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“Star Trek” in the Real World November 14, 2013

I hadn’t meant to purchase an iPad.  At least, not at first.  I had a perfectly functional iPod Touch and, as far as I was concerned, that was sufficient to meet all of my needs.  Then, life changed.  A writer’s conference and the start of a school year drew my attention to the fact that my 15” laptop (hitherto used exclusively as a PC) was too unwieldy to haul back and forth to classes and seminars.  Its lengthy boot time (far less than that of the 386 on which I began my computing career) and limited battery life also detracted from its actual usefulness in these settings.  Something had to be done… and quickly.

Noticing my dilemma, my mother expertly drew my attention to the “nifty” Apple product.  She had purchased one for herself earlier in the year and with a flourish that would have made any Mac salesman proud, began demonstrating each of its features.

The urgency of my situation demanded immediate action and I’ve always been a bit of a gadget junkie, so I’ll admit that it wasn’t a hard sell.  Marching into our local Mac Store, I informed the sales clerk that I wanted a 64 GB, 4th Gen iPad, in black, with a keyboard and screen protector.  It was an order that he was more than willing to meet and, a few minutes later, I hopped into my pickup truck, nestling my new gadget securely in the passenger seat.

I spent the evening charging the device and downloading useful apps (many of which came at the recommendation of my fiancé who was born with a glowing, data-streaming Apple binkie in his mouth).  I set up Evernote (the access anywhere notebook that’s perfect for organizing everything from lecture recordings to notes and photographs), moved all of my Audubon guides over, and installed a few useful library apps.  As almost an afterthought, I decided to install Netflix as well… and that was my downfall.

While watching TV on my device had not been a part of the plan, I had recently begun listening to Ken Ray and John Champion’s “Mission Log” podcast.  A weekly look at the “messages, morals, and meanings” of “Star Trek”, I had made it a habit to watch along and I had yet to watch this week’s episode.

I quickly determined that this would be an excellent way to test my iPad’s video streaming capabilities.  Setting the device on the table, I propped it up on its kickstand and hit play.  In the blink of an eye, the screen was filled with images of Kirk, Spock, and the starship Enterprise… all digitally remastered for my viewing pleasure.

It nearly brought tears to my eyes.  I had spent much of my youth dreaming of technology like this and here it was… in my own home and capable of far more than any of us had ever imagined.  As I watched McCoy deliver a hypospray to an overly-excited crewmen, I couldn’t help feeling that this was the way “Star Trek” was meant to be viewed.  And that Gene Roddenberry would be impressed.

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