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20 Factors That Will Change PCs In 2002 481

bstadil writes: "CNN's tech site has posted a list of the 20 most significant factors that will change the PC in 2002. Its not very technical but it would be interesting to get the take on this from the Slashdot community plus what they think needs to be added."
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20 Factors That Will Change PCs In 2002

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  • by reaper20 ( 23396 ) on Wednesday December 26, 2001 @09:27AM (#2751493) Homepage
    I think that 1GHz Palmtops, IM, new fuel cells, and that new screen technology could be combined into one super PDA that has been promised since someone uttered convergence.

    The Handspring Treo will replace my phone, my PDA, and my Blackberry. Now there's a something I'd shell out hard cash for in 2002.
    • Y'know, I used to think this.

      I was ready to fork out major bucks for a Handspring Visorphone, but then I got a PSC scanner Springboard for my Visor. It was only 1.3 oz, but the Visor simply became too heavy to carry comfortably in my shirt pocket. With the Visorphone module it also then becomes too big. (And I have never, ever cared for earphones.)

      A friend has a Kyocera Palm/phone thing. Again, it looks really cool. But as a Palm, it's too small. And as a phone, it's really large.

      And another friend has the Qualcomm PDQ phone/Palm. As a brick, it's about the right shape and size, but as a piece of consumer electronics, it shouldn't have to come with its own two-wheeled cart.

      I have sadly come to the realization that any audio device is going to be unwieldly if it includes an adequate GUI. And vice versa. So, I personally have given up on the Holy Grail of the One True PDA. What I would like to see, though, is how the promise of a Bluetooth phone and a Bluetooth PDA work together. (So far, all I've seen are promises.) But I think if anything is going to make it, it'll be ultra short range communications between two separate devices, each optimized for its own interface.


  • IDE (Score:3, Funny)

    by ZaneMcAuley ( 266747 ) on Wednesday December 26, 2001 @09:28AM (#2751496) Homepage Journal
    And still IDE controllers will only support 2 devices.
    • Re:IDE (Score:3, Interesting)

      by djocyko ( 214429 )
      frankly, who would want more than 2 devices on a single channel? It would only cause miserable slow down. If you need more than four devices, get an IDE card. The promise 100 is sweet - and an amazingly cheap upgrade (~$30) that will boost system performance significantly.
      • by Zapman ( 2662 )
        I would. Life would be much easier (not to mention cabling) if I could just have 1 bus that had:

        1) plenty of bandwidth and low latency
        2) the ability to move data from 2 devices within the bus swiftly and without contention
        3) room for my hard disk, dvd, cdrw, and removable media (that's a VERY standard list).

        And amazingly enough, the technology to do it has been around longer than IDE, and it's called SCSI. To bad the parts are so expensive... :( You can actually copy data from device c to device f on the same bus without killing your transfer speed... More than one device can talk at the same time...

        You ever tried to stretch those silly, 18", ribbon cables from the lower edge of your motherboard to the top devices in your mid-tower case? Let alone a full tower...

        Serial ATA looks nice, and I'll be happy when it arives, but it won't solve the problems I list above.
      • Re:IDE (Score:3, Interesting)

        by MacGabhain ( 198888 )

        Having more than two devices on a channel only causes slowdown on a broken channel design. I've had 5 drives chained onto an UW SCSI card and benchmarked better data transfer off of them while simultaneously running the benchmark on all five drives than I got from a singe 7200RPM ATA66 drive in my other system. (This was a couple years back.)

        I wouldn't expect most people to realize that, of course. SCSI is, as was noted, really quite pricey. But it's damned fast and doesn't break a sweat being chained. It's unfortunate that it was never able to get into competative price points with IDE and the various kludges that have been made to it over the year. While I don't have the systems to test it, I'd be willing to bet that a fast SCSI II system with the best drives available from 1992 would still blow the doors off of a brand spanking new ATA 100 system in data transfer.

  • by Brento ( 26177 ) <brento&brentozar,com> on Wednesday December 26, 2001 @09:31AM (#2751499) Homepage
    I really got my hopes up as I read through it - I thought for once, I would see an article about The Future that didn't say the equivalent of, "This year is really the year when voice recognition will be everywhere." But noooo, they had to say that voice-driven web portals will be one of the Big Things.

    What is it about voice recognition that suckers journalists in every time? Nobody seems to get it: voice recognition is here, it's been here for a long time, it's just that the accuracy isn't good enough. You can't walk up to somebody else's installation of ViaVoice and start dictating a letter without missing a few words in each paragraph at the bare minimum.

    Now they're talking about voice navigation of web sites? Let me get this straight: half of the sites I visit are so poorly designed that it's hard to tell where to CLICK, let alone what I would say if the site was actually listening to my voice. And if I have to read instructions on how to surf a specific site, you can bet I won't bother reading it - or even clicking.

    I didn't bother reading the rest of their Big Futuristic Ideas, but if they're the kind of journalists that include voice recognition, it's not the kind of article I want to read.
    • The only thing I can think of that would drive voice-driven navigation is access to the web through cell phones. Of course, there are a lot of other problems (screen-size anyone?) to overcome as well.

      Still, I could see some use for a voice-driven interface to a web-mail portal, so my phone can read me my voice mail, and for things like news and stock quotes as well. Of course, these things may already exist, and I've just been too Neanderthal to figure out how to do them from my cell.

    • What is it about voice recognition that suckers journalists in every time?

      They're writing about what they see as most important. You need to remember that reporters/journalists/comentators in the print media want desperately to be in the non-print media (radio / tv). And to those in the non-print media, their voice is the most beautiful thing in the world. It's no points for content or relevance and full points for inflection and intonation.

      With voice being that important (at least sub-consciously), of course voice response gets played up.

      • What is it about voice recognition that suckers journalists in every time?

        They're writing about what they see as most important. You need to remember that reporters/journalists/comentators in the print media want desperately to be in the non-print media (radio / tv).

        I was hoping you were going for the fact that print journalists have to write a lot and since they often dictate into personal recorders to get a story and would rather not have to transcribe it later, to their computers, by hand.

    • by pcx ( 72024 ) on Wednesday December 26, 2001 @11:11AM (#2751776)
      Only a fool discounts voice recognition. I haven't dialed my sprint phone for the past six months, instead I simply tell it who to call and it does.

      I'm sure Douglas Adams would be giggling uncontrollably but that's OK, I think that's pretty neat technology.

      Voice recognition has come to high-end cars (remember the "rain stop" commercials?" And it's come to TV remotes. When it's put into microwaves I'll be one of the first to buy it.

      There was a time not ten years ago where nobody would dream of doing stuff like this but now we're on the verge of getting rid of the clunky typewriter keyboard and our children may look at our use of these devices as quaintly as we look upon our great great grandparents as they huddled around the radio listening to broadcasts of the lone rangers.

      So while you may stop reading future trend articles because they talk about voice recognition I won't read one that doesn't because like it or not, it IS the wave of the future and every year the technology entrenches itself a little more into our lives.

      And that is a very good thing IMHO :-)
    • by markmoss ( 301064 ) on Wednesday December 26, 2001 @11:56AM (#2751945)
      From what I've heard, voice recognition is fairly good at this point -- the one remaining problem is that human speech isn't all that clear. ("Humorist" would not be a viable career choice otherwise.) If you read a list of random words aloud in your normal speaking voice (not taking care to separate words and talk clearly), chances are most people would mis-identify a quarter to half of them. Read normal sentences aloud, and the error rate of humans who understand the topic is pretty low -- because usually there are many ways the words could be interpreted, but only one way they fit together into a sensible sentence. But there are always some misunderstandings of spoken speech, because now and then there is another coincidental interpretation that seems even better.

      Voice recognition systems are actually pretty good at identifying the words. Where they fail is at deciding which of the various possible interpretations of a sentence make sense -- since machine understanding of a typed-in English sentence is still hit or mostly miss, the machine is not going to get enough help interpreting ambiguous sounds from the context of the sentence...

      So you aren't going to be able to dictate to your Palm Pilot and get a business letter that you can mail without proofreading and revision. But a human stenographer can't do that either, unless she understands quite a lot about the subject and has experience with how _you_ want the letters to come out. But there was a time when most businessmen thought it worthwhile to pay the wages of a stenographer even though they had to revise every letter and send it back to be re-typed. It beat banging on the old typewriter yourself... I think the best voice recognition now is roughly equivalent to a stupid stenographer; it should do grammar better and spell perfectly, but get the wrong word more often. It's not for me (imagine trying to dictate C code!), but if you aren't willing to lug around a full-size keyboard, or haven't become good at typing, it is quite likely that it will be faster to dictate to a voice machine and then do the needed corrections than to type a document into a palmtop.

      As for why print journalists fixate on voice recognition, that's obvious. There was a time when they'd take notes on a little pad, then race to a typewriter -- now that they have laptops, they can add back strain from lugging around the 'puter and many sets of batteries to the older occupational diseases of writers cramp and carpal tunnel. And they still have to run around finding someplace to set the laptop. So say "voice recognition" and they're all dreaming about being able to just find a quiet corner and talk into a palmtop. And let the editors do the re-write, they will anyhow!
  • by Johnny O ( 22313 ) on Wednesday December 26, 2001 @09:33AM (#2751503) Homepage
    This ARTICLE should be modded -1 Flamebait

    > Your desktop PC specs in 2004


    > Operating system: Some version of Windows (you
    > expected Linux, perhaps?)
    • by JanneM ( 7445 )
      I'm an avid Linux user, but I think this is correct; Linux will not have penetrated the desktop far enough to be a major player in 2004. It will probably have made some pretty great strides by then (I figure both GNOME and KDE will be fully useable for newbies by 2003 - and no, they aren't today), but it will take longer than that (if ever) to become the dominant desktop.

      • One day we will have nice usuable systems.

        The problems IMHO are more the technologies that are inheritantly proprietary, like media formats or certain netservices (IM, passport, ..) with no popular free alternative.


  • My wish list (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Gothmolly ( 148874 ) on Wednesday December 26, 2001 @09:35AM (#2751507)
    Hard disks that are faster, not bigger. If I need more space, I'll add more spindles. How about giving me a disk that can push 50 or 100 MB/sec from the platters?

    Bring back those monitors-with-built-in-USB-hubs.

    Cheap SMP. I'll take my dual 550 over a single 1 GHz any day of the week. How about 8x500 MHz on the desktop, instead of 1x4GHz which is still crippled by 1 CPU hogging app?

    Less patronizing Windows UI ("My Documents", "My Computer")

    A decent NFS client for Win32.

    That's all I can think of for now. I'm not terribly interested about vapor markup languages or 1 GHz palmtops. Give me something I can use.

    dd if=/dev/coffee of=/dev/geek
    • Re:My wish list (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Brento ( 26177 ) <brento&brentozar,com> on Wednesday December 26, 2001 @09:44AM (#2751528) Homepage
      Bring back those monitors-with-built-in-USB-hubs.

      I'm shopping for a new LCD display, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that most of them have a USB hub. I wasn't quite so happy that many have junky built-in speakers, but of course you don't have to use 'em.

      Cheap SMP. I'll take my dual 550 over a single 1 GHz any day of the week.

      Swing by your local CompUSA. Dual CPU motherboards are now under $100, often well under $100. A quick check of Pricewatch shows that two P3-667's will cost you less than a single P3-1ghz, so the only thing stopping you from SMP heaven is - well, you.

      Less patronizing Windows UI ("My Documents", "My Computer")

      Well, I can't help you there. At least it's not Microsoft Bob.
    • Re:My wish list (Score:5, Informative)

      by MtViewGuy ( 197597 ) on Wednesday December 26, 2001 @09:52AM (#2751550)
      Some comments on your wish list:

      1. Hard drives are already pretty fast, especially now with ATA-100/133 IDE connections. Serial ATA will raise the data transfer rate by a factor of six. I do expect quiet 10,000-20,000 rpm Serial ATA hard drives in the next few years, though. For higher-end applications, expect the cost of Fibre Channel connections to come down, which will essentially put an end to SCSI.

      2. Why do you want monitors with built-in USB hubs? I don't find them that useful, especially nowadays most pre-built systems now have USB connectors in front of the system case.

      3. Unfortunately, not that many applications take full advantage of multi-processor boxes (or require their use). It's only with very specialized apps such as CAD/CAM and very high-end image processing that you really need multi-processor computers.

      4. If you're looking for a less patronizing Windows UI, Windows XP's Luna interface is already a step in the right direction. You'll probably see other changes in the next few years.
      • I would dare say that Luna, if anything is *more* patronizing, that is the whole point. In any event, the My Computer, My Documents, can easily be renamed, if that is such a huge deal...
        • Re:My wish list (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Bronster ( 13157 ) <> on Wednesday December 26, 2001 @11:50AM (#2751923) Homepage
          In any event, the My Computer, My Documents, can easily be renamed, if that is such a huge deal...

          I take it you've never tried to tech-support people who've renamed their My Computer, My Documents, etc.

          Especially not other people trying to use said computers with the 'clever' renamings.

          Most especially not technical-iliterates who really can't handle the idea of thinking about the icons (don't even get me started on themed desktops with both new non-intuitive icons and non-intuitive names).

          Very much especially when you're on a phone line and can't see the other screen.

          VNC + VPN has become my friend for all still-functioning systems. (here, install software from the following Windows share. Set default password. Don't watch my drunken mouse movements over your modem while I fix the password in the registry. Ahh, all better now).
      • Not just CAD/CAM (Score:2, Insightful)

        by moogla ( 118134 )
        SMP does not require a special application to take advantage of, only the operating system needs to support it (Windows 2000, XP Professional and Linux all do this).

        It is useful if you like to do more than one thing at once. If you are like me and open up multiple instances of Netscape or IE, Word, MP3 players, all while burning a CD and hosting a Quake3 server, you would immediately experience the benefit from SMP.

        Any multithreaded app can gain the benefit of SMP (not to mention running many simultaneously)
        • SMP does not require a special application to take advantage of, only the operating system needs to support it (Windows 2000, XP Professional and Linux all do this).
          If you take out the phrase 'to take advantage of' and put in 'to function' you'd be correct. There are all sorts of things you have to do to use SMP *as well as possible* or you wind up with an eight lane highway with a single lane on ramp; sure, eventually everything will get on and off, and once on, will be fine, but you get some real bottlenecks unless you're careful.
      • I'm not interested in speeding up the interface. I want faster platters. The interface is already >> faster than the disk.
      • Re:My wish list (Score:3, Informative)

        by denzo ( 113290 )
        Hard drives are already pretty fast, especially now with ATA-100/133 IDE connections.
        Yeah, the latest ATA-133 interface may be fast (up to 133MB/sec), but the (consumer) hard drives have hardly caught up with it. It's just another one of those big buzzwords that computer salesmen use to make a computer seem like it's super-duper-fast.

        Current hard drives can just about sustain 33MB/sec transfer rates right now, and not very much more. Hard drives are still the bottleneck in our systems, otherwise Windows and the latest games would start up in a flash and you wouldn't have to watch the hard drive light blink for a few minutes.

      • Re:My wish list (Score:4, Interesting)

        by MSG ( 12810 ) on Wednesday December 26, 2001 @02:24PM (#2752458)
        For higher-end applications, expect the cost of Fibre Channel connections to come down, which will essentially put an end to SCSI.

        You should be aware that fibre channel isn't the death of SCSI, it's a new life for SCSI.

        Fibre channel is a physical transport. SCSI is a data transport/command set on top of a physical transport (which is also called SCSI). Fibre channel is just going to provide a newer, faster physical transport for the next generation of SCSI devices. Furthermore, SCSI is expensive because it requires complex controllers on the host and on devices. Fibre channel won't change that. As the cost of fibre channel comes down, it'll approach the current cost of SCSI, but won't make them any less expensive.
    • Simple :-) High end SCSI U160.

      Many of us have had super speed hard drives for wuite a while now. a 3disk array in a raid 5 arrangement with U160 drives makes anything you can purchase in the stores look like a joke.

      It's here, you just have to spend money on it.
    • > Hard disks that are faster, not bigger. If I need more space, I'll add more spindles. How about giving me a disk
      > that can push 50 or 100 MB/sec from the platters?

      Me, I'd like to get rid of HDD entirely: they are slow, fragile and noisy..
      MRAM would be perfect, but I doubt that we will have gigabytes of MRAM anytime soon :-(

      > Cheap SMP. I'll take my dual 550 over a single 1 GHz any day of the week. How about 8x500 MHz on the
      > desktop, instead of 1x4GHz which is still crippled by 1 CPU hogging app?

      You will have "soon" some kind of parallelism on your desktop: it won't be SMP but SMT (or in Intel buzzword-speaking: "hyperthreading").
    • Cheap SMP. I'll take my dual 550 over a single 1 GHz any day of the week. How about 8x500 MHz on the desktop, instead of 1x4GHz which is still crippled by 1 CPU hogging app?

      Since the main limitation on the speed of the system is the bandwidth of the memory bus putting eight processors on one backplane ends up a pretty expensive proposition.

      For any given technology the practical limit on the number of SMP processors that it is usefull to put in a box is four. Note that manufacturers have always soild eight and sixteen processor boxes, it is not unusual for these to be slower than boxes with far fewer processors when running realistic processing tasks rather than cooked up benchmarks.

      A good eight way box will typically cost four timnes as much per CPU as a two way box. The answer is to write programs in a manner that does not require shared memory. Then you can go to 1000 processors without hitting the backplane limit. Unfortunately the costs of recoding apps is high and none of the new languages is designed to support MIMD well.

    • Cheap SMP. I'll take my dual 550 over a single 1 GHz any day of the week. How about 8x500 MHz on the desktop, instead of 1x4GHz which is still crippled by 1 CPU hogging app?

      It is true, as cheap as SMP motherboards have gotten there is no reason why SMP systems are not more available. The choices right now are pretty much, build yourself or buy an expensive workstation. All the first tier OEM's should be selling SMP desktop systems in thier high end product lines ($2000+) and maybe even thier mid range lines ($1200-$2000). Dell did it for a little while with the Optiplex line and some 2nd tier OEM's are doing, like Alienware, but SMP should be more common place then it is.

    • by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Wednesday December 26, 2001 @01:51PM (#2752340)
      > Less patronizing Windows UI ("My Documents", "My Computer")

      2004 prediction: "Bill Gates' Documents". "Bill Gates' Computer".

  • by ZaneMcAuley ( 266747 ) on Wednesday December 26, 2001 @09:38AM (#2751513) Homepage Journal
    Subscription based Software / Services (games, streaming content etc etc)
  • by shoemakc ( 448730 ) on Wednesday December 26, 2001 @09:40AM (#2751517) Homepage
    Microsoft has made IM a key component of Windows XP: Besides sending simple text messages, with Windows Messenger you can exchange files, conduct audio or video conferences, and collaborate on documents over the Net
    ICQ and AIM have had all of these features for well over 3 years now. Yet another user who never ventured outside of what came on their start menu.
    • He's been there where M$ want him to be... never knowing he needed it until he got it right in front of him. Him and the great crowds like him is what will give M$ the IM monopoly too, because "everybody else" will be on messenger. Yet another blatant case of M$ extending their monopoly, but I don't suppose that rises any eyebrows here because it happens so often, and nowhere else either because they don't care, in particular the Justice Dep.

    • Microsoft invented the computer, the phone, the TV, the Internet, the Hubble Telescope, fought and won the war on terrorism, and led us all to the promised land.

      Get with it, there are clueless people who think M$ is so big and wonderful that every innovation has come from them and Microsoft will be the last company to correct them on any praise. Now if they continued, ".. and in so doing, hopelessly choked the Net with bloat and brought the last broadband provider to their knees." then they might have something. Of course, Microsoft would happily correct them then "that's not bloat, that's a feature!"

    • Ah, yes...the MSNBCNN disease...
    • MSN messenger is barely a functional tool providing only the absolute bare bones of communication functionality.
      As for video? Try talking hooks with Microsoft Net Meeting. MNM doesn't work well behind many corporate firewalls (it's useless behind my company's simple little NAT network for talking outside).
      Finally, the idea that bundling the tool with the OS is an innovation could only come from a reporter who has had ear plugs over their ears and a paperbag over their head for the last five years. Puhhleeez.
      Microsoft needs to be forced, for each bundled application that comes with Windows, to allow competitors to bundle their own products.
      I wasn't too impressed with the first part.. stopped reading the article when I read this ditty.
  • What they missed (Score:5, Insightful)

    by shawkin ( 165588 ) on Wednesday December 26, 2001 @09:40AM (#2751518)
    Advanced operating systems. Defining technology as a subset of an unresponsive monopoly OS is a waste of time.

    Efficient programming tools. If four programmers could write a better Photoshop in two months and distribute it electronically, then things will change.

    Human factors driven technology. People will buy more stuff that works easily and makes them happy.
    • Efficient programming tools. If four programmers could write a better Photoshop in two months and distribute it electronically, then things will change.

      Do you seriously think the tools are what makes this impossible? Ha!

      Don't you get it? The reason why software monopolies and practical monopolies exist is because writing good software is hard. If I took ten random programmers, selected from among all the programmers in the world, and gave them a copy of "I Can't Believe It's an IDE!" they would still be lousy programmers. They'd just write lousy programs faster.

      You wanna talk about changing things in 2002? How about one job applicant-- just one!-- who doesn't give me a blank stare when I ask if they've read Knuth.

      • by ka9dgx ( 72702 )
        Tools haven't advanced out of the primitive arragement of buggy C/C++ code, and probably never will at the current rate. Why someone wants to try to out-think a computer, instead of working with it, while writing programs, is beyond me.

        The tools we use still suck, we programmers are stuck in the 1950's, while the rest of the world gets all of the toys we built with this stuff, only with extreme tedium. We're trappist monks, trapped by the bounds of syntax. The time for change is near.

        --Mike-- (a.k.a. one who has seen a hint of the light)

        • Re:Tools (Score:3, Insightful)

          by foobar104 ( 206452 )
          We're trappist monks, trapped by the bounds of syntax. The time for change is near.

          Meanwhile, tons of the image processing code in the application I'm currently working on is hand-coded in MIPS assembly. It's not old code; it's actively maintained stuff. I don't think anyone did that because they thought it'd be fun. I think they did it because it resulted in a better end-product.

          Use all the drag-and-drop GUI tools you want. I still believe the things that separate a good program from a bad program lie at opposite ends: the overall design, and the twiddly optimizations. A computer might be able to help with the stuff in the middle-- linking objects to interfaces to objects, or whatever-- but it simply can't generate those two main things for you.
    • by babbage ( 61057 )
      Efficient programming tools.

      Go back and read Fred Brooks' [] excellent book, The Mythical Man-Month [] (original copyright, 1975, 20th anniversary edition in 1995), and specifically chapter 16, "No Silver-Bullet -- Essence and Accident in Software Engineering". If you come across the 20th anniversary edition, also check out chapter 17, "No Silver Bullet" Refired, and the following chapter that discusses which of Brooks' predictions did, didn't, and were/are waiting to come to pass. Chapter 16 is captioned, succinctly,

      There is no single development, in either technology or management technique, which by itself promises even one order-of-magnitude improvement within a decade in productivity, in reliability, in simplicitly.

      Even though that was written decades ago now, it's every bit as true now as it was then. There are no programming breakthroughs on the horizon. Four programmers never will be able to write a better Photoshop in four months, because Adobe has been pouring dozens or hundreds of very smart programmers on the problem for years now, and they've had access to the very best development tools and methodologies available.

      As one very smart and very skilled Perl hacker I know mentioned recently, he *hates* Perl and he *hates* programming, not because Perl is such a bad language -- he doesn't seem to think that it is -- but that even a cleverly idiomatic, high level language like that can't do anything to make the everyday logical issues in programming go away. All it can do is, as much as possible, minimize the burden of having to juggle syntax, implementation details, and high & low level logical issues all at the same time.

      No software development breakthrough has been able to eliminate those problems. Not high level languages, not object-oriented tools & methodologies, not artificial intelligence or expert systems or graphical / icon based programming or fancy debuggers or advanced IDEs or more powerful hardware. None of it has made the essential, intractable problems go away, though most of them have made the ancilliary issues less problematic. As Brooks puts it (emphasis his):

      I believe the hard part of building software to be the specification, design, and testing of this conceptual construct, not the labor of representing it and testing the fidelity of the representation. We still make syntax errors, to be sure; but they are fuzz compares to the conceptual errors in most systems.

      If this is true, building software will always be hard. There is inherently no silver bullet.

      And that about sums it up. You might as well focus on the hardware advances, because Moore's Law is still making it proceed at an incredible clip. But software? It isn't growing any faster than any other human endeavour, which is to say, it's moving slowly and it always will. It's not the software's fault that the hardware is making it look pokey, so please don't ask any more of it [in terms of methodology or technique] than the last fifty years of experience have been demonstrate. Clearly, we're moving ahead as fast as we can, and that means slowly...

  • 802.11x (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jaggar ( 533765 ) <eckenrode.7 @ o> on Wednesday December 26, 2001 @09:45AM (#2751530)

    I think that the largest change coming in the next few years, at least for laptop users, will be the increasing prevalence of pervasive, high bandwidth wireless networks based on the IEEE 802.11a-g protocols. I have the pleasure of working for one of the few companies that makes extensive use of these devices (we design them, actually), and I can't imagine working without them. When I go to a meeting, I just plug a card into my laptop and go. In the meeting I can bring up all of the relevant documents and data, check my email and stocks, and, most importantly, read Slashdot.

    These technologies will have an even larger impact in academic institutions. At this moment, I know of at least two universities (Carnegie Mellon and, interestingly, Akron University in Ohio) that have essentially omnipresent 802.11b wireless networks. Students with laptops can access the campus network as well as the internet from any point in the university, even the football field.

    I think that this will be the area of largest noticeable change because it is not incremental. We expect faster processors, greater storage capacity, faster busses, etc., but the ability to connect to the internet with a broadband connection from almost anywhere, that will be new and therefore more noticeable. However, even though it is novel, it is implemented with mature technologies that have been tried and tested for several years now, at least in the case of 802.11b.

  • 400 gigs and a cloud of dust: AFC hard drives
    well talk about storage problems. I'm having problems filling up my 48gigs.

    I GHZ PDA & 10 Ghz PC
    Allright what about workstations (maybe they'll start GIGIHertz and Mebihertz too)

    LCD Replacement ?
    Let them first replace CRT first

    Instant messenger
    hasn't it arrived here yet ?

    Ah XML it's mentioned
    this is going to be there "leave my files alone" -- Federal employee

    Hyper Threading ?
    Talk about "hype"

    Good bye PCI ? costlier PC's ?

    well it rocks (my gnutella !)

    Don't put that speaker near it !

    The see-through PC: TFT computers
    let me see it before commenting

    Distributed Computing That works look at SETI@HOME:)

    10 ghz
    it's good to dream, but this overdid it

    Serial ATA
    bye bye ribbon cables

    we'll see more cyber crimes

    well they didn't say Microsoft would change :) !
  • Can't half tell that the non-hardware concepts got some severe business bias, can we? Gees... I don't want "Presence," that's for damned sure. If I want to be found, I make myself easy to find - so why on earth do I need to be tracked to wireless devices, PCs, cell phones, etc? And the concept of having to "pay" to avoid it? Their comparison to caller ID and the blocking of such is bogus - if I'm calling someone, that's one thing, since I initiated the contact, but, but tracking location and usage? Ick.

    And that's before the potential terrors of an electronic wallet - not that it's a bad concept, but I don't think it should get a '9' particularly when you consider that some monolith or other will be providing the service, and in a nasty, centralized fashion.


    • Yeah, I worked for a company (know basically out of business) that sold a "presence" system. They never got that many folks don't WANT to be found, and so were always over-estimating the market. Almost none of the people in the technical office even turned the junk (follow-me and find-me) on there "assistants".
  • by Tryfen ( 216209 ) on Wednesday December 26, 2001 @09:49AM (#2751541) Homepage
    What's cool? Even Moore's Law eventually gets trumped by the laws of physics. In a few years, the current method of packing ever greater numbers of transistors onto a chip will hit a wall. But a technology called Extreme Ultraviolet Lithography may break that barrier. Intel estimates that EUVL chips will boast 400 million transistors -- about ten times more than the Pentium 4's 42 million.

    (42 * 2)^n = 400

    n = 3.3 lots of 18 months

    3.3 * 18 = ~60 months

    60 / 12 = 5 years

    When's it coming? In three to five years.

    Move along people... nothing to see...
  • by ellem ( 147712 ) <.ellem52. .at.> on Wednesday December 26, 2001 @09:50AM (#2751542) Homepage Journal
    For the desktop and laptop the writer(s) stop at 512MB RAM. Why? Why not go Gig? It is the future after all.

    The OS choices were "unfriendly" at best. <Paraphrase>Some form of Windows (What, you were expecting Linux?)</Paraphrase>

    I know I will sound like a madman but I think OSX or a *nix with a good, consistent GUI could easily replace Windows. It has in my house, and we appear to be discussing home computers.

    Good article for someone who hasn't read any tech stories in the past 3 years.
  • Removable Storage (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Wire Tap ( 61370 ) <frisina AT atlanticbb DOT net> on Wednesday December 26, 2001 @09:50AM (#2751543)
    Removable storage: Rewritable DVD and -- yes -- the unsinkable 1.44MB floppy

    That's according to the article, but, I have not used a floppy disk in nearly three years. I took all the floppy drives out of my computers at home, and simply use CDs or CDRWs for all my data transfer needs. They are leaps and bounds more reliable (Ask me about reports on magnetic disks "Escaping" in my bookbag), and are generally just more sensible to use (more space for better presentations, etc). Even with driver issues - most, if not all, new machies are CD bootable, so, voila, you can have all your drivers on once nice CD.

    I don't understand why any (non tech person) would still use a disk (as opposed to a disc).
    • I don't understand why any (non tech person) would still use a disk (as opposed to a disc).

      I don't know why anyone would not use an ftp server connected to a cable box. proftp works for me, who needs media for anything but archives?

      The kind of computer that lacks a network interface generally lacks a CDROM but has a floppy. Hate them as much as I do, I've still got a pile of floppies and several drives. Compared to the single CD writer, the floppy drives in my house are easier to write to when I have to run someplace unfamiliar.

    • Currently, I don't have a floppy drive at all in my PC. I was thinking exactly like you are when I built it without a floppy. But, I need to go get one anyway.

      I didn't think I'd need a floppy because today's standard is CD. If I need to send someone files on physical media, I've got a CD-RW for that. If I get new software or new hardware with driver media, it'll be on CD. Great.

      But just a few years ago things were still being put on floppies. And that's my problem. See, I went to install the latest drivers for a used P II system I bought for a family member, and they were only available as disk images. Okay, there are tools which can decompress them, like WinImage. That's fine for getting the drivers out of the image. Annoying that it just isn't zipped like normal people would do, but workable.

      However, software disk images are another matter if they're in some weird self-floppy-writing format, which does sometimes happen. I have a lot of older software, mostly games, ("abandonware" sites mostly--call it piracy if you want, but I think we should preserve our gaming heritage, and if something is no longer retailed at all, I find no harm in archiving and occasionally playing it) on disk images in a dozen different formats. It's a big pain in the ass to deal with when you have to get around writing them to floppy, whereas you could write them on a floppy in no time if you actually had a floppy drive.

      That problem is increased since I'm using VMWare and a trial copy of VirtualPC for Windows. I wanted to run a free (legally, too) copy of DR-DOS I got, but it's in a disk image format, and as far as I can tell--I'm not *completely* familiar with the programs, so maybe one or both have this function and I haven't found it--both VMWare and VirtualPC need to install an OS from media (unless you buy one of their retail "packs") and you can't just copy the DOS files from your HD into the virtual PC's HD.

      So, it would be much easier if I just broke down and bought a floppy drive. Which I did, actually, but being a geek I thought it would be cool to get one of those old combo 3 1/2 inch and 5 1/14 inch drives that a couple of companies used to make, if I had to hook up a floppy. I bought one on eBay since they don't make 'em any more--but it arrived DOA, dammit. That of course is just a side rant. :-)

      But anyway, I'll probably end up buying a shiny new 3 1/2 inch floppy drive just to deal with disk images. Dammit.

      As a side note, I use and love Daemon Tools []. Whenever I buy a new game with CD-check protection and can't find a simple way or crack to disable it, or if a new game I buy has CDA sound tracks, I can just make an image of the CD and a batch file to mount it in Daemon Tools before running the game. Very handy--no CD swapping, ever, which will be especially useful when I get around to building an ultimate arcade PC and an arcade cab around it. Daemon Tools is basically a free implementation of a Virtual CD program. I just wish there were a Virtual Floppy program that worked the same way, so that software and driver disk images could be easily and seamlessly written to a virtual floppy drive and then just as easily copied back onto the HD and zipped up in a standard archive if desired. That would be PERFECT for what I currently need a floppy for, and for all such "legacy" uses of floppy drives.

      It's times like this when I wish I could code anything other than HTML. ;-)
  • I saw no mention of security improving. I realize that the hardest part of maintaining a secure environment is making the 'user' comply but there HAS to be a better way of protecting people from themselves. Sort of like if a burglar trips and breaks his leg in your house he can sue you.

    I mention security because of the "Presence technology" that was discussed. If somebody can get ahold of my network identity and then use that identity to pinpoint my location we could have a whole new wave of identity theft. Not that I have thought it over much but knowing exactly where somebody is opens up a whole new set of opportunites for exploit.

    White collar criminal -**- Signing Off.
  • by Florian Weimer ( 88405 ) <> on Wednesday December 26, 2001 @09:57AM (#2751558) Homepage
    I guess they are kidding: 512 MB DDR RAM is nothing, even by today's standards. I guess people will hit the 4 GB limit on traditional x86 desktops even before the end of 2004.

    There's a rule that today's hard disk capacities are RAM capacities in five to seven years. By this estimate, we're going to hit 4 GB during 2003, I suppose.
  • by ConsigliereDea ( 541188 ) on Wednesday December 26, 2001 @09:57AM (#2751559)
    My hope is that the people who were polled to come up with this list were rating the Microsoft Passport with "Impact meter: 8" as a warning, not a subtle endorsement. The Presence Technology rating of 7 scares me. I don't want people to be able to track my every move, and shouldn't have to pay for the right to be left alone. Isn't this a little to close to the conspiracy theory of the government implanting chips at birth? I have never been one to take that sort of thing seriously, but I want to know I can keep on eating and breathing technology without some hacker knowing my life.
  • Applications! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by defunc ( 238921 ) on Wednesday December 26, 2001 @10:04AM (#2751574)
    The article seems to be focused on hardware. Rather, it should have been on future applications taking advantage of these new and powerful hardware/interfaces.

    People want stuff that they can use everyday. Having a PC with software that uses voice recognition and learn my pattern usage is what I really want. I don't want to have to mess around anymore with DLLs, the registry, LD_LIRBARY_PATHs or .conf files. Applications should learn on how to adapt to my usage and fix themselves when broken. How about an instantaneous boot up people. My g4 with osx wakes up in 5 secs. Boots under 2 mins.

    The idea of HyperThreading will create a new breed of applications, both on the client and server side hopefully. The hope of having a reatime application on my desktop is very appealing. No more me waiting for the application to respond to my command!!!

  • wrong x 20? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by thogard ( 43403 ) on Wednesday December 26, 2001 @10:08AM (#2751586) Homepage
    Look at the price...
    PC's are commodity items of last year. If people can't buy a computer for $500, they won't be paying 4x that in 2004.

    OLED? When they start to come out the LCD people are going to get very nervous and they have much more room to play on the price cut front. Result, OLED meet ch 11 and its back to LCD.

    IM? Thats too much like peer to peer file sharing for the media folks. I predict M$ will get its self in court with the MPAA people as well as RIAA within a year.

    Wireless? Why? The last stuff that was rolled out is a hackers dream. You think large compaines are going to try it again? Other than the cool, look I can do ____ from the other side of the room, whats it worth to most compaines? No one is spending on toys anymore.

    XML? TLA for the decade. Its going to be here for a long time. Much more difficult to parse than most text files and this looks like a cool idea to thouse who didn't understand why we have LALR grammar.

    Multi-threading made faster. Oh joy... how many programs do I have now that are multi-threaded. Most users are more than happy with the spell check thread running under word and about 90% of applications thread well.

    Magnet bubble memory is back... one more time its going to be the best thing since sliced bread. Its cool to be able to put the same 64mbyte card in my camera and my mp3 player but my rio seems to be having problems with its 1st sector as its fash has faded.

    Fuel cells will be great if they don't get banned by the local fire marshal. I figure with H2's bad rap (think Hindenburg), all it will take is one accident and this will be baned in some major city. Then others will follow.

    Voice portals... One more thing to strangle... too bad I can't put my hands around the things neck.

    Smart cards are great. Now its difficult to get a magnetic card writer (who do you know that has one). Now everyone with a PC and the balls to walk into a Tandy shop can get what it take to reprogram some smart cards. The CPUs are too slow to do meaningful crypto and as the cable TV compaines have found out, there are people who can tell you the circut thats sealed in that thin plastic. My bet is smart card fraud will exceed US$500 by Dec of 2002.

    G3? is this Gimik 3? DoCoMo will finaly get its act together, get live porn to phones in Japan. G3 will be dead anywhere they can export to or thouse parts of the world that don't have the guts to drop dead tech that isn't going to work.

    Digital Cameras with more pixels. Ever try to explain to Mom why the screen can't show as many dots as the camera took and why good 35 mm fill is still 20000 lines of resulution while the overpirced camera has a few thosuand? What I want to know is why can't these $300 cameras have a lense better than a $10 disposable camera?
  • We need an imbedded AI to determine the data running across our networks is not copyrighted... as well as a slot for quarters so that every time we play an mp3 we can drop in our spare change... I heard Alternative Tentacles [] could use the money.
  • by Bowie J. Poag ( 16898 ) on Wednesday December 26, 2001 @10:16AM (#2751603) Homepage
    400 gigs and a cloud of dust: AFC hard drives

    Not a bad idea. As the average amount of free space per PC increases, software makers will find a way to utilize it. They always have.

    PDAs move to another level: The 1-GHz palmtop

    Doubtful. Unlike cell phones, the demographic that buys palmtops aren't made up of teenagers. The people who buy and use palmtops aren't obsessed with making them smaller. They want connectivity first, then speed, then glitz. Besides, the typical uses of a palmtop don't extend to high-end computing. Having 1 Ghz under the hood isn't going to allow you to write your term paper any faster.

    Scintillating screens: Organic-light-emitting diodes

    Vastly overhyped. The intensity of OLEDs fade with time. When compared next to TFT, they look like shit, perform like shit, and go bad far quicker than TFT. They're also more expensive to produce. It'll be a novelty, but, it wont go anywhere in the end, IMHO.

    The message is the medium: Next-generation instant messaging

    Uhhh.....Ever heard of IRC? CUSeeMe? This is hardly a new technology. Its the same paradox as the video phone. Everyone thinks that videophones would be totally cool, but no one's willing to have their hair and make-up done in order to answer the phone. Pound for pound, text remains the best medium for large groups of people to share information. What good is a teleconference if only one person at a time can talk? If more than one person starts talking, you might as well be listening to a washing machine.

    Tireless wireless: 802.11 networks

    I absolutely agree. 802.11 is the beginning of something very big. Community networks, and the death knell for wire-provided technologies like DSL, Cable, 56K modems, etc.

    In search of a common language: Markup languages for everything

    Here we go again, failing to learn from history. People, its like this -- Programmers dont think alike. Thats what makes them programmers. You'll no sooner see people using the same language for markup as you'll see people coding in Smalltalk. People gravitate towards languages based on their ability to be proficient at it. No matter how good XML is, people will still use HTML becuase it suits them better, or PHP, or Perl, or C, or Assembly, or freakin Smalltalk if they want. Name a single time in history when a programmer was considered proficient in his art, WITHOUT knowing more than one language. Get my drift?

    Getting a little hyper: Hyper-threading

    Big clue for ya, gang--99.9% of your PC's lifespan is spent waiting for your lazy human ass to tell it what to do. Hyperthreading assumes that Moore's Law will flatline. It wont. What good is greater availability of processing power when you're STILL not addressing the fact that for most of your machine's usable lifespan, it's sitting idle anyway? Its like code optimization research. As time goes on, it becomes more and more irrelevant.

    And now, my short list of what WILL take off:

    802.11 and its offspring

    Corporation-controlled P2P trading

    P2P For Programmers--Wide and seamless code-sharing environments that replace segmented environments like SourceForge, Savannah, etc. Why not search for a bunch of good 3D engine s to pick from instead of just MP3s?

    GUI optimization. Out with the old, in with the new. The need for a more intuitive interface always wins in the long run, over tradition-based designs. (cough)Scrollball(cough) :)

    User-centric computing instead of application-centric computing.

    Self-regulating and self-maintaining applications...Just picture it. Your antivirus software is eventually rendered obsolute because each of your applications, independant of one another, monitors its own structure and is aware of viruses that may attempt to exploit it. Also downloads and applies new updates, code patches, etc. Maintenance-free from a user standpoint.

    Government requirements for both OS security and application security. Possibly even a ratings system.

    Where will it end! :)

  • by robathome ( 34756 ) on Wednesday December 26, 2001 @10:18AM (#2751610)
    Not being a businessman on the hardware side of the world, there's one question that I've been wanting an answer to for some time. Is there a viable market for PC systems in the less-than-$700 price range? It would seem that educational institutions (especially public school disctricts) and the less-affluent consumer would be the perfect targets for this sort of marketing.

    I realize that as technology ages, margins get slimmer and slimmer. What, however, is the floor? It would seem that in a world of "faster, smaller, cheaper," that there would be use for $200-300 machines that are new, out of the box, with warranty service, but are fully functional PCs. Net appliances were interesting, but for the average consumer nothing more than a pretty terminal device. Is it possible in this marketplace for a company to build and sell a cheap Wintel box to the budget consumer and still turn a profit?

    It would sure beat having school districts full of old, beat-up, barely functional corporate write-off machines.
  • Furture tech I want! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Gilmoure ( 18428 )
    Wearable computers. The article mentioned flexi-displays. Just didn't put it together with the GHz handheld.

    Solid State storage. I'm tired of these Victorian style moving platters and arms. Almost steam punkish. Check out the USB based Piccolo storage keys w/o drivers. They're up to 128MB. Prices should be dropping for GB size stuff, I hope.

    Real Firewire hard drives, not these IDE drives with adapter cards on them. Again, it's a serial style cable connection that will feed the beast faster and help neated up the case internals. Serial ATA would do the trick too. Now if only we could connect these cables up to the solid state storage.

  • by ZigMonty ( 524212 ) <slashdot@DEGASzi ... om minus painter> on Wednesday December 26, 2001 @10:28AM (#2751638)

    Data magnet: Magnetic RAM

    What is it? Fast memory that retains data even after you've turned the power off.

    What's cool? MRAM uses magnetic charges instead of electricity to store bits; when you turn off your machine, your data remains in memory.

    This sounds a hell of a lot like magnetic core memory. It's funny that they portray magnetic RAM as something new. Yes, I know the new implementation of this will be very different (sub micron scale etc) but the idea was popular decades ago. Does anyone have a good comparison of the old way and the planned new way?

    • Heh. I don't know any more about this technology, but it does seem really funny that they are touting this as a new technology...

      My 70+ year-old father's first job at Raytheon in the mid 50's was... to oversee core memory manufacture. Whoo hoo... cutting edge.

      But at least this will address the #1 stupidity I see in compters today... why is it I have to have the computer load a bunch of crap from scratch every time I turn it on? I can;t wait for computers to be more like my PDA in this respect...
  • Cheap ADSL (Score:2, Insightful)

    by JohnHegarty ( 453016 )
    I think the only thing that will shape the (home) computer world for the next few years is weather and when cheap broadband is available for the masses.
  • Under the section about Serial ATA, I found this little gem:
    It also uses longer, thinner cables that won't block airflow inside the system case, which lets systems run cooler and allows PC makers to build more-compact desktops and notebooks.
    So, the cables will INCREASE airflow by taking up less space, but, because of these new, smaller cables, the PC manufacturers are going to DECREASE the amount of space inside the chassis in which the air can actually flow? *boggle*
  • by MattRog ( 527508 ) on Wednesday December 26, 2001 @10:37AM (#2751667)
    Re: Me getting a new desktop in 2004:
    I doubt it -- I have a PII400 I've used for the last 4 years... it served me very well until I got bitten by the Wolfenstein 3D bug over the summer and realized I 'needed' a new box so I built myself a 1.333GHz Athlon which I expect to keep until it blows up. Same with the PII400, it's a linux test box for FanHome which I keep all the dev code on .

    I suspect, though, if things are that cheap in the year 2004 I'll go ahead and pick another computer up; I already have 3 -- another couple couldn't hurt (except the electric bill).

    Wireless mouse and keyboard? Puh-lease. Those have been around for 5+ years and never, ever caught on (both infrared and RF). I doubt somehow we're going to want to sit on our couch and stare at our monitors. Why waste bluetooth bandwidth on your keyboard/mouse? I think the biggest drawback will be the need to replace batteries and/or plug the keyboard into the wall to recharge them. You'll always be working on a big paper or playing the perfect game of Counter Strike when your keyboard batteries die.

    I dislike the idea of everyone using Bluetooth until their protocol isn't redicoulously easy to crack. Weren't there some stories posted a while ago about how easy it was to crack 128bit 802.11b -- with everyone and their mother using bluetooth it would be a cinch for someone to set up a wireless sniffer and read all your keyboard inputs (passwords, etc.).

    Re: Laptop
    I have a Dell Insprion 8000 that I purchased last May. It was faster than my desktop at the time so it truely was a replacement. It's a PIII850 with 256MB RAM. Runs great for what I use it for (when I'm on the road or otherwise away from my home computer it checks my mail and provides Age of Empires 2 gaming ) and I don't hope to replace it any time soon. It has a 15" LCD already and I couldn't imagine anything larger since as they said it would get HUGE. As soon as they develop those 'roll up' organic LCDs (which they've been talking about for 3 years or more now so I doubt all of a sudden they'll appear) they could have a laptop without any screen and then some sort of 'projector' type screen which you set up. I also have and use 802.11b at home and at work which is great although it is a separate PC card which sometimes I forget. If it was built-in like the Mac Ti Books (which are AWESOME btw) it would be a lot easier... Although one would think that would limit upgradeability since you'd have to rip the thing apart to replace the 802.11b with 802.11a. I don't know why they've limited the RAM to 256MB -- mine has that now with one slot free (for another 256MB DIMM I guess). If we're going to truely have desktop replacement laptops I'd see no reason why to get 512MB RAM (certainly whilst it is pennies on the dollar compared to even a year ago).
  • by fxj ( 267709 )
    As long as I can remember the battery of my notebooks all lastet ONE hour. I think thats a magic number. Obviously users dont need more than one hour and it is not as important as a faster cpu or a brighter display. The same is valid for PDAs or else they wouldnt sell so many ipaqs.
    • You need at least five-ten hours of ontime on a PDA, just to keep the silly thing from losing your data while you're away from your desk. If it goes dead on you more than a few times, guarantee it's going into the junk drawer or onto eBay. Battery needs will go up even more as people start surfing the net more from their PDAs.

      The weeks/months of uptime you get on AAAs is one of the big advantages of the Palm platform, and a major factor in their dominance.

      The same is valid for PDAs or else they wouldnt sell so many ipaqs.

      I hate to tell you, but they don't sell that many iPaqs. Palm has gained back the market share they lost early last year.

      Jon Acheson
  • It's time to forget floppy disks, 2002 is a good date to stop using this old magnetig faulty devices.
  • by Junks Jerzey ( 54586 ) on Wednesday December 26, 2001 @10:49AM (#2751699)
    I was thinking over the holidays about how much I prefer playing games on a dedicated console instead of my PC. PCs have gotten to be necessary evils, especially in recent years. Consider:

    1. Upgrading one piece of software or one hardware component (e.g. video card) can easily turn into a cascade of upgrades and a week's worth of evenings. I've gotten afraid to upgrade; I don't want to mess with something that works.

    2. The rash of awful virii and worms that get released for whatever system provides the most opportunity (note: If Linux were on 95% of all desktops, there would be just as many Linux viruses; thinking otherwise is like thinking you have developed an unbreakable copy protection scheme). Keeping up with all the security patches and such has been a real headache. And unless I keep up with sites where these things are announced, I'd never know about them.

    3. There's still a general unreliability factor associated with PCs. Sometimes my PC doesn't boot completely, and I have to power down and try again. Ever run a game and hear the monitor click indicating a resolution change, and then nothing happens and even if you could kill the game you can't get your video card to reset without a reboot. This is a common occurrence in both Linux and Windows.

    4. 99% of the time there's a problem with a game or application, the response is "Do you have the latest video card drivers?" They seem to be released stealthily every few weeks. Who wants to deal with it? And whenever you upgrade there's a high probability of trouble with older software. See #1.

    If PCs change in a drastic way, I'd like to see that change in the reliability direction. Yes, yes, yes, Linux is more reliable than Windows 95/98/ME, but Windows 2000 and XP are right up there with Linux. The OS wars dodge the issue. If PCs could be make as reliable as cell phones or PDAs, then I might be interested in them again. Right now I simply view them as mainframes for your home, with all the same system administration headaches.
  • by Molina the Bofh ( 99621 ) on Wednesday December 26, 2001 @10:50AM (#2751705) Homepage

    A new bug that allows remote access will be found in Windows XP. People will be urged to install the critical update or move to a real OS.

    A new bug that allows root access will be found in the latest version of wu-ftpd. People will be urged to patch it or move to a real FTP server.

    A new bug that allows root access will be found in the latest version of Sendmail. People will be urged to patch it or move to a real MTA

    A kid will be diagnosed with cancer, and will have few days left. People will send him lots of postcards.

    Youll receive a warning about a terrible virus that can reformat your hard drive, and neither Microsoft nor the antivirus companies has the ability to fix it.

    Motorolla will fill for Chapter 11 because it spent so much money giving cellular phones to everybody who sent lots of e-mails

    Amazon will not make profit in 2002

  • you know, it is sort of sad that this journalist is to ignorant of the techmarket to realise that a standard PC and a standard Notbook will never be sold for more than $1200 and $1600 respectivly.
    I thought it was sort of funny that he is predicting that PCs will cost the same as the did just before the tech boom. yeah never mind that the Cool new techs that came out in the last 10 years did not increese the cost of the PC or Notebook.
  • by Wakko Warner ( 324 ) on Wednesday December 26, 2001 @10:54AM (#2751717) Homepage Journal
    Requiring copy-protection to be built in every single computer peripheral capable of storage is kinda significant, yet merits no mention. Maybe nobody's supposed to know about it?

    • In the breezy style of the CNN article...

      Big Brother Inside: The SSSCA and Digital Rights Management

      What is it? A new mandate being legislated as we speak, pushed by the record companies and movie companies (disclosure: CNN is owned by AOL Time Warner, which is also a record company and movie company, which is why they didn't say anything about this) to keep users from copying copyrighted material without "permission."
      What's cool? Depends on whether you work for a movie company or record company--if you don't, there's very little "cool" about this. The Security Systems Standards and Certification Act (to be introdued by Senator Hollings, R-SC) will mandate that all digital devices contain copyright protection systems to keep people from copying "copyrighted material." What this means is unknown as of yet, but it's for certain that the days of Napster and Gnutella wll be long gone if this comes to pass...and perhaps the days of Linux as well, since it would be impossible to put secure copyright protections into an open-source operating system. The bill also mandates penalties for tampering with digital rights management systems, and for connecting an unprotected digital device to any computer network. If you want to enjoy music or movies on your computer, the movie and record companies will tell you "It's my way or the highway"--and you'll probably have to pay. And pay. And pay. And pay. And pay.
      When's it coming? The SSSCA will likely be on Congressional committee agendas early next year. Expect its sponsors (mostly Disney) to try and get it rammed through Congress as fast as they can, with as little review as they can. Then, the "industry" has a certain amount of time to come up with the copyright protection standards that will be mandatory from then on...and if they can't come to an agreement, the government will do it for them.
      What's the catch? This will basically be The End Of The World As We Know It for the computer industry. The only beneficiaries of a law like this will be the record, movie, and other "intellectual property" companies, who will expect to see more cash flowing into their already-bloated coffers. Meanwhile, a lot of people are going to get harassed for the crime of using computer systems of their choice...and the average consumer, as always, will get screwed. Repeatedly. Forever. On the other hand, it may still be possible to stop this from happening...write your Congressional representatives and tell them why this law would be a Bad Thing for the consumer, for the computer industry, and for the American economy as a whole. Of course, bear in mind that the record companies and movie companies have more money than you do, and so they're likely to get listened to first.
      Impact Meter:, make that 10,000,000.

      This is just a poor and feeble first draft...anybody else out there, feel free to rewrite it.


  • by pyramid termite ( 458232 ) on Wednesday December 26, 2001 @11:07AM (#2751762)
    A new archetecture. No, we're just going to keep using the IBM-PC, with its IRQs and other funky crap that was invented in the early 80s and has to be hacked around to get today's computer working at a decent speed. Eventually, someone's going to have to take the plunge and reinvent the computer. Don't hold your breath.
  • by ackthpt ( 218170 ) on Wednesday December 26, 2001 @11:28AM (#2751828) Homepage Journal
    Your desktop PC specs in 2004

    Your desktop PC in 2004: Two years from now, your desktop system will be slimmer and trimmer. Flat-panel screens will replace bulky CRTs, and rewritable-DVD drives and fast graphics subsystems will turn your PC into a movie lover's dream.

    And DVD and CD so fscked up with copy protection that you can't use any of it on your PC

    CPU and RAM: 4- to 5-GHz microprocessor with 512MB of DDR memory and a 600-MHz system bus

    Try more memory, 512 isn't that uncommon in off the shelf computers today. And as for CPU, how about mentioning 64 bits, like the Hammer, instead of yammering on about that ancient Pentium 4

    Hard disk: From 300GB to 400GB on a Serial ATA bus

    And no backup technology even close, so you'll have to have RAID standard or risk losing all those pr0n videos. Rather have SCSI, too.

    Removable storage: Rewritable DVD and -- yes -- the unsinkable 1.44MB floppy

    DVD+RW or something else, perferably without some built in copy protection lock, like HP's [] unit has.

    Internet connection: Cable or DSL broadband if you're lucky; 56-kbps modem if not

    If there's ANY left and IF they provide in a reasonably open service format and IF it doesn't cost $100/mo so they're profitable.

    Video: 3D graphics card with 128MB of video RAM

    And still able to play NetHack? :)

    Display: 18- to 21-inch flat-panel LCD screen capable of 1600 by 1200 resolution

    And weighs less than 20 lbs and lasts longer than 30 minutes on battery? I'd be happy with inexpensive 17", thanks.

    Ports: USB 2.0 and IEEE 1394

    Input devices: Wireless (Bluetooth) mouse and keyboard

    What? Now Eye-mouse or Gyromouse? []

    Operating system: Some version of Windows (you expected Linux, perhaps?)

    Some version of Linux (you expected Windows, perhaps?)

    Other: An 802.11b wireless network designed for users with more than one PC

    Or a more up to date version of 802.11, but why not network it to more than just PC's, or did the future vision 15 watt bulb start to grow dim?

    Price: $1,500 to $2,000

    Well, ok, but only because the $900 model has that crappy P4 in it.

  • Did anyone besides me wonder why most of these technologies that will change the PC in 2002 aren't expected until 2004 or so?

    From the article: Your Desktop PC in 2004: Operating System: Some form of Windows (You were expecting Linux, perhaps?)

    Stupid smart-off comment. My desktop PC has Linux now. The big change between now and then will be I quit using the Macintosh next to it. I'm tired of pompous folks telling me Linux isn't ready for my desktop. I'll make that decision, folks.

  • by Enonu ( 129798 ) on Wednesday December 26, 2001 @11:39AM (#2751877)
    3. Political Bull-Shit (e.g. Intel and RAMBUS's agreement a while back)
    2. Ego
    1. Money
  • "20 Factors that CNN was paid to advertise for in 2002"

  • ... a phone, that has no cord!

    ... a machine that does the work of 20 math-crunching calculators, in ONE SECOND!

    ... a decent story from timothy! ;)
  • Your desktop PC specs in 2004

    Your desktop PC in 2004: Two years from now, your desktop system will be slimmer and trimmer. Flat-panel screens will replace bulky CRTs, and rewritable-DVD drives and fast graphics subsystems will turn your PC into a movie lover's dream.

    CPU and RAM: 4- to 5-GHz microprocessor with 512MB of DDR memory and a 600-MHz system bus

    Only 512MB? DDR is cheap enough now. Why not a couple of gigs? The processor sounds about right, though.

    Hard disk: From 300GB to 400GB on a Serial ATA bus

    Sounds good to me. I'll definatly be at the high end. My 20GB drive has been full since the first month I bought my current PC... ;)

    Removable storage: Rewritable DVD and -- yes -- the unsinkable 1.44MB floppy

    Honestly, the PC floppy drive just might die eventually. I haven't used mine in quite a while, except to create an extra emergency backup copy of my essays to take to school just in case their network is broken. Still, the floppy is the easiest way to transport small files at the moment...

    Internet connection: Cable or DSL broadband if you're lucky; 56-kbps modem if not

    I wonder how much bigger broadband will be in 2004? I'd think the number of people with broadband connections will grow, if the companies providing it can weather the current recession. I do expect all broadband connections (even cable) to have tiered pricing plans based on speed caps, and to be coming down hard on customers who actually dare to use their promised "unlimited" access, though... ;)

    Video: 3D graphics card with 128MB of video RAM

    I predict we'll see more than 128MB cards by 2004. 256MB wouldn't suprise me one bit. Also, I am sure all of the decent cards will have nice, speedy GPUs. Yummm...

    Display: 18- to 21-inch flat-panel LCD screen capable of 1600 by 1200 resolution

    You can have my CRT when you pry it from my cold, dead hands. I won't touch LCD for my desktop until it looks as good (read: bright, crisp, clear, and perfect) as my CRT. It's nowhere close yet. And until I get laser surgery, I won't be running at anything more that 1024x768, and that only on a 19" screen, thank you.

    Ports: USB 2.0 and IEEE 1394

    This will be nice. No more multiple serial and parallel ports using up IRQs, and lots of speedy connections for video and other high-speed applications.

    Input devices: Wireless (Bluetooth) mouse and keyboard

    Not for me, thanks. I'd prefer a wired system. I don't need my neighbor or the FBI tapping my keystrokes.
    Also, I expect that most, if not all, mice will be optical by this time, and scroll wheels and extra buttons will probably be even more commonplace than they are now.

    Operating system: Some version of Windows (you expected Linux, perhaps?)

    Windows for the masses, but some flavor of *nix (probably Linux) for me. With regards to Microsoft OSes, I doubt I will ever go beyond Windows 98 for my primary PC, though I may set up a dual-boot 98/2K box sometime in the future. I am not touching XP and it's descendants will probably be worse... ;)

    The article fails to mention other things that will affect PCs and other such devices, like content control, government intrusion and restrictions, nastier spyware than ever, etc. But I guess we don't want to alarm the masses, do we? ;)

  • Display: 18- to 21-inch flat-panel LCD screen capable of 1600 by 1200 resolution

    Why such a crappy display? I run 1600x1200 already, and can't even look at the full frame of the pictures from my digital camera any more. I want at least 4000*3000 pixels if I'm going to be forced to look at an LCD. It had better be driving digitally, as well, just like my laptop.

    If the OS can't handle it, I'll just open the source, and fix it myself.

  • Here's another thing journalists (and a lot of other people) don't get: more RAM is the best way to get more out of your computer! For their "specs of your PC in 2004" they list...

    Desktop: 512MB RAM
    Laptop: 256MB RAM

    Huh? I have more than that in both today. My desktop has 1GB and my laptop 384MB.

    On the other hand they see a 4-5GHz CPU in the desktop and a 2-3GHz CPU in the laptop. Who needs that? 1-2GHz is very fast... the main reason even todays 1GHz PCs often "feel slow" to their users is that they don't have enough RAM! I hear it all the time... "my PC is slow" (brand new PC with 1GHz CPU)... turns out they only have 128MB RAM and every time they switch between their Word processor and their browser half of the other gets paged out. Duh.

    I doubt that the default laptop will go much beyond a 1GHz CPU in the next few years anyway... what we need much more now in laptops (other than RAM ;-) is lower power consumption, less heat output, etc.

    And I doubt desktops will go much beyond 2GHz soon... servers, sure, some high-end workstations, sure, but a typical home/office PC? Who needs the speed? With what we have today you can process a live video stream while silumtaneously playing Quake at 60fps (with help from dedicated video/3D hardware) which are some of the most computing resource intensive apps anyone has come up with yet.

  • Desktops in 2004? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by iabervon ( 1971 ) on Wednesday December 26, 2001 @01:45PM (#2752314) Homepage Journal
    By then, we'll have the ability to connect a number of keyboard/mouse/monitor/removable-drive combinations to a single computer, and OSes will have enough stability and extra power to handle it. A family will buy a single fast computer and 2-3 heads for it, and then they'll never have to argue over it, because each head is really cheap. In fact, they'll probably get extra heads to have in different rooms, just because it's convenient.

    Once flat-panel displays are as cheap as CRTs, there's no reason to sit at a desk to use the computer; have something laptop-shaped, but attached to a machine in the closet. Everything that is expensive to make small isn't; everything that's small by default fits on your lap.

    Then people will want to ditch the cords, and they'll be out of Bluetooth range, so the heads will turn into 802.11 network appliances; LAN appliances, not internet appliances. You'll buy a computer, and it won't have a monitor or anything; those will be in the appliance. The whole thing will only cost a bit more than having a single unit, and it will be much more convenient.

    Eventually, of course, you'll be able to do things like use your home computer from a friend's house; since everything has been designed for having an 802.11 network between the user and the CPU, having the internet in between isn't much different.

    So, in 2004, my "desktop" computer won't be on a desk, and I won't be sitting at a desk to use it.
  • by Zeinfeld ( 263942 ) on Wednesday December 26, 2001 @03:00PM (#2752567) Homepage
    The description ot the PC of 2004 sounded pretty flat. A laptop with 256Mb of memory that is an inch thick and costs $2000.

    A mid range Sony Vaio can be had today with those specs for $1500, including the docking station. Admittedly the processor is 1GHz rather than 2, but batter life is the principle reason for that. And most people who have the choice today go for smaller machines that are lighter than huge brick like desktop replacements.

    What I think will happen is that the laptop phenomena will start to merge with the PDA line. Most people don't actually need or want a laptop, they want a PDA that can read email and do powerpoint presentations.

    Another thing to think about is that with 802.11b and the like it is not necessarily the case that you need a powerfull machine in your hand. We may well start to see the portable display tablet becomming detached from the desktop processor.

  • by markj02 ( 544487 ) on Wednesday December 26, 2001 @03:00PM (#2752568)
    [machines will be 100x as fast, but] Software that's capable of taking advantage of all this processing muscle is nowhere in sight.

    I find this fascinating. On the one hand, we have great programming languages, tools, and libraries whose only disadvantage compared to C, C++, Java, and C# is that they are maybe 10x slower. We have the processors to run them faster than we could run assembly a few years ago. Yet, whenever these new processors come out, everybody goes back, wastes lots of time tuning their C/C++ code and then complains that all those cycles are useless. There are still endless debates even in 2001 whether Gnome or KDE is faster. The Linux kernel developers don't even want to move to C++

    Folks, those cycles are very useful. Not for some obscure technology that you know nothing about. They are very useful to let you program faster by worrying less about fine-tuning your software and for automating lots of tasks. They are very useful also for making programs safer and more robust automatically by eliminating common bugs like buffer overflows. And they are very useful for component-based software construction, which requires some form of runtime reflection--much better done automatically.

    • In other words, faster processors are useful to increase bloat with impunity. Exactly how does this benefit users, hmm?

      Proposal. To make a real high-quality, say, word processor (as opposed to M$ Word bloatware that thinks it knows what you want but doesn't), all the programmers should be limited to 486's, which are in themselves more than powerful enough for the task. And that would be generous. And performance should be snappy on those, and the software should have a modern feature set. The programmers would be forced to leave out unnecessary bloat and program efficiently. The effect on the overall quality, even on fast machines, would be astounding.

      Using processor speed, component architectures, etc. as an excuse for messy and bloaty programming is degrading programming as a whole. Unix had it right - one program for one function, and that one program should do the task well.

  • by SilentChris ( 452960 ) on Wednesday December 26, 2001 @03:46PM (#2752752) Homepage
    They sorta mention it briefly with voice portals (which, personally, will die a quick dot-com death in my opinion), but I think we may really see a resurgance of voice recognition within the OS itself. MS has already started building up the Control Panel and Office for voice recognition, and I think if their XBox Voice Commander is successful (Think Mainstream) we could really start to see a push for computers that actually interface with us naturally.

    Personally, I'm hoping for a holodeck-like experience. "Computer, give me Victorian-era England. And don't skimp out on the bustiers".

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