Commerce & Communications Network
The modern CCN as we know it has, of course, evolved in much the same way as all the other pan-systemal data nets in other universes. There comes a point when everyone has become sentient enough to trot between planets a bit, only to realise that their native currency isn't worth a fluffy rodent's dinner on other worlds, and that sometimes it's difficult to buy anything when the local language consists of ultra-sonic screeches and clicks, especially when you left your phrase book in the spaceport. So what you eventually get is a data-system combining purchase and information outlets all in one easy to use format. Well, we say easy to use, have you ever noticed the way that leading Tachyo-tripiolotic physicists, along with everyone else for that matter, stare at these kind of terminals with a sort of bemused puzzlement during even the simplest of transactions ? In an attempt to alleviate the problem, and try to ‘Help you not to lose it’ we present a simple guide on how to find the best Wheels, Deals and photon-treated Steels using the CCN, or ‘Booth System’ as it is sometimes called in the more colloquial cul-de-sacs of the system. . . .
Upon making planetfall, your first priority should be to log onto the CCN. This is done simply by entering one of the many booths in the spaceport; you will then be subjected to retinal scan and fingerprint identification authorisation, although you may have to subject yourself to DNA fingerprinting if the machine cannot establish a clean ID fix (the most common reasons for this is due to bloodshot eyes from a hangover, or dirt on the hands. Hence the aphorism that a trader's two best friends are a clean mind and clean hands).
It is essential that you log on frequently; the CCN is a constantly-updating medium, and if you avoid it for to long you could find yourself seriously out of the loop on what's happening around the galaxy. This can prove fatal, or at the very least financially embarrassing. At best, you might find yourself arriving at a planet with a cargo full of H2O only to find that it's just suffered a flood (the proverbial ‘Taking Beer to Bex’); at worst you could find yourself flying through pirate-infested territory that only last week was as safe as a Janus IV bank vault.
When you log on, you will see a brief introduction for your viewing pleasure whilst CCN downloads information on your credit, ship, cargo, recent movements and sanity from your Personal Access Directory (PAD). If all is well you will be given access to the Main Menu.
Once you have logged in to the CCN, you will be faced by the Main Menu, designed for maximum ease of use through the psychologically-tuned intuitive control system, and minimal frustration thanks to the soothing music and pictograms employed.
In terms of data, the Main Menu interface is without doubt one of the greatest marvels of our age. Using the latest biomorphic ‘living’ processor technology, this screen occupies the pinnacle of the system's hierarchical datanet. These simple five icons (or ‘biospheres’, as they are more properly known) put at the user's disposal a constantly updated source of indisputably correct data (a benefit of the biomorphic processor's much-vaunted ‘Chaos Logic’ Validity Circuit). It is estimated that the amount of data stored by the CCN would require the services of a conventional silicon-based computer slightly larger than the Gas Giant Aidet Major.
Logged into all the leading local dealers, the CCN ship trading section is the place for the discerning traveller to pick up a new set of plasma drives. Monitored by the CIS, the CCN Ship Exchange is 100% legal; it is almost impossible for the CCN user to be duped into purchasing a faulty, stolen or tampered-with vehicle, and the Standard Price Edict made by the League of Interplanetary Vehicle Manufacturers three years ago means that vehicle prices remain constant throughout the Tri-system.
The selection of equipment has been standardized under pressure from the CIS and various planetary Militaries, and incorporates weaponry of a technological advancement deemed to pose no threat to the established order.
The Bulletin Board
Please note that this is is one area in which the CCN Board cannot guarantee the exact legality or verity of the details posted. Following extensive litigation on the part of FUDGIT, the Employment Agencies Union, as well as the Humanist Society For The Preservation of the Freedom to Lie, the CCN is legally obliged to post the details given it by the potential service offerer, even if the CCN Processing entity suspects, or even knows, the information to be false. Another episode in the system-wide conflict between the exactitude of technology and the ephermerality of Mankind.
Bulletin Board - Missions
It is a sad reflection on these turbulent times that, given the absence of a strong pan-systemic authority structure, many criminals are only ever brought to justice by virtue of the martially-skilled and mercenarily-minded individuals known as bounty hunters (cross ref. #EARUSA09183 Myths of Human Origin: The wild West). It is for this reason that the Mission Bulletin feature was added to the CCN, offering a public access site free of censorship to all Tri-system citizens, although now the facility is used for all types of space-faring services, not just the vigilante purpose for which it was originally created.
Note, however, that although there is no restriction on the nature of requirement posted (and, indeed, some of them are so socially unconventional that a broad mind is recommended when viewing them), the CIS have been known to take action on the more provocative and clearly illegal postings. Bear in mind, then, to take care when responding to these less wholesome missions: you could very easily end up in a whole load of trouble with the authorities.
The Public Records are written, maintained and updated by the DID (Department for Information Distribution), a non-active sub-sector of the CIS. The Records themselves are based on official CIS data, with each user being granted an arbitrary security clearance by the Department. Note that Civilian Security Clearance can reach a maximum level of Gamma Double-Plus, although this honour is granted only to the very rich, the very dangerous and gossip columnists.
Whereas life for the intrepid spacefarer is exciting, glamourous, dangerous, and consequently, rather short, the majority of the Tri-system's inhabitants live predictably dreary lives (except on Hermes). As a consequence of this, there is a thriving industry dedicated to weaselling out the most sensational, the most profound and the most bizarre news from around the Galaxy, and beaming it direct to the consumer in real-time holophonic Feal-D (a facility sadly available only to the private user at the present time; you'll have to make do with text).
As a consequence of this frenetic news-finding activity, it is relatively easy for any Tri-system citizen to be pretty much au fait with what's going down around the words, but it is also very easy for them to become entirely embroiled in emotively-written and yet utterly insignificant news. For that reason, the so-called ‘News Dicing’ facility has been added to the CCN, which means that for the benefit of the busy traveller, only news items considered essential to the individual are transmitted. For example, if the ND program considers a user to be a trader, news items with potentially profitable information will be forwarded, whereas a documentary on the mating habits of the Karactican Hewing Slug would probably be intercepted and prevented.
Unfortunately, the ND system is still relatively prototypic, and anomalies will be generated from time to time; the relatively crude assessment of the bulletins means that an action on the individual's part such as going to a Tri-D pool match could well result in him being forwarded sports news that is perhaps not exactly to the user's taste. Compound this fact with advertising agencies employing system analysts to design advertisements which will be forwarded to as broad a popular spectrum as possible, and it is easy to see why you will, from time to time, find something absolutely ludicrous in your post box.