During the last couple of weeks I have revisited some of the sci-fi classics I read when I was young. Robert A Heinlein was always one of my favorites. In what would be considered middle school in the US (4th-6th grade) we had one hour each week when the class was reading whatever book we had picked out in the library. At one time, I think it was in 5th grade, I read the Swedish translation of "Have Space Suit -- Will Travel". The other week I listened to this book as an audio book. This one was actually more of a radio theatre play, with different actors playing the different parts. I then followed this by listening to "Citizen of the Galaxy" and "Double Star".
The books were written in 1956, 1957 and 1958, and I noticed something interesting. Despite them taking place in the future, where space travel (even faster than light) is possible, and with all kinds of exotic technology available, many things we take for granted today are lacking.
In "Double Star", the main character is studying using an encyclopedia in the ships library. As we know today, online encyclopedias like wikipedia and internet searches have all but killed off the traditional printed encyclopedia. There is no way for a printed publication to stay current. If a celebrity or any other person dies, within minutes their wikipedia page will be updated with date/time and cause of death.
In "Citizen of the Galaxy" the missile control computers onboard the trade ships are manned by young adults with good math abilities. They seem to be somewhat aided by a rudimentary computer, but it is mainly the operator who calculate trajectory and time for release of the missiles. The result is recorded on a spool (which can be read by humans, so probably some kind of paper-like material). The concept of digital storage did not exist, and I am sure any PC (or even smart phone) today could perform the calculations needed much faster than any human, and with greater accuracy.
Some of the books also talk about huge archives, using micro film. Even if that still today is a great medium for long term storage, it is not the best choice for the kind of short term archiving used in the books. Again, the concept of digital storage does not appear in the books. The books basically build on the technology known in the 1950's, but "enhanced" as imagined in the future.
However, there is on interesting thing in "Double Star". When recordings are made (for public broadcasts), they are "stereoscopic", i.e. 3D. It is not until the last year or two we have actually seen 3D television become common. Personally I believe that we soon will see 3D television sets where we don't need to use special glasses (several manufacturers already have those) and that more and more tv shows and even news will be in 3D.
All this is not a slam on Robert A Heinlein or any other sci-fi writer from the past. It just illustrates how hard it is to predict a paradigm shift like PCs or the development of technology. For being almost 60 years old, the books are still very enjoyable. If you have not experienced Robert A Heinlein yet, pick up one of his books or an audiobook at the library, bookstore or favorite online retailer.
Is the break-through for smart watches almost here?
Thu, Aug 28th 2014 8:25a Karl-Henry Martinsson In a few days, Motorola will present their highly anticipated Moto 360 smart watch, and at the IFA trade show in Berlin next week LG will show off their latest entry in the battle for the hearts (and wrists) of geeks everywhere, the G Watch R. Both watches are round, as opposed to previous entries […] [read] Keywords:
jQuery – A flexible way to show/hide sections
IBM ConnectED 2015 – registration open
Tue, Aug 19th 2014 8:45a Karl-Henry Martinsson IBM ConnectED, the conference formerly known as Lotusphere and Connect, has now opened the registration for the 2015 event. The “early bird” conference fee is $1,595 and on October 4 it goes up to the full price, $1,795. This is less than Lotusphere/Connect in the past, but the conference is also 20% shorter at 4 days […] [read] Keywords: ibm
I am a victim of identity theft
Tue, Aug 12th 2014 7:53p Karl-Henry Martinsson This weekend I found out that I am a victim of identity theft. It is very unsettling, and feels like a total violation of my privacy. My girlfriend Chrissy and I were discussing the potential of me getting a new car in the next few months. I am having some repairs coming up on my […] [read] Keywords:
The joy of programming
ConnectED 2015 – Smaller and shorter but more technical
Thu, Jul 24th 2014 1:40p Karl-Henry Martinsson If you read the official IBM announcment for ConnectED 2015 posted by Mat Newman, you will notice a few interesting details. First of all, the event is shorter than previous years. It starts on Sunday and ends on Wednesday instead of Thursday. On Sunday IBM has scheduled the Leadership Alliance meeting, which previously been held in […] [read] Keywords: ibm
Recover lost SSL keyring password
Thu, Jul 24th 2014 10:45a Karl-Henry Martinsson About two years ago, our Network (as well as Domino) administrator left the company after 10 years. The other day our SSL certificate for one of our websites expired, and we wanted to use a newer wildcard certificate instead of a server specific certificate. The problem was that we did not have the password for […] [read] Keywords: domino
IBM Connect becomes IBM ConnectED in 2015
Wed, Jul 23rd 2014 12:25p Karl-Henry Martinsson IBM has announced the new name for the yearly conference in Orlando, the one most of us know (and still call) Lotusphere. For the last two years it was named Connect, and for 2015 IBM again changes the name, this time to ConnectED. The conference will be more technical than the last few years, according […] [read] Keywords: ibm
Code snippet – DateClass
Mon, Jul 21st 2014 6:45p Karl-Henry Martinsson Here is a small Lotusscript class I wrote some years ago. I use it in a number of other classes where I need to use date functionality of different kind. For example, I have a class that communicates with a FoxPro database, using a COM object. Some of the methods in that class uses XML while […] [read] Keywords: domino