Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Here in the Future

Today's Bizarro is sponsored by My New TV Series.

It is difficult for me to completely grasp, but Americans under 30-or-so cannot remember a time before computers were ubiquitous. I'm not all that old, as you can see from this dashing recent photo of me, but I never even saw a desktop computer in person until I was an adult and didn't learn to use one until I was in my thirties. Even hand-held calculators were rare and expensive when I was in high school. I learned to type on a typewriter like the one in this cartoon and the closest thing to spell-check that existed was my mom and a pocket dictionary.

I may sound like an old geezer but the speed at which technology has moved in the past 30 years makes a person's head spin. There is nothing to indicate that it will slow down in the near future, but at the current exponential rate that it is moving, sometime next month we'll have personal robots that respond to voice commands, be teleporting from coast to coast using only our thoughts, and the Internet will appear as a 3-D hologram hovering in front of us.

More to the point of this cartoon, computers actually did get too small to use. The most advanced cell phones of a only a couple years ago did everything the early desktop computers did but the keypads were so small and inefficient you might as well have been using Morse code and an abacus. Thank god for the ingenious new designs by Apple (again) and the new generation of phone screens and keyboards. How did we get by without them?

I know that when I describe the way my family and I lived when I was a kid, I sound like Abraham Lincoln reading by candlelight in a log cabin. But seriously, compared to now, we were practically barbarians squatting in tents in the wilderness. If you're currently a high school kid, chances are that by the time you're my age your description of today's Internet, email, texting, digital TV, etcetera, will seem like cavemen banging on logs with sticks. Get used to it.

That's if modern human civilization still exists by then, which is very unlikely, so never mind.

35 comments:

isee3dtoo said...

This was another missing symbol miscount. I found 6 on this one.

Anonymous said...

Seriously. Hidden symbols in your strip? Are Goofus and Gallant next?

isee3dtoo said...

As a Mechanical Engineer the great innovation period is over for my profession. We will still have interesting innovations in energy and power. However, the simple fact my grand-mother's first car was 1-horse power (an actual one-horse powered buggy) in the Dakota Territory and she witnessed a man walking on the moon was the grand era of the mechanicals.

We are still in the grand era for electrical engineers, smaller and smaller electrical components and communications at faster and faster speeds. The tech is exciting.

It is true that we are in the nano-tech age for mechanical engineers but a nano-sized motor will never compare to a Saturn-V rocket booster. I am dreaming of ultra-fast mag-lev trains that will allow me to go from Key West to Portland Maine in 6 hours including all the stop time in the big cities. That would be cool.

Anonymous said...

Seriously. Someone who reads Bizarro, posts on the blog and still doesn't know about hidden symbols? Are Beavis and Butthead next?

isee3dtoo said...

I hear you, Dude needs a life

Waiting for Bizarro to count the syymbols. Do you look for waldo to?

Jeremy said...

Totally isee3dtoo!

The funny thing is, as Dan seems to see tech accelerating, I see it as being too slow. I remember being shown picture of how a mag-lev monorail would work and being told they will be all over the place, etc, etc. I have not seen a single one. They may exist, but not that I have seen in Oregon. I remember seeing all sorts of tech as a kid that never came to be. Hoverboards from Back to the Future is one that I remember being rumoured a lot.

As it happens, Dan, I went from a Motorola RAZR to an iPhone on Friday. I freaking LOVE it!! I have been using PalmOS devices since PalmOS 1.0 on the Palm 5000. But that was 14 years ago. Not as fast as Dan would have you think.


I have been an Apple fanatic for over 15 years, so this is my Mecca really.

isee3dtoo said...

Hey Impostor Me--

Yes, I count the symbols and even do Where's Waldo. In fact, the research I did during my post-doc, that is something you do after you get a Ph.D., at the Army Research Lab I used Where's Waldo as an aid to help soldiers find camouflaged combatants.

When you make it out of Jr. High and stop being an idiot impostor I might explain how crossing your eyes to "find the six difference in this photo" can also be used to find roadside explosives faster. That might also explain the I-See-3D-Too screen name.

Just because I have a brain doesn't mean I can't enjoy trying to find where Dan hid the upside down bird. However, the morbid fascination of using other people's screen names tells me you need a life more than I do.

Cheers

guy who trapped monkey girl said...

isee3dtoo - Maybe if you got away from gov't work you might get excited about what is going on in the world. (not a cut at you or co-workers but the "labs" can get stifling) Yes, roughly 10+ years ago it became an EE world but you are correct that the new wave of tech is in the energy field.

As for finding symbols, waldo, et al, (to fly my Star Trek freak flag) paraphrasing Spock: "the more intellectually the mind, the more the need for simple entertainment" (or something close to that)

isee3dtoo said...

Monkey Guy:-- I don't work for the government, that was a post-doc, post-docs don't last forever, in my case it was a one year affair. However, after 5 years working on SDI (Star Wars to some) at a National Lab plus the two prior years of ICBM guidance and control, I said screw this. One of my jobs was to simulate how well a launching ICBM would survive in a nuclear war with nukes going off in the neighborhood; when you get that briefing it gets really really serious and the fun in life goes away.

However, I am very excited about technology. Click on my profile, I teach it. I have the greatest teaching job one can image. I teach the final design project for ME's & EE's. In one week I advise 12 projects and I find myself talking human powered water pumps one hour and the next I am making an iPhone run a semi-autonomous ROV. The great age of ME is over but it doesn't make ME's obsolete, it just means we get more creative. The micro-processor is fun and to make one shoot a 3-point shot and make it is even more fun.

I do get annoyed though by twits who steal my screen name. So as Spock might say, "pointing out a twit can be considered simple entertainment".

guy who trapped monkey girl said...

"...post-docs don't last forever." Hum... I am assuming then you were not at Stanford? Those guys could make them last a couple of life times.

Ok Stanford Jokes...
Q: What is the hardedst thing about Stanford?
A: Getting in...
(I audited a couple of classes there while living the the dot.com days and it is true)

Q: How will you know when you meet a Stanford man?
A: He would have told you within the first two minutes of meeting him.
(another truism)

isee3dtoo said...

Monkey Guy: I worked at Exponent (Failure Analysis) in Menlo Park and was surrounded by Stanford and MIT (Miss-Informed Troll) types. I noticed that an undergrad degree from big-name graduate schools is worthless. On the other hand a Stanford, MIT, Cal graduate degree is usually impressive. Stanford for years had a policy that you could drop a class up to finals week. This allowed any student who was not getting an A to drop and retake without it showing up on their transcripts. The result of that policy was everyone gets an A.

The sad thing is the high school students who kill themselves trying to get into those schools. It is not worth it (unless you go to Stanford for sports) you get a better education at a community college than you do at any school known for their Ph.D. or Nobel prize winners. There is one exception- CalTech, the school for the walking brain, but the social skills are missing with those folks.

Schools like Rose Hulman, Harvey Mudd, Olin College of Engineering - programs that don't offer a Ph.D. are incredible engineering programs. The university I am at ranks in the top 10 with those schools but it is starting the Ph.D. program and you can already tell that money and not education matters most. Greed sucks the life from education and what is sad is they don't need the money.

doug nicodemus said...

nice cartoon dan. what is the difference between humerous and funny?

FIDO said...

"I like toast."

Jeremy said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

isee3dtoo posting as "anonymous" #2? Sad, indeed.

bbonds44 said...

It seems to me like jeremy has been rendering quite the acid tongue lately.

Could bizarro's once biggest fan feel betrayed.

Robert Finis said...

Information tech has been amazingly quick during my lifetime, and mechanical tech amazingly slow. I agree that EE has the spotlight right now (after all, I'm a CS grad student), but I agree with jeremy that ME is too slow right now (I don't blame the engineers- the problems have gotten harder). I grew up being told I'd have a jet pack in the 21st century, damnit! Where's my jet pack/ flying car/ maglev train/ vtol airliner/ autonomous car/ cold fusion/ self sustaining fusion/ permanent manned presence on the moon/ fuel cell car/ solar house/ space elevator? If all (or half that) happened in a single lifetime, it would certainly be a second golden age for ME. But yes, most of those are related to improvements in energy production and materials science. There's just so much we could do if there was a way to get a few gigawatt-hours safely out of something the size of a deck of cards, or produce a material cheaply with the hardness of a diamond and the tensile strength of a carbon nanotube with reasonable density.
Impossible goals (right now), but things which would lead to huge advancements in technology.

bbonds44 said...

Robert,

Use more than one paragraph and we might be interested in your B.S.

shipping troll said...

Maglev trains are running in Japan and Germany. Why not here? Ask you local Bar association. I am sure that as soon as they are here someone will find a way to get themselves killed or seriously injured and the lawyers will have a ball with it. There has been one in the "planning stages" for years in California. ( at least according to a History Channel show from 2006 or so. ) There is a great episode of Modern Marvels that deals with trains and the Maglev is featured. They are amazing to see.

Anonymous said...

jeremy has been posting under other names recently too

Jeremy said...

Anonymous,

What other names do I post under?

Anonymous has been posting under no name!

Anonymous said...

Finally, something entertaining on this blog.

isee3dtoo said...

i think isee3dtoo is posting as six different people on her.

Hes already admitted to being Fran

pedgalad said...

what does k2 mean?

Jeremy said...

Pedgala,

http://www.bizarro.com/symbols/index.htm

You can find out about all of the secrets symbols there.

Yet Another Steve said...

Doug Nicodemus asks, "what is the difference between humerous and funny?"

Glad to be of help! The "humerus" is the arm bone that runs from your elbow to your shoulder. So, we may presume that "humerous" means "like an arm bone" or, maybe, "army."

The FUNNY bone, on the other hand, is the shin bone, one of two that runs from your knee to your ankle. So, the difference between one and the other your entire torso, or, more succinctly, army jokes.

I hope this clarifies the issue for you.

bbonds44 said...

Steve,

Many thanks, now we call all sleept onight. I bet you guys $5 that Piraro has done "it" before.

munchy365 said...

In that photo, are you the one on the right?

munchy365 said...

Woah. I read all the comments and now I'm confused. Who is isee3dtoo's impostor? "Anonymous"? Jeremy? Wha? Who is Fran?

derekamalo said...

Guys,

i promised dan i wouldn't post again for a while as i get out of control. Could all the pseudonyms is that how you spell it please chek there spelling. im the worse typer in existance. is this a ploy however?

KtM said...

If this cartoon is any indication of the future, I'm sure happy I've kept my electric typewriter. Now if I can only remember where I put my abacus. Wait a minute; what's an abacus?

Robert Finis said...

bbonds44: Can't be bothered, don't really care. When I really care whether people read or not, I'll get my own blog. As it is, I don't see that happening.

FIDO said...

It's quite obvious the other isee3is Jeremy and he's Fran to.

Fran said...

Yes, as a matter of fact, I am Jeremy.

Jodie said...

Dear Dan,
I was a Computer Science major in college (1978-1982). I had an electric typerwriter for papers. The first year I did Fortran programs on PUNCH CARDS. Those things have gone the way of Dinosaurs. My husband the writer is a bit older than me and had one of the first Macs in his Nixon TX newspaper business. I learned computers on the mainframe and didn't see a "micro-computer" lab until my junior or senior year. It had 3 early PC's: an Apple II and two other ancient pre-IBM PC. The first IBM PCs had two 5 1/4" floppy drives and 64K memory. And we thought that was the BEST thing! Ten megabyte hard disk drives soon following in the mid-80s and the race to now was ON. My first portable machine was an early Compaq. It had a tiny green screen and two floppy drives and weighed 30 pounds at least. We called those luggables instead of portables. Now a laptop weighs under 5-6 pounds has 1 to 3 Gigabytes (1000 x 1 megabyte) of internal memory and 100+ Gigabytes of hard disk storage. I just paid $349.00 for one from Compaq!!! You're right the world has changed radically since 1980, less than 30 years! In high school my parents did buy me an early scientific Texas Instruments calculator to use in chemistry and physics class... it was $100. The numbers were LED style and red. I just finished working 20 years for Texas Instruments (laid off in January). It's a small world!!!