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PEN-ultimate: CRUSTY on: Life + The Universe--and--Everything.

Mrs CRUSTY and I have always been great fans of science fiction. If our satellite system were analogue, the SyFy Channel would be so worn down it would need replaced on regular basis. My own journey with sci-fi began when in my early teens I discovered the excellent Tom Swift books by EdwardStratemeyer. The idea of worlds beyond our own was as fascinating to me then, as it is now. The books originated from 1910 America, and Stratemeyer had such a great way of telling a tale that it made it believable. It was, I think, Gene Roddenberry of Star Trek and other fame who said that if the visuals and dialogue were believable, then the number of true followers would be much greater. I have found that to be true, particularly as the multiple series that form the Star Trek franchise have progressed. I have become more involved as all the series have evolved. Stargate was also the same for me, culminating in the excellent and thought provoking Stargate: Universe. (Culled all too soon in my humble opinion.)

With the advent of CGI, the movie and television industries have been able to produce much more and much better sci-fi. We can now look at a film or TV series without seeing the dividing line between reality being filmed, and pixels being manipulated. Gone are the heady days of the 1960's BBC's Doctor Who episodes, where the scenery moved if an actor brushed against it and the aliens looked as if they had been pocket-money built over a weekend, by a team of 1st year students at high school. In the UK we enjoyed several series which were distributed around the world and translated into many languages. Personally, I liked Blakes 7, Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, Space 2010, and Red Dwarf. Away from live action we had Thunderbirds, Stingray, and Joe 90 to name but a few. All of the latter featured puppets, and some of these series are being rebooted and rediscovered by the youth of today as brand-new animated series which for the most part, pay homage within the animation actions to the jerky movement of a puppets limbs being pulled on strings.

A reboot must surely always be a gamble for any film or serial franchise. It either fails miserably or is immensely successful. With the Star Wars franchise, it has taken so long to get through all 9 movies of the tri-trilogy, that reboots in terms of effects have happened along the way. Sometimes though, there are things which just need a good clean up rather than a reboot. Star TrekJOS ('The Original Series' for you nonTrekkers out there,) had a good clean and also had the sound adjusted. If only the originals had not been filmed for NTSC, the squashed format and poor sound might have come out even better. The recent Star Trek movies with Chris Pine are a good reboot, and have reached a whole new audience who may never have heard of Captain James Tiberious Kirk, let alone seen him have his shirt frequently ripped off whilst fighting aliens. Chris Pine thankfully, is a different mould to the now aging but still very funny, William Shatner. (Wasn't he great along with James Spader in Boston Legal?)

So CRUSTY, where is all this leading? (I cannot hear you ask.) Well yet again I have to get on my high-horse and fight on two fronts. Firstly, I ask the world (yet again) to please stop referring to short artistic movies as microfilm or micro films. Microfilm is a long-term archival storage medium with a history going back to before 16mm and 35mm film were even a glimmer in the eye of whoever invented them. (Glass plates smuggled out of the city during the Seige of Paris, believed to be the first use of film to photograph documents.) Calling a short artistic film a microfilm is a travesty and an insult to the professionals in that industry. Microfilm has a long and illustrious career which persists to day. (Look at our ads!) Please, please, please--let's agree to call a short film a 'short', and microfilm, well, just 'microfilm'.

Secondly, reboots. By all means let's reboot entire industries or the sectors within them. Advances in technologies and business practices make this viable. Take microfilm as an example, (the long term storage medium, not the mis-named short artistic film of course,) I have said on many occasions, (and will keep saying,) microfilm has had more lifts and tucks than Cher, and like Madonna --continually reinvents itself. Look for 'Piql' on Google as a great example. As Bones would have said in Star Trek:TOS, "It's microfilm Jim, but not as we know it." Call it a reinvention. Call it a reboot. Call it what you like--but it's still microfilm. Does Microsoft call every major iteration of Windows a reboot? No, it is simply(?) a version of the operating system, and they just get on with it. Whether it is good for the consumer or not! If microfilm was 'versioned', we would likely be on version 4,328.0.0.0 by now.

Things do come and go, as with everything else on this planet. Fads have included colour microfilm, thermoplastic updateable microfiche, CAR (Computer Aided Retrieval (of microfilm), and many other innovations driven by a need to either keep up with computing, or for microfilm to sit alongside the vagaries of IT as a very simple but effective archival storage medium, largely unaffected by advances in computing science. Let's tell it like it is even if we do not keep it as it is, but let's please, I implore you, let's not try to call it something it isn't.

Finally, I wish all readers, stalkers/followers, hecklers and pundits of/on this column, a very happy, peaceful, and successful 2019.

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Publication:IDMi (Information & Document Management International)
Date:Dec 1, 2018
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