Technology Ceases to Be Amazing
Technology has moved so quickly that some of the things we now take for granted are really technological wonders.
For instance, with a few clicks of the mouse, I can post a picture on my website or upload a video to YouTube. Within minutes, that photo or video is viewable to everyone in the world, even though they may be on the other side of the planet.
I can use my computer and a program like Skype to not only talk to, but also to see my daughter and her family in Sweden.
Recently, when my granddaughter lost a tooth, she put her head in front of the video camera on the computer and opened her mouth for me to see the missing tooth. I could not only see the missing tooth but also could actually see her tonsils, as well. I was seeing something from more than 4,000 miles away as clearly as if it was in the same room.
Sitting in front of my computer, I can now view the entire universe with a free program called Google Earth. It lets me fly to any place in the world and see a satellite or 3D image of that area. It also lets me see images from outer space.
I can also use a website called Google Maps to see my own neighborhood. I just enter my address and click on Satellite View, and I can see my entire city and neighborhood from the sky. When I click on Street View, I can see photos of my home. When I use my mouse to drag the picture from side-to-side, I can view all of the surrounding homes.
On my Kindle or iPad, I can be traveling down the highway at 70 mph and download a book at the same time. (Don't worry, I have only done this when I was a passenger.) I can sit at the beach and get the latest newspaper downloaded to my device in an instant.
My Droid X cell phone can be used as a wireless hotspot. So I can use it to get my laptop online even if there is no WiFi connection available. I may not be using this too much, as WiFi is now becoming more and more ubiquitous.
I can now hook up to the Internet at McDonald's, Starbucks, Panera Bread, Cold Stone Creamery and a myriad of other restaurants. In fact, I can even get free WiFi at many other places as well, including some shopping centers and parks. That brings a whole world of information to my fingertips.
If I can't remember the star of a certain movie or I don't know where Mozambique is, I can get an answer instantly from Google. I can even hum a song into the computer microphone and have the Internet give me the name of the song, the composer and a wealth of other information about the song.
Without purchasing any film, I can take pictures with my digital camera and view them immediately. I can hook my camera up to my television and show my pictures to friends and family. My camera can keep the picture steady even when my hand is a bit shaky. It can instantly remove red eye and is smart enough to know when my subject is smiling.
My photo software, a free program called Windows Live Photo Gallery, can quickly stitch together a panorama view. It can even merge several pictures together so that if my daughter blinks in one photo, but everything else is perfect, I can move her head from another photo into the one with the perfect background. This is all done automatically, without my having to know how to clip, paste or move anything.
Technology like this now happens every day, yet when you stop to think about it, all of this is truly amazing. It makes you wonder where we are going next. What will technology bring us in the next five or 10 years?
Let me give you a few things to ponder.
People in Japan are already using their cell phones to pay for purchases. Google has already road-tested cars that can drive themselves using artificial intelligence software that can feel everything around the car and mimic the decisions made by a human driver.
Printers that hook up to the Internet without a computer are already commonplace, and other Internet-connected appliances such as washing machines and refrigerators are starting to appear. RFID tags that are smaller than a grain of rice are now being used to track inventory at several large retailers such as Walmart.
Biometric identification is already here. You can now be identified by your fingerprints, retina scans and even by the shape and size of your ears. Band Aid-type sensors now have the ability to monitor your bodily functions, and work is being done to develop similar sensors that can monitor your blood.
Technology is moving quickly. Don't miss out. If you are not yet online, now is the time to get onboard.
Check out Google Maps, Google Earth and Skype. Get a digital camera to see all that you can do with it. You may even want to get an e-book reader like the Kindle, a smart phone, or a tablet PC like an iPad.
And think about the future. Let your imagination go wild because the next five or 10 years are sure to be a wild ride for all of us.
Send your computer-related questions for publication in this column to Sandy Berger at Computer Living Corp., P.O. Box 5895, Pinehurst N.C. 28374; or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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