I read an article arguing that the Apple iPad was in fact inspired by the PADD handheld computers that everyone used on “Star Trek: The Next Generation”. There’s one flaw in this argument, though – the iPad has wireless, both Bluetooth and wi-fi, and Commander Riker always walked into Captain Picard’s ready room and dramatically handed over the PADD to his commanding officer. Obviously, the PADD did not have wireless, else Riker could simply have emailed the report to Picard’s desktop terminal.
Then I wondered what would happen if the “Star Trek” cast actually did have iPads…
(COMMANDER RIKER walks into CAPTAIN PICARD’S READY ROOM, holding his IPAD at the ready.)
RIKER: Sir, here is that report on Borg activity along the border.
PICARD: Very good, Number One.
(RIKER manipulates the IPAD’S controls.)
RIKER: Emailing it to your terminal now, sir.
(Several minutes pass, and PICARD frowns at his terminal.)
PICARD: I’m not getting it.
RIKER: It’s in my outbox, sir, from email@example.com to firstname.lastname@example.org.
PICARD: Oh, there’s your mistake. My email is actually email@example.com.
RIKER: Really, sir?
PICARD: A first officer ought to know his commanding officer’s email address, Number One.
RIKER: But I’ve been sending my reports to firstname.lastname@example.org for the last five years now. The reports you always said were models of clarity and concision and…oh.
(A long, awkward silence.)
PICARD: Er. Yes. Those reports.
RIKER: Sending report. Sir. I’m sure you’re looking forward to reading it.
(Another long pause.)
PICARD: I’m still not seeing it, Number One.
RIKER: It’s in my outbox, sir.
PICARD: Well, there’s the problem. It hasn’t actually been sent yet. Are you connected to the wireless? See if you can get on the Internet.
RIKER: Trying, sir…ah, I’m getting the “Page Not Found” error in Safari.
(PICARD rises, circles around the desk.)
PICARD: That explains it…wait. Number One, your homepage is www.hornytelepathicbetazeds.com?
RIKER: That’s a typo.
PICARD: Get on the wireless and send me that damn report, Commander.
RIKER: I’m trying, sir…I can’t seem to get an IP address.
(PICARD sighs, slaps his COMBADGE.)
PICARD: Picard to Enterprise help desk.
(The voice of ENSIGN WESLEY CRUSHER comes over the COMBADGE.)
WESLEY: Hello, thank you for calling the Enterprise-D Help Desk, where our mission is to provide enterprise-class technical support for all Starfleet personnel. May I have your operating number, please?
PICARD: Ensign Crusher, this is the captain, and…
WESLEY: May I please have your operating number?
PICARD: Mr. Crusher! This is the captain, and Commander Riker cannot connect his iPad to the wireless network!
WESLEY: Oh, that. Sir, we enabled MAC address filtering for our new 802.11n network last week, and to get an IP address, Commander Riker will need to send us his iPad’s MAC address.
PICARD: What in the hell is a MAC address?
WESLEY: Sir, you don’t…know what a MAC address is? Oh. My. God! Like, you’re the Captain of the biggest ship in the Federation fleet, and you don’t know what a MAC address! That is hilarious!
PICARD: Shut up, Wesley! How do we find this RACK address?
WESLEY: MAC address, sir. Go to Settings, and then tap on General, and then on About, and scroll down until you see something that says “Wi-Fi Address”.
PICARD: I’m not seeing it, Mr. Crusher.
(WESLEY sighs loudly.)
WESLEY: Sir, it’s right there, at the bottom of the screen. A little icon that has gears in it. You can’t miss it.
RIKER: Wait…I think I see it. This icon here…let me tap it.
PICARD: Actually, I think that’s the video icon.
(A VIDEO begins playing on the IPAD.)
RIKER: Wait! Wait! Stop playing! Stop playing!
PICARD: Dear God, Number One! Is that Counselor Troi?
PICARD: That is not conduct becoming a Starfleet officer.
(PICARD watches the VIDEO for a moment.)
PICARD: Or that. Definitely not that.
WESLEY: Oh, you guys found one of Commander Riker’s ‘home movies’?
RIKER: You’ve seen these?
WESLEY: Like, totally. You should really password-protect your home folder, Commander. Everyone in Engineering has seen them. In fact, Lieutenant Barclay made this awesome mashup where it sounds like Counselor Troi is like totally singing an Iron Butterfly song in Klingon…
(RIKER slaps PICARD’s COMBADGE.)
RIKER: The connection. It dropped.
(He slaps his COMBADGE again.)
PICARD: Picard to Commander LaForge.
LAFORGE: Go ahead, Captain.
PICARD: Report to my ready room immediately. We have a technical emergency.
LAFORGE: Sir! I’ve explained this to you before. I am not a help desk technician. I am a highly qualified warp drive engineer! Asking me to fix your iPad is like asking the President of the Federation to go get coffee! I am a…
PICARD: That is an order, Mr. LaForge!
(A long, despairing pause.)
LAFORGE: Yes, sir.
(Several hours later, the ENTERPRISE’S entire ENGINEERING STAFF is gathered in PICARD’S READY ROOM. LAFORGE holds the IPAD.)
LAFORGE: And…there. Commander Riker should now be able to email you his report, sir.
RIKER: And…ah, you took care of the ‘home movies’ I mentioned?
LAFORGE: I’ve never been more grateful to be legally blind, sir.
(Suddenly a KLAXON goes off.)
COMPUTER: Warning! Fifteen seconds until warp core breach!
PICARD: Mr. LaForge, report!
LAFORGE: We were in the middle of refitting the warp drive when you called us all up here. I guess someone forgot to plug in the coolant lines.
PICARD: Son of a…
(The WARP CORE breaches, destroying the ENTERPRISE.)
Yeah. So maybe it’s better the Enterprise didn’t have iPads.