Technology Predictions for 2009
Technology Predictions for 2009
By Robert McMillen- Koin’s Tech Guru
Making predictions is a two- edged sword. If you are correct then you look like a hero, or an amazing psychic. People start asking you what stock to buy, or what horse to pick. You get invited to the best parties and you smell good. But if you’re totally wrong then you are shunned like a hunchbacked, red headed step child with pimples and gum in your hair. That’s quite a picture.
But just to prove how brave I am, I will boldly go and make predictions about technology in 2009 that will astound and delight you. Here goes.
2009 will look a lot like 2008, but with a few modifications. There I said it. I’m not proud of it, but here’s the explanation: Even in technology things don’t change that fast. Sure we can almost double the speed of our computers within a year, but that’s been happening for the last 28 years, so that’s nothing new. The internet is going into its awkward teen years and just doesn’t want to be bothered (talk to the hand). The world is in recession so venture capital money will be a little harder to come by. That will keep down some of the innovation. People will be laid off from their jobs. They will go out and start their own companies with fresh ideas and a “can do” attitude. They will come up with inventions in concept but it will take another year or two to bring them to fruition. Those little companies will become bigger profitable companies and then get bought out by Microsoft and Cisco. Well, that’s always been my dream!
But before all that can happen, we have to get through next year. I believe the hot topics for 2009 in the home will be “how to keep your data safe”, and “how to utilize the new multimedia websites in the living room”. The latter is what I’m excited about. I will tell you about making a computer that’s more than a DVR. It will become your new living room entertainment experience.
I predict backup drives for the home will become a lot more popular. Storage has gotten so cheap (how cheap is it?) you can buy a terabyte (1000 Gigabytes) for around $150. Many of these USB backup drives come with built in software to make backing up as easy as pushing a button now and then. It’s so difficult for the average computer owner to keep their computer free from viruses and spyware that you have to make sure your pictures, email and documents are being backed up. I think just about everyone of us has had at least one hard drive crash and had precious data accidentally erased. Let’s not take that risk anymore because hard drives are getting bigger but not more reliable.
For a little more money you can buy a small NAS (network attached storage) unit and you can have everyone in the family backup their data to it. A NAS is a box with usually three or more hard drives in it. It connects to your network switch, just like your computer, instead of a USB cable. Once you connect to its built in website, you can create folders for everyone’s data, and then you can create shortcuts on everyone’s computer desktop to copy the data over by dragging and dropping. They usually run about $250, and are very much worth it. They are also compatible with the oft overpriced and over promised Macintosh computers. (Okay, I’m a little biased but I have lots of experience with both Windows and Macs and I do know the difference.)
Our next category is multimedia. I predict people will start buying or building their own DVRs in record numbers. You can buy a multimedia DVR box like TiVo, or you can build one with more power (ooh ooh ooh!). A digital video recorder comes built into both XP Media Center and Vista Ultimate. You can set recordings for shows, or series, and all kinds of things just like TiVo. You can also download movies when you subscribe to a movie service like Amazon, just like TiVo. But with your own computer, you can put in a bigger hard drive that won’t run out of memory just because you have every Law and Order in existence on your hard drive, and your kids want to record one more Star Wars cartoon which will bump off season one and two. You see, I speak from experience. You can also put in a better processor, more RAM, and a higher quality video card.
Since your computer is also on the internet, you can browse out to websites like You Tube and see funny videos, free movies and some TV shows on demand. You can also go to more websites with on demand free shows by going to your favorite network like CBS.com. I went and re-watched just about every MacGyver episode that way. You can also go to sites like fancast.com, myeasytv.com with 3000 channels, and TVUplayer.com with channels from all over the world. It’s all free unless you count in the commercials. How do you connect your computer to your TV? Well, it’s pretty easy. There are all kinds of connections on the back of your TV. The most popular and easiest is the S video cable. This is a cable that, back in the 1980's, used to be called Super VHS. SVHS may have died but its connection stayed relevant. You can also get a cable card, but that does cost money and requires a trip out from your cable provider. You can use the old fashioned RCA jacks with the yellow and red cables, but S video is just better. For HD there is a special cable as well, but you have to make sure your TV and video card support it. The multimedia PC doesn’t have to replace your digital cable box. It just makes on demand TV better because of the additional choices you get. You can even put in an AM/FM card and listen to the radio over your TV’s speakers or sound system.
The multimedia PC has lots more potential for shaking up 2009 than the now old fashioned DVR. I realize that DVRs haven’t been out that long but things do become obsolete in this business. It usually takes more than a year for it to happen.
For more great tips, check back here each week and listen to me on the All Tech Radio show at 9:00 Sunday mornings on AM 1360 KUIK, or listen online at http://alltechradio.com.
If you would like your technical question answered here, just email firstname.lastname@example.org. Even if it doesn’t get answered in the column I will always answer by email.