We’ve established that I would rather drive the nine hours to Pittsburgh than fly, but I wouldn’t rule out being transported there when that becomes an option. Yes, I said “when” that becomes an option. I think the technology of Star Trek is only a few discoveries away.
Impossible, you say?
Well. Travel back in time with me to the early 1960’s. My father had just given me a transistor radio he bought at JC Penny. These handheld radios arrived on the market about two weeks before I was born but had been too expensive to give a child. Suddenly, the Top-40 was riding with me on my bike. A few years later, I was teaching myself how to use a slide rule because I saw a picture of a NASA scientist using one. Years after that, I forked over a large chunk of my savings for a Texas Instruments SR-50 scientific calculator. Communication and computation would follow me through school and throughout my career. I watched as these technologies evolved, I studied them, and I packaged them as tools for my coworkers to use.
Still, I can be amazed.
Early during our road trip to Pittsburgh, Faith texted The Editor to let her know we had crossed into New York. The Editor’s reply came as expected, but Greta (my GPS) didn’t get it. Greta usually offers to read me incoming text messages. Something was wrong.
The something was me. I had violated my own advice. I always tell people not to upgrade their phone just before traveling. I not only upgraded my phone, I upgraded Greta – there had been construction along our route, and I wanted up-to-date maps. As a result of the two upgrades, Greta and my iPhone were no longer talking to each other.
When Faith took over the driving, I took Greta out of the window and tried to fix the problem. The GPS was communicating with my phone, but not with the Garmin app running on my phone – yes, that had been upgraded, too. Once reconnected, restarted, re-paired, Greta proudly announced:
“There is light traffic on your route – 10 minutes has been added to your trip.”
I was ecstatic! Faith, not so much.
A few minutes later, the speed limit changed from 65 to 70 mph. Within a car length of passing the first speed limit sign, Greta’s speed limit indicator changed to 70 as well. I started thinking about what was going on – in my car – while we were driving.
Greta was talking to at least four satellites that are orbiting the Earth at a distance of 12,550 miles (20,200 km).
My iPhone was talking to a traffic network computer. My phone was sending our location, direction and speed to the network, and receiving traffic updates for the road ahead.
My iPhone was relaying the traffic information to Greta (and vice versa).
Greta was taking all that information and updating our route and arrival time.
My iPhone was downloading “Tom Petty’s Greatest Hits” from the iTunes Store. A few minutes later, it was sending the album to the car’s radio.
Of course, my iPhone continued to receive messages from the Editor and was available for me to send updates, check email, read blog comments or, you know, make a phone call.
There were no wires, just like with my transistor radio.
These are the things we were doing. If The Editor had wanted to follow us, Greta would have been happy to send her periodic updates as we rolled across Pennsylvania (at or below the speed limit honey…kinda). These are the modern marvels we take for granted today. How far away can the Heisenberg Compensator be?
Last week’s trip meant not walking or sitting with Maddie for five days. We made up for that this weekend. Today’s gallery is offered as proof.