Saturday, March 24, 2012

Rain, Rain...

There's a ton I need to get done.  Primarily I have two more post holes to dig so I can finish putting together what I hope will become a doggie proof fencing system that will allow our animals to roam our expansive back yard, while keeping them from learning the meaning of the word "splat" by wandering down the road in the glooming while traffic is passing by.  However, rain apparently has decided to stymie our weekend plans, so... I'll do other things.

But that's not what I wanted to talk about.

Today I thought I would talk about the wonders of technology and how things have changed so dramatically in the last 20 years.  And while I could wax on continually about the internet, or our super duper giant televisions, what has been weighing on my mind this morning has been: interoperability.

Ok, so maybe ten years ago you would download a video file from the internet.  And your video player would take a long look at it, throw up its hands, and say "what the hell kind of file is that?"  There were a million different file formats - known by the oh so descriptive term "codecs", which is not to be confused with codex, or cotex, or Kojak.  Similar, an MS Works program couldn't be read or edited by MS Word (really Microsoft?  not happy denying other word processors access to your program, you actually segregate yourself in the same manner).  Our TV's had seven or eight thousand devices hooked up, creating such a cabling mess that we named it Gordon and took a sword to it (yes, you know the reference, come on).

By 2009, I had two devices hooked up the the TV: a cable box, and a PS3.  That's.  It.  Everything I needed before can be handled by those two devices and the TV.  I can play movies, games, stream from the internet wirelessly (and frankly I would be thrilled to get rid of the cable box, but our HD antennas haven't been able to pick up most of the local over-air HD broadcasts).  I can transfer a .pdf file directly to my Kindle Fire and know that I can open it and read it when I'm done, nothing else to install or change.  Heck, with a more recent TV you don't even need the PS3 to stream, some of them can do it natively now.  In the bedroom I have a Roku to stream Netflix and Hulu+, along with some lesser known channels (hey, look, I LIKE pottery, I do!).  Ok, not pottery...

Of course there are still limits to interoperability.  My OpenOffice documents can't be read natively in MS Office unless I save them in Office format.  No surprise there of course.  But theres' little doubt we can do WAY more and MUCH more easily then we could 20 years ago.  Instead of having to buy replacements for all my worn out, falling apart 2nd edition DnD books, I made digital scans, turned them into .pdfs, and now they reside securely on my Kindle, for easy access.  Take that, Bembridge Scholars!

So, we'll stay inside and clean the house today.  Later I'll introduce the oldest boys to DnD as I remember it (and down the road, we'll eventually upgrade to the modern stuff).  The fence will wait, the dogs will just have to try avoid the word splat for now.

It's raining, it's pouring... the doggies are snoring...

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