Learn about the technologies behind the Internet with The TCP/IP Guide!
NOTE: Using robot software to mass-download the site degrades the server and is prohibited. See here for more.
Find The PC Guide helpful? Please consider a donation to The PC Guide Tip Jar. Visa/MC/Paypal accepted.
View over 750 of my fine art photos any time for free at DesktopScenes.com!

.....technobabble .....for the week of January 22, 2001

.....technobabble.....am I the only one who is getting utterly sick and tired of the ghouls and vultures who are constantly circling over the presently struggling PC industry, telling us all that the industry is "dead" and that PCs are now "passť" and will be replaced by <insert hot-shot mobile technology du jour here>? The other day I was watching a "special" on the state of the PC world on a cable channel (that shall remain nameless) and there it was again: the PC is doomed. This theme seems to turn up like a bad penny every time the PC industry struggles a little bit, or a new technology comes along that's supposed to completely replace it. I've seen it happen time and again; do you remember the last time we went through this, when "Net PCs" were going to drive conventional PC makers out of business and "revolutionize" the market? Didn't exactly happen, did it? Yet it seems that technology reporters don't learn their lessons very well, because it is starting up again. Obviously the PC industry is in a slump right now, but it's not like that has never happened before.....

.....this time, the "PC industry deathwatch" is particularly annoying because of how shallow they seem to think PC users are, and how little credit they give to PCs for being general purpose machines that can do so many different things. The program I saw on cable (well, satellite) was based almost entirely on the premise that new technologies would enable users to access the Internet without the "cost or complexity of a PC" and that this meant the PC industry would decline. Hello? People use PCs for much more than just the Internet. Of course there are some folks who buy a PC just to get online, but there are already technologies to let you get on the 'net without needing a PC, and these have been with us for many years already. Just last year PC sales were doing very well, so obviously this is not what is going on. There's more to life than the Internet, and there's more to PC use than the Internet as well.....

.....for any reporters reading this who plan the next "Death of the PC, Film at 11" segment, here's the real reason why PC sales are doing poorly right now: technology is an inherently cyclic industry. That means frequent ups and downs, sometimes due to valid causes, and sometimes without any good reason at all. The U.S. economy also seems to be slowing as well, as overall retail sales show from the fourth quarter of 2000. None of this means that people are going to give up their PCs so they can browse a handful of popular web sites on a two-inch cell-phone screen. (Incidentally, this article from the EE Times discusses both AMD's and Intel's plans to rebound from recent market woes).....

.....this is a pretty amazing technology story, even if it is not something that will impact your PC any time soon. Two teams of scientists have succeeded in stopping light, literally suspending it in motion, by shining it into specially chilled metallic gases. The photons slowed and then stopped, and later could be made to move again. This is considered a potential breakthrough in the fledgling world of quantum computing, which promises the possibility of computers with the power to make today's supercomputers look like Nintendo Gameboys. Of course, these wundermachines are at least years away, and probably more likely decades, but it's exciting to see the research proceeding. The full article is here on ZDNet.....

.....toy alert! :^) OK, I would never buy one of these gizmos, at least not at the prices they are going for now, but they are undeniably cool. Seemingly straight out of a sci-fi movie, Olympus is now selling a video headset that you wear like a pair of glasses. It projects an image that appears like a 52-inch TV screen viewed from six feet away, and can handle a variety of PC or video sources as input. Nifty. Check it out here.....

.....recent weeks have seen two important issues arise that are tangentially-related to technology, and important enough that I want to talk about them a bit. These are the power crisis in California, and the skyrocketing prices of fuels in general. There are simple steps you can take to help do your part to ease these problems, and reduce the hit on your pocketbook at the same time. First, turn off your PC when not in use. Yes, the "turn it off or leave it on" question is one of those perennial arguments, and I used to be one of those who left his PC on all the time for the "convenience". But frankly, it's a tremendous waste of power, and hence, energy. Unless you really have a compelling reason to have your machine on overnight (such as running a live server) the amount of power saved by turning it off for eight-plus hours is worth the two-minute wait to reboot it in the morning. At the very least, turn off your monitor when you aren't using it. As for heating costs, if that is relevant to you, just a reminder that there are both high-tech and low-tech ways to reduce these as well. The most useful high-tech solution is a low-cost programmable thermostat, which can be used to turn down the heat when you are asleep or out of the house. The low-tech solutions are much simpler: better insulation for the house--and for your body. Seriously, many of the people who are seeing their heating bills double or triple this winter don't realize how unrealistic it is to be walking about the house in a T-shirt when it's well below freezing outside. Better insulation for the house will reduce how much fuel you consume, and wearing a sweater will make you feel more comfortable at a lower internal thermostat setting overall. It's worth a try.....

.....now, some more replies to general comments on feedback from The PC Guide Reader Survey. I have received many suggestions for inclusions for the site, and I'm very grateful for them! Please keep them coming. I will respond to a couple of the more common ones here. One is that a number of people have asked me about doing reviews or recommendations for specific hardware products. I'm sorry to disappoint, but I am very unlikely to ever do that on The PC Guide. The main reason is that it isn't what the site is all about; I am here to explain technology, not review products. There are literally hundreds of other sites that do a competent job of this particular task, while there aren't hundreds of sites working on describing PC components or how to care for them or troubleshoot them, so it doesn't make sense for me to move in that direction. Another suggestion was for more information on operating systems. Again here, there are thousands of sites dedicated to every operating system under the sun, so I will not create an area of the site going into operating systems in detail. What I will be doing, where appropriate, is providing more discussion of how well various operating systems support different types of hardware, and also how you configure hardware within the operating system. I began this with my new section on keyboards and will continue as I add new sections and revise old ones. Again, thanks for the feedback, everyone.....

.....that's all this time. Did this column infatuate you, or saturate you? Give me your feedback, please! And if you like the column, please tell others..... ;^)


Home  -  Search  -  Topics  -  Up

The PC Guide (http://www.PCGuide.com)
Site Version: 2.2.0 - Version Date: April 17, 2001
© Copyright 1997-2004 Charles M. Kozierok. All Rights Reserved.

Not responsible for any loss resulting from the use of this site.
Please read the Site Guide before using this material.
Custom Search