David A. Bandel
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All of us use phones. Most of us watch TV (news, sports, and/or movies -- there's also soaps and other series, but (blagggh, gag) who cares?), and a computer. I've been saying for over 15 years these all should, and mostly will (despite efforts of vested interests) move into one device -- or, if you prefer, a series of similar devices, some personal size, some huge like a movies screen.
I've been using my "computer" as a device to do things folks do with a computer, as well as watch TV, as a softphone, etc. What doesn't my computer do? Well, I'm still working on it taking out the garbage for me, but at least it reminds me when I need to do it.
Yes, for years my computer has been alarm clock, calendar/reminder, notepad, TV, and phone. No matter where I am, I have it all -- at least as long as I can connect to the Internet. Some companies try to block ports and other things. But I have ways around that too -- even if they use proxies. I just run a VPN tunnel into my network and it's like I'm home (albeit a bit slower).
What all can we do with a computer (some of which are now called Blackberry -- or crackberry -- or have other such monikers)? You name it. Communication. Of any form. Lost? Check into googleearth and get directions. If you're equipped with a GPS, you can get from wherever you are to anywhere on the planet. And with appropriate transportation, even to destinations on the moon and mars.
Imagine going back to the University of your choice without leaving your living room? Convenient, no? In fact, we have the technology to do anything that has to do with interactive communications -- exchanging voice and video -- at will. You and your professor can be face to face. He can see a fair number of students in boxes on a large screen. This may not be practical if we're talking a class of 300, and lab work would be difficult at best. But few classes require labs. Students could even give classes through the professor's screen by him passing his primary input to a student.
Now this communication doesn't matter what it is, virtual classrooms, first run movies, virtual meetings, etc. In fact I like the thought of being able to sit a my desk with just a shirt, tie, and jacket on (and nothing else -- no socks, pants, whatever) and meet with a some woman 10,000 miles away, neither us of any the wiser the other is naked from the waist down.
We could have done this years ago. But again, it will take some time for all the 500 pound gorillas in the room to slice up the pie. Each wants the biggest portion. Who are we talking about here? Lets see, there's the TV industry, audio recording industry, movie industry (RIAA, et. al.), various providers like Verizon, ATT&T/WorldCom, Yahoo, Google, Micro$oft, IBM, HP, Apple, etc. Anyone actually trying to do the possible would be crushed by the legal weight any of the above could muster. It will take years of jockying before something comes out of this. But it was possible years ago.
The roadblocks are not technical, but legal. This could all be done cheaply and easily, but all the gorillas want their cut. And some powerful industries would suffer. Imagine not having to go to a theater to see first run movies? I would love to be able to see feature movies in English (they're all in Spanish here, and often not well translated where that's even possible), without a bunch of inconsiderate boobs around me with cell phones ringing and the bright lights of the screens blinding me so I can't see the movie. All that gone. Just the family sitting around a large screen watching a movie in the language of our choice in our living room. I'd pay for that. No need for movies theaters anymore.
But the movie industry is terrified they'll lose revenues that way. They'll try to control where you can see the movies via stupid routing and route blocking tricks, so I'll have to be even more ingenious and tunnel into wherever they will allow the movie to be watched and see it. I have to do that now with some of the websites like "livestation" that don't allow me to watch some shows from a "Panamanian" IP. Not difficult, just annoying. I just tunnel into a "US" IP.
Money, power, control. I don't mind paying something reasonable. But the power and control aspect that these companies keep trying to impose on me is a major annoyance. I usually overcome them, but then, I'm not exactly an "average" computer user -- not even a "power user". However, until the myrmidom come to understand the issues and are willing to protest, the nonsense of everyone remaining in a technological backwater will continue.
David-The Ubiquitous Solution
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