Sunday, 26 August 2012

Living in a post-PC world

    I've spent the weekend having a clear out. Lots of old tax papers, magazines and assorted detritus, all gone. And a load of treasures from a couple of decades of hoarding PC bits.

    Some things are easy to part with. An ISA multi-IO card, for instance, is an easy throw. I'm never going to need one of them again in my life. Or an 8-bit cheap-and-nasty Soundblaster clone from about 1990. I've never even used it since levering it out of the XT clone it came from, space wasted.

   But then I came to the pile of cables. IDE cables, do I really need ten of them? Floppy drives. CD-ROM drives. Even old hard drives of a gigabyte or two's capacity. These were real treasures a few years ago, but now I can buy a flash card with tens of gigabytes for a few quid, they simply aren't necessary.

    I realised as I was clearing out my stock of PC bits that what I was seeing was the end of an era. For the last couple of decades my computers have continuously upgraded, but they've all been desktop PCs. I still have one, an AMD Duron running Lubuntu, but my main PC is now a seven year old laptop and I'm increasingly finding my development and everyday computing happening on ARM devices. The Raspberry Pi, and Android phones.

    For me, the PC era seems to be drawing to a close. I can see the next generation of ARM tablets - either Android or Windows 8, I haven't decided yet -  will eventually replace the laptop for portability, and the next generation of Raspberry Pi-style Flash-based single board computers will replace it for development and power. My storage has already migrated from the PC - either into NAS or the cloud - so the PC with all its inbuilt peripherals and power consumption is now an increasingly redundant web browsing platform. I'm entering my personal version of the post-PC world.

    So, does anyone want a stack of fully-populated Pentium motherboards or enough 72-pin SIMMs to pave a driveway?

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