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first post for 2012

Being this is 1 Jan 2012, obviously not much has happened this year yet, so I'm just going to talk about some general stuff, plans, predictions, etc.

Music

I wasn't able to get a song out for the end of 2011 (I just wasn't inspired), but I'm going to try for one this month.

Gigging is also going to happen soon.

Weather

The small CT town I grew up in is going to get slammed with bitter cold this week. Tuesday will be the worst, with a high of 21 F and a low of 5 F. And yes that literally means it will be at least 11 degrees below freezing all day and all night. The forecast also says that it will stay below freezing until Thursday with a high of 34 F.

Tuesday here in Tampa is also going to be bitter (as far as Florida is concerned) with a high of 52 and a low of 27. Yes, it does actually reach freezing temperatures here, but only for a few hours and only very early in the morning. After that there will be no more freezing temperatures for the week.

Tech

I have a few predictions here, some of which will probably surprise a few of you.

The 10-inch tablet will die

There are 3 flavors of tablets. "Big" smartphones (5-inch), small tablets (7-inch) and iPad-sized (just about 10-inch).

I don't see a future for the 10-inch tablet. For the smaller 5 and 7-inch variants, yes. Why? Because they're just more convenient. Ultimately, the one that will win out is the one that fits in the pocket because that's the true go-anywhere size. Otherwise, it's just a poor excuse for a laptop.

If Facebook goes public, it will destroy itself

There's rumblings that Facebook will do the IPO thing this year, and that basically spells out doom because that's exactly what happened with the dot-com bubble from 1999-2002. A whole bunch of companies with piles and piles of investor cash back then had all the money in the world but couldn't make a dime from any of it. The same thing is happening with social now. Social media advertising simply does not work and never did.

Imagine what will happen when all the investors find out Facebook makes no money from their ads. Do I have to spell it out for you?

The gaming industry will crash. Again.

Back in 1983 the video game industry bit the big one, and it's getting close to that point again, but differently this time around. The consoles are too expensive as are the games. And whoever thinks smartphones are going to be the new gaming platform has rocks in their head, because if Nintendo couldn't do it with the 3DS, smartphones obviously won't.

At least one major computer OEM will drop consumer PCs

My bet here is that Apple will dump the iMac and mini, but it won't happen until very late in the year. They will still make the Mac Pro and their notebook line, but there will be no more consumer PCs from Apple. If Apple drops the other shoe and does that, Dell, HP and others will follow suit in 2013. The only new PCs that will be available will be for corporate accounts only.

As a result, a surge will occur in the computer components market, making building PCs a very popular thing all over again because, well, those who prefer PCs over laptops and phones (and there's a ton of those people) won't have any other choice.

Desktop instant messaging apps will get back in use again

Facebook will be leading the charge here because it's been found the desktop Facebook chat app does exist. Should that go official, this will breathe new life into a very old way of chatting because people truly do miss desktop chat apps.

Retro PC use will continue to gain ground

Going to go long-winded on this subject.

Something weird but cool happened here. It used to be that people my age and older were the only ones interested in old PC rigs. Not anymore. Kids are really getting into it to. Why? Mainly because of all the cool games that were released in the 1990s back when DOS gaming was king of the hill.

The retro PC thing is not adults-only territory anymore. Kids want to know how to put those old rigs together and they want information on how to do it. They want blogs, wikis and videos on the subject. They want to know it all because the more they know, the more games they can play.

It's crazy to think a kid would want a sub-1GHz Pentium PC with 128MB RAM and a 500MB hard drive, but they do because that's just about the perfect system for classic MS-DOS gaming.

This also means that writing articles on how to use old software to do modern things on the internet (email, chat, IRC, document editing, etc.) is a wanted thing. When a kid puts together a vintage gaming rig, they'll want to know how to send/receive email and chat with it too.

The games of the late 90s is a powerful draw for kids and adults. Many titles back then were programmed better and have a more more enjoyable gaming experience. And of course, the best way to play is on the real hardware.

If the gaming industry had any sense at all (which they don't), they would release modernized online multi-player versions of the classics. Some do this, but not nearly enough. Take the old game, wrap it in a custom emulator to run on modern computers so the gaming experience is the same as it was in the 90s, add in internet connectivity (which the custom emulator wrapper would take care of) and you've got yourself a winner. There are so many RPG-style DOS games that would work so unbelievably well as a modern MMORPG, yet we don't have them.

Can you imagine something like Star Wars: TIE Fighter (1994) or Star Wars: Rebellion (1998) as modern online multi-player titles? That would be AMAZING.

Here's the big kicker when it comes to retro PC stuff; when people realize this it hits them like a ton of bricks:

"Gee.. if all I'm doing here is reading text (emails, web pages, etc.), watching online video and playing games, can't an older computer do that?"

Yes. What prevents you from doing so is app support because at the end of the day it's all about the apps. For example, old PCs can do full-screen video easily. Granted, it's not super-high-quality but the point is the hardware is there to do it. The lack of Flash support and the lack of a modern browser that can run on an older Windows is the reason you can't play them, period.

With the right apps, you could do almost everything you do now on a sub-1GHz single-core computer with only 128MB RAM; this is the primary reason (other than gaming) that more people are getting into vintage computer hardware because they know it's possible.

Now, of course, the way to have the best of all worlds is to use old hardware with a modern lightweight OS, meaning something like Lubuntu. For the gaming stuff you install emulators like DOSBox and have a go at it. For browsing you use Chromium as that's currently the lightweight champ that works with everything - including Flash and Java. It's all out there; you just need to learn how to do it.

And those that continue to write about retro computing will get the web traffic, guaranteed.

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