The Unintended Consequences of a Post-PC Era

Recently, there has been some discussion about how the tablet phenomena has altered the ideal mix of computing equipment for the home user. The classic notebook computer, while not highly cannibalized yet, may be gone in the future. What would the technical consequences of a Post-PC era be? Perhaps more PCs.


ConsequencesFor example, we always knew that it was a fantasy to believe that a notebook computer alone, even with large storage directly attached, is really the right device to store a massive family archive. iCloud is a store and forward, syncing cloud. Apple doesn’t have room for your terabyte collection of videos.

Families of the future will be storing more and more data, photos, home movies and so on. There are even initiatives to document our entire lives, or at least part of it as videos. That’s some serious storage. Most of it may be on your own server, and some may be stored on a website for posterity, but I think it’s clear that notebooks computers, constrained and compromised as they are, giving way to advanced iPads, may not be what families need in the future.

That, in turn is going to breathe new life into desktops, Thunderbolt storage, personal RAID 5, perhaps SSD RAID devices, powerful desktops with many cores, large displays to display 3D images, 802.11ac to splash all that around to an Apple HDTV and so on. The death of the desktop, PC or Mac, may be highly exaggerated. And that will breathe new life into Windows, Linux, and OS X as formidable personal OSes to handle all that data just at the time when tablets are taking off.

A consequence is that this home mix of tablets plus a server dictates a possible rethink of the Mac Pro. (I think of the iMac as a workstation in a home setting, not the server.) The current Mac Pro is for professionals and geeks at a time when the notebook was all the rage for individuals. It’s heavy and technically imposing. What would a headless family server, modestly sized, light, and designed for massive storage and video heavy lifting look like? Perhaps that’s what’s causing a rethink of the Mac Pro. (See below.)

Who would have thought that an Apple iPad would breathe new life into so many other products? Further debate for your consideration is at ZDNet.

Tech News Debris

There weren’t a lot of really good news items this week that are up to the normal Particle Debris standards. So this is going to be short.

The first, and best, is a long and fascinating article about the Apple Newton, launched 20 years ago. Harry McCracken at Time’s Techland takes a detailed look at the life and times of the Apple Newton: “Newton, Reconsidered.

NewtonImage credit: technobuffalo

You knew that crimeware is sold on the underground market as toolkits, right? Want to go into the malware business? You buy the kit and get to work. Here’s a particularly nasty one, a ransom kit used against banks but repurposed against individuals. “US warns users of new Citadel ransomware hit.

Apple Products on the bubble department. Kirk Mcelhearn wonders if Apple will kill Ping fairly soon. Others, worried that Apple has been mum about a new Mac Pro have created a petition so that Apple knows how many people are agitated about the issue. “Mac Pro petition gaining steam on Facebook.”

This article isn’t the most well written piece, but it provides plenty of inspiration. For example, how does a company, exactly, engage in innovation? Does saying your company is going to be innovative result in innovation? Check it out just to get the creative juices flowing. “Please, Can We All Just Stop ‘Innovating’?

The point here is that people can’t innovate on a schedule. They have to be involved in creative play. They have to be having fun. So when the boss charges in and says, “Stop fooling around, we have serious innovation to do!,” you know it’s time to go work for someone else.

Researchers are constantly digging into mathematical algorithms to simulate or understand human behavior. For example, we know that Siri isn’t alive. The software uses clever techniques to figure out what we’re saying and respond. But what do we mean? At Stanford there’s work being done on how to teach sarcasm to computers. “Math may teach computers to get sarcasm.

Recently, playfully, I said to Siri, “Pawn to King four.” Her response was, “I can’t find any pawn shops around here.” Perhaps with the help of the Stanford research, Siri 2.0 will say, instead, “I’ve got tChess installed. Whaddya you got? “


Teaser image credit: Shutterstock