So as I peruse through this family's blogs, I'm rather aware of a handful of recent advancements that we all probably don't know about. So as I'm lunching at work, I'll jot down a few things that technology lets us do here in the 2000's.
Motive: Within a couple of years, we're going to see the way we use devices change. And since our family falls behind in everything, I figure it'll take a year or two to get us ready.
This is the buck nasty baby of WiFi - that term mentioned at every hotel, etc. WiFi is simply a wireless connection - like the one your router sends out. WiMax is a standard that will increase the range of those from about 30-40 feet to 3-4 miles. It'll be available in two or more years.
Application - Luke will be able to use the wireless from his house to check deals on ebay while sitting at Taco Bell.
You may have seen Windows 7 ads say "to the cloud!" and wondered what it means. The cloud is an imaginary place where all the stuff you'd normally save on a computer gets saved and accessed online. That means it doesn't matter if you're using a library computer or your cell phone, you can pull up whatever data you saved. Decent nerds are concerned about this currently - seeing it as a form of Big Brother trying to steal our identities and data. Expect paranoia to become widespread.
A good way to test this out the cloud in a wimpy fashion is with Google Docs. You can save a document online and access it from anywhere. I have a ongoing budget sheet I keep in Google Docs. Note that you can also set permissions - so if Leah is working on a paper, we could all chip in/tease her for her inabilities.
Application - mobility and connectivity. Think of it as a way to link all your electronics together.
You may have heard of some reference to set-top boxes or media boxes. These little babies are replacing mom's storage room full of DVD's and VHS's. They hold the data at a high quality, and output it with HDMI - so you can have BluRay quality shows all saved on a dinky little device meant to sit on top of your TV. The set-top boxes also act as a cable/satellite provider through your internet connection. Some new TVs come with this stuff built in - like Google TV, etc.
Every movie (DVD and VHS) mother owns could fit on about 2TB of data.
Application - less clutter, higher quality movie nights.
For now that's about all I can think of off the top of my head. Plus I should get back to reading papers and writing code.