Friday, October 13, 2006

Bill Gates: your world domination remains safe...God: yours, not so much.

I'm not always the most freshly sharpened crayon in the pack. I like to kid myself that once in a while I have a wee fartlike brainwave. But let's face it, the average four year-old knows more about technology than I do.

So I've been puzzling over this invention. It's a USB memory-stick that has a program that lets you turn any computer into a phone.

My tiny little brain is convulsing. How is it more convenient to turn a computer into a phone than to carry a cellphone around with you?

Wouldn't you have to search around for a free computer, or power up your iBook or whatever, plug in the VoiceStick, click whatever buttons make the program run, and the person? How is this easier than pulling a cell phone out of your pocket and dialing the number? I'm counting 5 steps in the VoiceStick scenario and 2 in the cellphone one.

Some of you are S-M-R-T in the technical realm. Please, do share. (Gizzy?)

But speaking as a technical lay-person, you know what I'd like someone to invent? Some kind of super-secure, encrypted widget or gadget or magic or programy-type-thing that stores all of your passwords for all of the million things online that we need to enter passwords for, and magically beams them to the 'password' field for us. This 'widget' used to be called 'the human memory,' but that's shot now. Because if you're a careful, mildly paranoid person like me, you have many password-login ID combinations that you use just in case Someone Discovers One of Them. The downside of this is that it's taxing to keep track of all the damn password combinations.

While we're at it, why not make the widget a storage device for all essential secret information that you may forget at some point, like your credit card number or the access code for your Swiss bank account? It would have to self-destruct the moment someone, I don't know, tried to hack it or something. Shit. Does that mean you'd need a password to access your password widget? Well, I guess one password is better than 50. Or maybe it could work by retinal scanner...

And I think I want this widget to also be a phone. Not a VoiceStick phone, but a tiny little phone that works by voice commands or possibly body movement so it doesn't need a number pad. I either say the phone number I want it to dial, or the name of the person, or I move my fingers like I'm typing on an imaginary number pad, and it dials for me.

So we might as well make it a computer too. I want it to store all of the miscellaneous non-essential information I need to access on a regular basis: my schedule, my to do list, people's phone numbers, the contents of my fridge (which my husband seems to think I have a mental inventory of, but I don't, honey-poo, so you'll have to move stuff around instead of yelling "don't we have any mustard?!"), a list of all possible wardrobe combinations in my closet (including accessories), an update on my eBay bidding status, and, uh, birthdays and stuff like that. I want to just be able to talk to my widget and tell it what I need, and it be smart enough to get it to me.

In which case, we might as well wire the sucker directly to my body. I was thinking maybe they ("They"....ooooo....the ubiquitous They) could package it as an attractive piece of jewellery, such as a bracelet or a ring. But why postpone the inevitable? Just hook it right up to me, somewhere indiscreet like behind my left ear or under my index fingernail.

Eventually, this widget could learn and think and develop its own identity. Artificial intelligence is just around the corner, people (or already here if you count George Bush...bump-ba-DUM!).

My widget could very well be the most useful and important invention in the history of...everything. It could help me think and learn, and it could scan my body and let me know if I have a virus by triggering excess mucous production. It could indicate to me that I was nervous by causing me to perspire heavily from my hands and feet. It could trigger emotional responses to external stimuli. It could send messages to my limbs to help me move my body. It could get all fuzzy when I'm drunk and make me think I'm a really good singer.

Wouldn't my widget be amazing?

Well, we can always dream.


Blogger jackp said...

oh mah god....

yeah..concerning all the passwords....annoying. IT's like, we have passwords and keys and stuff cause we assume people are dishonest and wanna steal your stuff. I don't like to lock things. I like to trust people. So far so good. Of course now that i've said it, i'm screwed.

i'm sure alot of your ideas will come to in the next 50yrs or so..

10:30 PM  
Blogger Gizzy said...

Vonage USB dongle only works if it's dangling in your cleavage. You plug it in, and it uses the computer's soundcard and Internet connection to "call" a phone number. You need a mic and headphones for this to work. Why would anyone want this instead of a cell phone? For starters, if you're out of town and you call anywhere that's in the local calling area of your assigned Vonage phone number, there's no long distance. So, say you're in Phoenix, and your laptop is connected to your hotel's free wireless Internet service. You plug in the Vonage dongle, put on your headphones with boom mic (or Bluetooth headset), and you call call anyone in your local calling area (Ottawa-Hull) for free. If you had your cellphone, you'd be paying their sky-high rates. Another reason is cellular coverage. If you can get on the 'Net, you can make a call. It's a lot of work for a small savings.

I find it funny that that which you refer to as a "widget" actually exists...if you're a Mac user. Mac OS X comes with an application called Dashboard that lets you add items called Widgets to it to view different information, such as: new Gmail messages, local weather, time in Sri Lanka, wifi hotspots, etc. Windows Vista will ship with a similar app, only Microsoft call them Gadgets instead of Widgets.

Passwords: RoboForm.

Wardrobe Combinations: Fashion Plates.

To coordinate schedules, lists, etc. use Airset. I just started using their service last week and it really is remarkable. I'd been looking for a service like this for two years, seriously. You can sync Outlook to it. You can share it with others. You can delegate calendar changes to other people. You can create many different calendars for different purposes, see them all overlayed, have reminders emailed to you, SMS'ed to your cell phone, etc. It's FREE, as in beer. I don't know how they plan to make money considering there are no ads on their site.

That's way too much already.

Lastly, here's a cellphone watch!


10:10 PM  
Blogger whyioughtta said...

Gizzy, I knew you'd come through my friend. We should re-name you Widgey or Wizzget.

So what I'm hearing you say is (you'll notice I have very selective hearing):

1. I'm at least as smart as Steve Jobs (re: widget)

2. All of the individual pieces exist; someone just needs to integrate them (hello: Dragon's Den)(

3. Good God, 'tunder 'n 'jeezus, 'n lord love a duck, but that cellphone watch is hideous. It looks like it would give you raveonous wrist hemotoma, not to mention malignant melanoma, within the first two hours of wear. Gotta go rinse my eyes with battery acid...

Regarding the VoIP stuff,'s as we suspected: a lot of effort for nominal savings.

3:35 PM  
Blogger whyioughtta said...

p.s. ever think of starting your own 'cool technology' blog?

I think you should.

Do it.


3:37 PM  
Blogger Molecular Turtle said...

I totally agree with you. I checked out the voice stick thing and it seems useless. The advantage I is probably you don't have to pay phone fees. The widget thing is a cool idea.

11:01 PM  
Blogger jackp said...

cool...i may try that airset...

12:28 AM  
Blogger The Swearing Lady said...

You're a regular Q-from-James-Bond, you are.

Most gadgets are completely pointless, but men love them. LET'S KEEP THE MEN HAPPY!

5:41 AM  
Blogger whyioughtta said...

Did anyone happen to notice that my widget bears more than a passing resemblance to a major body organ? (Hint: it resembles half a shelled walnut, and you're possibly making light use of it right now...).

My sarcasm is deep, yet subtle...

3:51 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home