January 18, 2011

The Future Has Arrived

So, after a very nice lunch I am sitting here typing this blog post on my MacBook Air (a device well beyond the limits of the imaginations of most of the science fiction writers of my youth) using a device which I invented three years ago, as I imagine did many other switched-on technologists.

Fortunately unlike most of us Novatel wireless went a bit further and actually built what Verizon are marketing as the "MiFi". It's a device about the size of a credit card and maybe just over a quarter of an inch thick incorporating a cellular broadband wireless router and an 802.11b/g wireless interface.

So to get Internet-connected all I have to do is switch it on (the only control is an on/off switch) and my laptop associates with it and is immediately connected to the 'Net. Not only that but the connection can be shared by up to five wireless devices, so my lucky pals will also be able to take advantage of the connectivity.

As far as I can see the MiFi is a sensible little device that is destined to become the preferred way of accessing the Internet. I hope that coupled with solar chargers it might also help African and other less-developed nations to build a viable Internet infrastructure (not that this will necessarily be their most urgent need).

Quite where this leaves the plans to enforce an Internet ban on copyright offenders in the various jurisdictions of the world I have no real idea. Technology sometimes makes fools of those who would control it, and it is only a matter of time before the MiFi or something similar is available as a "pay as you go" service to all comers.

Equal-opportunity (network neutrality) is an excellent ideal. The problem is with those who would abuse their power to change the laws unfairly to their own advantage, and those who stand idly by as their rights are eroded. The Electronic Frontier Foundation is celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2011. Celebrate the new year by joining the EFF or at least making a donation!

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