Network computing, personal computers, and you

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moosemanmoo's picture
Joined: Aug 17 2004
Posts: 686

Over the past few years, I've been seeing more and more about the concept of 'ubiquitous network computing' and the notion that one day, the personal computer will be rendered useless by upcoming hybrids of dumb and smart terminals always connected to the internet and your personal data. I wanted to gauge the reaction of fellow 'fritterites to this idea.

Personally, I can see myself using a device that embodies the concept of the "keitai" for most things. "Keitai" is the japanese term for mobile phone, but it literally translates to 'a thing to carry'-- this translation more accurately describes this concept of always-available data. The personal computer, while a useful tool and fun thing to modify, simply won't be able to beat out the communicator-manager keitai device, especially if such a device could be docked to expand processing capabilities and display size.
(This isn't the most coherent post, as it's early in the morning, but with the advent of feasible "AJAX" web applications that can replace conventional applications, something like this could indeed be on the horizon.)


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Joined: Sep 16 2004
Posts: 274
I think it is a great idea, I

I think it is a great idea, I commonly use my desktop to just ssh into a unix server. The only problem with a mobile terminal sorta thing, and a laptop is that with a mobile device you can only get data when you are in range of wireless etc, while a laptop can always have your data. In my old highschool they used roaming profiles in os X, the machines basically became dumb terminals, where the hd only stored the OS. Also, a portable device has a disadvantage when it comes to display size and input methods.

Joined: Nov 12 2004
Posts: 52
Oh I sure hope not. Our scho

Oh I sure hope not. Our school is migrating to 100% WYSE thin-clients. Let me tell you, they're not nearly as great as they seem. The performance on anything but text and basic graphics is poor. Example, flash based stuff is really bad.

>the personal computer will be rendered useless by upcoming hybrids of dumb and smart terminals always connected to the internet and your personal data.

Wait, where will your personal data be stored, then? Surely not on somebody else's server? My understanding of these things was that they had no local storage and relied 100% on servers.

At any rate, I really hate that idea, as true as it may become.


mmphosis's picture
Joined: Aug 18 2005
Posts: 321
secondguessing future sales

I think your on to something. This process is already underway with cel phones. Cel phones have overtaken computers in sales.

Your data in the proprietary data format from these proprietary devices goes through the proprietor's network and [anything you send over the internet may be monitored] stored in their database to datamine (secondguess) what you are going to immediately want to buy on impulse. Yeah, right.

I think there might be an emerging market for fritter-types (hackers, electronics engineers, etc) to build and sell "open" devices and services for "open" systems. The notion of a dumb "set top" box is not that appealing to some people, and that seems to be where things are going with cel phones, music/video players and game consoles, at the moment. I see the divide in open vs. proprietary hardware in much in the same way as currently there is a growing divide between the adopters of linux/bsd and the proprietary OS's. It's difficult to put any numbers on this as the stats consistently come from backers of the proprietary crowd. I no longer believe that Windows has 90% of the market, if you take into consideration all the new proprietary hardware and people who, unknown to the stats, remove Windows (and Mac OS) and install a *nix distro.

Jon's picture
Joined: Dec 20 2003
Posts: 2804
The Windows marketshare is us

The Windows marketshare is usually measured in current sales. There is a huge discrepancy between current sales, and installed user bases. The installed Mac user base was recently estimated as high as 16% last year. I wonder how high the Linux user base is? Even with just the Apple 16% and an imaginary 10% Linux base, Windows has fallen below 80% and is probably lower if we consider all the alternative systems like the BSD flavors and any current growth from "switchers" and new buyer of Macs included since last year andnow with the Intel switch.


I am not in this world to live up to other people's expectations, nor do I feel that the world must live up to mine. - Fritz Perls

The Czar's picture
Joined: Dec 20 2003
Posts: 287
A Good Idea, but Not Feasible

This idea is not a bad one, and I think it'll be a big thing in the future, but we won't see it within the next 10 years, I reckon. Data networks haven't evolved enough to sustain this model. Wireless connectivity is flakey, at best. Here at the University of Calgary, they embarked upon a wireless-campus initiative with 802.11b/g rolled out in every building with student study spaces. It's fast, it's slick and it's great - when it works. About 40% of the time, you can't get an IP address from the DHCP server. Another 10% of the time you can't reach the authentication server (no authentication, no access to anything). So, half the time, you can't get on the network. That's bad enough when all you need it for is internet access and e-mail, but if I was dependent on that for all my files? Forget it, I'd have to go back to paper-and-pencil.

I was discussing this with a buddy of mine, and he said "Well yeah, when the wireless dies, just plug it into the network!" To me, that completely defeats the purpose of the whole idea. If I have to be tethered to the wall, I at least want some big iron (relatively speaking, of course) to play with. What's the point of having an ultra-portable network computing device that has to be tethered to the wall?


The Czar


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