Sunday, January 1, 2012

A Technology Wish List for 2012

The end of the world might be here soon, but it's not too late to create your own tech Bucket List.

With more people acquiring technology in their homes, it's time we start using this stuff to actually improve our lives.  We have computers, but the local no-service Internet company is restricting your downloading.  We have smart phones, but few ways to use them smartly.  Here now are some ways you and your friendly neighborhood corporate entity to make our tech lives easier before the end of the world arrives.

Cease the practice of data download restrictions.  I understand that technology is moving towards portable devices and Internet content delivered by large and powerful corporations, which is causing a bandwidth problem; but, how I am supposed to enjoy a football game from my smartphone, or watch my favorite episodes on my computer if the local Internet provider is limiting my data download?  This asinine decision is coming from both economic stresses as well as a desire to drive people to use other means to get their programming, most notably with other pay services which that company already owns.  This is why AT&T, who owns both phone and television services, want you to watch their content on TV only.  They have no desire to see you use their data services to watch The Big Bang Theory on your smart TV or cell phone, when they can charge you a big fee to watch it on U-Verse.  With the technology ground shifting under both customers and corporations alike, redefining how we use every device, local Internet companies are threatening to stymie one of the most unprecedented technological periods in this or any time, by forcing a limit on future data downloads.  Stop this insane practice, and allow users to learn how to take advantage of their portable devices, to make their lives easier and more productive.
Offer pay television with only the stations you want. Do you know that 238,000 left Comcast in Q2 2011, and that the cable company has lost almost 2 million subscribers since Q2 2010?  Dish and Direct are facing similar pressures, which tells you something about people's priorities.  Sure, some of these subscribers land with a competitor, but a growing number of people are leaving pay television for Internet downloading and OTA, myself included.  Pay-for-TV companies need to recognize that their traditional models of offering a gagillion channels, most of which neither want nor want to pay for, is outdated and cannot survive in a stagnant economy such as ours.  It's time to offer packages where we choose the stations we want, which should drive down prices and improve quality.  Do anything less, and people like me will stick to our OTA, torrents, and HULUs.
Introduce voice commands on all future computers, tablets, and smart phones.  With the advent of the iPhone 4s and XBOX360, it's clear that voice-to-text tech is here to stay.  We now live in an age where tech such as this should be incorporated into everything with a chip and monitor; voice-to-text has been offered on Office platforms for years, yet the trend is only catching on.  Imagine how such tech could assist the elderly in making a phone call, or someone with limited movement surf the web.  And while you're at it, throw a little Artificial Intelligence in there, so users feel they are actually talking to someone.  In this age of text messages, a little pseudo-human interaction wouldn't hurt.
Recognize the importance of CableCard.  This technology, which allows you to watch cable or satellite television without a converter box, has shown up only in only limited ways (quad tuner cards).  Imagine not having to use the local company's slow, constantly breaking down DVR box (Comcast, I'm lookin' right at ya!), and going with a TIVO box, or something you build yourself.  Get this tech into people's hands, and stop making it so damn hard to find.  It streamlines our Home Theatre parade of components, and it offers consumers more choices.
Build a national hi-speed rail.  If you have been to other countries, you know the importance that HSR plays in getting people great distances.  Our country has been pathetically slow to introduce this, and the California system appears in real trouble.  Building a national HSR puts people back to work, offers travelers a fast and (hopefully) cheaper alternative to flight (think Sacramento to LA in 2 hours), and sends the message that America can stand up technologically to the Japans and Europes of the world. 
Get Americans back into space.  I cannot state this enough times: Americans deserve to be in space.  The idea that we have to send our astronauts to a rocket pad in a foreign country disgusts me.  We are the home to Glenn, Armstrong, Young, and Ride.  We are the nation that builds the space station and sends ships to other planets.  We are not hitchhikers on the cosmic train.  Unleash American ingenuity and build a spaceship using existing Apollo and Shuttle rocket technology, or get a private entity to do so.  It's ridiculous we don't have a mission planned to the moon, or any idea when we'll get to Mars.  At this rate, I would have more luck building the damn thing myself.
Make data integrity and security a top priority.  iCloud...Skydrive...Amazon security.  Like the old Seasame Street song, one might ask which of these things is not like the other.  Data security seems like the last thing on developer's minds these days.  Think about the break-ins at Sony this summer, or the seemingly endless news about sensitive data being stolen.  The reason why this data is constantly 'mined' is simple: users and the keepers of our data refuse to incorporate greater security precautions for fear of losing interest or customers.  Add European protections to American credit card transactions, and theft nearly disappears.  Require every email to be sent encrypted with a unique signature, one that is sent by the user and opened up with a unique identifier on the receiving end, and you eliminate spam (Leo Laporte has referred to this concept on his show many times, all with the same result).  Until users demand that their data be fully secured, we run the risk of another Sony or Sutter Health.  I don't know about you, but I'm getting tired of them.
Replace George Lucas' brain with the one he had circa 1982.   I always throw a little zinger into these things, but when was the last time Lucas made a good movie without the help of Steven Spielberg?  It's time we Science Fiction Heads took control, kidnap McFatty from his THX throne, and travel back in time to secure the REAL George Lucas.  Not only will not allow fans film interpretations of his universe (which would be so much better than Clone Wars), but he's now buying the rights to dead actors in the hopes of CGI-ing them into a movie.  I kid you not...This man lost his lightsaber a long time ago.  From Jar Jar to mediclorines, George Lucas has sinned upon his own church.  Let Jedi's and Siths join together to find a way to replace Lucas' brain with his 1982 version.  If we can make Siri, time travel can't be that far behind.