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Computer Care: High-technology use has exploded in the last decade
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The first 10 years of life goes by the slowest. Think about it. You’re a child and you go to school. Every day is pretty much the same as the last. The monotony seems to go on forever. Every decade thereafter though, seems to quicken the pace somewhat.

In contrast, this past decade flew by. It seems like we were just anticipating the new millennium and here we are looking at 2010. But look back on what technology has given us in the last decade.

The cell phone grew up, along with personal computers and Internet use. We put iPods in our pockets, Bluetooth to our ears and plasma in our televisions. We love them and can’t live without them. Although it seems we’ve had this technology forever, it hasn’t been very long at all.

Consider looking back even further for a moment. We have come a long way. Post-World War II, we still had black-and-white televisions with rabbit ears and dial telephones with cords. We listened to monaural records and loved them. There were no cell phones, microwaves or space shuttles. Blackberries grew wild and computers were giant things that the government used. We are advancing at an incredible rate.

At the turn of the previous century, we were still getting used to the ideas of automobiles and light bulbs. Look how far we have come in that relatively short period of time from Edison and Ford to Jobs and Gates.

In the past year alone, our computers got smaller, faster and cheaper. We got a new version of Windows, perhaps not totally new, but a whole lot better than Vista. Google gave us the Chrome browser as an alternative to Internet Explorer and Firefox. Cell phones matured and got smarter over the last 10 years. Mobile computing has grown to the point that there are now laws against driving while texting (DWT?)

Gmail and the iPhone both grew up and grew in popularity. Facebook took off like nothing before. As of November, it reached more than a quarter-billion users. Consider it has only been around since 2003. To put that in perspective, ponder the following: Radio was around for 38 years before it had a mere 50 million listeners. It took television 13 years to gain that much of an audience. The Internet took only four years, in the U.S. alone, to reach 50 million users.

Computer use is said to reach the 2 billion mark this coming year. It hit 1 billion worldwide in 2002. The iPod sold 20 million units late this year. Facebook surpassed 300 million users in seven short years. The personal computer itself did not initially see that kind of growth.

Not everyone uses Gmail or has an iPhone, but it seems like everyone does have a Facebook account and at least one computer. We do love our technology.

So what will it have in store for us in the future? Well in the next year anyway, there will be some advancements.

Intel and AMD say we will see more cores added to our computer processors next year. We currently have dual and some quad cores. USB 3.0 will be out this spring, supposedly. It will be lots faster than its predecessors. Although backward compatible, the new hardware will come with a new plug. Just what I need; more cables.

Windows 7 will probably have its initial service pack, SP1 in 2010. All the "suites" will have their 2010 versions. I foresee Tune-Up 2010, Comodo 2010, Kaspersky, McAfee and Norton 2010, but I’m just speculating. Office 2010 will be there for certain, as it is already out in beta now.

I imagine touch screens will make more of a presence this coming year. Mobile computing will continue to grow as the ubiquitous cell phone matures.

We will undoubtedly be taking more to the road in coming years. The mobile office is the new wave.

Faster Wi-Fi and Ethernet is just around the corner. More municipalities will offer free Wi-Fi. Currently you may only find it in a few cities or coffee shops. New York City has a handful of free hot spots with more on the way. So does Seattle, Los Angeles, Denver and Cincinnati.

Even locally, until recently places like Starbucks offered Wi-Fi at a fee. But now it is free there, as well as at Panera’s, Atlanta Bread Company, Cici’s Pizza and a few other places around Gainesville.

The new multi-core Star Trek-like products will supposedly enhance our home office and home lifestyles. Many things will be tied together or networked – and not just our computers, either.

Ten years ago we couldn’t imagine hanging our TVs on the wall or communicating like Capt. Kirk. Today it’s a reality. It appears that Scotty is indeed getting ready to beam us aboard.

I don’t know about you, but I look forward to knowing what future technology lies around the corner in the coming decade. I only hope this one goes by more slowly.

Mr. Scott — Energize!

Arthur Glazer is a freelance writer and computer technician in Gainesville. His column appears biweekly. Arthur welcomes your computer questions and ideas for future columns.

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