Technology Time: Mobile Computing vs. Desktop Computing

Today, whilst checking up on my favorite nerd news websites, I had a thought: it would be kind of cool to share some of these stories on my own site as well, but with a Strange Future twist… Thus, “Technology Time” was born! Occasionally, I’ll post a link to an interesting bit of technology and science news, share my viewpoints, and how it relates to the world of technology described in the book. This week, we have one of my favorite kinds of stories: X is dead, long live Y! This week, the role of X will be played by the desktop computer, and the role of Y will be played by mobile computing devices, such as smart phones. I happen to be very fond of these kinds of stories because more often than not, they’re utterly and completely wrong. Today’s article can be found at MediaPost. Here’s a quote from the article in question:

…Then consider this statement from Google Europe boss John Herlihy: “In three years time, desktops will be irrelevant.”

Google’s VP of Global Ad Operations says that cloud-computing will soon guarantee that every mobile device will be capable of handling the most advanced applications, thus demoting desktops to doorstop status.

Well, “If your data moves to the cloud, and most of your daily online activities are done on devices such as the Nexus One and the iPad … then yes, desktop PCs as we know them now will become a lot less important,” writes Mashable. “On the other hand, not many users are ready to ditch the desktop just yet.”

“Big bulky desktops are disappearing, of course, but that’s hardly a new development,” writes PC World, adding, “It’s likely the conventional PC will have a longer, healthier life than Google anticipates.”

Article Source:

So the death of the desktop has been predicted again, this time by Google. This isn’t entirely surprising, especially since Google has been pushing to enter into the mobile computing market with its Android phone operating system. I myself happen to own an Android powered phone, and from my point of view, it’s a very well made platform. (Though I’ve not had much experience with other mobile phone operating systems as my current phone is the first smart phone I’ve ever had.) And while it’s true that more people than ever are accessing the web and their data on the go via smart phones, netbooks, and other smaller computing solutions, I think it’s way too early to say that the desktop has a foot in the grave, let alone to call for its complete and total demise. The reasons for this are varied and many, but there are two primary reasons that I don’t believe this to be the case.

Corporate and Business Users: There are some situations where a mobile device simply will not suffice. Can you imagine trying to fulfill duties as a secretary, accountant, or, worse yet, a 3D modeler on a mobile device? It just doesn’t make any sense in those situations. So most companies are going to continue on, business as usual, on desktop computers.

Limits of Mobile Computers: I don’t necessarily mean limitations on processing power or bandwidth here, though that is a factor to consider as well. As time goes on, those limitations will be lessened. I’m talking about physical limitations, mostly connected with dimensions. The technology for touch screens is obviously much better than before, and it could just be me, but I find typing on a touch screen extremely difficult. The phone I have happens to have a full, slide-out QWERTY keyboard, which works much better. Still, I have difficulty, at times, typing on the thing because the keys are so small. Until we start implanting keyboards into our arms (which would have its own very interesting complications), I just can’t foresee people using mobile computing devices for much larger research, composition, and other projects simply because of this.

How this impacts the technology of the future: In the story, much emphasis is placed on the implants (basically smart phones implanted into people’s heads) that the characters use to communicate with each other and access the portal system (futuristic version of the internet). This reflects how I see mobile computing technology being used as time goes on. Instead of humans becoming cyborg-like creatures with powerful computing hardware built into every bit of their bodies, all fully interfaced with their brains, I think things will continue to remain much as they are now, for the most part, with voice to text technologies improving to the point where dictation for typing on mobile devices will be common. Obviously, based on the popularity of bluetooth headsets, people don’t have a problem talking into thin air (and appearing crazy). For those not comfortable with that, there are also keyboards (sold separately, of course) available for use with the implants.

Still, despite all the uses of the implant, desktop computers are still around in the future. At several occasions (the airport, hotel, bank, and others) the characters interacted with individuals who were using desktop computers. Darin himself has a computer that he uses on at least one occasion, though it is never actually described (it is kept in his room, and we never get the chance to “see” the inside of his room in the story).

I will admit that from a technological standpoint, at the current rate of progress and advancements anyhow, to have only gotten that far in two-hundred years seems laughable in a way. However, recall that Lyla explains the third world war set back a lot of the advancements previously made:

Oh, no, the Internet was destroyed during World War Three,” Lyla explained. “The governments decided that it was a threat to global instability and dismantled it.”

“Don't you mean global stability?” Vera asked.


“Never mind...” Vera sighed.

“Anyhow, the Internet as you guys know it was destroyed but they began the Portal System in the 2050s after the personal computer made a comeback. There are quite a few different portals available, and most of them are fine tuned to work well on the implants since that's where nearly all of the traffic on the Portals comes from.”

Thus, in the 2050s, computing technology was basically reset to where it was a few years ago. Thereafter, the government would keep a much closer eye on technology and guide it the way they wanted it to go. So, that’s pretty much the state of mobile and desktop computing technologies in the world of Strange Future. Look for another one of these (probably much shorter next time! 😛 ) posts sometime soon!

First Blog Post! Plus, Teaser Tuesday

Well this is officially the first blog post I’ve made on the new site! (Well, first post with NEW content that is.) I think I’ve finally settled on the design, so things should stay pretty static from this point on from that standpoint at least. Let me know what you think of the setup!

For my first post, I’ve decided to do a Teaser Tuesday post featuring an excerpt from the sequel that I’m currently working on. (Teaser Tuesday is when someone posts an unedited portion of something they’re currently working on to get feedback and, let’s face it, to show off. :P) There’s only one bit in this portion resembling a spoiler, and it’s so excessively minor that you needn’t worry about it. Without further yapping from me, here it is:

The rather unfortunate thing about important, newsworthy happenings is that they have an uncanny ability of occurring when one isn’t at home. A person will blissfully go about the day’s business, completely unaware about the major event unfolding that’s making everyone’s head spin. Once they finally do get home to hear the news, they’re as shocked as everyone else was initially, and proceed to call everyone they know to find out if they’ve heard yet. Inevitably, everyone they call will have already seen it and mostly recovered. Recovered, that is, until the caller reminds them of what happened, stirring up the feelings of anxiety all over again.

With the advent of faster and faster means of communication, this rather awkward and irritating cycle was supposed to be eliminated. Telegraphs rose and were replaced by the telephone, which was supplemented by the television, which was then further supplemented by the internet, which was replaced by the portal system, which was supplemented by the implants… and so on. Of course, the endless loop of bad news being freely accessible didn’t reduce the anxiety cycle as people originally suspected, but instead intensified it, making things worse than they originally were.

This led to one scientist rediscovering a long forgotten, crude little device called earplugs. Upon realizing the seemingly magical power they had to reduce anxiety brought on by bad news, he began to market and sell them to the masses. He lived the next year of his life in a blissful, peaceful tranquility. Indeed, he would’ve lived a full, happy life, but he made the mistake of taking his earplugs off one day and died of an anxiety attack when a random passerby filled him in on everything that had happened in the past year. Thus, the government banned the earplug, and earplug addiction centers opened all over the world, gradually weaning people of their dependence on them.

Still, the problem remained, and steps were taken to try and reduce anxiety for the masses in small doses. One such step was to ban televisions and require the installation of portal service blockers in certain public places, such as fancy restaurants and nightclubs. Thus, Thomas, Lyla, Darin, and Doug were completely oblivious to what had just been revealed by Lydia Shults at the press conference in London. Vera could, of course, call them and tell them, but the laws of etiquette—which Vera was rather fond of following—would prevent that from happening.

That’s it for this week! I’ll be sure to do another Teaser Tuesday post later on. I can’t ensure that it’ll happen every week, but I’ll try to do one at least once a month. Let me know what you think in the comments!

New Here? Read This…

According to some scientists, there are an infinite number of universes. Some of these universes are so bizarrely different from ours that we can’t possibly begin to describe what they must be like…

Others are nearly exactly the same as ours, with the exception of one tiny detail. For instance, there is a universe somewhere that is a carbon copy of this one, except in that universe, you put on blue socks this morning instead of white ones…

If this theory is true, then it means that somewhere there is a universe where the following story is NOT a story. Somewhere there is a universe where the events described herein have actually occurred…

Let’s hope that the theory is wrong…

[Click for more information]

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