* Finding the average cost of a particular suite to break all the ICE in group A.
* Finding the average cost of a particular suite to break all the ICE in group B.
* Adding the two together.
* Adding in the cost of group B again.
* Dividing the total by 3.

All this does is make the group B ICE count for twice as much as the group A ICE. Of course, this cost doesn't even consider the ICE that was weeded out. If your Cyphermaster meets my Gatekeeper with 7 subroutines, you're in trouble, regardless of the weighted average. It just gives you an overall estimate.

Averaging all the different types of ICE together shows that Bartmoss/Joan costs an average of 4.7 bits per ICE, and Zamboni costs an average of 1,8 bits per ICE. That makes Zamboni (very approximately) 2.6 times better than Bartmoss, once both are installed.

Bartmoss takes only 5 bits to install, while Zamboni takes 21. Getting the extra two cards to set up Zamboni is probably going to cost another 5 bits or so, raising the cost to 26 bits. Adding the startup cost and the cost per ICE reveals that, as I guessed last week, you start saving money when you break your eighth peice of ICE with Zamboni.

Here's the challenge to any Runners who might be reading this:

Find a suite of ICE breakers, using 4 MU, that can outperform Bartmoss/Joan faster than Zamboni. You have to add 2.5 bits to your startup cost if you use 3 cards, and 5 bits if you use 4 cards.

I'll send an autographed Full Body Conversion to the first person who can solve this difficult puzzle.

Until then, I'm going back to work, where my boss has asked me to find a way, no matter how obscure, to make our Corporate backlog of Galatea ICE useful.