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Steve Jobs Has It All Over Captain Kirk When It Comes to the Communications



Editor’s Notebook , Thomas York

You’d have to live in a cave not to know that this summer Apple Computer is coming out with its all-in-one iPhone, which has the wireless world in a tizzy.

It’s a computer that just happens to handle phone calls as well as play audio and video content, such as regular TV programs. It’s also a nifty e-mail device.

Of course, existing phones can do this, and more, but Steve Jobs now has given the all-in-one technology his official seal of approval.

The iPhone promises to push the wireless revolution a few steps forward. But, hey, I am still trying to adapt to the ordinary cell phone.

I, for one, remain ambivalent about wireless technology, and all that it has wrought.

On the one hand, it’s made me accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week; on the other hand, it’s made me accessible 24 hours, seven days a week.

I enjoy the former, hate the latter.

I sometimes don’t want to be on call 24/7, no matter when and where. I want to be inaccessible when I want to be.

Yet, it’s difficult to be inaccessible when carrying around a device that can give you instant communication with more than half the people on the planet.

The cell phone has a sense of urgency that did not exist with land-line phones.

I am old (emphasis on the old here) enough to remember the original “Star Trek” TV series, and the hand-held communicator, which seemed like such a neat idea in the ’60s.

Captain Kirk and Spock, as well as the rest of the crew from the good ship Enterprise, carried the hand-held device, which was much like today’s cell phone. It could put them in touch with fellow crew members with the push of a button.

In subsequent generations, communications were built into badges affixed to crew jerseys. Now we’re talking!

What we didn’t see was the downside of always-on communications , what I call the i-ball and chain, if you will.

Being at the mercy of anyone who calls is as frightening as those alien Borgs, who assimilated all in their path, and made for good theater.

To be sure, the modern day communicator has its advantages.

I don’t have a land line anymore, for instance. No wires to fence me in. My home phone is in my shirt pocket.

And of course, my phone has a “screen,” something the “Star Trek” folks didn’t have. It’s a mixed blessing.

I read recently that a group of Hollywood types got together and made a feature-length picture geared for small mobile screens.

The producers structured the movie so that they could “film” it in segments of 90 seconds or less. This approach allows viewers to view individual scenes at their leisure, during breaks at work or while commuting on a bus, without having to download the entire movie.

One producer told a newspaper reporter that movies would soon become another mass mobile medium, just like the radio and the cell phone.

Several firms here in San Diego are working to advance the technology, which will include re-purposed television programs.

However, given my Luddite notions, I don’t think I am ready to watch movies on a tiny screen.

But then again, who knows what the future holds. I resisted the cell phone for years, and I now find it indispensable even when I am feeling inaccessible.

– – –

It’s kind of difficult to fathom mock turtle soup being a signature dish, but a dish it is.

Andreas Nieto, executive chef at the U.S. Grant Hotel, has reintroduced his recipe of what had been a venerable staple on the menu at the Grant Grill since the 1950s.

The menu addition completes the historic remodeling and reopening of the hotel and grill last fall.

Desire for a bowl of the famous soup served as pretext for six local women when they decided to end the grill’s male-only-until-3-p.m. status in 1969.

The six besieged showed up at the front door, demanding a bowl of mock turtle soup, which could only be found at the grill.

Their assault thus ended one sexist institution as it existed in San Diego 40 years ago.

I sampled Nieto’s iteration for the famous dish, and all I can say is that it’s quite “snappy.”

– – –

The crew of the venerable “Wheel of Fortune” television program was in town last week to film three weeks of the popular half-hour show at the Convention Center.

Reporter Connie Lewis and I spent an afternoon talking with Executive Producer Harry Friedman, and then took the opportunity to sit in on an interview with Vanna White, reigning queen of weeknight game shows, as well as affable host Pat Sajak.

We then sat in on the taping of the first show to be broadcast April 30.

During very brief “bumpers” between show segments and commercial breaks, White stood in front of various famous backdrops, sights and vistas.

The set included a mock-up of the Hotel del Coronado and stylized city skyline, among other landmarks.

The unpaid marketing jammed into the 15 shows will be worth tens of millions on behalf of San Diego’s tourist industry.

You can’t buy exposure like that!

For details, read Lewis’ Media & Marketing column on Page 9.


Thomas York is editor of the San Diego Business Journal.

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