Friday, August 01, 2003

"Technology happens. It's not good, it's not bad. Is steel good or bad?"

Andrew Grove was the one that said the quote above. I do not remember if it was in one of his books or in a magazine article, so I will just give him the credit for it without being able to provide a specific reference.

So I haven't been updating this blog quite as regularly as I would like because I have been away from my computer. Actually not away from my computer, but in places where it was inconvenient to jack in my computer. Why is that? Isn't this the age of wireless everything? Don't cell phones connect to the Internet and isn't there high-speed just floating everywhere through the ether?

NO. At least not yet. WiFi is definitely here, and the hardware is cheap, but you still need a wired connection on the back-end that provides the physical connection to the Internet. Oh, and by the way, for those of you that just have a wireless router, hub, antenna hooked up in your house -- a kid with a laptop and a Pringles can could be in your system right now. You see, in the rush to get to market quickly, the people behind the "WiFi Revolution" did not revolutionize wireless security. Ever wonder why that big company you work for isn't blowing wireless all over your office building -- ask your network manager, she'll tell you: it's expensive to do right.

A minute on cellular. The United States is dramatically behind the rest of the world in cellular technology. Why is that? Because our major cellular companies could not agree on a single wireless standard and our Government did not mandate a single wireless standard. Consequently, you will hear words like CDMA, TDMA, GPRS, GSM, IDEN, PCS whenever you go to get a new phone. We're getting there (AT&T Wireless is currently running 2 networks, 1 TDMA and 1 GPRS -- welcome to mLife), but we are getting there much slower than the rest of the world. I use a Nextel phone and I love it. Other people hate Nextel phones. What I like is that the phones are designed for business -- no fufu graphics all over the place, more technical menus, the radio feature, pretty good Internet service, the ability to use the phone as a wireless modem . . . I tried to switch back to AT&T fairly recently, and found that I could not live without the 2-way radio feature, the Internet, and the wireless modem features that Nextel offers, so I switched back. But regardless of who you love or hate in the wireless business, there is no one that makes a phone and offers the service to allow me to update this blog without plugging in my laptop somehow. Of course, maybe if I had the ability to update this blog with my cell phone, I would feel too tied down. Maybe I like the idea of electing not to plug in my computer. See -- not good, not bad . . . the technology is what it is.

It's funny if you step back and look at it -- the dot com revolution, the warp speed economy that was associated with all of the dot coms (before they went bust) really made it seem like technology was increasing exponentially. But was it really? A lot of the technology and a lot of the companies that became household names during the dot com boom were already developing the technology that seemed so new and cool, and, by the way, they continue to develop and implement technology now that they are again out of the limelight. Cisco is still developing new routers and switches to route Internet traffice, Sun is still building servers, other companies you've never heard of are still moving technology forward (and not just Internet technology).

Technology is happening all around us and will continue to happen all around us. If I see some cool technology that someone is using in an airport, a restaurant, on a plane, etc. I will always ask them what it is, and they will almost always answer that question along with their opinion of it. Interesting . . . we're sitting in an airplane that is a major piece of aerospace technology (ask Boeing about the technology in the wing alone) and the person wants too give me their opinion of a MP3 player.