Star Trek 40 years on: blue aliens and red girls

Also in E-tales: Meet Chumby - a cross between an alarm clock and Furby

Star Trek 40 years on: blue aliens and red girls

As a long-time Star Trek fan, this E-taler spent a happy few minutes scrolling through the photo submissions on Flickr requested by Wired News as a way of commemorating Star Trek’s 40th anniversary.

There weren’t too many pictures up when we took a peek — hopefully, more will be posted — but we liked the homeliness and wackiness of some of them.

There’s Vylette’s Trekkie girl in a red dress (above) entitled “Kirk bait”. “Hello Captain,” she purrs. Actually, it’s all refreshingly innocent, as are the entries from another fan-cum-photographer, Patrick. His pictures include some endearing photos of a wobbly clay model of the Enterprise, made by a juvenile Patrick when in the eighth grade.

Another contributor, Fitzwillie, has submitted some quite intriguing pictures. Mainly of characters created for the Starbase Phoenix play-by-email site, they include a blue alien, a red alien and a whole raft of new Star Trek crew members.

The picture above is from the hippie episode of Star Trek, first shown in 1969, which sees the Enterprise being hijacked by an insane doctor and his followers, who are looking for Paradise. Sort of what the Enterprise is doing really. One of my favourite episodes featured the Tribbles — alien life forms as bundles of fluff that reproduce like super-heated guinea pigs.

After 5, but before 9

TUANZ’s monthly After-5s are always interesting and informative, involving as they do a stimulating speaker and drinks and nibbles afterwards. Best of all, it all happens just after work, when everyone is in the mood for a bit of enlightenment and socialising around the drinks fountain. E-tales got a shock, however, to discover that this month’s After-5 event wasn’t after 5pm at all, but was, in fact, two-and-a-half hours after 5am, with breakfast being served at 7.30am, followed by the presentation at 8am. It’s all over in time for attendees to begin the working day.

According to TUANZ, the sponsor of this month’s After-5 event “likes to do it a little differently”, and when it first hosted a breakfast meeting last year, “It was a very popular event”.

A Wily move

The name of CA’s latest acquisition target is a touch ironic. CA recently announced that it intends to buy application management software vendor Wily Technologies. Here at E-tales we couldn’t help smiling as the name “Wily” is somewhat notorious around CA. After all, it was Texas billionaire Sam Wyly (pronounced the same as Wily) who launched a bid, in 2001, to oust the then chairman of CA, Charles Wang, from the company’s board of directors. The bid was unsuccessful, but it marked the beginning of a series of events that raised questions about CA’s internal processes and governance in the ensuing few years.

Acronymious workplace

IBM is renowned for its love of TLAs (three letter acronyms, not territorial local authorities) but even Big Blue admits it reached a low point with AMDs.

Staff were equipped with AMDs at a US office many years ago, when the air conditioning units failed. For those not in the know, an AMD is an Air Movement Device, more commonly known as a “fan”.

Our E-taler tells us that the teller of this tale has since moved on, having found Big Blue too acronymious by far.

It’s obvious innit?

There has always been a touch of subversion about some techies — part and parcel of the questioning mind really — so it was quite satisfying to come across one of the latest entries in the New Scientist magazine’s blog.

Apparently, NS has got het up in the past about big corporations patenting the obvious — Microsoft and the double-click; BT trying it on with the internet link — and had already suggested that someone in the blogosphere set up a site for posting such ideas, so as to prevent more such rip-off, scurrilous patent-creation.

The fact that the Electronic Frontier Foundation is also on to this one and wants the US Supreme Court to allow informal evidence from blogs and the like to help it scupper obvious patents makes the idea — and the site — both more delicious and, hopefully, more effective too. Check it all out at bleedingobvious.com.

Enter the Chumby

On the subject of subverting the dominant capitalist paradigm, enter the Chumby. At first, when this E-taler came across the Chumby story (in The Guardian online), she thought it was an early Christmas tech-toy story. But, no, Furbes (as he is affectionately known in our house, which is home to one of the original furry tech-toys) has grown up and is now the tech equivalent of a student rebel majoring in politics, with a new moniker, Chumby.

Chumby is actually a small wi-fi terminal that uses widgets to display, well, whatever you want really. The easiest way to think of Chumby, apparently, is as a cross between an alarm clock and the aforementioned Furby. Alternatives include a Flickr photo-viewer and, God forbid in these days of science-versus-mystical-nonsense (creationism), a daily horoscope viewer.

Chumby’s designers see it all as a way of reconciling our dual real and net lives by integrating the two. And the subversive bit? Chumby Industries hopes to sell the device at close to cost price (US$150) and one of designers is Xbox hacker Bunny Huang, who reconfigured the Xbox to run on Linux — hence the open source nature of the Chumby, which also has a removable case and has already been turned over to the geeks to play with. E-tales welcomes our new Chumby overlords.

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