|An HP-XX2050 parody|
Message #1 Posted by Michael Meyer on 16 Nov 2003, 5:53 p.m.
(Note: the Hewlett-Packard Personal Computer Digest published a story about a hand-held calculator, the HP-XX2050 in the year 2025. Here is my updated version, with apologies to Gordon Dickson.)
Walter Jensen, a middle-level management executive, in the year 2025, had just left his meeting in Omaha, Nebraska, and was on his way to a conference in Saint Louis, Missouri (via Detroit, Michigan), hand-carrying some very secret and valuable commercial information stored in his pocket computer. The day had been a long one, and the pressures of business in the twenty-first century were severe (even with the high doses of antidepressants he was taking). After spending four hours going through several security checkpoints, and waiting through two hours of flight delays, he finally squeezed into the only open seat remaining aboard the DC-9 remake (as no new planes had been designed for many years). He wanted to take a nap, but the seat was so cramped and uncomfortable as to make this impossible. Additionally, he was still trying to recover from the nasty virus he got during his last business flight due to the unclean recirculating air. He was just starting to relax some, when he noticed the plane was already descending. An irritable and clearly overworked flight attendant appeared in the aisle. “Our apologies to our passengers. A computer glitch has forced us to land at Chicago O’Hare. The computer shows that we aren’t actually airborne. Have a nice day.” After an hour of circling in a holding pattern, the plane landed. After a 30-minute wait on the hot tarmac, a gate finally opened up. It was nice to breathe some cooler air.
Walter, upon deplaning, tried to speak with one of the few airline employees, but they were all too busy at their computer terminals, with long lines of tired and impatient travelers. So, Walter remembered his new HP-XX2050 should also be of some help with this sort of situation! He smiled as he pulled it from his pocket, remembering how easy it looked to use at the store display. Walter had thought the key layout was completely inefficient, but it sure looked slick, and besides, it had “HP” on the corner. After several attempts at finding the right keys to press, he tried to get online to make new flight reservations, but the flimsy thing kept reporting, “The wireless network is temporarily unavailable. Please try again.” After several attempts, his HP-XX2050 locked-up, requiring a lengthy re-boot. “Hmm,” Walter thought, “I can try to interface with one of the “pay” internet terminals!” He looked for some time, finally finding an unused computer terminal at the far end of the airport. After entering his payment information, he connected his XX2050 to the terminal. The device went blank. Nothing. The main terminal reported, “Sorry, cannot communicate with device.” Walter made several more attempts, finally receiving a different error message. “Your device uses Smartmedia memory. This terminal only supports XD memory. Please contact your hardware manufacturer.” Walter remembered how his father had spoken fondly of his early HP calculators and how reliable and well built they had been. Frustrated, Walter disconnected the HP-2050, knocking out the batteries in the process. When he replaced the batteries, the screen said, “memory lost”. Walter’s face took on a horrified look as he realized that all of his vital business documents had been erased as well. Without them, his entire business trip was ruined. In shock, Walter eventually realized that he still needed to somehow get back home.
With one last attempt, Walter tried the wireless network. Finally getting online, he followed the cumbersome process of logging onto the airline web site. He had to press each key up to four times to enter each letter! The device keys kept “bouncing”, entering the same letter multiple times. Walter eventually entered his ticket information, and a screen appeared saying, “We hope you enjoyed your flight. Your luggage is waiting for you at Los Angeles LAX. You will need to pay a retrieval fee upon claiming your luggage as it was 3mm over allowed dimensions. Have a nice day.”
After throwing his HP-XX2050 in the trash, Walter decided that the dirty carpet of the airport floor wasn’t such a bad place to spend the night after all. “Maybe someone will notice me missing,” he remembered thinking as he finally passed out from exhaustion. Walter was startled awake moments later by an airport security guard. “Sorry, you can’t lay down here. Try the lounge down the hall past the next two security points.”