Thursday, February 23, 2012

General Purpose Computers ROCK (Bob Was Wrong)

In 1997, I had the following conversation with a friend-who-shall-not-be-named. Let's call him Bob. We were at a funeral, walking away from the grave site.

Bob: "Desktops are dead. Dead, I tell you."

Cathy: "Really? I'm not so sure about that." I had nine desktops at home. I did not like what he said.

Bob: "When have I ever led you wrong?"

Cathy, thinking: "Never, at least not that I can remember."

Bob was (and still is) brilliant: freakishly brilliant and funny. He looks like a tall version of John Stewart. He also has Stewart's wicked sharp wit. Heaven forbid the two of them are ever in the same room.

Bob worked on 3D printers for the masses 20 years ago when the printers were 100% dream and vision. Bob helped design the first car airbags. When driving around town with Bob, he is prone to pointing out the various parts in elevators, building security systems, so much infrastructure that contains some of his code. And this knowledgeable, savvy Bob says, "Desktops are dead". Grr.

When I hear Jim Zemlin say "___ is the Year of the Linux Desktop" I think of Bob.

When we at ZaReason design and launch a new desktop that rocks the previous model, I think of Bob.

I now officially declare this is the first time Bob was wrong. Wrong, dead wrong.

See, the general purpose computer, the classic desktop is the last refuge of free and open source code. It is one of the few places that hasn't been locked down by device-specific limitations and if ZaReason can grow strong enough, fast enough, general purpose computing will be very much a part of our future. Who else is going to bother shipping old school desktops when there are tablets and 3D phones to distract us?

The realization of why the general purpose computer is so vital to our future success and freedom comes from Cory Doctorow, ironically. He is a sci fi writer. Shouldn't he be talking about implanted chips and robotic body parts? No, he is talking about desktops such as the Ion Breeze 5660 or the Limbo 6000A.

The best thing to watch tonight. You will thank me tomorrow:

"The Coming War On General Computing"

General purpose computers ROCK.

They are the little black dress of computing.

Bob, you were wrong. Now, I am going to go check with the shipping guys to make sure they are packing today's desktops with extreme care so these machines can last for many years to come.

And did I say, "Bob you were wrong"? Well, Bob you were wrong.

(photo by Tiago Chediak, Little Black Dress - Brazillian model Gisele B√ľndchen at the Fashion Rio Inverno 2)

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