So, going on from the last part, and the two guys sat 400 yards away from each other on opposite sides of a river, in scenario 1 with two mobile phones, and the network is down so they can’t talk to each other, and in scenario 2 with two walkie talkies, so they can.
In scenario 2 you have a PERSONAL comms device, using the word personal in the same way that personal was used in personal computer originally.
Since it is 2014 and we are all on about the cloud and virtualised services, chromeboxes, chromebooks, Valve Steam, MMORGs, Dropbox, Office 365, Gmail, Hotmail, web hosting, and just about everything else you can think of, it is all excluded from the definition of “personal”.
It is for this reason that I have always been a proponent of the NAS box, and keeping either an old Cobalt RAQ lying around, or an old laptop that you could run AMP on or go the whole hog and go LAMP (Linux Apache MySQL PHP) and then whack in all the services required to make it an email and web server and mebbe DNS and DHCP too.
If you can cut the network connection and it either stops working, OR, degrades in any way, it ain’t personal buddy.
Sadly, what we are looking at is an across the board marketing drive to make as many things as possible not personal.
This is compounded by users, a blog I follow now and again is The slog, and as we can see from that linked article, despite many years of battling the technology, the author is still immensely frustrated with computing in general.
The *reason* he is frustrated is quite simple, and ironic, given the stuff he talks about in his blog, not just a failure to adapt and learn, but a refusal to do so.
Guess what, he has bought a crappy little Acer laptop and is whining about the end of XP and why the new browser choice thing in his new laptop is there and why IE doesn’t play nicely with Gmail.
I have precisely zero sympathy.
Same way I had zero sympathy with Bill and others claiming that running a website / blog / forums is so hard and so difficult and so time consuming and so expensive.
You’re fucking doing it wrong, cunts.
You are demanding all the control that you get with PERSONAL computing, and also demanding all the lack of intervention or maintenance or customisation or responsibility that you get with NON-PERSONAL computing.
You can’t have it both ways… a market that Apple exists to exploit, neither fish nor fowl yet claiming to be better than both.
I’m an engineer by trade, been playing with computers since the dawn of personal computing, and my day job is making the network work for business of all sizes up to and including fortune 50. I have designed bespoke computer hardware, and I am not talking about building a custom PC from off the shelf components here. I have access to the very top levels of the backbone itself where the infamous GCHQ / NSA black boxes reside.
*I* am the fucker you want to listen to, if you want an honest and impartial opinion on things like apple build quality or WindowsXP or cloud computing etc.
Not because I am a smart ass know it all who is always right, but because at least I can offer a PROFESSIONAL opinion worthy of consideration.
But, like the comments section in the slog in that article, people who do not work professionally with all this stuff are giving opinions, it’s like going to a murder trial and asking a coroner how likely it is that this death by poisoning was not deliberate, or the DNA lab guy to tell you how unlikely it is that this positive match could occur if the guy in question is actually innocent.
These questions get asked, and opinions get given, but Carl Sagan was no more of an expert than me in wood framing, so why should his opinion even be listened to? If you want to know about the Centauri binary system, ask Sagan, if you want to get to the moon, ask Von Braun…. not Sagan.
The point that I hope you will understand here is that the PERSONAL in personal computing did not JUST mean you had all those resources locally under your control, it also meant you had all those resources locally under your control…lol.. eg, it is not anyone else’s problem to maintain that shit, or manage it, or anything else.
If you were incapable or unwilling to exert that control, then personal computing is not for you.
Do you want central heating and a thermostat that is set once when the system is installed and then you close the cover and never ever look at the system again?
Or do you want a gas or electric or coal fire in each room, you turn it on, you turn it up or down, you turn if off, or forget to, or forget to turn it on so you have no hot water, yadda yadda yadda.
“OH FUCK!” is well known to those who embraced personal computing when it was new, because you had so much control and so little automation that it was a fairly regular occurrence to lose everything you had spent all morning working on, until you learned the lessons, lessons that still serve me to this day in my day job, and make others look at me and say that guy knows his onions, not because I do, but because I don’t take anything on trust and document everything and my first priority is always to be able, at worst, to roll back to the situation when I walked in the door.
And that little word I used up there is the key, automation, it is the flip-side of personal, in this context.
John Ward at the Slog is complaining about IT tech because he isn’t interested in learning how to control stuff so it can be personal and work reliably, and he is also unhappy with the lack of control that comes when things are automated.
There are only two items on the menu, you take full control and responsibility and make it personal, or you opt for the convenience of automation and make it non-personal.
Both options have serious drawbacks, this, essentially, is life.
For whatever reasons, and it is well outside the scope of this series of posts to delve into those reasons, the facts are that the options being presented to Joe Public are trending to ever greater extremes of non-personalised central and automated control, and very small amounts of personalised individual and bespoke tailoring.
It is also outside the scope of this series of posts to delve into what the fuck we are all doing with the vast amounts of personal time liberated by giving up personal control, shades of the modern housewife with the washing machine, tumble dryer, dishwasher, microwave, refrigerator, freezer, mixer, juicer, electric can opener, toaster, hoover, spray cans of everything, disposable nappies and everything, and yet they have no time now to keep a house in order…
But, we can observe, since the personal is disappearing from computing, what are the future likely trends.
Well, if you were in the so called “Arab Spring” riots when the state turned off the mobile networks and internet access, having a copy of serval mesh on your android phone and a Cheshire Catalyst packet radio install / set up on your PC, you are either a dangerous subversive, or a go to guy, depending who has you in their sights.
The Serval Project ***IS*** PERSONAL, in the same sense of the word that personal computers were personal.
We can see right away, sadly, that the likes of John Ward at the Slog would be analogous to the classic 4 auto dealers at the crossroads….
Which, in closing part three of this series, gives us something else to think about, before part four.
As I and many others have discussed, in what I describe as Men vs Wimminz and Niggerz, men seek to understand and control and change the environment, wimminz and niggerz seek the easy way out, the short cut, the instant gratification.
Indeed, personal computing has always had this “criticism” levelled at it, it was not all inclusive, it wasn’t cuddly, it wasn’t easy, it didn’t come in pink… and then comes all the shaming language, it is sad, lonely, creepy, living in the basement.
Before I close, I want to take a diversion, into something that at first seems quite irrelevant.
I’m just about to get a new company car, as the lease has expired on the old one.
The new one has automatic lights, automatic wipers, parking sensors (it could have auto park and auto not hit things in front, for extra money) it could but doesn’t have an auto box, it even has an electronic handbrake, with auto hold, stop at the lights and it automatically applies and holds the brakes, until and unless I put it in gear and raise the clutch and depress the accelerator to move off.
This, make no mistake, is a COMPUTER CONTROLLED CAR, but, NOT a personal computer controlled car, I cannot change anything, I can’t change the engine mapping, the auto hold thresholds, the wiper thresholds, nothing.
None of you who have grown up since the computer revolution are really aware of how far these things have penetrated, and why the whole concept of personal computing is so fundamental and important.
Not everything is best done digitally in microseconds, a relaxing coffee, a leisurely shit, a good hard fuck, none of these things would be improved… and yet… when I was a lad, there was no choice, you flicked your zippo open a certain way, you smoked a certain cigarette, you had a way of walking, talking, dressing, the beat goes on, so in some sense I have sympathy for all these wimminz, which is all of them, on dating sites and suchlike demanding that men make an effort and not just the same old lines, but when all the expressions of individuality that we have are removed, and all we have is sterile text, what choice is there?
Even if a wimminz is not on a dating site, a fucking site, whatever, you still end up communicating via SMS, fuckbook update, email, whatsapp.
And also, back when I was a boy and before, you maybe had a “choice” of 50 eligible girls, as in that was the entire pool, now in the digital age, I can click through that many profiles on OKC in one minute.
Yes, this is all yet another aspect of The Personal Computer, or rather what happens when you have computing power that is NOT personal.
And so we move forward into an age they are calling “the internet of things” where everything from refrigerators to lightbulbs are going to be given processing power, and linked together, and yet again, none of it is PERSONAL.
*IF* you find any true personal computing done today in 2014, I guarantee it will be amongst that small sub-set of humanity that is the independent Man going his own way, not the wimminz, not the niggerz, not the corporations, not the states, not the religions or belief systems, not the communities.
It is a revolution AT LEAST as fundamental and significant to humanity as electricity and internal combustion combined, and yet it is a revolution that the majority of humanity want no personal involvement or effort or responsibility for, preferring instead the non-personalised, centralised and automated.
…to be continued in part four….