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Personal Computer Co-dependance

The IBM 7090 Mainframe : 1970's Computer Tech
Computers shrunk from corporate mainframe systems to the hand held smartphones of today. Desktop PC's were essential to getting us to the tiny LTE enhanced smartphones. The latest smartphone one of the only computers that gets people really excited. When Apple launches a new iPhone people camp in front of the Apple stores for days prior to the launch!

Smartphones are slowly destroying the camera, tablet, laptop and desktop markets. A persons smartphone is often the MVP of their consumer electronics, the one they always have with them, the one computer they use more than any other and people are even apprehensive about giving over their smartphones to a phone repair place for more than a few hours! People are addicted to the constant stimulation you can get from a smartphone, texting, watching videos, talking to people, browsing the web, shooting selfies, recording event videos, you name it, people are doing it with their smartphones!

Meg & I spot people using smartphones while they are walking, dining together, driving and in all sorts of other unusual use cases, like at Church, in bed and while doing just about anything else you can think of.

I use my old smartphone as a dashboard for my Segway, to check the weather, to control my toy robot, to listen to Pandora, to use Google Maps, to look up things online, to fact check, to control different electronic systems around our home, I even use it as a flashlight and digital camera! Its amazing how many different ways you can use your smartphone.

Home DIY Desktop Build Example
Today a small dedicated niche of people find desktop computers interesting, the majority are PC gamers who want to jam the latest Nvidia Geforce GTX 1080 graphics action into an Intel i7k cpu enhanced mainboard with 32GB of the fastest RAM available, SSD's of blistering performance to boot the OS and huge 5TB Segate drives for bulk storage.

The modular nature of desktops offering the best price to computing performance ratios possible in a platform that can be easily upgraded one component at a time! The modular nature of desktops means that normal people can build them from parts, repair them easily, or upgrade them easily. My closest friend and I have been home building desktop computers since our early teen years, we have even built desktops as a team together and both continue cross recycling parts from old machines into new builds!

A very thin modern laptop example 
Laptops are thinner and lighter every year, a trend that Intel started with the Ultrabook platform. You might also give Apple credit for super light laptops with their MacBook Air line. Today Microsoft announced a laptop with 16 hours of single charge runtime ^^ Its amazing what this 7th gen intel action is doing for laptop energy efficient performance! I think a 24 hr runtime mainstream laptop is only about 3 years away!

A man playing a racing game on an iPad Pro 
Tablets are more powerful now, the iPad Pro offering laptop like performance from its in-house developed ARM SOC A9 information processing platform. The iPad Pro has enough performance to render CGI gaming with good frame rate performance "smooth" and at "retina" resolution, nothing short of amazing when you stop to think about it!

Microsoft Announces Surface Pro 4 
There are even computers that blur the lines between a touch screen tablet and a keyboard enhanced laptop, like the Microsoft Surface family. These latest designs are aimed more at sleek form factors than raw computing performance. Consider the $3000 Surface Pro 4 vs a $3000 gaming laptop in terms of computational performance! Form is triumphing over function in newer mainstream laptop ultrabook form factors, something that is great for travel where the lighter computer is better!

Mainstream laptops became powerful enough for normal computing use cases in 2012 where thinner and lighter is now the design mantra. I have a low end thinner lighter ACER laptop from 2014 with integrated Intel GPU that actually runs Steam gaming with 40 FPS ^^ Curious as to what kind of hardware was able to do this, beyond looking up the specs, I took this Acer laptop apart to find a lack of much of anything inside, a tiny space optimized mainboard with copper heat sink piping off the CPU and GPU to a tiny fan enhance aluminum fin radiator. No wonder it is so light! It is amazing how far the technology has come! This laptop gives more than 5 hours of runtime from its slide on cartridge battery of 3S 18650 design of 11.1v and 3.4Ah or 37Wh that can be easily swapped out in seconds. I like the easy to swap battery design in my 08 MacBook too :)

Late 15 iMac
The latest 27inch iMac is the most elegant computer you can buy! It exists as powerful laptop computer hardware mounted behind an amazing 5K P3 color gamut computer monitor! The form is an elegant stir welded aluminum unibody design that was thoughtfully engineered, giving the iMac a sleek appearance that is unlike anything else.

I was bored to tears with computer hardware, my ancient 08 MacBook still working fine with its second battery. The Late 15 iMac 5k on sale was the only cool computer I could find that was reasonably fast at video editing with a good monitor and OS that I like.

Kyocera Brigadier "Verizon" 
I currently operate a mediocre rugged smartphone of 2014 tech that does everything I need it to do! The Kyocera Brigadier on Verizon was the first smartphone in America to ship with sapphire screen. I like the wireless QI charging too. The screen is bright, the speaker system is loud, the camera is ok but nothing to write home about.

Before the Brigadier I was using a Samsung Note 3 that my closes friend had given me, for about a year. I decided to go backwards with less powerful smartphone hardware to get a rugged platform! Overall I am bored with smartphones, the only exciting news lately "edgeless display" tech, faster charging options, and cameras that shoot 4K at 30FPS or faster. The smartphone technology is evolving so fast that before you know it FLIR thermal cameras will be in more phones then just the CAT S60.

Samsung Smart Fridge 
Computer have become appliances that people rely on like refrigerator, in some cases computers are even embedded in refrigerators (image above). I find it odd to imagine my life without electricity, internet access and computers.

Instantly look up recipes, the internet is more than the worlds most versatile cookbook! Accessing the internet with a computer (any platform) gives you a window into big data, the Facebook postings, Youtube videos, Pandora music streams, Netflix movies, Amazon shopping, Cortana the AI engine and more!

Wikipedia an information index where you can learn about almost anything. DIY videos on Youtube offer learning that you could previously only get from your parents or experts in first person, things you can't necessarily find in a book, at least not easily!

Even books themselves have been digitally inverted with the Amazon Kindle E-ink display reigning e-trash supreme over classical books made of ground up forest. You have to read about 30 books on your Kindle to achieve net carbon footprint parity with classical printed books. If you read more than 30 books on your kindle, then your net environmental impacts will be reduced vs classic book consumption, printing, distribution, storage, recycling, etc.

Think of how much less materials are involved with streaming a movies via Netflix or Hulu vs obtaining a physical copy of a plastic data disc. What about the transportation footprint of moving plastic discs by the billions? Even a fart multiplied by billions is a huge cloud of natural gas, cows producing even more than people on such a grand scale that cow farts are driving climate change by trapping more of the suns energy in Earths atmosphere. To understand how CH4 affects the earths net solar energy capture, you have to study climate science, gas physics and chemistry. Take the advice of more than 1900 noble award winning scientists, burning carbon on the scale of billions of people empirically affects the energy balance of earths atmosphere, driving climate change, natural gas from farts only makes the problem more challenging to solve!

Electronics are some of the dirtiest products in existence because of what is required to manufacture them. RoHS or the reduction of hazardous materials has gone a long way to reducing the toxic impacts of antiquated computer hardware recycling.

The transition away from power hungry large desktop computers to smaller energy efficient computers means that the e-waste problem and computer energy use per person is already shrinking. Think of how much lighter and smaller a smartphone is when compared to a desktop computer!

Back in the 2003-2009 era, I started promoted laptops amongst peers in college as effective energy efficient alternatives to desktops for mainstream normal computer use cases that cover the overwhelming majority of peoples computer power requirements! Many people saw the light with the ubiquitous 15in Wintel "Studen" laptops, MacBooks and other models ^^

Swappable Battery Tech

I am personally disappointed with the shift away from easy user replaceable batteries. There is no excuse for non user replaceable batteries even in thin devices! There are all kinds of cable connectors that OEM's have available like ZIF that would make swapping a battery a lot easier then when they solder and glue them in, a practice that I consider greedy on an EVIL level and or is demonstrable of incomprehensible stupidity in the design.

Today smartphone OEM's like Samsung are gluing batteries to the hot logic, something that defies logic. News flash, lithium ion and heat do not got well together! Boing 787 Dreamliner ring a bell! How about some hover boards that catch fire! Above all the Galaxy Note 7 emblematic of why non-user replaceable batteries make absolutely zero logical sense whatsoever!

I was horrified to learn that the Hero5 session camera has a sealed internal battery when I was researching action cameras to mount to a cheap quad copters called a Syma X5C! I hate sealed internal batteries, the ideas behind them, and the execution thereof by greedy manufacturers who seem to have a sole focus on next quarters earnings! The "iPods dirty little secret" video in 2003 an eye opener that propelled the discussion about non replaceable batteries into the lime light of mainstream consumer awareness. For reasons that include longer single charge run time, technological antiquity and form factor preferences, people as a whole no longer care about user replaceable batteries, unless we are talking about a drone with 8min of flight endurance.

I vowed to never again purchase a battery powered electronic device from Apple after learning what it would take to swap out the battery from my iPad 2, 26 pages of Sudoku guides, a handful of specialized tools and hours of my finite time. On a happier note the original battery in the iPad 2 continues to work perfectly. The Nexus 7 on the other hand has experienced remarkable battery capacity fade that is more common in other devices. The iPad 2 will eventually fall victim to OS update incompatibility, then new apps will not work on it, making it less useful in the future. It has a very predictable platform attrition trajectory, which in my use cases is probably about 10 years from now :)

Rechargeable batteries wear out and everyone knows it! Heat and deep cycling causing them to break down even faster, so does storing them fully charged or camped on the charger. Sealed batteries are often a nightmare to change out! iFixit up yours manufactures that seal batteries to make it hard for users to replace them! If there is a will there is a way! I will make my mission to take apart any device that I want to keep functioning to swap out its battery. Armed with the internet, screw drivers, a soldering iron and a deep desire to defeat designed obsolescence, I will replace non replaceable batteries :P

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