Monday, April 12, 2004

My train of thought keeps getting derailed

There is little doubt in my mind that AOL is simply a gigantic virus, and there is nothing that the management can do that will convince me otherwise. Except…AOL has been getting some brownie points from me because they have been going after spammers in a big way. I know it is not because they hate spammers, or they want to do something good for the industry. The fact is that spammers cost AOL a ton of money, thus they are the object of AOL’s attention.

It seems they went after one spammer and won a pretty hefty judgment against him. Rather than just dumping the proceeds into the corporate cashbox, they actually came up with something pretty innovative. It seems that among the proceeds was a fairly new Porche Boxter S valued at $47,000 (who says there is no money in spam). Now here is where they deviated from the normal path. Instead of selling it, or letting some executive’s kid drive it, they have decided to have an online raffle (which is since over) and will give the car to one of its members. How cool is that. I still think AOL is a virus, but I’m occasionally having my doubts.


I went into my favorite used bookstore (Bookman’s, a local entity in the Phoenix metro area) and was wandering around in the murder mystery section when I decided to take a look at their software selection. They once were one of the best sources for used software, until the legal department at Microsoft made them an offer they could not refuse. Still sometimes you find things that will surprise you. I had just given my nephew a used Windows 2000 based laptop and I was hoping to find a few games to load up.

And there.

Sitting on the shelf.

Sitting all alone on the shelf.

(OK, Arlo, I’ll knock it off before you have to hurt me.)

I spotted a Linksys router. Not just a Linksys router, but a Linksys wireless access point plus cable/DSL router with a four port switch. I slowly approached, knowing it was going to be too expensive and then I noticed the price tag: $40.

I had the guy working the geek department open the case and I looked the unit over. Power supply, manual and unit. No CD, but I knew that I could download a PDF, so I was ready to rock. It even had a brand new six-foot patch cable. What I didn’t know was that it had the wrong power supply, but fortunately the plug was a different size so I didn’t fry anything. It did take me a while to find a matching power supply, but once it did, it took me all of 30 minutes to get my network backup and running -- and I can now use the laptop in the bedroom without having to drag a long patch cable. Woo Hoo, life is good, I dodged the Linux bullet, and gained WLAN capability at the same time.

I have to tell you that having the WLAN working in the house has made a huge difference. Now, instead of spending most nights locked in my small home office, I can sit on the bed, next to Mrs. Curmudgeon, and play around on the Internet while the television is on. Best of all, from Mrs. Curmudgeon’s perspective, is that while I have my hand on the keyboard and remote, I don’t have them on the clicker, so a channel actually stays onscreen for more than 15 seconds. She never knew television shows had a beginning, a middle and an end.


Where is it all going?

Desktop PCs are getting smaller, and most of the cases a filled with nothing but air. We have flat screens. We have smart cell phones. We have text pagers. We have PDAs. We have laptops and sub-laptops.

So let’s jump a decade. The Curmudgeon will probably be dust, Computerbits will still be publishing, Leon will still be holding down the back page, and Paul Harwood will still be involved.

But what will the average desktop be capable of…and more importantly, what will be the price point? What will $1,000 buy?

Please share your thoughts on the following questions based on 2014 technology:

  1. How fast will the processor be on a $1,000 desktop PC?
  2. What will be the address length? 64 bits, 128 bits or something else?
  3. How large will the main storage unit be and will the storage still be rotating magnetic media?
  4. What technology, if any, will replace the 3.5” floppy?
  5. How much memory will the minimum new system require?
  6. What display technology will be standard?
  7. Will new systems still ship with a keyboard and mouse? If not, what?
  8. What size flash disk (thumb drive) will you be able to buy for $50?
  9. How fast will WLAN be reliably operating at?
  10. What will be the equivalent processing power of the average cell phone?
  11. Will junk e-mail still be a problem?
  12. What printing technology will be standard in the home? In the office?
  13. Will ink jet printers be given away for free because all the profits are in the ink?
  14. Will you be paying for e-mail? If so, how much per message?
  15. Will OJ ever find the killer?
  16. Will the issue of music piracy have a peaceful resolution?
  17. How much will a 600 dpi color laser printer cost?
  18. What will Apple’s market share be?
  19. What will be the market share, in servers, for Linux? In desktops?
  20. Will Microsoft still control more than 75% of all desktop operating systems? If not, what operating system will realistically unseat Windows?
  21. Will Intel still control more than 75% of all desktop processors?
  22. Will any computer architecture replace or supplant X86 in a meaningful way?
  23. Will dial-up modem technology remain stalled at 56K?
  24. How much will AOL be charging for a month of service?
  25. Will Usenet still exist?
  26. What will be the next two killer apps that propel the industry to new heights?

Share your thoughts, and in turn I’ll share some of the best with the rest of the ‘Bits community.

June 2005 update: As it happened, I never received enough replies to do a follow-up, but at the time we were experiencing some massive DOS attacks that effectively shut down our e-mail system. You are welcome to comment now, though.

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