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Author Topic: The real difference between a desktop pc and every other gadget you have.  (Read 5675 times)

superboyac

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I've been trying to identify what the fundamental difference is between a desktop pc and everything else, and it is this:
You can build the desktop pc from top to bottom yourself.

That's pretty much it.  Everything else, the phones, the gaming consoles, the tablets, laptops...you can't.  What's interesting is that all the pieces for the other devices can totally be made available like the desktop pc parts, but it appears that the only thing holding it back is basically politics.  You can build your own cellphone if you could get the antenna at a store or something, but you can't.  I don't quite understand why the DIY laptop didn't really take off.  Tablets should also be doable.  i don't buy the "it's too small and cramped" argument for why it isn't accessible.  If the demand was there, someone would make a standard laptop form factor case to hold all the other standard laptop parts.

ANyway, just some mental excretions...

40hz

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I was always of the opinion  that the thing that made a desktop PC different from every other gadget I owned was that it wasn't a single thing but rather a soft device.

One minute it's a wordprocessor, the next it's a calculator. Later on it might be a television or movie viewer, or a weather station, or a research organizer, or a recording studio or musical instrument, or a planetarium, or an electronic circuit simulator, or a design and drafting tool - with soon-to-be affordable 3D printing capabilities for one-off manufacturing or prototyping...

Time was when each of these things would require a separate hardware device. Now they can all be done on one infinitely reconfigurable soft machine.

I don't know anything else that's quite like that. A PC itself is nothing really. Just an inert hunk of patiently waiting electronics - until you load a program - at which point it can literally become anything. It's like the genie in the bottle saying: What is your command Oh Most Nobly Born Prince of Princes?



Yeah... You ain't never had a friend like ME!

Never ceases to amaze me that something like that actually exists. 8)
« Last Edit: June 03, 2013, 05:54:47 PM by 40hz »

cranioscopical

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Yeah... You ain't never had a friend like ME!
When IE updates come around I think you'll find that there's a redundant 'r' in there somewhere…
 

wraith808

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Well, it seems that you are including laptops in this... and you are wrong.

It's really not cost effective, which is the reason that there are fewer offerings today... but you can DIY it on a laptop.

superboyac

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Well, it seems that you are including laptops in this... and you are wrong.

It's really not cost effective, which is the reason that there are fewer offerings today... but you can DIY it on a laptop.
I guess what I really meant was the ease and practicality of it.  i wasn't trying to make a legal argument or anything.  :D

Time was when each of these things would require a separate hardware device. Now they can all be done on one infinitely reconfigurable soft machine.

Never ceases to amaze me that something like that actually exists. 8)
What's interesting about this is that with the current shift to mobile devices, we are now moving away from the multipurpose device.  I mean, apps are ok, but they are not as useful as a full blown desktop application.  but that's the same with the mobile device, which is not as capable as a desktop.  But it is mobile, I suppose.

Part of what prompted me to write this was the thought that if the general public was a little more educated about computers and tech, perhaps the arrival of DIY cellphones and laptops/tablets would arrive sooner (in an easy/practical way wraith!).  Or maybe I'm just getting impatient.

I've been saying for years...the next company to offer DIY cellphones is going to be the next billionaire.  I don't mean the end user puts the pieces together...I'm talking like a Dell thing.  All Dell did was put together a computer for you, which geeks were already doing all the time.  The weird difference is that the geeks today are not building cell phones and laptops that way (or that commonly), and the only reason I can come up with is the political barrier.  Things like raspberry pi are changing that.

I think I'm just impatient.

40hz

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What's

What's interesting about this is that with the current shift to mobile devices, we are now moving away from the multipurpose device.  I mean, apps are ok, but they are not as useful as a full blown desktop application.  but that's the same with the mobile device, which is not as capable as a desktop.

Exactly right.  :Thmbsup:  There is a concerted effort to move the general public away from a flexible "anything box" and get them back into a closed "computing appliance" as quickly as possible. It's an issue of control and turf protection.

030411_2059_RepublicanL2.jpg

Sad really. But there ya have it.

TaoPhoenix

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I'll second the emphasis on the run toward "politics". One problem I see is that in a very rough sense Android was "supposed to be" the DIY phone - universal(ish!) open source(ish!) OS running on anyone's hardware? That sounds familiar!

But then the forces that be managed to steer the mindshare away from that by playing hard on the "it's too hard for average people" theme. And yes, in many ways, while vehemently objecting to other "political" philosophies involved, I for one do want my phone to "just shut up and make phone calls plus run my cute 25 apps". I don't see it as a computer, it's more like the name says - a phone that then can give you a calendar, a calculator, a GPS, a music player, and a fun little game of your choice.

A far bigger split is the (unfortunately!) *brilliant* PR job to get people to see tablets as ... wait for it ... not a small laptop, but an overgrown phone! But with the mind-washing how people like to "consume because it's relaxing", they have sold tablets as everyone's cute go to device. And yes, hurling a grumpy charge at MS, to me there's no "legit" reason a tablet can't have a dual OS - Tablet Factor and then hook up the dock and stuff and out comes the laptop!


superboyac

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I used to get angrier at the companies for "conspiring" together and limit our technology options, progress, etc.  But after talking to a lot of people, now I'm angry at how little most people care, so they are just completely rolling over and going along with everything.

Normally, I'd attribute such behavior to personal preferences.  Not all people are geeks and care about computers and technology.  But here's the issue I see: the people that don't care still rely and need these devices.  But they almost go out of their way to refuse to learn anything about it.  I don't get it.  They scoff at the geeks and technology like it's beneath them, they curse devices out when it doesn't work they way they expected.  Their expectations are completely uninformed (hilarious that they get so worked up about it!).  They proactively hassle those who do know more than them.  There's a whole culture around it like that...it's like an aggressive ignorance.

I'm consistently surprised by this sort of situation:
--A friend complains that the youtube that comes on his cable box has a limited content compared to the normal youtube on the web.
--I explain that the copyrights and stuff limit it, and you can only get everything through a normal browser.
--I show him how some devices can be hooked together so the tv can get access to unadulterated internet.  It involves some cables, some little pc device, a remote. done.
--friend not interested.

Again, i get it.  People are busy with their lives.  But this is all stuff that will make your life a little easier.  And you are complaining about it!  But this is how it goes.  And eventually we end up in the situation that we are in.

40hz

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they are just completely rolling over and going along with everything.

Hmm...

Quote
The Birds and the Foxes


by James Thurber

Once upon a time there was a bird sanctuary in which hundreds of Baltimore orioles lived together happily. The refuge consisted of a forest entirely surrounded by a high wire fence. When it was put up, a pack of foxes who lived nearby protested that it was an arbitrary and unnatural boundary. However, they did nothing about it at the time because they were interested in civilizing the geese and ducks on the neighbouring farms. When all the geese and ducks had been civilized, and there was nothing else left to eat, the foxes once more turned their attention to the bird sanctuary. Their leader announced that there had once been foxes in the sanctuary but that they had been driven out. He proclaimed that Baltimore orioles belonged in Baltimore. He said, furthermore, that the orioles in the sanctuary were a continuous menace to the peace of the world. The other animals cautioned the foxes not to disturb the birds in their sanctuary.

So the foxes attacked the sanctuary one night and tore down the fence that surrounded it. The orioles rushed out and were instantly killed and eaten by the foxes.

The next day the leader of the foxes, a fox from whom God was receiving daily guidance, got upon the rostrum and addressed the other foxes. His message was simple and sublime. " You see before you," he said, "another Lincoln. We have liberated all those birds!"

Moral: Government of the orioles, by the foxes, and for the foxes, must perish from the earth.

 ;)

superboyac

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^^ very interesting.
Question: who built the fence, and whose idea was it?  'cuz it wasn't the foxes or orioles.  :huh:

40hz

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^^ very interesting.
Question: who built the fence, and whose idea was it?  'cuz it wasn't the foxes or orioles.  :huh:

Probably somebody who truly had the best of intentions when they walled them in "for their own protection."

That or Obamacare. ;)

superboyac

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^^ very interesting.
Question: who built the fence, and whose idea was it?  'cuz it wasn't the foxes or orioles.  :huh:

Probably somebody who truly had the best of intentions when they walled them in "for their own protection."

That or Obamacare. ;)
Freaking obama.

IainB

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Since at least 1989 it had apparently been predicted by many IT pundits and laptop vendors (the latter including, for example, NEC and Toshiba) that laptop PCs would overtake desktop PCs as the norm for business PC workstations. Whether that prediction has been fulfilled, I am not sure, but certainly the huge number of laptops being sold as desktop alternatives, and the continual lowering of laptop marginal costs of production does seem to be a reality.
Whether a laptop meets the definition of a PC is arguable. For my purposes it does, but from a DIY hardware construction/maintenance perspective, the laptop is a bit of a nightmare in comparison with the ease-of-access to a desktop PC's cabinet.

The many and varied devices that have sprung up - e.g., Android devices or Apple tablets/phones - are not general-purpose devices like PCs, but seem to often be specialised or constrained products, apparently designed so as to create/enable a proprietary (copyrighted) market niche, including lock-in and all that that entails. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

In all the rush for sales, it is possible that some really useful potential technological advantage of these devices could be ignored/neglected. For example, hear what Martin Cooper - the inventor of the cellphone - has to say on this matter:
Quote
The Cell Phone | INVENTORS | PBS Digital Studios
Published on 18 Apr 2013

Forty years ago this month, Martin Cooper placed the first ever cell phone call. In this video he looks back on his invention and explains that cell phones have a long way to go before they reach their potential.

'Inventors' is a series of portrait videos by filmmaker and photographer David Friedman, chronicling the work of contemporary inventors from all walks of life. It offers rare glimpses into the inspiration for their creations, which range from the first digital camera and first video game console to a drive-able amphibious ice-fishing vehicle.


Stoic Joker

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"Technology should be transparent and intuitive" - I like this guy!

Great video IainB!

Target

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SuperboyAC, your prayers (at least one of them) may be answered - http://feedproxy.goo...lZGVL0jo/story01.htm

superboyac

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SuperboyAC, your prayers (at least one of them) may be answered - http://feedproxy.goo...lZGVL0jo/story01.htm

oh baby!  >:D :onfire:

superboyac

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Say What?!?!?  Build your own smartphone?!  Could we have been wrong about the Illuminati?
http://mindofthegeek...a-customize-android/
Quote
It’s the “Designed by you,” line and the rest of the ad that has the entire mobile press lighting up the Internet more than what we’ll see over the New York Harbor this Thursday night. It’s now reported that Motorola may take a bold step forward with the Moto X, allowing customers to build their own smartphone to order, spec for spec. What’s exactly on the table nobody knows. Screen size and resolution, CPU, GPU, internal storage, battery size, even color could be offered in different configurations. Want a powerhouse phone with the latest CPU, GPU, and a huge battery to power it through the day, but not concerned about a lot of internal storage since you have 50GB of Dropbox storage? The Motorola Moto X, if reports are true, would allow you to build and order your phone to spec for your needs.

Pretty vague....but fingers crossed!  Why do I feel like I'm never going to grow up?

Stoic Joker

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Why do I feel like I'm never going to grow up?

Growing up is highly overrated, I refuse to do it.

Hell, if they were offering that with a choice of OSs -- partial to the Windows phones as I am -- I'd go get in line for one now!

Assembled in the USA (no shit? Finally??) ...I may have to try a Droid ... Damn those pesky pivotal moments...

40hz

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There's already a semi-revolt going on in the enterprise arena. Check out this ArsTechnica article on Facebook and the Open Compute Project.

Quote
How Facebook threatens HP, Cisco, and more with its “vanity free” servers
Ars tours Facebook's DIY-hardware lab to learn why it embraces open source hardware.

by Sean Gallagher - Jul 2, 2013 1:00 pm UTC


Ars recently visited Facebook's campus to get a tour of the server lab from Senior Manager of Hardware Engineering Matt Corddry, leader of Facebook's server hardware design team. What's happening at Facebook's lab isn't just affecting the company's data centers, it's part of Facebook's contribution to the Open Compute Project (OCP), an effort that hopes to bring open-source design to data center server and storage hardware, infrastructure, and management interfaces across the world.

Facebook, Amazon, and Google are all very picky about their server hardware, and these tech giants mostly build it themselves from commodity components. Frank Frankovsky, VP of hardware design and supply chain operations at Facebook, was instrumental in launching the Open Compute Project because he saw the waste in big cloud players reinventing things they could share. Frankovsky felt that bringing the open-source approach Facebook has followed for software to the hardware side could save the company and others millions—both in direct hardware costs and in maintenance and power costs.

Just as the Raspberry Pi system-on-a-board and the Arduino open-source microcontroller have captured the imagination of small-scale hardware hackers, OCP is aimed at making DIY easier, effective, and flexible at a macro scale. What Facebook and Open Compute are doing to data center hardware may not ultimately kill the hardware industry, but it will certainly tilt it on its head. Yes, the open-sourced, commoditized motherboards and other subsystems used by Facebook were originally designed specifically for the "hyper scale" world of data centers like those of Facebook, Rackspace, and other cloud computing providers. But these designs could easily find their way into other do-it-yourself hardware environments or into "vanity free" systems sold to small and large enterprises, much as Linux has.

And open-source commodity hardware could make an impact beyond its original audience quickly because it can be freely adopted by hardware makers, driving down the price of new systems. That's not necessarily good news for Hewlett-Packard, Cisco, and other big players in corporate IT. "Vanity free," open-source designed systems will likely drive innovation fast while disrupting the whole model those companies have been built upon...

Note: OCP isn't just an idea. It's a live project involving some of  the biggest names in the business. More on OCP can be found here.

"Hack the Planet!" :Thmbsup:

superboyac

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oh...sweet.  That's great.