Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Of Laptops and Futures

I was looking at my now 3.5 year old laptop, typing up some documents that I need to be sent. At various points in the last few months I have seriously contemplated buying a new machine. My trust machine despite being unstinting in its service and ever willing to run for its user, sometimes shows it limitations, in size, in speed, in bulkiness and in box shapes. Right across my house is a neighbhor who has one of the new Macbooks thats excruciatingly thin and small and lightweight not to mention packs in twice as much number-crunching capabilities without breaking a sweat as my machine could hope to do at its peak (no side processes, hard disk clean, no windows .. so on).
This got me thinking.. what do I think laptops will look like in the future? Hmm.. a short answer will be.. smaller, more powerful. Another answer would be that laptops won't exist at all. Simply put, we'll all have iPod like objects that will be twice as powerful as any laptop that exists today, while consuming very less power and capable of connecting to any wireless device or display.
For now, I am going to look into only the next 10 years and see how things can change. Of course two things can happen here: I might make categorical statements that will be proved horribly wrong and make me look like an idiot in 10 years time, or I will grossly underestimate how technology can change and things will look much better. Another remote possibility is that global warming will get to us and destroy humanity, before any of these devices can come out, oh well, let's see..
1) Displays: LCDs will be history, Plasma TVs might be also-rans, most likely, future display technologies will run on OLEDs. Not only do they consume less power, they are seductively thin, and will most likely be foldable, thus bringing about the minority report kind of paper that we have all been waiting for. Apple is expected to come out with OLED versions of its products in the next year and already we have 40" showcase TVs from Samsung and Sony.
2) Processing: Bring on the multi-cores! Won't be surprised to have 64 cores in one computer connected and working with each other to produce mind boggling processing. Graphics cards might be obsolete and the lines will finally merge, unless one needs extra graphics processing ofcourse. Another philosophy, might be that all future laptops will be netbooks that delegate processing to a stationary more powerful machine and only take care of local caching and minimal processing.
3) Hard disks: Magnetic drives might stay for a while since they are a mature technology. However, don't count Solid State drives out! They have no moving parts, are so much lighter and pack a lot more data per weight and if the technology matures enough to become consumer friendly (as it is slowly becoming) harddrives as we know it might be a thing of the past. I wouldn't discount a breakthrough in nanotechnology or holographic technology leading to dramatically increasing storage capacities either.
4) Supplementary drives: A couple of optical drives might stay, CD roms will be obsolete, Blu-Ray and its derivatives will work for a while, but ultimately all data transfer will be from a remote source eliminating needs for temporary storage drives.
5) Wireless: Hmm.. tough one.. there would ideally be two wireless receivers one for short range and one for more steady needs such as data transfer. Both would consume less power in a week, than a light bulb does in an hour. But most future laptops will bank heavily on wireless technology to transfer and store data. The days of CDs and DVDs might be over, just download the software or movie or song that you want and use it (I never liked those stores anyway).
6) Speakers: Why have speakers when you can wireless communicate to a speaker set or headphones nearby :) Speakers might exist as a rudimentary case though, just so people don't crib.
7) Wires: Ugh.. no external connections. All wireless please. Especially to those annoying projectors and TVs!!!

This is by no means a full list.. so many things could change and comments are invited to add or subtract from what I wrote.. Can't wait for the future :)


Monday, March 23, 2009

Of BC and Roy

I was reading this article..
What impressed me the most about this was the idea that if enough people get together and fight for a cause, together with intelligent reporting, anything is possible. I'd like to think that this was how our independence was won. The only unfortunate thing was the use of violence and destruction of property. Hope that does not happen again and also hope that this results in real change. But still, it was a valiant effort.
Also hope the reporting was objective. Seems so.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Of Legos and Fridays

It was Friday night, 7:30 pm, didn't really have a party to go to nor was in any mood to work or go to the gym after 3 hours of meetings. It was raining heavily outside and there was no one else in the lab. Felt really bored. Thats when I remembered something. My cubicle neighbhour had recently got a Lego Mindstorm set for Mentoring school kids next fall. I've always loved Lego Mindstorms, it has and will always be my dream birthday present. The nerd/child/self-obsessed-engineer in me will always make sure I will spend hours working under a lampshade making some new creation. And the beauty of Lego Mindstorms is that, it is somewhat like Windows, it is meant for people who don't want to tinker around with settings and innards and just want to whip something up real quick. But how it differs is that if you DO require to tinker, you can start interfacing python code or C code to create ever complicated robots. So when he gave me the license to play with the toys over the weekend, I couldn't resist.. So I spent about 2.5 hours pouring over the instruction manual and constructing the robots, and loading the programs. I wanted to do more, but the fear that there would be nothing left to do if I finished everything in 1 day, there would be nothing left to do later, kept my enthusiasm at bay. Here are some videos:

Who needs a social life when you have THIS!!!