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.
Microsoft skipping Windows 9 – jumps to Windows 10
Tue, Sep 30th 2014 12:40p Karl-Henry Martinsson Microsoft unveiled the next version of Windows at a press event in San Francisco today. Surprisingly the successor to Windows 8 and 8.1 will not be called Windows 9 as everyone expected. Instead Microsoft jumps straight to Windows 10. One reason for this, according to Microsoft, is that the new operating system is such a big leap […] [read] Keywords: microsoft
#ThrowbackThursday – Worst Practives at Connect 2013
Thu, Sep 18th 2014 6:05a Karl-Henry Martinsson Paul Mooney and Bill Buchan returns with a brand new Worst Practices at IBM Connect 2013. This session alone is almost worth the cost to attend Lotusphere/Connect/ConnectED. There is a slight skip towards the end, when I had to switch batteries. Otherwise you have the whole session, including the warm-up performance. [read] Keywords: ibm
More on IBM ConnectED 2015
Wed, Sep 17th 2014 12:05p Karl-Henry Martinsson This morning Kristin Keene from IBM talked more about the upcoming IBM ConnectED 2015 in January at the ICS Community webcast. IBM realized that the last few years they been swinging over too much to the business side, and is now going back to a much more technical conference. As I mentioned the other day, […] [read] Keywords: ibm
Two more days to thank someone
Mon, Sep 15th 2014 5:45p Karl-Henry Martinsson It is now just two days left to nominate IBM Champions. So if you know someone who have been helping the community, perhaps through video tutorials, blogs, presenting at (or organizing) conferences or answering questions on different forums, submit a nomination. This is how IBM explains what a Champion is: An IBM Champion is someone who […] [read] Keywords: ibm
IBM ConnectED agenda published
Fri, Sep 12th 2014 9:00a Karl-Henry Martinsson The agenda for IBM ConnectED (the conference formerly known as Lotusphere and IBM Connect) has now been posted. As previously announced, the conference is one day shorter than before, ending already on Wednesday. There are no jumpstart sessions listed for Sunday, but the Master Class sessions are returning that day. The individual sessions have not been […] [read] Keywords: ibm
#ThrowbackThursday – My old HP calculators
Thu, Sep 11th 2014 6:57a Karl-Henry Martinsson I have previously here on my blog mentioned my preference for HP calculators. Our first calculator at home was the HP-21, with a red LED display, which we got in late 1975 (if I remember correctly), soon after it was released. My parents used it for all different kinds of calculations, especially taxes (back then the Swedish tax system […] [read] Keywords:
#ThrowbackThursday – World War 1
Thu, Sep 4th 2014 1:05p Karl-Henry Martinsson OK, this is a pretty extreme #ThrowbackThursday, but I wanted to promote a blog I have been reading since the beginning of the year. Arthur Linfoot, who took part in World War 1, wrote a diary every day from January 1 1914 to December 31 1918. It was written in Pitman’s shorthand, and his son […] [read] Keywords: