Thursday, October 28, 2010

Two for one: the future is awesome 3 and 4

I missed yesterday (inauspicious, missing a goal two days in) but I'll make up by doing two today:

3.  CPU cycles are so cheap as to be practically free

While excessive wasting of CPU cycles still bugs me (do I REALLY need something checking to see if updates for Acrobat/Flash/iTunes are available 24/7?), I LOVE the fact that CPU cycles are so cheap that we can waste them on GOOD stuff- operating system eye candy, virtual machines that let me write extremely simple code to do REALLY complex stuff that is highly portable (*cough* PYTHON *coughcough*), and data compression that lets high bandwidth analog come through even fairly narrow (by modern standards) pipes with great quality.

4.  Text messaging

I LOVE text messaging.  Not the "omg lol i cant bleve u sed that" kind (as a grammar snob that stuff annoys me, although from a technical standpoint, it shouldn't), but the simple fact that it is (arguably) as information dense a means of communication as I can imagine.

The 160 character limit (artificial in this world of essentially unlimited bandwidth that's too cheap to meter) as well as the clunky UI (a limit of the small input device) means that we've adapted to pack a lot of information into a short message.  In my case, it tends to be "Pick up milk" or "Missed my bus"- messages that, transmitted by speech over the phone would involve lots of noise (chit-chat about how the day was, greetings, farewells, etc etc- stuff that can wait until I get home).  The ratio of truly important data to time required to read/write it is astronomical; I can read a text message in less time than it takes to dial the phone.

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