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The Past Through Tomorrow

It is the time of year when we all reflect on the previous year, and prepare ourselves for what’s ahead.  Pundits of all shapes and sizes dust off the predictions from the previous year, score their successes, and trundle out another set of SWAGs (Silly Wild-Assed Guesses) for the new year.  I’ve been keeping myself mildly and technologically amused reading Robert X Cringely, Cory Doctorow, and a host  of other pundits, trolls and wannabes sharpen their pens and take aim at and possibly influence the direction of the year to come.

Along those lines I decided to pull out my quiver and let slip a slew of arrows at various topics near and dear to me in the iBatcave First Annual Crystal Ball Gazing and Pundit Toss – Doomsday Edition.

  1. The 2012 doomsday –  Okay – I might as well get the biggie out of the way, will the world descend into an apocalyptic dark age on December 21st?  Anything is possible – take for instance recent computer models that validate the idea of a Mars size body collision with the Earth that made it possible for life and a technological society to form as we know it today.  But given observation and scientific inquiry, the probability is very low for any life altering events of planetary significance – so my predication is many IT workers who take off the month of December will be returning to work the first week of January 2013 – rested and ready for cleaning up after all the panic stricken mobs.  Of course, I’ll be here in the bat-cave with my 2 year supply of MREs, Darkknight comics, and the batcomputer to keep me warm, assuming you can reach me… ^_^
  2. SOPA – The Stop Online Piracy Act – HR 3261, as of this writing in the House Judiciary Committee – is an attempt by ‘big media’ lobbyists to push through a draconian expansion of powers above and beyond the provisions of the DMCA.  Introduced late in the year on October 26th – the proposed law allows the Justice Department to order immediate blockage of accused offshore sites, would put the burden of proof on the accused website to respond in short order to an accuser or trigger an injunction, and has language that isn’t clear – that is particularly troublesome to large hosting sites as well as advocates of the free speech who contend that the internet has become the public square.  Furthermore, the safe harbor provisions put the responsibility of policing it proactively up to the internet network and hosting companies – which would not only place an undue burden/cost on these entities, but has other dangers to privacy and improper manipulation for private interests to the detriment of society.  This would furthermore break or fracture many of the key features of the international internet as Europe and Asia would certainly retaliate upon manipulation of worldwide DNS, security and routing by the United States.  Some core network American service companies (DNS and hosting services) are considering moving offshore to maintain connection with the worldwide network in the event takedown orders impact their customers.
    So far, it seems the lobbyists and Congress are holding all the cards; initial hearings only included the interest groups associated with the lobby – and were criticized for not having the technical knowledge to properly evaluate the effects of their proposals.  A fight is brewing as we speak; however, unless a hail Mary can be pulled off by the ‘freedom coalition’ – I don’t give this much hope.  I think it will be passed, and we’ll be dealing with the consequences for some time.  Let the boycotts begin!
  3. The Personal Computer – The personal computer, and more precisely the general purpose programmable computer, is under pressure from the plethora of mobile devices that have entered the market.  By and large, these new devices are not directly programmable by the user.  As the young population begins to age, the use of small devices will begin to wane – particularly when they hit their 40’s and need reading glasses – but that is 20 years away.  That being said, I don’t think the PC is going anywhere anytime soon – particularly for people who need the extra processing power locally to run complex simulations (RPGs/FPSs/FlightSims), do development, and other more ‘server like’ things in their local network.  People in the past who bought a desktop to browse the web and read email, will be happy with smartphones and tablets instead.  We might see some price fluctuations, as more production time is spent on components for the tablets and phones.  Desktops that are offered in the retail space will have new features to compete (e.g. touchscreen – and we’re already seeing this) – and will likely be optimized for use with cloud based applications.  With the ascendency of console game systems – the high end desktop game system will more and more become a hobbiest tradition – and there may be some growth in businesses that can cater to that market for those without the wherewithal to build their own system, and with little alternatives in the retail space.
  4. Cloud Computing – The Cloud is just another name for ‘thin client’ computing – and we know how that turned out – it has special applications, but isn’t good enough for every application.  As people run into more problems, aunt Suzy unable to download the pictures of your adorable rug rats, or little Jimmy trying to play the latest game – and loses connectivity due to infrastructure failures, then we’ll see this ameliorate a bit.  Right now it is a hot buzz word in the corporate board rooms – as companies look to squeeze whatever savings they can by outsourcing and relocating applications to the cloud.  As a result – I think we’ll still be talking about Cloud Computing when 2013 rolls around.
  5. NASA Manned Space Program – Kaput!  We are going to see the Russians and Chinese make advancements and continue to fly manned missions – while we tag along for the ride.  Seems like a pattern going on here – America outsourcing the work.  It’s going to be awhile before we launch people into orbit again – and it won’t be in 2012.  Commercial ventures will make progress – but in sub orbital arena only.
  6. Automobile Tech – will continue to suck; however Tesla Motors will release their all-electric sedan in 2012, and sales will be groundbreaking.  Google’s fleet of self driving cars will increase to 300 by year end.

These are my personal predictions for the coming year – zero calorie goodness.

  1. Community CPU Cycle Pwnage  – it is safe to say that last year I had the most CPU cycles available on the block in the Batcave – even discounting the Suburban Goddess and Bat Girl’s five systems.  To ensure and maintain my leadership, and bragging rights (and so I don’t have to scrape off my ‘My Gigaflops Pwns U’ bumper sticker) I will be investing in a custom computer build-out based upon an AMD FX series processor.  This system will be my dev/testing system – running VMWare or some other FOSS hypervisor – with various Linux flavors available for testing – and hosting for some development related things (master git/subversion repository etc).  I’ll continue to game out with my Intel i7 based Windows 7 box, and geek out with my Intel Pentium 4  based Linux box, and my collection of Apple paraphernalia  (Intel i7 based Macbook Pro, Core 2 Duo Mac Mini, and original iPad).  If time permits I might tinker around with getting some of my older systems running to pull some weight (if my power bill and the house wiring can stand it).  The real question is – can I successfully marshal the resources by convincing the Suburban Goddess to release the purse strings, to accomplish these goals?  Check back this time next year to find out!
  2. Uber Blogmeister – For the three people that apparently actually read this blog – I know there has been a long (LONG) dry spell, but I am bound and determined to get the blog going this year come hell or high water.  Can I do it at least once a week every week?  If my post count reaches 52 by 2013 we’ll all know the answer.  I also predict that I will have at least 100 readers a day by the end of the year (or world).
  3. Doomsday Weight Loss Plan –  I’ve been having trouble getting into the old bat suit (curse you rubberized kevlar!) so I’ve started a new ‘doomsday’ diet and exercise program to get into prime blogging shape by the end.  If things go badly – at least I’ll have a good looking corpse wrapped in black kevlar goodness.  The doomsday goal is to loose 100 lbs.  We shall see how this goes.
  4. Teetering in the Balance – This last prediction/goal is related to becoming a more well rounded person overall.  I have musical instruments and the means of creating quality recordings; I’m going to play them, get better at it, and make recordings this year.  I’m going to spend time meditating (the time spent sitting on the bus praying the drunk stinky hobo staggering down the aisle doesn’t sit next to you is not meditation).  Finally I’m going to spend more time with my family, outdoors actually doing outdoorsy stuff.   ^=^

Join me January 2013 to find out how well I predicted – provided we’re not all dead or living in a post apocalyptic hell, of course!