Living off the Land

Jul 15


Mike Hatton

Mike Hatton

It can be a real pain travelling. You have to take a bunch of stuff with you and keep an eye on it, so it doesn’t get lost or stolen. Sometimes this mental attachment to your stuff causes you to be on guard instead of enjoying your trip. So you try to find ways of travelling light. You don’t take everything you own, you just take the stuff you expect to use. Some things you expect to use but since you can get them at your destination, you leave those at home too. Most people do not take all of the food they are going to eat; they just buy it on the trip. There is no point in taking soap if you know the hotel will provide it. It would be nice if everything you needed was at your destination. If you are smart you find ways of making it possible for more things to be at your destination.

The Mongol Hordes were masters at travelling light. They were able to conquer such vast areas of land because they did not have long supply trains. They knew how to live off the land. They used the trees at their destinations for siege engines and they either ate the food that was available or they brought seeds to plant and grow their food wherever they happened to be. This allowed them to be fast and flexible, which are good qualities for anyone.

Not carrying a bunch of stuff with you is very liberating mentally as well as physically, but it is not just physical stuff that can burden us. Our computers have so much stuff on them, that if anything happened to them it would be quite a loss. According to one report, 1,200 laptops a week are lost at LAX. For many people the lost data was much more damaging than the price of the laptop.

Recently my computer got hit by a serious virus attack. I lost everything that was not backed up on a server. Lucky for me I backed up all of the data, but I still had to reinstall all of the applications and put back the proper settings. If my apps were all run from the server I would not have had to do anything.

In fact it would be really nice to not have to carry a computer around at all and just use any computer that was available at my destination. When I was in college that is pretty much how I worked. My college had a bunch of PC’s that did not have hard drives. Everywhere I went, I carried a 1.44 MB floppy disk that had DOS, vi, a C compiler and whatever program I was currently working on. With this floppy disk I could work anywhere on campus and still have the complete environment I was used to. In fact I even carried a phone card and I could call people anywhere even though I did not have a cell phone.

It is much harder to work in that manner now. Any applications that I would like to use, need to be installed. If everyone was installing applications the campus computers would be clogged with every type of program imaginable and would likely be riddled with viruses. There are groups of people that are modifying applications, so they can work directly from a flash drive. These are usually open source programs and may not be the applications you need, but it is one way to work freely.

The big trend now to solve this problem has been to put the application on the web. In that case you do not even need to carry a flash drive. Google expects that most apps will be run from the web in the future and wants to make an OS that optimizes that experience called Google Chrome OS. The Chrome OS is expected to boot very quickly and to get on the Internet as fast as possible. After that you should have access to all of your apps and data.

It is hard to say at this time whether Chrome OS will be a success or not, but you can be sure that there will be competition. This means that not only will you not need to carry a computer around but you may not even care what OS you are using. If all of your apps are available no matter what OS you are using then we will get some true competition in the OS space. Currently people are reluctant to switch OS’s because they will have to get all new applications.

People still identify with their tools and they want to be sure that they will have something available wherever they go, so I do not expect people will abandon portable computers entirely. The scenario may go something like this. You will have access to all of your applications on your portable phone through the web. You use the apps on the phone where it is appropriate but the screen is small and the input method is not as convenient as a larger computer. When there is a more powerful computer you can switch to it easily and have the same apps and data available. To log into the larger computer you transfer security information from your phone using Bluetooth Wireless Technology. Wherever you are you are able to use the most powerful computer available and you always have the power of the phone no matter where you are.

Predictions of the future are easy to get wrong but the general trend is for us to put more software on the web, and more hardware on the phone. If these trends continue, I should be back to where I was twenty years ago in college, just living off the land.

2 Responses to “Living off the Land”

    MishaPowerauto says:

    Wow, must have been a terrifying experience! I’m glad both you and Ashley were ok, and that nothing got stolen.I hoped you gace the superheroes a good tip – cool!!!!

    Zashkaser says:

    I rarely comment on blogs but yours I had to stop and say Great Blog!!

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