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I want it all


© May 2006 Anthony Lawrence

At Linux vs. Windows Vista vs. Leopard, Rob Enderle thinks the next couple of years are critical for Apple and Linux and particularly warns that Linux needs to stop fighting among itself.

He's right, though I never feel like Rob really understands what Linux is about. Microsoft wants to rule the world, and so does Apple, but "Linux" doesn't. Oh sure, some Linux vendors do, and it's possible that someday that might be the dominant factor, but I don't think it is right now. I could be wrong..

Rob says:


If the Linux set can't get over its internal problems it will be bypassed, likely by something else that better blends proprietary and open source components into solutions that more accurately meet the emerging needs for appliance-like products real people want to buy. If Microsoft can't find a way to become agile and customer focused again it will clearly be on the long slow path that IBM blazed -- and that Sun is already reaching the end of.

The "appliance like products" comes from an earlier reference :


[Geoffrey] Moore pointed out that things move slowly and that a good place to look for ideas for future products is among kids and young people -- and what they are currently using. Today kids are using devices like cell phones and iPods, often juggling several gadgets running at once. These devices are not all-in-ones, rather they're specialized to whatever the user wants to do. In short, they're nearly the opposite of what Windows currently is. What does that mean? It means Windows might be a poor model for future products. Future products probably won't be running on anything that looks like today's Windows.

But why aren't these appliances all-in-one? For now, the answer is simply that they can't be: a cellphone keypad is too clumsy compared to a real keyboard, a PDA display can't match a real display, and so on. But the thing that Rob may be missing is that those are technological limitations: all of us would buy an all-in-one if it could do the job for us. The crux of the matter is the interface: how we interact with the machine. A device that gives us every interaction we need can be an "all-in-one".

Such a device may be far way, or it might be right around the corner. Roll-out keyboards and displays, or projected virtual interfaces might do the trick, but more likely the ultimate solution will be something we can't even imagine now. Direct interfacing to our thoughts? Maybe. Watching our faces, our emotions, and gauging intent? Probably. But the point is that it doesn't matter: where there is a need, something will fill it.

The future is usually more of a surprise than anyone thought it would be. No one looked at the first transistor and envisioned the machine I am typing on now. Personally, I think Microsoft is about to hit some hard times, and I think Apple and Linux are going to rise upward strongly.

But who really knows? A dark horse could come out of nowhere, and new technologies could change everything. Five years from now I might be producing this web page in an entirely different way.

Or not. Sometimes technology is slower than we'd like. Old habits die hard, and some problems just don't solve easily. Place your bets and take your chances.


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Tue May 2 22:25:05 2006: 2000   drag


I read a study, or at least it was a knowledgable person's observations, that people generally like discreet componates for doing tasks.

People like to have a objects to do different tasks. It's partially a image thing.

For instance most people are just going to assume that a stereo setup with a seperate EQ, receiver, amp, and cdrom play is going to be higher quality item then something that does it all in one box.

Or like DVD players when they were newer. You'd be able to buy ones that played both DVDs and VCR tapes, but the majority of them didn't. And I expect that the majority of them that sold didn't do both.

Another example would be something like having a small TV built into a kitchen fridge. At first it's almost laughable to think that. Who would be so TV-insane to need to watch tv as they are getting their food?

Well from a purely design standpoint it should be pretty decent. Lots of people go out and buy little TV's to put in the kitchen. They like to have the soaps on while they clean or do dishes or whatnot. So if you are looking at a new fridge then having a little lcd TV in it would be nice.. it's probably not much more expensive then other similar models, you don't have to clean around it. You probably don't have to worry about getting it wet or getting food on it and you get some extra counter space back.

But I still don't want one. I don't think most people would either, even if they did have a small tv in the kitchen already.

The desire to have lots of functionality in one item is often just kinda for people that are very interested in technology.

Personally I do that with my computer and a little server at home. I play games on it, some small, some large. So it's replaces the sony playstation I own and board/card games.
I have a little usb midi controller keyboard that I plug into it when I want to make noise. So it's like a piano replacement also.
I have my entire cd collection ripped to flac/vorbis files. I use Amarok with it's features of being able to pull up lyric sheets, album art and artist bios automaticly from internet searches for the song/album/artist I am listenning to at the time. Or I use Mpd when I just want ambient background music for whatever I am doing. So it's like a killer jutebox.
I have a TV capture card for running Mythtv backend on my server and I run mythtv in a little 640x480 window on my desktop for watching the news or recording the odd show or movie. So it's replaced my television (gave it away to a friend) and it's a Tivo. As well as a DVD player. I even have a little Sony 'Home Theater' 5.1 speaker system instead of the normal computer speakers. I can do digital ac3 passthru to the receiver's decoder to play full surround sound on whatever movies I'm playing or have ripped.

So not only have I replaced all the techno gadgetry that people tend to have laying around the house with a Linux PC and server, it does a generally much more superior job at it then those discreet devices. I even get bonus features like being able to watch TV on my laptop over wifi when I'm outside or whatnot and can stream my favorite songs to work, if I felt like it.

But when I tell my dad this and ask him if he wants me to setup something similar (although using his big screen tv, obviously) for his house, he just shrugs his shoulders. He likes having a dvd player. He likes having a seperate cable box, his hundred cd cd changer, the hundred miles of wires with the switches, the playstation for my little brother and so on and so forth. All that stuff is familar. The user interface is intellegent.. you can tell what a functionality a object supplies by just looking at it. The little physical dials and buttons and LCD displays and so on and so forth (Although I find it a unrelenting mess personally and can't figure out how to work any of it.)


But I think eventually he'll turn around. He's already gotten a TiVo, so that's a good start...



Tue May 2 22:33:01 2006: 2001   TonyLawrence

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I understand your point, but I don't think it holds true for things you carry. Nobody really wants to carry a cell phone AND an iPod AND a PDA AND a computer.

If we could have all that in one device that was easy to use, I think we'd go for it, even if we don't care about parts of it (for example, I don't care that my cellphone can record short movies).

I envision a bluetooth-like technology that can communicate with a roll-out flat panel screen and keyboard if you want it to, but that has excellent voice and biometric controls also, heads-up display, etc. All small enough to fit in my shirt pocket and an earbud that is as small and comfortable as a modern hearing aide.







Thu Feb 28 15:02:59 2008: 3722   TonyLawrence

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Or this: (link)



Sun Mar 22 15:48:32 2009: 5802   BigDumbDinosaur

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I understand your point, but I don't think it holds true for things you carry. Nobody really wants to carry a cell phone AND an iPod AND a PDA AND a computer.

Gee, I must be a real dinosaur, because I don't need or want all that crap at the same time. My cell phone is for conversing with others, my computer is for computing and I don't have any use for an iPod or PDA. I've never felt a need to have a computing device with me while on the go. There's nothing that is sufficiently important that it can't wait until I return to my office.

This stuff reminds me of some of the silly trinkets that came out in the early 1970s when electronic miniaturization really got into high gear. Remember those ball point pens that included a four function calculator with a perpetual calendar? How ridiculous! Today's "all-in-one" appliances are the same thing, just more complicated.

We've become a society of drones who can't seem to function any more unless we have our electronic gadgets. That, and today's kids are incapable of original thought unless aided by an electronic device. I won't even go into the current crop of high school and college graduates who are functionally illiterate without their electronic toys. Perhaps this would be a better world if we put down the iPods, PDAs, cell phones, etc., and talked to each other the way human beings did prior to the electronic age.



Sun Mar 22 16:29:02 2009: 5806   TonyLawrence

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I don't want to have to go home to look up something on Google or do a complicated calculation. I don't want to go home when I want to post something to this website, access my bank account, change my investments..

I don't think of those things as "silly". As I said, I want it all and it's getting closer and closer to the day when I can have that.

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