In the Computers newsletter this month:
- How I did back in 2007…
- My predictions for the coming years
- Adobe pdf Reader X – and what to do if it causes problems
- VAT rise – not here
Hello and Happy New Year!
I hope it’s going to be a great year for you. (And I hope you’ve finally finished off all the Turkey sandwiches!)
Since it’s new year, I thought it would be a good time to look ahead and write about what’s likely to happen with PCs in the future. A bit of a “fortune reader” article!
I did this before, back at the end of 2007, so it’ll be interesting to see how much I’ve got right – and what else I’d add now.
(You can read the original, 2007 article here: www.helpfulbooks.co.uk/7predictions2007.htm )
Tim’s 2007 prediction number 1 – PCs will get faster but you won’t really notice – they won’t seem faster
My reasoning is that as PCs get faster, programs will get bigger. And I was nearly right. It’s not just been the program that’s limited speed, but the internet. And more and more of what people do on a PC is done over the internet. Lots of the time, a super-fast PC is held up by a slowish internet connection.
What do I think now? It won’t change much. As the internet gets faster (and it will) the things people use it for will get slower. On balance, it’ll stay much the same.
Tim’s 2007 prediction number 2 – No-one will “win” the Windows vs Macs battle
I was right here – Apple are still doing very nicely but then I don’t think Bill Gates is exactly strapped for cash either. And I think that’ll carry on in the future too, they’ll both do well.
Tim’s 2007 prediction number 3 – Small, pocket PCs will catch on in a big way and lots of people will use them as their main PC
Well, you don’t see many “Pocket PCs” for sale. But that’s only because they have a different name. Lots of mobile phones nowadays can access the internet. And the iPhone and other top end mobiles can do all sorts of things and have proved incredibly popular. Not many people are using them as their main PC but a few are starting to, if they just want to be able to access the internet and send emails. So I think this is going to get even more popular – and mobile phones will be able to do more and more of what PCs do.
There you go – I predicted the iPhone’s success 3 years ago!
Tim’s 2007 prediction number 4 – “Home Entertainment Systems” will get a bit more popular but they won’t become the main type of PC.
Not many people use their PC for recording TV – a few, but not many. But then, you don’t need to now, as you can watch things online even after they’re broadcast. Quite a few people do that. But not many people have given up on a normal TV, even after it all went digital. I got at least the second bit right – they didn’t become the main type of PC!
Tim’s 2007 prediction number 5 – paper books will not be replaced by technology
I’m glad to say this is true – so far at least. In fact Amazon (which mainly sells books) is one of the most successful websites on the internet. They’ve been bragging how the “Kindle” (their electronic book reader) has recently sold more than anything else – but I think that’s missing the point. It sold more than any other single book, not than all paper books together!
Tim’s 2007 prediction number 6 – Computers will be based more on the way humans work, less on the way machines work. But I’m saying nothing about how good a job they’ll do of it.
The iPad (like a laptop but with no separate keyboard) can be used either way up – if you’re looking at a webpage and turn the screen, it rotates what’s on the screen so it’s always the right way up. So you can have it tall and think or short and wide, whatever’s best for what you’re doing.
It’s just one small thing but it’s a good example of how computers are getting better at doing things the way humans work instead of the way machines work.
Tim’s 2007 prediction number 7 – PCs will become more customizable, so that you can set them up how you like them. That’ll mean that different PCs will work in different ways, which will cause much frustration.
Hmm – are PCs still frustrating at all, ever? I think I got that right! But in the future PCs will not only be more customisable, they’ll do it themselves, depending on how you use them.
There are already some features like this in Windows – it likes to tidy up your desktop of any shortcuts it thinks you don’t use much. Look out for much more of this in the next version of Windows!
So that’s how I did last time I tried to predict the future! Not bad… certainly better than when I told Mum and Dad that the Internet wouldn’t catch on (embarrassing, that).
But what else do I think is coming? Well…
There’ll be more and more “tablet PCs”
These are laptops without a keyboard – and when you want to type, a keyboard displays on the screen. The screen itself can tell when you touch it, so you can type straight onto the screen. The iPad is the most popular at the moment but it doesn’t use Windows. I’m sure in time there’ll be popular ones that do.
Windows 8 will come out – but not for a while
Some people say it’ll be out in later 2012. Possibly. But that would be 3 years after Windows 7. I think it’ll take a bit longer. Windows 7 took 3 years and they were rushing that out because Vista (the one before) was a flop. Without that urgency, I think it’ll take longer.
When it comes, it’ll look much like Windows 7 but will have more 3d stuff (if you have Windows 7 or Vista, hold the Windows key and tap the tab key when you have several programs open to see the kind of thing I mean). It’ll also be designed to be even harder to hack. And it’ll be designed to be used more on the internet, so you’ll hardly be able to tell whether you’re doing something on the internet or on the PC itself.
Google Chrome OS will catch on, especially for smaller PCs
This is confusing. Google is full of clever folk, no doubt. But they’ve confused things here.
They already have Chrome – which is a web browser. A bit like Internet Explorer (but better, some say!)
Next year they’re bringing out Chrome OS, which is an operating system – a competitor for Windows itself. It’s confusing that they both have the same name but that’s what Google have done!
Chrome OS aims to work much more through the internet. You won’t use it to do things on your PC, you’ll store everything on the internet. They say one advantage is you can use any Chrome OS PC to do your work, since it’s all on the internet. And if yours is stolen or broken, you can just get a new one – and you haven’t lost any work.
I’m not entirely convinced – not given how often I have trouble with my broadband connection at home. (Then I suppose it’s not aimed at people living in tiny villages in the middle of nowhere)
But I do think it’ll be popular, especially for small “netbook” laptops and the like – for PCs people use mainly for browsing the web and sending emails.
Right, I’ll have to look back in another 3 years and see how much I got right!
Adobe Reader X – having problems?
The latest version of Adobe Reader (the program that displays pdfs) has been out a little while now. Chances are it’s automatically updated itself on your PC so you don’t need to do anything to get it.
Which is all fine and dandy – if it works. But a few people have found some pdfs just won’t open in it (including some tax forms available from the taxman). If you have this trouble, the best way round it is simply to uninstall Adobe Reader X (go to the control panel and look for uninstall or remove program) and then download the previous version: 9.4 You can get it here: http://get.adobe.com/uk/reader/otherversions/
That works with the government’s documents, at least. I’m sure in time the taxman will sort out his files – eventually!
Speaking of the taxman – VAT change…
You’ve probably heard all about VAT going up on the 4th. But not here. Well, technically it’s going up here, of course. Sadly Millom can’t make its own tax laws… But books aren’t affected and though video courses and Inner Circle memberships are, we’ll pay the increase on those, so the price doesn’t change. Just one little thing to try to help!
Well, that’s it for this time. It was a bit of a different kind of issue but next time I’ll be back to giving more tips to make using your PC easier! In the meantime I’d better get back to it next week – I’m working on something new that should be ready early in the year!
Happy New Year!
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