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I spent an interesting evening yesterday over at my aunts and uncles place.

And when I say “Interesting” I am not referring to the social side of my visit, but the techno archeological side. Sounds strange ? Perhaps. To put things in perspective : My aunt and uncle are heading into their seventies and they are what can be considered techno-conservatives. Their entire house is stored with books and records and sometimes feels more like a library then a living room. Fantastic ! As a kid i spent many hours there with my head in a book reading about the origins of the cosmos, listening to Dutch Stand up Comedians on old records and playing a proto-version of Google earth using my fingertip and some big¬†atlases. But as I said : they are very conservative when it comes to change. I saw it as a personal triumph introducing these people to the internet and getting them a computer ūüôā I loved bringing the information age to people who had given me access to so much knowledge in my childhood. But as technologie goes : thats about as far as they went. Their house is filled with old taperecorders, record players, CRT televisions and Video cassettes. When it comes to consumer devices they are not early adopters, they in fact are … the people who hold on valiantly to the long tail. Their quests are not targeted towards the latest and greatest, but instead searching valiantly for those “last¬†remnants” of classic technology. Where do they still find a tv WITHOUT a remote, Who still sells empty cassette tapes .. .where do they find somebody who can repair their VCR.¬†

I got called in yesterday after my Uncles VCR ate its final tape. Somewhere he had dugg up a “new” vcr so he asked me to come over and set it up. After spending 2 hours scanning through ‘analogue’ tv channels and punching them into the right presets .. I started to feel like I just dropped back in time 10 years. But instead of scoffing their futile¬†attempts¬†at slowing down progress , I started thinking : What must life be like for people like them in the ever changing landscape of technology ¬†?

My aunt stares helplessly at the empty channels on her tv. Analogue channels cut off by their network provider to push their customers towards digital¬†subscription. My Uncle valiantly ignores the horizontal lines of static in the VCR recording he made from his favorite TV show 10 years ago .. ¬†They see the world changing faster and faster … and struggle to keep up.

As an early adopter, pushing them into the technological reality of THIS century would be a shock to them. They are¬†paralyzed¬†with FUD (Fear Uncertainty Doubt) and have no idea what is coming their way or if they are able to cope with it … ¬†And here is Captain Gadget wrestling through the manual of a 3 year old ( unopened) vcr trying to install it. ¬†My aunts reply was fitting ” If you have a hard time with technology like THIS how on earth are we gonna cope with the NEW stuff ) ¬†I smile as I scan through the frequency band on UHF. ¬†In a way she is right .. I AM struggling ūüôā to me this is more like archeology then technology . And it strikes me just how fast things change.

So, when your eyes glaze over next time you talk about the number of¬†transistors¬†in Intell’s new Vpro I7 Quadcore chip …¬†remember , that for some its a big bad world, moving way to fast, and they can’t “opt out” of progress.

“Those who are unaware of history are bound to repeat the same mistakes.” ( or something like that) is a great quote on knowing your roots and more importantly , knowing the names of the giants in whose footsteps you are walking. In the days of Java Flashback Trojans, One Pixel Flash exploits and an unbelievable amount of wetware hacking ( Social engineering ) the roots of hacking can be easily forgotten. Lets take you back to where it all started.

 

This great documentary features two internet heroes. The Proto-Hacker Kevin Mittnick and Woz , who will, in this old video from somewhere in the late 80’s early 90’s , explain to you where hacking actually came from. Enjoy this slice of history.

Delayed reality

It is now 8 am in the morning and I am having a little breakfast as the sole occupant in this highway diner, as below me, the cars crawl by in a nearly stationary traffic jam. I have been awake a total of three hours now and have a long day ahead of me, yet somehow I get the strange sensation that reality hasn’t started for me yet. I call this phenomenon “delayed reality” the period of my day between waking up and actually interacting with the direct world around me for the first time. Todays “delayed reality” started at 5 when I got up. As my beloved was still asleep I did not have the option of talking to her or kissing her goodbye, and as Sulu (my dog) went downstairs for coffee, I absently picked up my tablet while hitting up the cappuchino maker. Browsing through some of my rss feeds as I went back upstairs to take a shower, I marked some items for further review and checked any messages on my social networks that came in overnight. Dressed and ready to go, I took some time to sit down behind the laptop to punch out some articles for the coming days as my iPhone was syncing up podcasts that had been updated. I petted the dog and grabbed up my gear to go out the door. The two hour drive that took me to where I am now was filled with listening to a selection of podcasts, some music and peeping at my twitter stream as traffic herked and jerked to a standstill on the freeway. And now I am here. Writing up the st on my tablet, earbuds jammed deep into my ears, drowning out the chatter of the radio playing .. Immersed in my own world. The only realtime interaction I have had so far was ordering breakfast .. And thats it. For me “linear reality” will be ‘delayed’ for another hour or two, before I have to get ready for my first meeting of the day.

Up until then, my world consists of personally selected and timed communications and content. Devoid of real time interactions with unpredictable outcomes. Even as the first rays of sun hit the dawn, I am still inside my “own little world”. Comforting as it may seem, it does give me pause for thought. Here I am, an over connected guru with 3 different internet connections tucked away in his bag, with access to all the news feeds and media streams on the planet .. Yet I choose to steer clear of them until the very last moment. To be honest, sometimes I don’t care what happens in the world at large and choose to ‘delay’ its reality in favor of MY reality. Where I write up a blog that strangers read, where I listen to podcasts that no-one has heard off, play music thats never on the radio and speak a language that is not natively spoken in the entire country around me.

Delayed reality is a snuggle zone, where you can embrace your very own individuality and thoughts, where you find the time to write what you want to say and engulf yourself in a world of your own creation. So I stare out the window at the world around me. Where unpredictable interactions will wreak havoc with my cone of silence. Where problems wait to be solved and challenges lie ahead. Before I dive in I turn around and wallow in the sweetness of their absence for a couple of more minutes. i hit the snooze button of my own universe one more time and ‘delay reality’ for couple more minutes.

I remember watching the TV series Battlestar Galactica as a kid. I thought it was so cool when Cmdr. Adama dictated his captains log into this little microphone, after which the words appeared on the computer screen as by magic. I thought it was pure sci-fi. Yes today I sit here, with my hands on my lap, bringing you this blog post. The device of choice ? My iPad. If I were to show these gadgets to my seven year old self who was watching Battlestar Galactica he would’ve thought I was somebody from the future. Technically I am for the future. But in his eyes I would be from the distant future or rocket cars and space ships would be the norm. The point I’m trying to make is, we sometimes don’t realize how fast technology is moving. I see so many things change that sometimes even I, have a hard time getting my head around it. Having the gadgets is one thing, having the habit of actually using some of these functions is another thing. It does take a while before you adapt your behavior to the new functionality that is in front of you. And still technology is moving ever faster and we have humans have a hard time keeping up. But the cool thing is that my blog post for today is done and my hands are still resting in my lap.I don’t fly a Battlestar, don’t have a teleport, but have a little bit of the future right here right now.

A nice little experiment i’m working on this weekend is in preparation for one of the next Knightwise.com podcast episodes. The show will deal with using the googleplex and cloud services across a landscape of mobile and cross platform “workplaces” in order to get things done. The general question of the podcast will probably be : Can we live without the classic concept of a ‘computer’. As I am busy gathering information, I find countless interesting services, apps and links to help me on my way to a world where “Software installations” on a harddrive are no longer relevant, applications and storage moves to the cloud and where the device you use becomes nothing more then an “interaction medium” with your content. The funny and fascinating part is : Its not that hard to do. With googledrive I have finally gotten around to cleaning up my countless googledocs, and in the process rediscovering the power of the google apps. When I take a look at what I do in “office applications” both for work, and for play, 99% can be easily done in the Google plex. ‘office is dead to me’ I proclaimed last week as I didn’t even bother to reinstall libre office on one of my Linux machines. With the limited functionality I require and my constant ” hopping ” from device to device (and os to os) both local software AND storage are nothing more then a nuisance. So i will keep you posted in the results. In the meantime : what are your favourite cloud based app and storage gems ?

With May coming to a close I’m remembered again for that faithful day in 1986 when reactor number four exploded in Chernobyl. For some morbid reason Chernobyl has captured my interest and every year I catch myself digging through video’s and articles of the events that happened in reactor number Four in Chernobyl. ¬†As they are starting to build the new¬†sarcophagus around the abandoned reactor to protect life on this very planet from the aftermath of the first big nuclear accident. ¬†When we take a look at what happened in Fukushima we cannot help but wonder not only how lucky we have been .. but also what lies ahead. ¬†“The true battle of Chernobyl” shows you the aftermath of the Nuclear accident at Chernobyl .. and helps you realie how far we still need to go before Fukushima will ever hear the sound of playing children.