A Quick Guide to Star Trek – Part 2

“She [the Borg Queen] brought me closer to humanity than I ever thought possible. And for a time, I was tempted by her offer. (Picard: For how long?) Zero point six-eight seconds, sir… For an android, that is nearly an eternity” (Data, Star Trek: First Contact)

Read Part 1 here


5. The tactical officers

What is deep space exploration without any confrontation with aggressive aliens? In the world of Star Trek, enemies of the Federation comes in many shape and form, from known enemies like Romulan and Borg, unknown  space life forms and misunderstood friendly aliens. And right at the front of space battles is the tactical officer who lays out tactics within critical timespan, ensures the starship is adequately shielded from on-going blast and phasers, aims the ship’s weapons for a direct hit and provide security details for internal and away missions.

ST: TNG – In 2364, Lieutenant junior grade Worf (Klingon) was assigned as a command division bridge officer on the USS Enterprise. Worf spent most of his first year on the Enterprise-D as a relief officer for the conn and other bridge stations. Worf was permitted a variation from the Starfleet uniform dress code, and wore a Klingon warrior’s sash, sometimes called a baldric by Humans, over his regular duty uniform.

In 2365, Worf transferred to the operations division and officially became the Enterprise-D’s chief tactical officer and security chief. After seven years of service aboard the starship, Worf rose in rank to lieutenant commander in 2371.

VOYTuvok (Vulcan) was the tactical officer and second officer aboard USS Voyager. He served in this post for the seven years that Voyager was stranded in the Delta Quadrant. Tuvok was a prize-winning orchid breeder. He used grafting techniques on flowers from both Earth and Vulcan.

Tuvok’s main pastime was the Vulcan game kal-toh. Tuvok also spent his spare time meditating, and instructed various members of the crew in this pursuit over the years.

My pick – I guess it depends on the situation, Worf for close combat (it is suicidal to take on an angry Klingon in an hand to hand combat) and Tuvok for long range ship tactical and security crew readiness (he had the logic enough to write a “worst case scenario” holodeck program for the USS Voyager’s crew)


6. The moral officers

Long journey in starships especially in the case of USS Voyager can be lonesome, boring and stressful. Thankfully both USS Enterprise and USS Voyager is equipped with holodecks for the crew to let off some steam but at end of the day, it helps if there is one who is willing to sit down and listen and advice crewmen on their personal problems. In the case of USS Enterprise, Deanna Troi is also helped by Guinan (played by Whoopi Goldberg) who is also the bartender and an informal moral officer

ST: TNGDeanna Troi (half-Betazoid, half-Human) served as ship’s counsellor aboard the USS Enterprise-D and the USS Enterprise-E. Troi’s empathic skills made her an important asset to the Enterprise and often came in handy when dealing with hostile races. Since she could usually tell if others were lying, she repeatedly proved herself invaluable in many suspenseful situations

VOY Neelix (Talaxian male) joined the USS Voyager, serving as chef, morale officer, ambassador, navigator, and holder of many other odd-jobs. Aboard Voyager, Neelix served as a chef, “Special Consultant for the Delta Quadrant”, and occasionally as a self-appointed “chief morale officer”. Captain Kathryn Janeway gave Neelix the unofficial title of “ambassador” when he proved to have a flair for diplomacy.

My pick – Neelix for his multi role duties and also for the fact, he can’t read one’s mind. He is less emotional too.

And finally, my favourite characters in both series…


7. The Artificial Intelligence

The cream of the series – the crewmen who is not really “alive” (although Captain Picard did argue differently for Data in Starfleet) and can do wonders with limitless calculation and memory storage. The best part of the “artificial intelligence” in both series is that they try (sometimes to an extent of humour) to be as close as a humanistic can be.

ST: TNG Lt Commander Data (Soong-type android) was composed of 24.6 kilograms of tripolymer composites, 11.8 kilograms of molybdenum-cobalt alloys and 1.3 kilograms of bioplast sheeting. All told, he weighed approximately 100 kilograms. Data’s upper spinal support was a polyalloy designed for extreme stress. His skull was composed of cortenide and duranium. Data was built with an ultimate storage capacity of eight hundred quadrillion bits (100 petabytes, approximately 50 times the identifiable storage capacity of the human brain) and a total linear computational speed rated at sixty trillion operations per second.

Data served as operations officer and second officer on board the USS Enterprise-D from 2364 until the vessel’s destruction in 2371. Since he did not require sleep, he routinely stood night watch on the bridge. His speed of thought and great strength made him an important asset to the ship, and the fact that he was unaffected by disease, radiation or mind control was vital on more than one occasion. Data pursued many of the higher arts of Earth. He developed his painting skills, creating art of many styles and subjects. He wrote poetry and performed in plays. He played the violin and performed on several occasions.

VOY The Doctor (hologram) was the name given by the crew of the USS Voyager to their Emergency Medical Hologram (alternatively abbreviated as “EMH”). The EMH Mark I, of which the Doctor was an example, was a computer program with a holographic interface in the form of a Human male doctor. The EMH Mark I, properly known as the Emergency Medical Holographic Program AK-1 Diagnostic and Surgical Subroutine Omega 323, was developed by a team of engineers to be an emergency supplement to the medical team on starships.

Only meant to run for a maximum of one thousand five hundred hours, it had little personality and the apparent objectives of first accessing an emergency situation before dealing with that crisis, as efficiently as possible. It was capable of treating any known injury or disease; programmed with medical knowledge of every member world in the Federation (at least, as of 2371), it had the knowledge of five million surgical treatments and was capable of adapting to create new medical treatments. It also had a database of spiritual medical treatments practices by Native Americans. The Doctor took a keen interest in opera, frequently practising his singing with a holographic soprano.

My pick – Data because he is not limited to any shortcomings in the hologram circuits. He can’t perform major medical functions but that is not a major shortcoming. He just needs to learn the same from the ship’s massive library within seconds.

(Key data and pictures for this Star Trek post sourced here)


A Quick Guide to Star Trek – Part 1

“I refuse to believe that the afterlife is run by you, Q. The universe is not so badly designed!” (Captain Jean Luc Picard in ST: TNG episode Tapestry)

Inspired by the Star Wars movies, Star Trek: The Next Generations (ST: TNG) and Star Trek Voyager (VOY) was one of my favourite TV shows in the 1990s.

And in recent times, I managed to get hold of whole 7 seasons of ST: TNG and it was worth watching the show all over again. VOY on the other hand, took viewers on the other side of ST:TNG and had it’s own interesting attractions as the Federation ship that got lost in the Delta Quadrant which requires 70,000 light years to return back home.

Whilst on the onset, both series looked the same (with ST: TNG being more prominent between the 2), there are some interesting differences and my pick between the 2.


(USS Voyager (right) is smaller but better designed compared to USS Enterprise)

1. Type of starships

The crew in ST: TNG flies the more famous USS Enterprise a Galaxy-class Federation starship commissioned in 2363 whilst the crew flies the lesser known, much smaller but more nibble USS Voyager, the Intrepid-class Federation starship commissioned in 2371. Further USS Enterprise is deemed the flagship of the Starfleet and one of the largest among all Federation starships.

ST: TNGUSS Enterprise has 42 decks, 14 phaser arrays, 2 torpedo launchers, 250 photon torpedoes, deflector shields with a maximum warp speed of 9.8 and a crew complement of 1,014

VOYUSS Voyager has 15 decks, 13 phaser arrays, 38 photon torpedoes, deflector shields with a maximum warp speed of 9.975 and a crew complement of 150.

My pick – USS Voyager. For a simple fact, it is faster, more nimble and carries less unnecessary crew. Besides Captain Picard hates it when there are children on board.


(No one can ignore the ‘prominent’ feature of Captain Jean Luc Picard (left) and the powerful stare from him)

2. The captains

Long before playing the role of Professor X in X-Men, Patrick Steward played Captain Jean Luc Picard in ST: TNG and that it was one of the key crowd puller for the series. For Voyager, we had an unsettled first impression but Kate Mulgrew who played the Captain Kathryn Janeway showed that Kathryn Janeway was one tough lady and had all the rights and skills to captain a Federation ship.

ST: TNG – USS Enterprise D is captained by Captain Jean Luc Picard (human). Picard not only witnessed the major turning points of recent galactic history, but played a key role in them also, from making first contact as captain of the Federation’s flagship with no fewer than 27 alien species, including the Ferengi and the Borg.

He also became the chief contact point with the Q Continuum as well as serving as Arbiter of Succession, choosing the former leader of the Klingon Empire, Chancellor Gowron, and exposing the Romulan Star Empire as backers of his chief rivals, later aiding an underground movement of dissidents to gain a toehold on the Romulan homeworld. Captain Picard ‘s favourite drink is hot Earl Grey tea

VOY – USS Voyager is captained by Captain Kathryn Janeway (human). She became the first Federation captain to successfully traverse the Delta Quadrant, encountering dozens of new planets and civilizations over the course of seven years. While there, she and her crew also survived numerous encounters with the Borg. By 2379, she was a Vice Admiral at Starfleet Command. Captain Janeway’s favourite drink is hot black coffee.

My pick – Captain Jean Luc Picard at any given day! He’s bald and yet he is cool and one that had stood up to Q on almost equal terms

ist officer

(Both have the right looks of a first officer but Commander Riker (left) is more experienced with Federation starships)

3. The 1st officers

Captains cannot work effectively without having a fine, dedicated, skilled crew and first in line are the ‘number ones’ or the next in command. When the captain is unable to take helm of the ship or is away on missions or trapped in some alien world / ship, number one have the control and final say. Number ones also take care of job assignments and staff evaluations and other operational issues.

ST: TNG – USS Enterprise D’s 1st officer is Commander William Thomas Riker (human). He was perhaps best known for his long assignment as first officer under Captain Jean-Luc Picard aboard the USS Enterprise-D, and later the USS Enterprise-E. In 2379, he finally accepted a promotion to captain and was assigned to the USS Titan. Riker was a jazz aficionado, and his favourite musical instrument was the trombone.

VOY – USS Voyager’s D’s 1st officer is Commander Chakotay (human). Chakotay didn’t use the holodeck often, but enjoyed reading instead. He occasionally took the time to embrace his artistic side, such as creations using colored sand while trapped on ‘New Earth’ and carvings of Native American symbols. Chakotay was a vegetarian; one of his favourite meals was mushroom soup.

My pick – it is tough choice between the 2. Both had their own strengths and weaknesses but I guess Riker have the edge over Chakotay – he already been offered captain-ship several times but opted to remain Jean Luc Picard’s number 1.


(Geordi (left) is blind and needs a visor to see things in a very different way)

4. The chief engineers

The heart of Federation star ships is the warp propulsion system and without the right person at the engineering, the starship, no matter who is in charge, is in deep trouble (they can loose speed, shield and weapons). Since the time of Scotty Scott and Captain Kirk, the role of the chief engineer has become more complex, as starships gets bigger and more technologically innovative.

ST: TNGGeordi La Forge (human) held the rank of lieutenant commander and was the chief engineer of the USS Enterprise-D and USS Enterprise-E, both under Captain Jean-Luc Picard. As a junior officer, his specialities included antimatter power, dilithium regulators, holodeck programs, and climate-control computers. His intense focus enabled him to master the complexities of warp engineering and other starship systems.

VOY B’Elanna Torres (half-Klingon, half-Human) served as Chief Engineer on the USS Voyager. Torres was initially assigned the provisional rank of lieutenant junior grade. Torres had difficulty getting along with the temporary chief engineer, Joe Carey.

She was recommended as a replacement chief engineer by Chakotay. However, Kathryn Janeway opposed this decision. After Voyager became trapped in a quantum singularity, Torres proved her skills to Janeway and earned her respect. Janeway then made her chief engineer over Carey.

My pick – Between 2, Geordi is better simply because he is more prominent when it comes to new innovations to the warp propulsion system and key starship systems. And without a “Klingon DNA”, he is often more adapting to handle critical situation without losing control or temper.

(Key data and pictures for this Star Trek post sourced here)

To be continued…

(Read Part 2 HERE)

What Malaysian Astronauts Can Do in Space?

This is great.

We finally have short listed couple of Malaysians to be blasted off to space. They were celebrated in big way yesterday. The DPM out of the blue assured the Malaysians that the Government is not spending a single cent on the space programme as it is part of the package when we bought the Sukhoi jet fighters (those who can think may ask DPM whether this meant the Government paid more, upfront, for the jets but that besides the point right?)

Anyway, I thought on another issue on our Malaysian Astronauts. A more important issue – what they going to do once they are up in space? I mean the astronauts train up for 18 months to be one and once blasted off to space, what will they do? They cannot be just “goyang kaki” for hours in space, right?

Actually, I would say there are plenty things to do.

For start, they can check whether the teh tarik can indeed be “tarik-ed” in space. Even now, there are rumors that the potential astronauts are being trained at a secret location in Penang mamak restaurant by the best in the teh-tarik business. Of course, this is very similar to the package that the Government negotiated with the Russians for the space deal. The training to tarik the teh tarik is provided free of charge by the restaurant in return for the test results. It is rumored that the said restaurant is planning to send several staff on the next trip so that a branch can be opened in the space station to provide the astronauts, fresh 10 – 20 cents increased roti canai & teh tarik.

Creeping from behind is this issue of haze – it might “balik kampung” to Malaysia in May 2006. Presently, all fingers in Malaysia are pointing to the Indonesians whilst all fingers in Indonesia are pointing to the Malaysians in Indonesia. You with me so far? Are you wondering who the real culprits here? So, whilst they are up there, the Malaysian Astronauts might as well check the hotspots and give an updated report to the Government (in case you are wondering, this is just a gimmick because you cannot see much from space – the problem is pretty much covered under a thick blanket of secrecy, err I mean haze).

Since the environment is a big issue these days (it is the “in” thing now), the Opposition party also wants a say in the “Send Malaysian to Space Project”. They wanted the Astronauts to check how far the reserve forest in the “Semuanya OK” State and in other States has been illegally logged. However, this idea was immediately scrapped before it could lift off (pun intended). It seems that some people felt that there is no need to send astronauts to find out such trivial things, all one needs to do is to tune into TV3 news at 8.00 pm to get the latest information.

On another note, there is a good chance that the spacecraft carrying the Malaysian Astronauts might fly over the State of Johor. To be precise, it might be flying over Causeway. It may provide a good opportunity for the Malaysian Astronauts to check accurately how crooked the scenic bridge will be. Meantime, some Malaysians have other ideas to divert the attention – they are planning to have a big celebration in Johor in conjunction with the by-pass of the space-craft. Already there is a theme writing competition held to pick the theme for the celebration. The theme “Malaysia Boleh! Ye ye…we are one step ahead of Singapore in the race to space…ye, ye” seems to be the likely winner.

Several food & fresh fruit distributors were seen sending foodstuff to the houses of the Astronauts with strict request: test the food under weightlessness of space. No one knows why they want to test under such conditions. A secret survey among the Astronauts reveals that the king of fruits, durian, has been short listed for the trip to space. Actually, this is not a real test but just an excuse for the Malaysian Astronauts to enjoy their durians whilst up in space. This news was somehow leaked out to the Russians who are now wanted to protest against it after the Friday prayers along KLCC (they gathered that this is a Malaysian thing to do).

Meantime some people are wondering whether Pak Lah will be appointing another Cabinet Committee to study the things that the astronauts should be doing whilst they are up there in space. I am sure DPM (who else) will be heading the committee and with several ministries joined in…transportation, communication, education, etc. There is still time to think about things to do in space – perhaps in 18 months time, they can finally put it in writing and faxed it to the space craft just before it is blasted off to space.

By the way, in case you are shaking your head in disbelief, let me assure you that all the above is just a joke…not the part where we are sending astronauts to space, I meant the content of my post above.
(Filed under Del.icio.us Tag: Jokes)

End of Mankind?

(The surrounding on Earth in thousands years looked something like this but it was darker and more sinister. Weird! – picture source: lasp.colorado.edu)

I was down with a fever & a bad cold (after my trip to Taiping). I popped up my medication (quite a strong and drowsy one) and went to bed early (no time to draft my blog). Man, that night, I had the weirdest dream – even to myself. Good thing I remember it vividly when I woke up this morning (funny, normally the dreams with “4 Ekor” is very sketchy)

This is what I dreamt (edited with Indian spices, of course)…I was part of an International Team to be send to the future to study how mankind will go extinct (I know I know, sound very funny but it was not funny in my dream especially having some grumpy looking “Mat-Sallehs” handling the mission control). There were 5 of us – 3 males and 2 females (good looking ones too). Sorry to say that I was the only Malaysian selected (of course mah, it is my dream mah). So, we were launched by NASA into space in a big space ship (the only thing I remembered before we were in space is the countdowns 3, 2, launch!). I was at back of the ship, chit-chatting with one of the female “astronauts” (very typical of me). We went into hyper-drive and circled the Earth several times. We could see that time was moving into the future.

After several circles, we stopped and flied down to Earth to “check-out” things on Earth (my head was “spinning” at the same time – must reduce my medications the next time).

We have moved few hundred years to the future and guess what, things have not really changed in the last few hundred years (I did not see any Proton then so I guess the Government must have wind up the company). The nasi lemak shop at the corner was still there but the human is replaced by a odd looking robot. We, the “astronauts” were of course invisible to the Earthlings and protected by an invisible shield which was a good thing because we still saw the “Mat Rempits” racing in KL.

Felt boring, we flew up and circled the Earth couple of rounds again (just to be sure) and flew down again

Couple of hundred of years passed by – yes, there is a change. The females of the Earth have become the more predominant gender and were basically in charge of things in Earth. The males are left to do the house-work, do sundry shopping and taking care of babies. The ladies in the spaceship were seen shouting “Yes. Yes” but we guys (being a typical one) just ignored them. The cities were modern and they actually have cars that fly. I guess women run things better than guys did.

We flew up and circled the Earth couple of rounds again and flew down again

The cities were gone and what left were small villages. The surrounding was pollution free and males & females live in co-existence peacefully. My Captain jokingly said that the males must have arisen to free themselves from the “slavery” and ending burning down the cities. Years have passed by before they decided to live together with the other sex (no prizes for guessing what they were doing for their “malam jumaats” before this). We stopped by one of the house (had a large farm beside the house) and had breakfast (you guess it right roti canai with thick dhal). The residents were amazed by us and thought that we were aliens. We lived there for couple of days, acting God for the weak, innocent humans. We in power then (of course, large stick is no match for super duper ray gun). Anyway, we got bored and we were back on the mission (although I did not agree – it was too good to let the easy life pass by)

Now it seems like mankind will live forever. Once again, we flew up and circled the Earth couple of rounds and flew down again

We were shocked – the Earth has truly changed. The landscape was similar to the one in Mars. What happened to peace loving villages? We were speechless and as we flew down, we were attacked by a huge bird. Luckily I managed to kill it with the laser gun that we had (once in a while, have to be the hero also mah). As we landed, we noted that it was a waste barren land. There were huge storms but no soul to be found. We were still in the spacecraft when one of us detected movement under ground. We flew down to a deep canyon and yes, we found the Earthlings – all were naked and weak (ok, not exactly naked, they still had some patch of clothes to cover their sensitive parts – Malaysian Censorship Board at work again). One of them managed to crack open the ground and immediately all were swept by an unknown virus, turning them into ash instantly. There – it was the end of the mankind as we know it.

I was still drowsy (with bones aching) when I was typing this blog – go figure.