Editor’s Note: Highly Illogical

By Brian Proffitt
Managing Editor

[The following is a not-serious discussion of the Future of
Technology. Please enjoy it in that vein, and understand that
know the difference between fantasy and reality. And the
answer to every single one of the posers and theories posited below
is: “plot device.” And if you hassle me about it, I’ll use my
phaser on you.]

Okay, I just got the first season of Star Trek: The Original
on DVD this week, and after a few hours of watching it
along in my genuine Fleet captain’s uniform, I have come to a
stunning realization, one that may shake the foundations of fandom
for centuries to come.

I think those poor schmucks on the Enterprise were
running closed-source software, possibly even a derivative of

I cite as evidence all of the extremely goofy technological
things that keep happening to the hapless crew of the
Enterprise as they trekked through the stars, particularly
in early episodes of the first season.

In particular, there is “The Enemy Within,” where Capt. Kirk
gets split in two by the transporter. Now, putting aside the
problem of where the heck all the extra mass came from to make a
second, evil (overacting) Kirk (and remembering that
there’s no such thing as a transporter)
, I want to know why
the crew took so long to figure out what was going on.

Was this a hardware or software issue? Some would argue
hardware, since the mysterious ore that affected the transporter
clearly affected its innards. But that begs the question, why
didn’t the software warn the transporter operators what was about
to happen? Clearly a lack of hacking was at work here. This was
screamingly evident later in the episode when Scotty figures out
the new problem with the transporter is the big hole the evil Kirk
had blown with a phaser in a conduit earlier.

Hello? It’s a big, gaping hole! Don’t you think the
transporter’s software would have had a diagnostic system that said
(in the voice of Eddie Murphy) “Ahhhh! I’ve been shot!” If
a lack of a warning system isn’t evidence of a Windows ancestry, I
don’t know what is.

And then there’s the whole engine room dilemna in “The Naked
Time” episode, when the toasted-on-alien-whack-juice Lt. Riley
locks himself into the engine room, shuts off the engines, then
starts singing Irish ballads (oh, no; no stereotypes proagated
there, right?)
. They can’t regain control because Riley’s shut
off the auxillary controls and centralized everything with him. Not
bad for a drunk, but this centralization is another clear sign that
somewhere in that ship’s code are win32 APIs.

What was the source for this madness? Did the Eugenics Wars of
the 1990s erase all aspects of open source software? Did Romulan
spies infiltrate Starfleet and load up some Gatesian code? We may
never know.

Actually, there were signs in these episodes that the hand of
open source and open standards was afoot. In “Where No Man Has Gone
Before,” the crew of the Enterprise lifts some consoles
from the planet Delta Vega and they slide right into the bridge
consoles. Clearly the landing party’s Lt. Kelso was relying on open
standards to get the compatible equipment. Too bad he got smoked
later on in the show.

And, back in “The Naked Time,” Scotty clearly is doing some
serious hacking in the Jefferies tube when he re-routes some of the
code to stabilize the ship–while he spends the next 15 minutes
precision drilling the engine-room door. (Um, hello? Phaser?
Setting 10? Blow a hole in the door and commando raid in! I know, I
know, plot device… Breathe…)

So, based on the clues I have seen thus far, it trends towards a
Microsoft ancestry, but there are some signs that the good ship
Enterprise is groovin’ with some open source software.
Perhaps the negative things are just a result of bad hardware
design, or Romulan spies.

Or, perhaps I should get out of the house and enjoy my holiday
weekend. Enjoy yours, too. We’ll be up and running all weekend, but
try to get out and have fun! You never know the effects of staring
at a screen for too long…

Live long and hang loose!

[Star TrekTM and related marks are
trademarks of Paramount Pictures. Because there’s more lawyers out
there than tribbles.]

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