Tuesday, June 09, 2009
A Magic Utility Belt
Sometimes, fantasies come true.
When I was a little kid in Brooklyn, NY of the late 1940's, I was given a belt, studded with fake "jewels" made of colored glass. In my imagination, they were control buttons that could invoke super powers. A touch of a green jewel, and I could melt into lithe thinness, and slide through the most densely crowded streets.
A touch of the red button would send me soaring at high speed, lightfooted, over the "EL" station stairs , on my way to buy hot dogs for our supper at the garlic fragrant corner deli.
Who could have imagined, that some 60 years later, it's possible, with a few keystrokes, to fly, perspectives constantly shifting, zooming and rotating at will; either from the mountains of Madrid or from the coast of Barcelona, para ver las calles in Street View photographs, then quickly jump to a specific address in San José, CA (Google Earth).
I can locate pizza places in Manchester, CT, or fish 'n chips shops in Manchester, England, complete with reviews and driving directions. Chiropractors in Cairo. (Google Maps); and visit places of color and wonder undreamt of in those earlier generations. I just spent a few minutes looking at my childhood neigborhoods to see what has change (much) and what has not. Google now has refined its maps and Street View once again. Check it out.
Later, as a teenager, I enjoyed spending many Saturdays at the New Haven, CT Public Library, getting books from the stacks on topics such as pyrotechnics and speleology.
Now, a vast and seemingly limitless worldwide library is open to me, both at home and when I'm away. I don't have to look in the card catalog, write out call slips, and hand them to the librarian, who'd give me suspicious looks, and wait very long for the desired info.
Back then, as a young kid, I was also enamored of a special sort of scrapbook/coloring book, which involved making waxed paper transfers of the color comics and such, then scrapbooking it. (Obviously, a dim memory.) Those were my multimedia tools of that era.
Now, after having learned some basic, then more advanced computer skills over the last 15 years, and with the help of tools such as Blogger, I can build a journal of my view of reality (and fantasy). Instead of waxed paper and a flat stick for image transfers, we have Copy, Cut and Paste, as well as Save and Save As.
Best of all, many of these powerful commands are accessible by keyboard shortcuts. I love keyboard shortcuts. Mousing is o.k. at times, but the speed and ease of keyboard navigation is unsurpassed.
(I can make this entire page vanish with the touch of two keys. I can change sites with a few keystrokes.)
My newest Magic Utility Belt is a MacBook Pro laptop. Although its powers are far beyond any childhood dreams, it still could be more portable. An iPhone or iPod Touch, with their amazing apps, accessed by touch screens, come a lot closer. But, ultimately, what I want is a belt in which a touch of a colored jewel or a combination, invokes a heads up, holographic display, and flys me to where I want to go. Meanwhile, I have posted these graphic examples of some other magic utility belts for your entertainment.