Finished this part but will wait to say things until other people do as I may or may not have forgotten to stop at the end of the chapter.
Also, looking at our participation polls, I’m impressed by the overall steadiness of our readers! I guess if you’re at a level to keep up with the advanced book club, you’re not going to be giving up on books very often.
犀川 tells the police he has a hunch but would like to confirm some things, before he tells them everything… in front of the culprit. They go to 島田’s place, and she pulls up some data for him. Then there’s a chat request on 島田’s computer, from ミチル. They request that 犀川 meet them in VR. It’s decided that 犀川・萌絵・儀同 will connect to VR in the lounge, and 島田 will connect to VR from her room. The end.
I kind of want to read ahead too. Considering how next week is double the length and I’m really curious… Might as well.
I totally of lost track of 犀川’s cigarette consumption this time. At least 5, probably more like 6 or 7…?
I also didn’t really get all the techno stuff this chapter. I don’t mind that, I’ll just wait for stuff to be explained to or figured out by 萌絵.
Thank you for the recap, very helpful! Right now my number one thought is not very plot-specific, and it is that as the book goes on I like 犀川 less and less. At this point I’m reading to get to the end because I need a break from him before we start the next one.
short (har har) intro - and what that means for the story
Computers, it turns out, are really stupid. Especially when it comes to remembering things. Basically they can only remember “on” and “off”, or, if we look at it from a different angle, 0 and 1. (This is called 1 bit by the way.) Now what to make of this? We can encode numbers with this, which goes like this:
and so on. I’m sure you can see a pattern here.
What we did here is we used 3 bits to encode 8 different numbers (from 0 to 7). That is because each bit represents two states, and combining them means we get to 2 x 2 x 2 = 2^3 = 8 different states.
Now it’s a bit painful to handle just millions of unstructured bits, therefore a clever person thought it might be useful to group them together in sets of 8, which they then called 1 byte. (We heard about that in the story, remember?) Now how many numbers can we store in one byte? It contains 8 bits, therefore we can store 2^8 = 256 different numbers.
Now 256 is not a very big number, and to store bigger numbers, one can group several bytes together. E.g. there is short which consists of 2 bytes. How much stuff can we store in 2 bytes? That’s 256 * 256 = 65536 different values – that means the numbers from 0 to 65535, if it is an unsigned short, i.e. only positive numbers. (If you would like to use it for positive and negative numbers, then you would call it a signed short and you could store the numbers from -32768 to 32767 in it. But actually the computer does not really care how you look at the information stored in the bytes, it only stores 1s and 0s.)
Anyways, Saikawa said that there was a variable in the code which was declared as an unsigned short. That means this variable can hold at most the number 65535. And that they were adding 1 to that variable for each hour. Now you may wonder what happens when the variable is “full”, i.e. when it already contains the number 65535, and when you add 1 to it. The answer is that the value stored in the variable will “wrap around”, i.e. if you take the largest possible value and increase it by 1, you will get to the lowest possible value! That is because like you saw above when we go from 3 (= 11) to 4 (= 100), all the digits that are 1 will turn to 0, and we will get a new digit added to our number. If we have our unsigned short maximum number, which is 16 times the digit “1”, and if we increase it we will get a 1 followed by 16 zeroes. But as we only look at the 16 digits from before and don’t care for the new 17th digit, they are now all zeroes. (Depending on how stupid a computer system is, this increase might also kill some data in a neighboring cell because we now have this extraneous 17th digit, but usual systems just cut off that new digit, leaving us with the smallest value 0.). This is also called an “overflow”.
Now Saikawa realized that probably such an overflow happened for the variable counting the hours (because the variable was only a short), and so he had Moe calculate back from the moment when Red Magic acted up (the day before yesterday at 7pm) to check at which point in time the variable would have needed to be zero in order to overflow at that exact moment, and it turns out that it was the moment they rebooted the system in order to install version 4. Which makes sense because on system startup such a variable would normally have the value 0. So from that reboot onwards, 65536 hours had passed, the variable overflowed, and that was the moment the system freaked out.
OK I hope I could add more clarification than confusion with this explanation
Feel free to ask more if things are too confusing or still unclear.
No worries! I think it’s much more fun to read this kind of stuff if one actually understands a bit of what’s going on
I’m pretty sure we will get an explanation in the next chapter so that Moe can also understand everything, but I think it can’t hurt to be a bit ahead of our protag for once, right?
I don’t find him atrocious or anything, but he occupies such a large space in the book that disliking him made reading the book irritating at times. Reasons I don’t love 犀川 (as a character I’m giving my reading time to): 1. he says a lot of things that it seems like are supposed to read as deep, but I often don’t find them deep, and sometimes find them at least somewhat off-putting, 2. his #1 character trait is chain-smoking, 3. his #2 character trait is a general lack of interest in people, 4. his #3 character trait is finding work more important than anything else, to the point of rarely taking days off and finding working in a box with no windows and no human interaction the ideal situation, 5. he’s unnecessarily secretive with the mystery stuff, 6. in large part, people (within the book) seem to put him up on a pedestal, which exacerbates my irritation with points 1-5. We’ll see how I feel about him in book #2!
Good comments, everyone! Forgot to participate in the poll, but I’m now finished and moving on to the next chapter.
Point 1: The watch part was very funny. I also get a kick out of Moe’s obsession with Setsuko. It’s such an uncomfortable situation. I’m sure it will seem less weird once the nature of the relationship is finally revealed. Our author is just stringing us along to keep us entertained.
Point 2: Yeah, I agree with @valkow that I like Saikawa less and less as the book progresses. For all the reasons he mentioned. Although I mainly just find the chain smoking amusing.