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2001-A-Space-Odyssey-057

Human male preparing to use a DatCom terminal

A DatCom (short for "Data/Communications") terminal is a common communications and information-retrieval device found throughout the Frontier

Appearance Edit

The housing of a datcom terminal generally measures 46 cm wide by 61 cm high by 46 cm deep and contains an alpha-numeric keypad(s), a small camera and screen that permits visual communications and/or displays information, a slot for a memory tape,[1] and another slot for inserting the user's id card.

The terminal may be placed on a desk or other similar surface, mounted to a wall, or enclosed in a 2 m by 1.5 m by 2 m free-standing booth which affords the user a measure of privacy.[2]  Most businesses have at least one datcom terminal for their own use, and many may have one or more for public use somewhere on the premises.

Purchasing a datcom terminal costs 200 credits and the unit masses 4 kg.

How to use a datcom Edit

Bsod-on-phone-booth2

Wall-mounted datcom terminal

To use a datcom, the character must first insert an id card into the appropriate slot to pay for his use of the system. Datcom usage costs a base fee of 1 credit, plus an additional credit per 2 minutes of audio-visual communications.  The system has a dedicated line that can be used to summon law enforcement, medical assistance, or other emergency personnel.  The special line is free to use; misusing it, however, is a minor crime and can result in a fine or short term of imprisonment.

Queries from the computer system cost the same base of 1 credit plus 1 per specific query.

How a datcom functions Edit

A datcom terminal combines some of the functions of a basic computer with those of a chronocom, and are typically used by the general public when they otherwise do not have access to either. Individual units are installed in businesses or other locations at the owners' request. Cities with sufficient infrastructure also maintain public terminals spaced regularly throughout the city proper. The terminals are networked into a common mainframe via "hard" lines (wire or fiber-optic depending on the age and/or quality of the system).

The communications functions of a datcom are generally handled over a dedicated line. All of the basic functions of the chronocom are present.

Small desktop datcom

Desktop datcom terminal

The computer functions of a datcom have a separate line for data transfer.  The terminal is just that, a terminal, and not a true computer, so it's operations are somewhat limited.  Characters may use a datcom to make general queries of publicly maintained databases of useful information such as “How do I get from here to the nearest medical center?” or “Where is the closest fast food restaurant/monorail terminal/etc?”

Datcom terminals generally lack the ability to interface with computer networks outside the datcom system.  This is partly for security reasons (so that a public datcom cannot be used to “hack” other computers),[3] and partly to limit the amount of time any one user can tie up that particular terminal.

Notes and References Edit

  • This device described by Chris Donovan
  1. Not provided
  2. In higher-class areas, privacy includes both audio and visual. In not-so-high-class areas only audio privacy is provided so as to prevent the booth from being used for illicit activities.
  3. If a character insists on trying, have him roll at half his Computer skill against a Level 6 Security program before rolling a d100. A d100 roll of 25 or less means that the connection is possible. Note that this is being done in plain view of others most of the time, and someone is sure to call the local cops. They will notice in any event if the character fails his skill roll.

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