Thursday, March 1, 2001

Sci-fi thoughts, movie criticism, and HotSync fix feedback


In this month's Letters to the Editor, one reader believes sci-fi writers of the past were pretty accurate in their technological predictions, another reader takes issue with a recent article's point-of-view, and two readers respond to the HotSync fix offered by Editor-in-Chief David Gewirtz in last month's PalmPower.

The final frontier

The following letter was written in response to the article, "I'm sorry, Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that" in the January issue of PalmPower at

After reading your analysis of the technological accomplishments of the last century, I had to take a minute to point out that perhaps we have lived up to more of those cultural expectations than you might think. 2001: A Space Odyssey took place aboard a space station; well, guess what? We have a space station in orbit, and it's 2001! And while the HAL2000 may not be a reality, artificial intelligence looms large on the horizon. We have operating systems and applications that "learn" how we prefer to use our hardware and software and essentially rewrite themselves.

But more to the point, Mr. Roddenberry, in his Star Trek series, seems to have come closer to our present day technology than any other science fiction writer has. Witness the proliferation of the cell phone, for instance. The original cell phones were "flip phones" which looked much like the original Star Trek "communicators." As the series progressed, so did the look of the communicator. Today's cell phones are mostly digital and have miniaturized to become amazingly small and portable.

Remember the "data pads" used by all and sundry aboard the starship Enterprise? Tricorders? Data chips? Medical monitors? Touch-pad controls? Now take a look around your own home and office. Notice any similarities in the likes of your Palm device, laptop, Clik! disks (now called PocketZip), CAT scan machines, patient monitors? My microwave and stove both sport touch-pad controls. And what about the heads-up display used in fighter jets?

And before you consign "big science" to the dust, take a look at the many technological advances that came out of the ongoing space shuttle program. Many things originally developed for NASA and the space program have led to technology that has been incorporated into our everyday lives. Including, perhaps, ways to feed many of those starving people.

No, I do not think those writers of the 60's were so far wrong after all. They were, and continue to be, the prophets of our technological future. Personally, I hope I live to be a hundred or more, because I can't wait to see what's coming up in the next 50 or so years!

V. Ewart
Hunt & Associates