Books and Scrolls
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ID: 4300


September 9, 2007, 7:03 pm

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PADD is an acronym for Personal Access Display Device, a hand-held computer interface. This is a science fiction "common item", found in a variety of milieus.

Full Item Description
Consisting of a large touchscreen display and minimalistic manual interface or control panel (generally only one or two buttons), the typical PADD is used for a variety of functions.

PADDs come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and orientations.  Most of EarthOrigin are rectangular in shape with slightly rounded edges, dominated by a large display screen taking up much of the surface area of the device. PADDs are generally small and light-weight, varying in size, proportion, and even color. (The most common is grey or beige, but anything is possible).

Their main controllers are their prime buttons. These two (sometimes more) small buttons are located adjacent to the display screen (usually below). They are used for power control, intensity of screen, and a few other harware adjustments. With some difficulty, they can be used for data input and manipulation too. Most models use either a stylus or touch data entry for real input. Other, more advanced ones use voice as well. A few retro ones have a trac ball.

Tradition of standards and measurements define the size of PADDs. There are five classic sizes of Terran or Earth Pads. Strangely enough, most cultures use similar sizes, so the sizes of PADDs on other worlds will be about the same (thought their shapes might be round or more angular).

*Note the names of the sizes are no longer generally used except by engineers or historians, as these items no longer exist in common experience any longer.

1) Digital Paper

  8.5 (22cm) by 11 (28cm) by .5" (1.3cm)  
this is perhaps the most common size for work oriented PADDs. Often use a stylus for input.

2) Homebrick "Paper Back Book"

  4" (11cm) by 7" (19cm) by .5" (1.3cm)
This is a common personal/ home use PADD size. The thicker size tends to give ia a larger power cell, more memory, and stronger signal strength. Not as convenient as other sizes, but perfect for doing things around the home or somewhere you are going to be for a while.

3) Digi-Tool (PALM)

4.5" (12cm) by 3.1" (7.8cm) by 0.4 (1cm)
The most common size for personal use PADDs. These are the PADDs that people use for their own stuff and interface with their own home systems and gear. This is the tool that you take with you when you are on the go. Every last one tends to have COMM (audio/visual communication) abilities.

4) Hand Toy (PSP sized)

2.9" (7.4cm) by 6.7" (17cm) by 0.9" (2.3cm) The screen is 4.4 (11cm) by 2.5 (6.3cm).
These tend to be media machines that belt out solid sound and gorgeous graphics for entertainment purposes. They also have more bells and whistles attached to them either built in or via plug in accessories. In fact, they tend to have interface ports of all types (given there larger thickness they can fit a variety of them in).

A trend, rather than a specific size, as it falls in category one is the Industrial PADDs. They are are larger wedge-shaped devices, operated almost exclusively through the use of a stylus. They are nearly 2" (5cms) thick at the top and 1" (2cms) thick at the base. They are 12" (30cms) long, with a display screen about the size of an archaic piece of paper. Some people call them ECB, Electronic Clipboards. They tend to be used in places where their toughness, greater power life, and stronger signals are required.

The PADD is THE personal tool for data creation, manipulation, monitoring, and transference.

In short, everything one would use a computer, hand held digital assistant, a memory stick, a blackberry, a system display, a DVD/CD player, or a piece of paper for in the early 21st century, is in the realm of use for a PADD.

Data entry and transmission is the most common use. You can bring all the information you need with you to any point and access even more if you need. Their screens can support motion video and straight imagery. They have audio abilities as well, so they can replay or record entries. Since most are capable of wireless connections, they can be used to bring "dial/ gauge/ chart displays" with you away from a console. They are handy extensions of computer interfaces.

Some PADDs, often larger in size than most of their counterparts, are used to draw up schematics or to create composite images or artwork.

Not long after their debut in science fiction, PADDs became a real-life technology with the introduction of the Apple Newton. Palm Pilots are their more popular descendent. There are dozens of similar device common in the world of the early 21st C.

In the early digital age, people found they needed tools to easily manage their data. They needed something they could tangibly touch, move, and swap out, to use their info. They could even have several, each one set up for specific purposes.

"This is the one I take to the club (small credit card sized one). This is the one I take with me when I hike (Size 2). I use this one around the house to play around or do some work (Size 1) and this is my business one (Size 3). I tend to forget this one, a lot, when I am away from work."

For an Spacer, the PADD is an indispensable tool. It’s uses include logging manifests, compiling duty rosters or diagnostic reports, entering personal data, and/or accessing library computer systems. While the Envirosuit is the badge of their job, the tool they use most often is really a PADD.

Alternate names:
PADD has shifted from a branded name to the generic all these devices are called.

Like so many things, there are various names for them, depending on the vendor or setting.

PMD Personal Media Displays
ECB Electronic Clipboards.
DS   Data Slates
PDA Personal Digital Assistant 4302, which in the future will mean a very different thing than a Newton, Palm, or Visor of today.

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Comments ( 22 )
Commenters gain extra XP from Author votes.

Voted Agar
September 10, 2007, 4:24
This is a nice solid anchoring piece that really gives a lot of background to the milleau of futuristic data devices. Dimensions and "feel" is spelled out quite clearly and make you actually think of how it will all fit in your hands, how you can use it. Nicely done.

The only things I would enjoy is some more background on why signal strength is a factor, and how current blackberries relate to the functions of these devices. See, I done have a blackberry to know.
September 10, 2007, 11:57
Your blackberry sends a strong signal to a central system to relay messages and text. However, as you know, enough additional electronics in the area (sending confusing signals) OR higher energy power lines OR enough conduits interfere with your signal (slowing it to a crawl or killing it). In the future, there will be more additional electronics in the area, all with personal area networks, more electrical lines (and other electrical signal wires) and conduits. Thus signal strength will need to be stronger.

To keep your device current, you need contact with a network (and the network then routes to the local then to your home system (as assigned to the PADD or as you selected). Without signal, all you have is the downloaded material. This is not always a bad thing, but if you need to update.

If you have ever used your blackberry in a warehouse (or priceclub/ costco) you understand how interference works and why industrial units need both a tougher case and stronger signal strength.

Stronger signal strength shortens battery life, so there is a corellary there if power cells or some other system is used.. they will need more of those too. Thus larger cases to hold the larger power cells.
Voted manfred
September 11, 2007, 12:26
Solid background item, not something to be referenced every day, but very handy to have stashed somewhere.

If there is one thing missing, it is a nickname for the item normal people would use - Hand Leech, Portable Brain, or something... only better sounding. Or the shortcuts could be misinterpreted - Data Snails, Personal Moron Displays, Electronic Crapboards, etc.

Yep, these things will be used everywhere.
September 11, 2007, 13:33
Increasingly, these things are already being used everywhere. The UPS man has an electronic clipboard you sign for packages, and the post man has a handheld scanner/keypad device for his packages. Go to the Wal-Mart tire and lube center and the grease monkey has an electronic notpad he works with a stylus.

I guess my point is that this is now, not the future.
September 12, 2007, 12:38
Yes, but those devices are the predacessors to PADDs. They only have a fraction of the usability/ functionality of now. Right now, a PADDs functionality would take about three to four toys and a better Personal Area Network technology AND a better wireless technology (with better battery life/ fuel cells).

And what is science fiction but the present projected into the future. That is why we have books about "Futures Past", the views of the future are always colored by the present, otherwise people are unable to relate to them. What are starships but cruisers/ battle ships/ carriers extended into space? In 1976 when everything had started to shift to air power, we got space fighters as the vangards. Orwells 84 showed the concerns about propaganda and government control that were rampant at his time. Huxley's Brave New World expressed the concerns over industrialization and corporate control. Gibsons Neuromancer showed the concerns over corporate controls (and government ineffectiveness), Japan's rising star to it world domination, and that technology will control every aspect of our life. That is what science fiction is, the future as seen from the present.

So yes every science fiction has roots in the present. If that was not the case we should casually dismiss a lot of science fiction because they have computer. "Oh we have computers now, that is not the future."
Voted Murometz
September 11, 2007, 14:16
*sigh* why am i reading about a blackberry? I hate mine.

BTW, Blackberry beats a Palm hands down. Other than that, nothing to add, except to echo Scras.

If this was written 10 years ago, it may have been interesting. Now, its like describing how a cell phone works in detail.
September 12, 2007, 12:31
See you should not dwell on the blackberry that is your slave collar to work. (I should not of answered Agar's question as it sends the wrong message).

This is a digital piece of paper. In the digital age (which we are just starting) that includes animated sights and sounds and text. The paper is virtual.

So now people crawl into their comfy chair with their PADD and read a novel or watch a show. If they are at work, they check their worklists/ messages. It is a general tool of the data age, ones that we only have rough predacessors to right now.
September 12, 2007, 13:36
I think the issue at hand is that there is plenty of science in this piece, but not much in the way of fiction. The devices are useful and certainly have their place, no one is disputing that. The issue is that these items, the most prominent example I can think of being the iPhone, already exist in some incarnation.

The thing about writing scifi is you have to take it another step, add in the speculative aspect to it. PADDs as you describe them already exist in some forms and the rest I'm sure are only a few years (1D4 years) away from becoming mainstream. My point of reference is the rapid adoption of the iPhone, and the fact that cellphones already do most of the things mentioned above, playing games, browse internet, memory sticks, play music, all that.
September 12, 2007, 15:40
Never said they were far future. Two to twenty years in the future is still the realm of science fiction. However, PADDs are items that people tend not to think of.
Voted valadaar
September 12, 2007, 13:45
I think what would have helped would be to focus on what they may look like and be able to do down the line.

Some of my thoughts:

With the whole development of flexible plastic displays, batteries, etc, you might have PDA's which look and feel exactly like books, can be stuffed into pockets without breaking, and you can even punch holes in them (as long as the main CPU itself is not hit)as the computer can use adaptive electronics to sense the damage and avoid using that part of the display.

I think styluses and voice (I would NEVER want a voice activated PDA, nor hope no-one near me has one. Cell phones are bad enough. This is not a comment of voice recognition - that will come, but simply a noise issue) will eventually be replaced by neural interface devices, basically turning these devices into implants.

Eventually having to carry electronics is going to go by the wayside, or if you must, they might be indistinguishable from items of jewelry.
September 12, 2007, 15:41
See Cyberwear for flexible computing brought home. It is still in process

I have another sub along these lines that will be to your liking... comming to a Strolens near you.
September 13, 2007, 11:11
The score was an even 3.5 as of Valadaar's post. I wonder who changed their vote?
September 13, 2007, 11:34
a few of us were trying to figure that out in chat last night. After val's vote, it hovered around 3.5 as you say.

I looked 10 minutes later, and suddenly it sported a 2.9, although no votes seem to have been deleted or updated, and no new folks voted.

Also, it lists 7 votes, but shows 5.

I smell skullduggery!

September 13, 2007, 11:49
The vote number does not bother me nearly as much as the fact that someone did it without comment. And how did we get seven votes with five showing without someone doing something untold?
Ancient Gamer
September 13, 2007, 13:46
When you change your vote, a new post is created. No one changed their vote.
September 13, 2007, 15:12
and then deleted the post and there is a bug that kept the detleted post's votes?
Ancient Gamer
September 13, 2007, 15:28
No, I do not think the votes are kept. It doesn't matter whether they voted 5 or 1. What matters is the new vote count, which seems not to decrease.

So this is the math:
(5 * X) / 7 = 2.9

This is the correct one:
(5 * X) / 5 = 3.5

Anyhow: I can tell you no one of the above has changed their vote by the simple fact that their double swords still stick to the original post. Had they ever deleted their original vote, there is no way that the double sword could have made it back to the original post.

My opinion?

Someone voted, then deleted their vote, changed their mind and voted again, then deleted again. The bug then makes sure you have a wrong vote count, which sucks for the sub average.
Fallen Angel
July 8, 2008, 14:33
A rippoff of trek.

Piece of S**t.
July 8, 2008, 17:04
Actually Trek ripped it off from Bradbury and Niven (though I am not sure on Niven).

Most of the magic swords here are variations on Excalibur, magic items off a variety of fairy tales, I could go on, but you get the idea. Almost everything has roots in something else, if we only posted the totally unique... we would be down to 100 or so posts.

This is here mostly for "completeness". It is an inventory item that sci-fi character should have, but doesn't show up on any sci-fi games equipment list (not even FASA's Star Trek). It is here to remind people that it should exist and that it is a common item that should be on their sci-fi character's inventory.
July 8, 2008, 23:57
Edited for profanity, thank you have a nice day
July 8, 2008, 15:23
umm, try to word your criticisms in a less abrasive manner there Fallen Angel. A tad more civility please. Thank you.



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