The Graveyard

The Lair Of Gary James

Same As Before, Only Slightly Different

Posted by BigWords on September 7, 2009

Everyone seems to be upgrading things around the net, and I got hit with a dozen software updates as well – designed to coincide (I’m sure) to deliberately make my laptop have a seizure. Most of what is being changed seems to be working for the better, though I can’t help thinking that Firefox’s tinkering with the address bar is merely cosmetic rather than an essential and needful expenditure of time.

I’m missing a few options as well, so hopefully the changes will be looked at for ways to incorporate the new video-friendly software with the easy navigation of earlier builds. It doesn’t appear to be amazingly faster than it was, though I haven’t tested it out yet…

Absolute Write had a Nip/Tuck at the weekend, and some new bits and pieces have been added to the boards – such as tags. My initial response was to ignore them, just as I have done on every other forum I have been on, but I can see the usefulness for folks who don’t have a compulsion to explore the threads in depth.

Aviva AntiVir Personal seems to be forever updating, so I wasn’t surprised when the notification appeared on screen, and all this tinkering is slowing down things considerably.

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Maybe the internet is in need of a massive shift once again, on to a new and exciting multiple-platform existence. I remember when the possibility was raised that fridges could order food that was running low, and when people discussed technological advances they seemed to be genuinely excited at the places we would go. Tomorrow’s World is no longer airing, and The Gadget Show – for all it covers – doesn’t exactly fill the gap. Even New Scientist seems less futuristic than it used to.

Maybe the world has moved on to a point where mobile ‘phone apps and rinky-dink software solutions have replaced Big Ideas, and any true step forward will have to be made by renegade bedroom coders. Hardware takes small steps for the most part, but I expected the software concepts to move on a bit more than they have. We are at a point where we can pretty much join up everything electrical in the home, so why do artificial barriers exist between my appliances even now?

When I want a cup of coffee, I should be able to switch the kettle on from my laptop. My mobile ‘phone should be able to unlock the front door. We should, in short, be living the way we were promised twenty years ago. The wilder claims, such as working and living on the moon, were easy to ignore, but the promise of terrestrial technology being so much better wasn’t just wishful thinking – there was merit in some of the suggestions. I want to be living that future, and I want to be living it now.

All the updates and changes that are going on at the moment shouldn’t just be about making things prettier, or adding in small changes to the operation of software. We should be looking at ways in which we can make our objects connect to each other to make life easier. To extend our digital domain across new frontiers, claim the future we were sold by magazines and television shows. We should be excited at the possibilities, and thrilled at the unexpected connections which will come.

If updates are spread across multiple hard drives, then the fridge, or the kettle, radio, television, or even the god-damned house itself, should take some of the burden off my poor laptop. Things will work faster, everything will be interlinked, and maybe we’ll produce technologies which will one day prepare us for bigger challenges. Space travel needs a lot of new toys, especially if we ever hope to colonize the moon, so by starting to think BIG down here on Earth we will be accustomed to looking at more complex situations we will undoubtedly face up there.

BitTorrent may, if politicians can quit bitching and whining about the technology, prove to be the most important step in the move to a hyper-digital existence, where everything is connected. Because it downloads in the background, we don’t notice it. This will be handy when everything suddenly needs updating, rather than putting over a lot of resources to download big upgrades in one giant chunk of data. I’m surprised that it hasn’t been put to this use yet…

The sharing of upgrades would also alleviate stress on the servers which some programs are dependent on for their continued usefulness, such as anti-virus databases.

I may have an overly-optimistic view of what we can achieve, but the tech is there. It exists. All we need do, is discover new ways in which to put it to use.

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