November 18, 2001-- Newsletter #157

By Joe Burns

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November 18, 2001--Newsletter #157

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Greetings, Weekend Silicon Warriors,

Now on to today's topic...

OK then. I have a desktop. No. Wait. I want it smaller. Actually, I want the tower smaller. I want the monitor bigger. Well, I want it bigger but not as deep. In fact, I'd like it...uh...wait. I'd like my computer portable. Yeah. That's it. I want to walk around with it. OK. Now I have a laptop. I'd like it really thin...but with a full-sized keyboard. No...wait. Maybe I need something I can put in my pocket. You know, something like a really small computer. OK, now I have a PDA. Perfect. Now I have all sizes, all shapes, all powers, and I'm set.

No...wait. Is there something I can get that's kind of right in the middle? I want something that not quite as bulky as a laptop and a bit bigger than the PDA. Oh yeah, and I want to hold it like a stone plank and walk around with it like someone from ancient Rome. I might even put on a toga just for the office parties.

Is this you? It may not be now, but given a few months, you may find yourself asking just these questions.

Always thinking, Bill Gates decided to use the COMDEX meeting in Las Vegas to announce the future of personal computing. It's called, "The Tablet."

If you've not heard of a tablet computer then you've not been reading all the tiny articles in the very back of extremely tech-heavy magazines. Gates claims that he's been pitching tablet computers since 1999. The problem is that until now, the software to run these tablets hasn't been available or simply didn't work very well.

Here's the basic concept of a tablet. Take a rectangle. Make it about the size of a piece of paper. Make the face of the rectangle almost all screen. There should be very few buttons or other "touchable" elements on the face.

People will communicate with the tablet by either speaking to it or by writing on it. Internet connections will be made though a wireless system. Current wireless systems can run up to 11 megabits. Image what they'll run in two years.

The tablet will be an all-inclusive device. It will be your desktop when you arrive in to the office and jam it into the docking station. It will be the pad you take with you to make your notes at the meeting. It will be your PDA. It will be your Web connection. It will gather your email. It will allow you to make cellular phone calls. It will be surgically implanted in your left arm.

Ok, I'm lying about the surgery thing, but the rest is true.

If you're anything like me, you want to stand firm and proclaim that the tablet is just another silly gadget and that you'll stay away from it while inside you are secretly drooling, wishing you could buy one right now.

"Sit tight," says Gates. The first ones should be out round about Christmas 2002 and in "common" use by 2005.

Once I have it, I'll have everything. That is...until they come out with the mini-tablet. That's the one you take with a glass of water and take notes by patting Morse code on your stomach. Printing with that one's not very pleasant either.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

That's that. That's for reading. I'm still glad to be writing if only to the end of the year.

Joe Burns, Ph.D.

And Remember: Contrary to popular belief, Thomas Crapper did not invent the flush toilet. Crapper was a successful plumbing businessman who held nine patents, but none were for the flushing system. That honor goes to Albert Giblin who first held the patent on the "silent valveless water waste preventer." Giblin, who worked for Crapper, either sold him the rights or just allowed him to use them under a work-for-hire agreement. Either way, U.S. soldiers who spent time in England before going to battle noticed that most of the toilets had "T. Crapper-Chelsea" printed on them. There's your nickname.

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