Mobility

Linux PC now fits in a thumbdrive package

One very small advantage of thirty years of microcomputing is being around long enough to:

walk to school barefoot through snowdrifts, uphill both ways^K^K^K^K^K

hand-solder chips onto my own S-100 bus memory boards ^K^K^K^K^K

Hmm. I'm not sure there is any advantage, except perhaps the joys of heavy metal poisoning (no, not Black Sabbath, the other kind of heavy metal) from all the solder fumes.

But, sometimes something creeps up on me for a 'Gee whiz, ain't that neat' moment... like realizing my (circa 2005) Nokia smartphone has 640 times the memory and a processor that is 150 times faster than that first S-100 machine — and I can use the smartphone to order pizza and watch Baywatch reruns.

Hopefully, this latest invention, the PC-on-a-chip, will be put to nobler use. It will outperform the aforementioned smartphone, with a faster CPU, more RAM, and the ubiquitous and reliable Linux OS, plus 10/100-BaseT and dual USB 2.0 ports, all in one socketable chip, which could fit in a USB memory key package with room to spare.

It's hardware like this that enthuses the Homebrew Mobile Phone Club experimenters on the make-your-own-cellphone list I read. They're talking about marrying off-the-shelf GSM* radio modules to Gumstix and other ultra-ultralight PCs like the machine announced above, to give us the features we want in a phone.

* GSM, being an open standard, is far easier to work with than CDMA, as Qualcomm holds the rights to CDMA and demands hefty license fees to certify a CDMA mobile.

Where will this profusion of smaller-cheaper-faster take us? How will it affect you when half the users you now support have this much computing power in their pocket? For one, what are the security implications? Join the discussion.

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