A lucid article by Todd Seavey on why little mixups like the birthday of the archnemesis of CSI top sleuth Grissom (a critical plot point) or the gloryless destruction of Starfleet’s finest flagship in Star Trek Generations by Klingon webcam makes my blood boil.
Yes fellow geeks, we’re talking about the dreaded continuity error:
In normal movie parlance, a continuity error means one of those embarrassing moments when, say, the bandage on an actor moves from the right hand to the left hand between scenes due to a mistake by the makeup department. For science fiction fans, though, continuity refers to the overall logical and historical coherence of our beloved fictional universes.
For you see, any story must have a certain amount of internal coherence if we are to achieve suspension of disbelief. And we must achieve suspension of disbelief. For most people, that just means that a given fictional universe must hold together for the space of two hours: if the main character in a conventional romantic comedy, possibly some movie for girls featuring Meg Ryan or someone like that, says at the beginning that she is an only child, she should not have a sister present at her wedding at the end of the movie. Stories like that – about boring, conventional people with their petty love affairs and their tawdry sex antics, people whom one could not trust when the chips were down and an Imperial Battle Droid were attacking your spaceship! – are relatively easy to keep consistent. It is only the grandeur and majesty of a fictional universe the size and complexity of one like the Star Wars universe, the Star Trek universe, the DC Comics universe, or the Marvel Comics universe (and perhaps soap operas) that is truly difficult to maintain.
What can I say? I like precision in my fictional entertainment, just like in real life.
Two weekends ago, I paid my parents a visit. I needed to practice some driving, and they needed me to spruce up their computer and insult me on random transgressions in my life. (The first words my mother said to me was, “What’s wrong with your face?”) They recently saw the light and ditched AOL and switched to Sympatico DSL Basic, and needed help configuring their mail.
Oh, and the computer is a WindowsME machine. Oh joy.
While I was installing Mozilla Firefox and Thunderbird, my dad complained that he couldn’t play this Chinese mohgoung movies* on any of his DVD players or DVD drives. I explained to him the whole regioning copy protection the DVD manufacturers and moviemakers cooked up so that all the movies you buy in China (Region 6) or elsewhere wouldn’t play on a North American DVD player (Region 1), or vice versa.
He replied, “Hell, they are trying to stop me from playing movies I legitimately own with crippled DVD players? So now, not only have lost my DVD business, I’m not going to buy these expensive American DVD players either.” A friend of his had lent him an inexpensive, region-free Chinese-made DVD player.
No truer words have been spoken.
__*Mohgoung movies are popular Chinese films that feature acrobatic kungfu experts and soap opera plotlines in medieval settings. This one featured a woman that could cut piano wire by flinging a pebble and a bearded old guy who could smash swords with his cane in midair. “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” is of this genre.__
Wow, the new game consoles have been unveiled, I got a new Centrino ThinkPad for work, and we got a new high pressure toilet at home!
* A concise yet profane summary of the saga from the “Transformers: The Movie” to “Prime Return”.
* Speaking of sci-fi classics, ever had a secret fantasy to play a Dalek? Exterminate!
* Speaking of extermination, you may want to peruse proposals on destroying a 4.5 billion-year-old, 6 million trillion-tonne ball of iron.
Plus: Who knew that a radioactive fuel core was so beautiful. I so want a traser now…
We saw a young couple beside us actually do these things when I took Silverlotus to the Yamato Japanese Restaurant in Yorkville for her birthday:
# Don’t give strange cheapskate drink requests, like “iced tea with a teeny, teeny, tiny bit of cranberry juice in it.”
# Don’t ask the waitress if you can have the teppan fried rice without the rice (“And give me twice the vegetables instead.”)
# Don’t pretend you’re rich by idly inquiring about the kobe beef special, find out it costs $75, and then change your order to the teriyaki special.
# Don’t suddenly announce to the waitress bringing your onion soup in beef broth that you are in fact a staunch vegetarian, and then instruct the waitress to dump it out and give you a nice miso soup instead.
# Do not then proceed to eat your salmon main dish (didn’t you know? fish grows on trees!)
# Don’t walk out leaving half of your painstakingly prepared teppanyaki meal untouched.
With those words, __Star Trek: Enterprise__ and the Star Trek franchise as a whole, came to an abrupt conclusion.
After watching the series finale, “These Are The Voyages,” I couldn’t help thinking that Berman and Braga designed this episode to be more of a tribute toward themselves, rather than their fans. After all, the episode chronologically takes place in __Star Trek: The Next Generation__’s seventh season, aka 1993 – the glory days where it seemed the final frontier of the franchise seemed limitless. They even revisited that tried and true hackneyed plot device – the holodeck.
Sadly, the cast of __Enterprise__ became bit players on their own show. And as I watched TNG’s Commander Riker, roleplaying as the confidante chef in a holographic recreation of the NX-01, rubbed elbows with this cast, I sadly realized we knew more about Riker’s id than Reed, Sato and Mayweather combined. They seemed to be cardboard cutouts than people in comparison.
So why has Trek died not with a bang, but with a whimper? Some say it’s the abysmal scripts. Others blame a saturated geek’s market of __CSI__’s and __Smallville__’s, a multitude of strong science and fantasy shows to choose from. I say it’s that character development and high concept sci-fi has been replaced by banal phase pistol gunfights and bare midriffs.
I own both the TNG and DS9 Technical Manuals. I continue to contribute to Memory Alpha. Star Trek inspired me in my adolescence, back when it wasn’t hip to be a nerd. For that, I say thanks. May it return, strong than ever, somewhere…out there.
Joe Beda gives us a glimpse of Google’s internal project methodology.
They seem completely dedicated to knowledge reuse. They have only one codebase; everyone pools their programming code in one repository.
Project teams are completely transparent. Project members share information, strategic decisions, resources or even people without the tangles of office politics.
It’s like an open source software foundation, but internalized. It’s fitting that an Internet company works like, well, the Internet.
Loft computing, or completely seamless, barrier-less IT environments could prove beneficial to other companies requiring fast dev turnarounds.
P.S. Google also employs the services of a master chef who once cooked for the Grateful Dead and the Waldorf-Astoria. He apparently knows how to make a gooood southern fried chicken.