Postcards from the Bleeding Edge
Friday, October 17, 2003

  A different vision

I had a very different vision of what the internet in the home would look like 14 years ago.

I thought:

Everyone would have a dedicated IP address, and electronic mail would be delivered right to your server in the wall. (Email would then have the same privacy rights as private mail). Your internal network would be firewalled off from the outside, but you could let advanced services, like telephony and video conferencing in. You'd be able to access your home network from anywhere using a secure, encrypted connection.

Phone lines would go away to be replaced by ethernet jacks. New home and development builders would embed ethernet cable and fiber optic cable in the walls with jacks near nearly every electrical outlet. Where there wasn't cabling there'd be wireless - enough to cover the property and connect to 4 of your physical neighbors in a mesh network. Power through the home would be DC where appropriate, and served up via a central UPS that got power during the night from the electric company (when rates were low - during the week the nightly rates are 1/3 that as day), and powered through the day via solar.

Hard disks would be replaced by solid state memory. Doors would have LCD panels embedded in them with calendars, todo lists, graphic art, etc.

Computers - those square boxy things - would become stylish, incorporated into furniture, directly into monitors, into bookcases, and into lamps.

I thought we'd solve the speech recognition from anywhere in a room problem by now. When will DSP processing catch up to star trek?

Now I'm faced with the reality of an IP shortage, and a 70 year old house.

alright... now I'm really off to run some errands.

My electric is currently running at 80 dollars a month. In the winter it spikes to about 120-130 due to using an electric heater a little too often.

Aha, I remember what really bugs me. Nobody makes a timer that survives power failures. Either you use battery'd clocks or you run around fixing all the clocks in the house every time the power goes out - and there's clocks on the range, the coffee maker, the microwave, timers on the stereo.

Hmm. 802.11 wireless chips are getting cheaper, and so is bluetooth. Why not embed bluetooth into an electrical wall socket to control the power?
I've done this with X10 (got most of the parts around for the old system somewhere - we used to have the lava lamp flash when email arrived! But hooking it to the coffee maker didn't work - it used too much power for the appliance module to take) - doing it with wireless would let you control it from anywhere...

Hmmm.... another solution is to just have reliable power. Once I got a steal on gel batteries that could power a whole building of 60 people for a couple hours, cost about 7k. Another partial solution is to figure out exactly what uses power... hmm... maybe some more blankets on the bed this year - I got the woodstove to where I could run it for 12 hours at a time for about a week last winter - but it barely kept up with feburary...

Note to self - call electric company about variable meter. Also maybe about installing two meters.

Now... I'm really, really, really off to run some errands. with a tape deck in hand.
 
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David Täht writes about politics, space, copyright, the internet, audio software, operating systems and surfing.


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