A Star-Trek-style Ebook Reader

Scene from Star Trek: The Next Generation, "A Fistful of Datas"

Now that I have some money coming in, one of my top items to get is an ebook reader. And in my typical style, I began thinking of all the ways I’d love to use such a device to help me in my work. Unfortunately, in my typical style, no reader out there does most of what I would want to do.

I realized that what I really wanted was one of those PADDs they have on Star Trek. It can work as an independent device that you can use to read or write content. But it also seamlessly integrates with the main computer system, to retrieve and store data and to share content with others.

For example, in the episode “A Fistful of Datas,” the Enterprise computer’s directories become corrupted, such that when you try to access a file, it turns up with the wrong data. Picard tries to listen to his Mozart trio, and the computer instead plays a selection from Dvorak’s Slavonic Dances. And when some crew members try to rehearse Beverley’s play, their PADDs instead show the lines from Data’s poetry. The PADDs are obviously pulling data directly from the Enterprise’s computer memory, as needed.

In other episodes, we see characters do the converse, select something on a PADD and then seamlessly shift to a computer console to complete a task. That’s the sort of thing that would be useful for me.

None of these involve rocket science or brain surgery. I might even be able to make them work with a little creative scripting, if I can get access to the underlying data and services. I know I can on my Mac, but I don’t know whether any given tablet device will let me do it.

So for now, I’m only counting on finding a simple generic ereader, maybe with ability to keep notes. Anything else I’m able to pull out of it will simply be a bonus.


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That’s not “A Star Trek Style E-Book Reader”, that sounds like the promise of Google Chromium OS, or you can do it yourself with any online apps. Did you try doing everything in Google Apps or Microsoft Live? This is part of the pcush for “Software as a Service”: you can do it from anywhere and any machine. The promise of Chromium OS is just that it is the default way to do things– the easiest way.

I’m actually not sure SAS or Chromium or any of the webby apps will give me what I want. Yeah, if I had a powerful enough tablet computer running a wireless browser, I could copy from my ebook into an online document, then access that document from another computer. But that doesn’t help me when all I really need (or have) is sufficient for a lightweight interface tablet, with the ability to perform limited operations and the ability to sync to a computer.


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