Tuesday, March 12, 2002
Timeline tracks possible future of technology
By SANDRA BROWN KELLY
THE ROANOKE TIMES
When camera-watches move into the consumer market - Casio has one for $200 - you have to wonder about technology. Will insect-sized robots running around the garden and wiping out other wildlife become a real-life drama for 2020?
Ian Pearson and Ian Neild of BTexact Technologies in the United Kingdom predict the itty-bitty robots in a technology timeline the company began in 1991.
The timeline stretches for 23 pages in a PDF document and includes some scary information as well as intriguing notes.
You can find the paper at www.btexact.com/white_papers/downloads/WP106.pdf. Among the predictions:
2003: first synthetic organic life form.
2005: computers that write their own software.
2006: first artificial electronic life and first organism brought back from extinction.
2010: highest-earning celebrity is synthetic. (Why do I think 2010 already has happened? From watching music videos?)
When you get enough of the timeline, check out the company's main page at www.btexact.com. It links to sites for employees and to some ultra-sophisticated computer-technology related topics. At Ben Anderson's site, for example, you find citations for numerous publications, including some on broadband and consumer use of the Internet. At Keith Briggs' homepage, you find his talks on "How small are small worlds?" and the Markov chain models of TCP.
Tombstones and flowers
Reader Mary Williams of Pulaski provides this week's digital camera news by sharing tips for using her Olympus D-490 zoom camera to record tombstones relating to her genealogy research.
"I am dabbling in genealogy and also like to go to various cemeteries to make lists of all the stones. It is very time-consuming to try to write out all the information or expensive to take pictures with a 35 mm and have them developed," Williams wrote. "I have found that digital works fine for this purpose. The 8 MB card that came with the camera at the lowest resolution gives me 139 pictures, and the 32 MB card I bought will give me 399."
Initially, Williams hesitated to use the lowest resolution setting on her camera but finds it works well and produces readable stones. She transcribes the information on the stones from the screen and then erases the images.
She also reminds us that the camera cards are dropping in price. A year ago, she paid more than $100 for a 32 MB card, but she recently bought a 64 MB card for about $30.
Nothing solves the battery need, so it is necessary to have two sets of rechargeables, she said.
If you wish to take a look at some of Williams' non-cemetery art, check out the daylily photo album on her Web site, www.picturetrail.com/maryfrances/296651.
Bargains for MacHeads
Macintosh user group members get 20 percent off any O'Reilly book purchased at www.oreilly.com, according to Fred Hoffman, leader of the Mac Users' Group of Roanoke (MUGgeR). If you want the discount, attend a meeting and get the code for ordering. You can find out about the meetings at www.rvgs.k12.va.us (click on "MUGgeR" at the bottom of the page). The group meets the second Thursday of the month, September through June, which means it meets Thursday at the governor's school on the Patrick Henry grounds off Grandin Road. The meeting begins at 7 p.m. Hope to see you there.
MacAddict agazine also offers user group members a discounted subscription. Again, you need the code, which I have, but if you don't come to a users' group meeting and worship a Mac, you won't get it from me.
Casady & Greene, http://ug.casadyg.com, also likes Mac club members and offers the se new products:
Grammarian X, a grammar checker that supposedly works with all programs, $19.95.
Time Slice, software that tracks time and does billing, works on Macs and Windows, $19.95.
Captain Bumper, an arcade game for ages 6 and older, $19.95.
Glider Pro X, fly in paper airplane, $14.95 (now available for OS X).
You can reach free-lance writer SANDRA BROWN KELLY at firstname.lastname@example.org.