gritz wrote:On ASUS' site, you'll now see the slogan "ASUS recommends Windows 7" proudly shown. Never mind that, while Windows 7 is a good operating system, Windows 7 is awful on netbooks.
I wonder what the significance is that Asus was chosen by Google to build their just-launched Nexus 7-inch tablet with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean? That's "launched" as in you actually own one if you were one of the ~6,000 lucky enough to attend the Google I/O conference in San Francisco this past week, and they're coming to the public in volume this month, while the Surfaces ... The Asus CEO said that Google only gave them four months to develop the Nexus 7 from scratch to volume production, and that they were on a 24/7 death march between China, Taiwan, and Mountain View for that entire time.
Can you imagine MS and its "proud partners" producing anything
in four months, much less new hardware running a substantially expanded/modified OS and ensuring app compatibility with minimal bugs and vulnerabilities? I haven't seen who's producing the Surfaces under contract to MS, but, it looks like it probably isn't Asus. Perhaps it's Acer, since they're most likely the only other end-to-end volume manufacturer that can produce fairly sexy-looking models such as the Surfaces without leaking the details all over the planet (courtesy of industrial spies at Foxconn and other usual-suspect contract manufacturers).
Those are some really nifty quotes I hadn't seen all of before (damn that Marconi not being from California!
). A year or two ago, a friend from the Navy helped celebrate the centennial of Marconi's first Transatlantic radio transmissions using hand-built replicas of his designs for the transmitter and receiver (U.S. Naval Academy students participated in Newfoundland on the North American side). The original event of 100 years ago wasn't well-documented from a technical viewpoint (at least in surviving documents) and I'll bet that a lot of the knowledge never made it outside the heads of the participants because they were so busy just trying to make things work, and then improve on the deficiencies as quickly as possible. A major detail that wasn't documented was how the team tuned the transmitters and receivers on both sides of the Atlantic so that they could maximize reception, and it wasn't obvious from the rough schematics how that was done. After building the replicas, they spent months trying various configurations of antennas and components leading up to the anniversary, and time was starting to run short (thank goodness for modern communications to allow for instantaneous coordination across the Pond!).
Then, it finally occurred to someone that the radios weren't tuned at all - they didn't have to be because the background noise from space was minimal compared with the power of their signal, and there were no other radios in existence that could interfere with their transmissions! When they analyzed the circuits in detail, they discovered that they must have been operated in a broadband mode - they just splattered RF power in Morse code across a portion of the spectrum so that the receiver didn't need to tune to any particular frequency! Talk about not being able to see the forest for the trees ... BTW, they did make the deadline and successfully exchanged the same messages that Marconi's team did on the precise date and time of the centennial. The lesson is that, no matter how smart we may think we are, if we don't understand the context of an event, the details that are correctly understood may make absolutely no sense to us in our space, time, society, etc.
gritz wrote:Consider a stranger approaching you in the early 1980's and telling you that in thirty years time there would be a pocket sized wireless communication device with a processor some 200-odd times faster than your Z80. You may be thrilled, but possibly not terribly surprised - anything is possible in the future. If he then told you that the device was not utilised for intergalactic communications or promoting world peace, but was merely used by bored individuals to watch amusing videos of cats on a thing called "Youtube" then it's possible you will feel disappointed.
I often marvel when thinking back to 1976 and the first 3-D real-time interactive system on which I had the luck to do undergraduate engineering work, an Evans & Sutherland Picture System One (serial number 2). It consisted of an extremely high-quality white-on-black 24-inch rectangular deflection screen (vector-draw like an oscilloscope, not raster-scan with pixels like a TV or modern computer display) with programmable analog user input controls (a trackball, potentiometers, buttons, etc.). Additionally, 3-D processing hardware transformed data by translating, scaling, and rotating it as quickly as possible. A Megatek three-foot-on-a-side cube contained a 1 MB static RAM array where the vertices were stored as floating-point numbers in matrices - it was dual-ported to the 3-D processing hardware and the next component. That was a PDP-11/70 connected to the Megatek via the Mass Bus, along with 32KB (yes, kilobytes) of core memory, RP-04 removable hard disk drives, RK-05 removable flex-disk drives, paper tape punch/readers, and a dial-up connection to the campus General Electric 265 mainframe where our permanent student computing accounts were stored on drum drives. The Megatek cost about a million dollars back then (i.e., about a dollar a byte!) and I imagine myself taking a smart phone back to that time and place, pulling it out of my pocket and exclaiming that I had 64 GBs of memory on the device. Of course, I would be scoffed at and if I persisted, I would be sent off to an insane asylum. However, I knew what the reaction would be - why, I would just show off access to the Internet ... for e-mail ... and the WWW ... oh, wait ... over WiFi ... ummm ... or cellular data networks ... uh-ohhhhh
Most people today have absolutely no idea how far we've come with technology in a relatively brief period of time.
As for predicting the future, that's easily done by anyone if the theories about there being infinite parallel universes are correct. The trick is to predict the future in the universe in which we're currently stuck. Like someone once said, you can lead a horse to water, but, if you can get it to float on its back, then
you've got something!
Future prediction is kind of like the 10,000 monkeys each randomly pressing keys on their own machine - sooner or later the entire works of Shakespeare will be produced. While the Internet has increased the ability of anyone to communicate with anyone else, there's still a random factor concerning people with complementary ideas running across each other. I've certainly learned a bunch from the more erudite posters just in this thread alone, and they tend to pop up in the other more interesting threads, as well.
I only found out about the Pi when the wow factor about the USB stick sized version of Eben's prototype helped punch through the media noise in May 2011, and I started avidly following the progress (one of the reasons I was among the long-term impatient - it was just such a cool idea that I wanted desperately to come to fruition). I didn't bother chiming in until the D-Day operation at the end of February because there was no sense in muddying the waters any further until the boards were going to be available. I could see the coming storm of demand as I've been involved in many product launches over the decades, and it was obvious the Pi was approaching Apple product launch expectations (a religious experience that had swelled well beyond the significance of the technology itself). As it's finally making it out into the wild in substantial numbers in the coming weeks, it will be interesting to see what the real movers and shakers are able to do (the garage-level tinkerers of all ages who don't have established connections to significant resources).
The result of all of this is that I've stumbled across people I never would have met in a million lifetimes before the Internet, and I'm thoroughly enjoying the witty repartee here. It's very refreshing to hear from inhabitants of towns and villages all over the countryside who happen to share a passion for not only this kind of technology, but, knowledge in general. That's become a rarity in the general public here, and even to some degree in the technical communities in SillyCon Valley - people are becoming more and more focused on less and less to the detrimental exclusion of things happening elsewhere, and the Pi is a prime example. Virtually everyone here goes ga-ga over the next CPU with the highest clock speed and number of cores, but, to what end?
Specs are nice, but, how is the technology going to be used? It's why we see so many horrible postulations about use-cases for products that are increasingly being driven by media mania. Just look at how Google felt it had to promote its Glass monocle/headband - tossing perfectly healthy humans out of a dirigible over downtown San Francisco. Top that, Apple, MS, et al - you'll have to play ring toss where the poor devils have to snag themselves around the spire of the Transamerica pyramid!
The one thing that comforts me is the knowledge that we are hopelessly overconfident about what will be achieved in the short term, but, we're equally short-sighted about what will eventually become de riguer over the long term. Here's to the long term ["CLINK!"]