Losing the Wire

August 2011
Riverside CA

It’s official, I finally gave up my laptop. No more 3kg anchor to haul around. No more cords to plug in or chargers to carry. Today I handed my laptop to my daughter. Now I just have my iPad, the tablet. Me and the pad, that’s how its gonna be. I did, however, recently acquire a new desktop machine. I’ve not had a desktop in 20 years! Will this work, a pad and a desktop, and no laptop? I’m not sure, but a lot of people are moving in this direction, and as tablet computers improve, I suspect we are seeing the end of the laptop era and the revival of the desktop computer. The desktop machine is for the “sit-down” work, making a movie, working with big spread sheets, editing photos on a large screen, or perhaps serious gaming. It’s about monitor real estate. When you need a big screen you go to the desktop, otherwise the tablet is the way to go. Yet before I finally relinquished my laptop I kept it around for a few weeks longer and tried not to use it. So today I took the plunge, but I must admit it’s like giving up an old friend. There is a sadness.

A month ago I gave away my sound system, including an AM and FM radio along with the related antennas, a DVD and CD player, a base unit and two tweeters and “miles” of connecting wires. It was replaced by one simple unit, a wireless sound system that contains all the speakers and which connects to my local network including a large “tv” monitor. The “brains” of this new system is my cell phone or my tablet computer. From these devices can come movies, video, AM and FM radio, photographs or any kind of web content. There is no need for antennas, woofers, tweeters, CDs or DVD players or the “miles” of wires. Everything comes from a cellular network or some other wireless network connected to the Internet. It is amazing and I marvel each time I use the system. I can even talk to a person on the other side of the world and see them live on my tv monitor. My kids, who grew up with this kind of technology take it for granted; I am in awe and amazement every time I use it.

Essentially, my cell phone, a tiny device that I hold in the palm of my hand, is the heart of this system. It is a stand alone unit, able to play music or video or display any kind of web content on its own, or it can connect to any network and project itself into speakers or large tv monitors or anything else connected to the network. Wow, as I was writing this paragraph a voice message from a friend sitting in a cafe in London just arrived. I can hear her voice as clear as if she was in the same room with me. I also hear the street sounds of London. I am sitting in my desert home on the other side of the world as I receive this message. This could have been a video message and I would have seen my friend in London on a large monitor. She could have shown me where she was sitting and I could have walked in the streets of London with her. I would have been in London! This is truly magic to me. Gradually this kind of digital technology is defusing across the world and changing the way we live and think. London, Moscow, Delhi, Tokyo and almost any other place on this planet are now directly a part of my world. These are amazing times indeed!


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