Thursday, September 20, 2007

Trent's walking around the house with a handheld...

My now 9 year old son got a Nokia 770 for his birthday -- they're on sale at Buy.com for $140. For another $20 he got a 1GB Kingston memory card for it. I was reluctant to buy it -- his birthday budget's $200, and this blew it. He got that Nokia, cake, ice cream, and a sleepover, and I worried he'd get frustrated with the device and feel like he hadn't had a good birthday --

Not to worry. It's his first real computer; runs Debian Linux and has 33 times the storage of my first hard drive, a bright 800x400 color screen, a USB connector and headphone jack.

He's completely engrossed with it. I've never seen him quite so excited by anything -- basketball, maybe. Litle blond boy walking around the house chattering at anyone who'll stand still about what he can do with his handheld -- look, books, music, movies! He's asked me a couple hundred (not even a faint exagerration) questions about how the damn thing works, what Linux is, how it's different from my handheld, how much storage he has, what the difference is between RAM and ROM and flash memory and hard drives, how to manage the number of files on the system -- he spent 20 minutes figuring out how many Firefly and/or Buffy episodes he could fit on the 1GB flash drive. (Enough, is the answer -- a single tv episode, encoded at 288x208, a size the Nokia likes, takes up 85MB or so and plays beautifully.)

Handsome, charming blond boy walking around with his handheld, completely obsessed -- I can't tell you how savagely disorienting this is, albeit in a good way. I'm living with Trent.

I told Richard I'd described devices like this, handhelds, in print 20 years ago, before anyone else did. This is broadly true as far as I know -- high powered computing device called a handheld using radio packets to communicate with a network -- I think I hit that pretty close, all around.

:-) He wanted to believe me, but I think he suspected I was pulling his leg.

Some years back a Compaq engineer wrote me to tell me he'd based some of the design for the original iPAQs on the description in Long Run. I've always felt like I should have bought an iPAQ at some point -- I've owned a couple handhelds over the years, but never did own an iPAQ. But I feel a little proprietary whenever I see one.

10 comments:

joseph said...

Years after reading The Long Run, when the Internet became a household item, I used to tell people I knew about your book and how these things are becoming more viable. I have not read a large amount of Sci-fi, so I just assumed stuff like this was well used in some form or another. You are a man before your time I guess.

Has your son actually read any of your books? That's one way to prove it to him.

Dan Moran said...

He's not really ready for the Long Run, and I'm not really worried if he thinks I was pulling his leg or not. When the kids were really little I told them I had 4 arms -- two I kept under my shirt, and sucked back inside my skin when the shirt came off. They didn't believe me even then, but it kept 'em on their toes. Skepticism is a useful trait.

My 5 year old does want me to read some of my stories to him for bedtime. Can't really think of anything appropriate -- I used to tell the older kids stories about a basketball playing elephant -- I've forgotten the elephant's name. He was in high school and had a human girlfriend named Juliet.

There was also a ghost, Diamond Dan, who was Brett Maverick with the serial numbers rubbed off. He featured in several of the basketball playing elephant stories ...

Dan Moran said...

Wasn't an elephant; he was a giraffe. Gerard the basketball playing giraffe. His team would throw him the ball and he'd knock it through the hoop with his head. I don't remember the episode where Diamond Dan showed up, except it started with Gerard and Juliet digging up ancient gold bars ...

In one story Gerard helped the Lakers beat the Chicago Bulls, back when Jordan was still playing. In another, years later, after the Lakers knocked the Spurs out of the playoffs, I did a story about how Gerard's high school team had beaten a team that had previously always beaten them ... halfway through the story, my son Bram said "Hey! This is just like what happened with the Lakers and the Spurs!"

Had to come up with more original stories after that. You can do "ripped from the headlines" on tv, but Bram at 6 was smarter than most of the tv audience ...

Anonymous said...

The Nokia's are nice.

I have an N800 I use for auditing and pentesting. Kismet and Metasploit runs just on it.

Atergoboy said...

I don't know if you're a fan, or even read any of his books, but do you have any comments on the passing of Robert Jordan?

Dan Moran said...

Joseph -- "You are a man before your time I guess."

Maybe a little on the computer stuff. But it's best to not get too wrapped up in it -- just reading "The Long ARM of Gil Hamilton," by Larry Niven -- book published in '76, not sure when the last story in it was written -- but there's a line it about kids waching tv episodes on their telephones at school, and getting caught by the principal ...

Atergoboy, yeah -- I enjoyed the first several books in that series. Read them all in a rush. And then years passed, the stories came out infrequently and never seemed to advance the plot any, and I quit. Around volume 6 or 7.

As to Jordan, never met the guy, and while I enjoyed the series, it wasn't Tolkien, and isn't up to the standards of what George RR Martin is doing with the Ice and Fire series.

I suppose I could take it as a sign not to leave things hanging. Somebody will finish Jordan's series -- nobody's going to finish mine, if I don't.

MLL said...

"nobody's going to finish mine, if I don't."

So...

Off you go.

We'll wait.

Neil Angelo said...

Handhelds, yes you did indeed, I read
TLR so many times I forgot how long ago it first came out.

Praying for AI war everyday, 5 times a day...

joseph said...

I'm always curious as to what authors read and what influences or influenced them. I don't remember you mentioning anything about Philip K Dick, someone I have just recently gotten into. Have you read much of his stuff?

Dan Moran said...

I've read a lot of Dick, but he's not the huge favorite with me he is with some others -- writers I like, I think about their books, think about reading them again, if only in passing -- this doesn't happen with Dick's work, though I always admire it when I do get around to it.

I re-read "Eye in the Sky" within the last few years. Good book, but again, didn't send me off on a tear to refresh myself with all the other PKD floating around out there.