By day we work … by night we dream

I was sitting back reading “The Road Ahead” by Bill Gates (yea — you can all start laughing now … but they say “Know thy enemy”!!!) Anyway, he was talking about how VCR’s will be replaced by Video-on-demand and central servers. This ended up starting a conversation that spanned future video sales, household setup, internet controls, and software piracy. And I wanted to rehash some of the ideas here and see what kinda of discussions they prompt ?
First: Video-on-Demand
This is going to be a very important option in the future. Though I did not believe that it would replace a VCR-type system since I feel that people enjoy ‘owning’. Why pay x dollars to watch it once if 2x will allow you to watch it over and over ? But then, a rental service allowing unlimited viewing for a specific amount would eliminate that need to own ? Though I still think some people prefer to have a copy to themselves [TiVo?] than rely on a company service (though I imagine it would largely depend on the service – Melissa and I were thinking $50 / mth would be reasonable)
Second: Home setup
This discussion lead to how would it would come as the general house became more connected. A set back into the world of terminals. This is nothing new for the computer geeks out there – we have been living with “Smart terminals” for years. Essentially, any time you use a web-application (web mail, store, etc) you are using your PC a “smart” terminal. I believe as machines get faster (say … the G6 [Apple’s next evolution ?) you will start to see more iMac type machines on the desk and a main machine in the basement. Enough Hard-drive space for everyone! This would also come with tablet type devices that are both hand-held (Palm, TabletPC, etc) and those built into the walls. Lights, connected appliances, and picture albums would be connected or connectable … I was thinking that lights might be lockable (ie: “Night kids … lights out! “) though Melissa thinks that could be a safety issue ??
Third: internet controls
One thing that Melissa stated was ‘safety’ of children on the internet. Though I feel quite safe, I do know that it is a place that is unsafe for children. Just like the park down the street! Now, first there is porn … typing a ‘wrong’ address can lead to some ‘interesting’ site visits … email spam is annoying ME with ads for Viagra, enlargements, and “old friends”. As a society I think that we are going to have to come up with a solution here. My thought, development of a .porn domain … with the regulation that adult content MUST be located on that domain – otherwise the domain will be revoked and ISP fined. This does not stop spam … but it does help and can be used to ‘restrict’ visits with software rather than blacklists and content parsing.
Lastly: Software Piracy
This is a hot topic right now. How do software developer protect their products ? It seems to well known in our society that one does not take chocolate bars, books, or vehicles from venders without paying for them first. So why is it that most people have no problem copying/sharing software and never giving the developer his fair share ? This is much the same issue that music has at the moment as well. My belief is that people that people want to ‘own’ their things … and thus would likely pay for software (and music) if they are presented with enough freedom and a reasonable price. I must admin, I have fallen victim to ‘borrowing’ or ‘sharing’ software with friends over the years. I do try and hold my self to only sharing applications that I can not afford or use strictly because it is required by outside forces. If the software is too expensive I may not buy all versions, but I try and purchase every second version of so … otherwise I deal with the shareware annoyances and poor quality of many freeware products. (being a developer myself I have tons of projects that I would like to complete if not only to give myself a solution).
Now, Melissa brings up the same point MS did … why don’t you just rent the software? Well … as I said, most people want to own software not pay a subscription fee. But hold on, renting might not be a bad idea … people do it for all kinds of other tools. But lets follow the same model, use a ‘time-limited license’ that you purchase.
(1) download the software
(2) purchase the license number from the developers / resellers website
(3) use the software to the length of time purchased.
(4) purchase/renew your license if you require more time
This would likely solve a number of my issues regarding software that in general remains far to expensive and is used irregularly (graphics apps are a big one for me here). I was thinking along the lines of $5 / day, $10 / week, $50 / mth. You can always download and use the latest version available … which would also assist in many people looking to demo a fully functional application prior to forking out the bills.
This different from what I know of the MS model as the software is not a net-based application. The application can be issued via a CD, can be copied from a friend and stored on your HD for later use … you just ‘activate’ the software with a valid key encrypted with the time ordered and length of time. Now, this was a brainstorm … so I would like to prompt discussion …(in your opinion) what are the issues ? what does it solve ? etc …

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