I just recently returned from a week in London England. I was there from October 6-13th of this year on a business trip, but I got some time to do some sightseeing and one of the highlights of my trip was the City Cruises up the Thames. It started at the Westminster Bridge pier near the Houses of Parliament (where Big Ben is), and right close to the London Eye and went all the way up the river to Greenwich. The "guide" was a seasoned riverboat captain who'd been working the Thames for as long as I've been alive. He was very nice and entertaining. He wasn't an official tour guide, just someone who knew the river and the stories associated with it.
The reason I am posting this on Trekspace is the fact that the cruise boat had an amazing thing: they have the 21st Century equivalent to the Universal Translator on board. London has a very diverse mix of people coming and going at any given time from all walks of life. In fact, for an English Speaking country, I ran into more people who did not speak English than those who did, or so it seemed. It is after all near Europe and I ran into a lot of people who spoke Italian, French, and lots of East Indian people, many Chinese, Hmong, Korean, and Japanese people rounded it out too; I even ran into Hebrew people who spoke fluent Yiddish. So what to do if you're a riverboat captain who speaks only Cockney English and your people on the boat are there from a non English speaking country and don't understand English? Well, that was fixed when they had provided people with headphones and they could set it to their own language. The captain would speak into the microphone and his words would be fed into a computer which would then speak to the person listening through the head phones in their own language! I had no idea such a thing existed yet! I knew that computers would have translation software, but never anything near a real Universal Translator yet that actually speaks and accurately records the language in real time. It wasn't programmed with every earth language of course, and of course I may have fibbed a bit when I said it was accurate: it did make mistakes sometimes but how neat is that? Just another thing I couldn't help but to think exists because it existed first on Star Trek! I know this TV show has ingrained itself so much into pop culture, it amazes me how many things in our everyday and modern world exist because it was inspired by the show Gene Roddenberry created.
Even the Sky Link trains in Dallas had a sci-fi movie feel to them, as did the double decker buses and tubes in London. The trains and buses would talk to passengers, tell them exactly what side streets were there, and what the next stop was. I wished I could have a transporter beam in the Tower Bridge though, going up 206 steps to the upper levels was murder on me. It felt like 2006 steps especially since I'm a heavy gal, who was wearing shoes that weren't as practical as I first thought. My legs were bothering me, so I wished I could beam up to the top. In any case, I guess if they had transporters in London, it wouldn't be the same without the trademark tubes, black cabs and buses eh?
Sorry I've not been around a lot, as you can see I've been plenty busy but am happy to talk to my TrekSpace friends whenever I can. Live long and prosper. ~~B