Hank Jr. and Sr. George Jones. Merle. Waylon and Willie. Johnny Cash. Thatâ€™s my kind of country music. I donâ€™t listen to much modern country, but I just heard a tune where Toby Keith sings, â€œEvery once in awhile I wanna talk about me, wanna talk about I, wanna talk about number one.â€
Me, me, me. The first of the year is a great time for columnists to clean out their virtual closets and talk about themselves. Teachers tell you in English class not to write about â€œIâ€ or â€œmeâ€ too much, but I was a math and physics guy so Iâ€™m pleading ignorance. Here goes.
I am upset at Sony for its hidden rootkit installation. People who spent their money for a Sony music CD were unknowingly loading dangerous and intrusive software onto their PCs. Not only did Sony try and sneak the software onto your machine, it was bad code that potentially opened up your system to numerous hacks. Plus, if I purchase the music, I should be able to play it anywhere I choose.
Looking back, I wish I had bought Google stock at a mere $200 or maybe $300 or even (gulp!) $400.
I like Oâ€™Reillyâ€™s Make magazine. Itâ€™s for the true geek. It includes projects for all kinds of techie things, such as launching potato projectiles and making a jet-propelled blimp. Old-timers may remember Byte magazineâ€™s â€œCircuit Cellarâ€ column. This goes a generation beyond that, but you still need your soldering gun.
I wonder whatever happened to voice recognition? As a two-fingered (but speedy) typist, Iâ€™d love to just speak this column into the PC. Even with the latest mic, sound card and software, I still only get about 95 percent accuracy. That sounds decent, but too much time is spent cleaning up that 5 percent. Speech recognition always seems to be three years away.
On the other hand, Optical Character Recognition (OCR) is getting very good. My OmniPage Pro 15 software recognizes, cleans up and converts to text almost any document I place on the scanner.
I really like audio books and podcasts. There is just too much interesting and essential stuff out there to read and too little time. But listening while I drive, walk the dog or even while working in the backyard, lets me cover an amazing amount of â€œreadingâ€ material.
I recently listened to David McCulloughâ€™s â€œ1776â€ (great!), Walter Isaacsonâ€™s â€œBenjamin Franklinâ€ (another winner) and Lemony Snicketâ€™s â€œThe Bad Beginning (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 1)â€ (weird). I would never have found the time to sit down and read any of those. In fact, it freed up time to sit down with â€œFirst Manâ€ by Neil Armstrong and â€œThe Man Behind the Microchipâ€ by Robert Noyce. Both worthwhile.
I must be getting old because I donâ€™t understand the allure of the video iPod. Podcasts are great (shameless plug â€“ listen to my podcast show at GreatLakesGeek.com) because they let you do other things while listening. But video is a one-to-one deal; You canâ€™t drive and watch last nightâ€™s episode of â€œLostâ€ – though a few of the crazies on Chester Avenue this morning may have been. Plus, the screen is so small, whatâ€™s the point? Back in my day, we watched our TV on big screens – and we had to walk 10 miles in the snow to see them.
I really like being able to type a few words in a search engine and immediately get millions of pages of answers and other information. Itâ€™s amazingly powerful when you think about it.
I am a huge fan of USB hard drives. I usually build my own (stick a hard drive in a $30 enclosure and youâ€™re done) to save a few bucks, but even the prebuilt ones are a great deal, especially if they save your data even once.
In 2006, I expect to see a big push to 64-bit computing. Vista, the new version of Windows, is scheduled to launch in late summer and itâ€™s the first end-user version to handle 64-bit applications. Software developers will write lots of great stuff that will require a 64-bit CPU and OS, and we will all scurry to upgrade.
I am not surprised at the ongoing format wars in the DVD world. With HDTV and other technological improvements, manufacturers keep pushing the envelope. But that can leave consumers in the lurch. Whether the Blu-Ray vs. HD-DVD debate will rival the Betamax-VHS clash, I donâ€™t know. But I have reluctantly accepted the fact that in the near future, we will all be transferring the stuff that we thought was archived forever to yet another format. Again.
I think Windows Server 2003 is a robust and secure operating system. They got this one right.
I bet that 90 percent of Web users donâ€™t really understand RSS and that most of the trendy iPod owners donâ€™t know how to synch and subscribe to XML feeds.
I think the technology for mesh networks and wi-max (which provide extremely wide ranges of wi-fi availability) is out there, but the stumbling block is, and will continue to be, politics and who gets what piece of what pie.
I wish there was a reasonable and swift conclusion to all of this crazy tech patent stuff. Unless, of course, I can patent my two-fingered typing technique and make millions.
I expect to see some kind of micro-payments being charged for accessing content on many more sites. Sure, the Wall Street Journal and a few other sites can charge for content, but at some point, I expect the content providers to ask for something in return â€“ if not cash, more personal data.
I am amazed that I can drop a letter in any mailbox and for some spare change have it delivered to the door of someone across the country in a few days.
I am always surprised when intelligent people inform me (too late usually) that they donâ€™t have a backup or anti-virus protection.
I am eager to see what happens with new technology such as Ajax (which makes Web apps behave more like local apps), deep search applications, and the mergers of computing and medical technology.
I wish I had more space.
Since Entreprenerd Dan Hanson (email@example.com) is focusing on himself this month, he likes walks on the beach and holding hands by the fire. Oops, wrong publication.