Jan 4, 2013

Circling the Sun - Technology

Who knows what the future holds, but I like to guess.  Today we're talkin' tech.  

Technology
I'm excited about what's coming down the pipe, some cool stuff in this category.  People my age are living in an interesting time in history.

The Internet was a bare black command window in my class of '94 high school geek group.  To view an image, say a space photo from the Smithsonian, we flipped through a phone-book thick catalog, looked up the 12-digit IP address of the website (192.168.365...) and typed it into a command window.  Then we waited.  And waited.  The download via 1.2 KB dial-up modem finished 5 minutes later, our prize a tiny, garish shot of a galaxy a billion miles away.  We thought it was cutting edge at the time.  I wanted to be a computer programmer from that moment, and so it is.

Now we have wireless high speed screaming gigs of YouTube driving dog clips and Facebook status updates to our hand by high def' phones.  It's only going to get better, here's how I think technology will trend.


  • Towns will provide free city-wide high speed Wi-Fi access.  Just as local radio and TV are free, so will fast Internet access.  Expect annoying pop-up ads to cover the cost.
  • Cloud storage will be the cheapest, fastest and safest form of storage.  Local hard drive space will become less important.  Rather than saving photos, videos and documents to your laptop, you'll float them in the cloud.  With access to documents from all devices anywhere, who needs a large local hard drive?
  • Cables will continue to disappear.  For example, the cable connecting PC to monitor will go away...it'll all be wireless, baby.  Power will be transmitted wirelessly, so the power cord will eventually go bye-bye.  Engineers today are able to beam electricity through the air a meter or two in the lab, but we're a ways from being able to do this longer distances at higher load.
  • The Apple TV is coming soon, the boob tube's about to get fresh.  No remote needed, as air swipes, voice navigation your phone will control the channels.
  • Dick Tracy iWatches are close.  I think Apple made the newest version of the iPod nano larger so it doesn't compete with the wrist-wearable sprite that's coming.  Your phone will do the heavy lifting, transmitting web feeds, weather and calls via Bluetooth.
  • Home automation is about to become big.  The Nest is a start, web-enabled lights and locks are already available, but a large price cut's needed before grandma goes there.  We'll be able to tweak all adjustments in the house with a smartphone:  thermostat, lights, shades, your kids, locks, cameras, Roomba, outlets (if they exist, see wireless electricity above), device streaming to speakers, TVs, wall projectors and gadgets not yet invented.
  • Smart phones will have LED-powered projectors built in.  Watch a 50" HD flick up on the wall anywhere.  
  • A move away from installed apps on devices towards web-based browser apps.  HTML5 for the win, no more installing app updates to apply patches and new levels of Where's My Water.
  • Most employees will work from home.  IBM has already has shuttered entire office compounds, instead paying a small stipend to help workers set up shop at home or Starbucks.
  • Facebook will die if it doesn't step it up and earn income on mobile devices.  It does okay with ads on desktop machines, but today earns little on mobile.
  • DVDs, Blu-ray, wired speakers, inkjet printers, compact fluorescent light bulbs, Hardee's, Chrysler cars, Barnes & Noble, tanning beds, Nintendo, shake weights, Kmart and a bunch more will be no more. 
  • Apple will chip away at Samsung's lead on worldwide smartphone sales by introducing stripped-down iPhone models.
  • Tablets and laptops marry, desktops will have voice and touch input.  
  • Tablets with dynamic force-feedback screens means you can feel the keys as you type, making is harder to fat-finger when working on glass.
  • Paper books, printed magazines and the mailman will be gone in 5 years.  
  • Kids will use eBooks and tablets at school.
What else do you think is coming down the tech pipe in a dozen years?

I'll try and crystal ball transportation, education, the economy and more in future posts.

-Beard

30 comments:

  1. But I love my real books, Beard!!! :(

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    1. Find a happy place in your mind, then go there now, 'cause real books are dead.

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    2. Real books do not have the same percentage of the market they once did -- this is true. I don't ever see "real" books dying, though. First of all, while work is being done to digitalize thousands of books to preserve them and make them accessible to the eReader audience, as well as more portable (my aunt LOVES being able to take four or five books on a long trip with her Kindle) . . . those who love history and the printed word will not allow these valuable tomes to be tossed on the rubbish heap.

      Some information on my background might help you understand why I believe this: One of the best (though not best paying) jobs I ever had was working in a rare book and archive collection (http://tinyurl.com/bzygemy) at the Moody Medical Library in Galveston, Texas. The library has an outstanding collection of rare medical books, including a handwritten volume dating back to 1377 -- The Rosa Medicinae by John of Gaddesden. Scholars still find value in physical books because of their content AND historical nature.

      I do enjoy reading on my Kindle Fire, but as is the case with my computer, after a while my eyes get very tired. I do not experience that when reading a traditional, paperbound book. My daughter has several books on her Kindle, but she uses it more as a social media device, checking email, Facebook, etc. Our family makes regular trips to the public library, bringing home a dozen or more "real" books at a time. ;)

      Also - I attended a writers conference in October, and the general consensus I gathered from the publishers and authors there was the necessity for both printed volumes and eBooks. That may change, but I just don't see it happening any time soon.

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    3. No doubt the ancient, priceless tomes like the Dead Sea Scrolls will never be tossed in the trash heap. I just think modern printed books are going away. The only question is when. I'm guessing certain niches like young children's books will stay paper for a long time, who wants a 4 year old wielding an eDevice?

      The Kindle Fire uses much different screen tech than the plain Jane Kindle. The original Kindle uses eInk that doesn't strain the eyes like you get when reading for hours on an iPad or Fire. Try the original, I think you'd like it.

      Publishers will fight against ePrint, but consumers will ultimately convince them to go electro'.

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  2. I agree with you on everything but books. I will fight to the death for my books......

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    1. Head over to Texas Mom's happy place, I hear Taps playing for hardbacks.

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    2. You are killin' me Smalls

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  3. I don't think books will ever entirely disappear. E readers are cool, I guess, but they can never replace paper. Paper doesn't break when dropped and doesn't require a charge. Plus it's just a different (and pleasant, IMO) experience.

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    1. I agree the paper experience is mostly better than eReaders, but electronic will win eventually. Battery life is 2 months on a Kindle, it will soon be 6 months per charge. The convenience of checking out any book for free from home plus the cost savings of pushing out books/updates by file vs. shipping a hardback mean the days are numbered for print.

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    2. I have a Kindle Fire, and the battery has NEVER lasted 2 months . . . is that if you use it exclusively for reading? Maybe the fact that I use it for other apps drains the battery faster?

      For people living in less than reliable signal areas, the printed word is still more reliable. We live in a semi-rural area (about 10 miles from the nearest "big" town) and we HAVE to keep a landline because there is NO mobile phone service that gets a reliable signal where we are. In addition, we only have ONE internet service provider to choose from (a local company) . . . none of the big companies find our area "worthy" of service. When the power goes out, so does the internet. (And the power is often an issue -- CenterPoint Energy has been to several of our city council meetings making excuses for the unreliability of our electrical service -- but we're a tiny town of 2,000 people, so there you go . . .) Keeping my printed books (and my candles) since technology CAN and DOES fail from time to time.

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    3. The original Kindle goes 6 or 8 weeks on a battery. The Fire is a different beast, more of a tablet than eReader, so you'll get tablet battery life.

      Rural will be sluggish to adapt, where limited choice may slow things down. Personally, I can't wait to leave the city and move to a small town, but staying put for now out to convenience.

      I'd be ticked about the power problems, what year is this?

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  4. Hahaha! This screams Conan O'Brien's "In The Year 2000." In my head that's how I read each line item.

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    Replies
    1. Correct, it was difficult holding a flashlight up to my chin while typing these out.

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  5. Agree with most of this trending. I don't agree that the paperbooks, printed mags & mailman will be gone in 5yrs. I do think their days are numbered, but I think it might take more than 5! I also believe spelling & grammar will look much different as we all accept the techy-shortcuts as appropriate versions of language.

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    1. True, could take up to six years. For the love of God, I hope corny texting shortcuts never take hold in the real world.

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    2. "texting", "texted" it's already begun....Haaha

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  6. I don't think the mailman is going anywhere. at least not until they have the technology to teleport stuff you buy from amazon straight to your living room. I love my ebooks but I don't think printed material will disappear so quickly either

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    1. The US Postal Service posted a $15 billion loss last fiscal year. Nobody buys stamps or mails letters anymore. The USPS is getting a small boost from shipping Amazon packages, but the damage is done.

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  7. Anonymous1/05/2013

    I love all the new technology, but think too many other sectors of our lives are not keeping pace. As the owner of two small home-based businesses that are not web-based, we rely on the USPS to deliver our bills to customers and deliver payments to us. Not sure how we would be paid without snail mail. Its likely all our customers have internet service, but I'm not sure how we would bill and be paid. I also think privacy and security are going to continue to be big issues. Then there is the cost. We live in a rural area where cable isn't available and satellite is cost prohibitive. Cell phone rates continue to climb and small packages for low minutes are no longer offered. Keep thinking though, because its up to all of us to look into the future and make it ours. I don't have a blog so I will continue to be anonymous, Mary

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    1. I pay all the bills electronically, and only accept electro cash when selling stuff. PayPal, eChecks through the bank and Dwolla make it simple. I actually think making a payment electronically is safer than sending a check through the mail and praying it doesn't get jacked on the way. If someone steals a check, they have access to your bank account number, name, address, phone and signature.

      I agree on the challenges with more limited Internet access in rural areas. My Uncle works a 600 acre farm in Iowa and recently got high speed Net access out in the country, but it's expensive. I'm hoping new ways of deploying high speed access to rural areas will be invented, such as transmitting through existing electrical lines.

      Thanks for the note, Mary!

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  8. I foresee print books going the way of the record. Yes, they're still produced and still have a market, but they're not the norm by any means.

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    1. Agree, and I still spin vinyl records at home sometimes. I love the old nostalgic stuff and new tech both.

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    2. That's probably where I am, Beard. The techno stuff is great, but in the same way we like that vinyl sound, I like the way a real book feels and smells. ;)

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    3. You are exactly right. The good news is often when the new stuff moves in, the old is still available if you want it. Many people get in the old vs. new camp, but I say you can have the best by staying plugged into both. For example, I dig a raunchy 1700s Bach concerto on the harpsichord as much as a 2013 Tiesto techno mix. I like running a 1910 Case steam engine as much as rowing the gears on my turbo car.

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  9. I don't even understand most of what you wrote. For being a graduate just one year ahead of you, I'm definitely behind. What I want to know is when/if they will create a way for us to get TV stations where we only pay for exactly what we want/use.

    We cut TV seven years ago when we decided to save in every area we could for our future adoptions. Every time we go to friends' or families' homes for the Superbowl or some big event like Gonzaga basketball, we are horrified with the soft porn/Viagra, Morning after pill, bra/panties commercials that are LEGAL! As TV is now, I don't think we can ever go back, but we do miss some wonderful channels: Animal Planet, History Channel, Weather Channel and probably ESPN type stuff. Any chance of this in your crystal ball?

    Second question: With our oldest at 14 years of age and six more following in just 8 years, I want some protection on our tech devices that first off does not slow down legitimate searches (N.F.P., etc.), and secondly covers all of our devices...not just the computer, but also protects the I Pad, I Phones, etc. Does this already exist? Coming?

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    1. I don't know what half the stuff in this post means, either.

      Cable/satellite will probably never allow consumers to order just the stations we care about, since they know people would only order a handful of channels each and they'd lose money. Instead, they bundle together junk channel packages nobody cares about and charge crazy amounts. I've never paid for cable, why when you can get plenty of high-def' channels over the air for free? We don't watch much TV anyway, maybe an hour or two per week. There's not much on these days.

      Don't be surprised if cable and satellite mostly disappear in the coming years. People prefer to pick their content online rather than have cable push them garbage for $70 a month.

      The answer is to bypass cable and pull what you want via YouTube, Hulu and the like. You can find many cable shows online for free. Simply fork over $100 for a 'net streaming box such as Apple TV or Slingbox, and bam, you can stream shows for no monthly fee.

      Your second question is a good one. I personally won't let my daughter have access to a device alone when she's a teen, regardless of whether a web filter is active. We will use one shared family device that's out on the counter in the open. No way in h-e-double hockey sticks I'll let her free reign with a smartphone in her room, for example. Do a web search on sexting stats and you'll see why.

      There's web filter software available for free to $100 that lets you control Internet access for all devices in the home. I've never used such a filter, so unable to say how well they work. Do a Google search on "home internet filter" to see what's out there and check the reviews from customers.

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    2. We use Hulu and YT for lots of things but knew nothing of the Apple TV or Slingbox. Will look into those b/c I don't want to wait 6 months to see Downton 3 when the library gets it. No...you did not just throw up in your mouth, did you?

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    3. Oh, and I agree with your comments about smartphones/computers in bedrooms. I had the same policy as you re: no online stuff without me right there, but now reality is hitting. With seven kids who enter essay contests and the oldest heading to high school next year, I'm told many teachers assign online research. While the computer is in the living room in full view (can we say, "Ugly decor?!?!" I cannot sit there constantly. So frustrating b/c technology can be a wonderful tool.

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    4. The Apple TV and Slingbox simply let you stream stuff from the Internet to your TV so you can watch it on the big screen rather than a tiny computer monitor. You'll probably still need to wait awhile before you can get season 3 on disk or streaming.

      I did throw up a little, but Curls is a hardcore Downton fan, so I've built up some resistance.

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Thanks for the note, check back for my response!