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  1. #1
    Computing Ubiquity
    MacInWin's Avatar
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    Computing Ubiquity
    In this thread: Catalina Bugs we started a discussion of how computing is becoming more cloud-centric. I proposed that the future of computing is that it will be ubiquitous, that is, the computing will be where I am, not where my computer may be. To make that happen, the networks need to be available with higher speeds. WiFi 5G is the first step. I didn't want to hijack that thread, but I though it worth pursuing what we started there.

    So, in that thread we started talking about how modern technology in cars have made keys pretty much obsolete. I see the same thing happening in home tech as well. Wireless and keyless locks are becoming more and more available and some of them work off of a smart phone, so no fob, no key. The lock senses your phone as you approach the door and unlocks it as you arrive. You can pair that with home automation and turn on lights, hvac, music, etc, as you arrive as well. No more entering a dark house.

    Now add some internet. My home is automated a bit. Not as much as I would like, but I do have a home automation center running on an old iMac from 2008. It controls the lights in and out of my home. A little before sunset, it turns on certain lights around the house, then at sunset it turns on the lights on my front porch and the landscape lighting on both the front and back of the house. It also turns on a light on my flagpole at sunset so that the flag is properly lit. At 11:30 all those lights are turned off, both in and out, but the flag stays on until sunrise, when it goes out. As part of the security, five minutes before the lights go out, the system senses if I have accidentally left a garage door open, and if I have, it closes it and sends me an email to let me know I forgot (again). I have some programmed settings to control other subsets of my automated lights on an "on demand" basis. Those setting are controlled from my phone.

    I also have some motion sensors for some lighting in storage rooms and the utility room. I have cameras that have night vision to monitor activity in the house that record any movement they detect during certain hours (mostly night). When I travel, I program the house lighting to add some randomness. The lights go off in a more staggered way, with all of them on a plus/minus 15 minutes schedule. And I have an additional light in the master bedroom that comes on as the lights are going out and which then goes off about 20 minutes later, again +/- 5 minutes. From the outside, it looks like someone had turned off the lights, gone up to the bedroom, gotten ready and then gone to bed and turned out the last light. In other words, it looks like I am there.

    I don't have the keyless/wireless locks yet because I am still investigating the security aspects of them. I think I'll have a solution for that in the next couple of months. I also have a burglar alarm that will have the police here in 5 minutes if the alarm goes off (I know that because we had a false alarm a while back). The burglar alarm uses wireless communications, plus I have a generator backup for the house. So if a creative thief decides to cut my phone lines and power lines to try to break in, the alarm system still works and all the cameras come back on after the generator kicks in 10 seconds later. My ISP cables are buried, come up in my garage, so a miscreant would have to break in, know where the ISB cables are, and then cut them to cut me off from the house, by which time the police have arrived.

    I say all of that to put this next sentence in context. All of it can be controlled from anywhere I am with internet connectivity. I can turn any light on or off. I can set/reset my alarm system. I can control the heat/cool cycle. I will be able to lock/unlock my doors once I select which system I want to install. I can see my cameras and download any audio/video I want. Three of my cameras allow me to talk through them to anyone in range. From anywhere in the world. All I need is my phone. And it's all encrypted from end-to-end.

    That is what I mean by ubiquity. I have a presence at my house even when I am not there. I have access from anywhere with internet. And I think that same ubiquity is coming to computing in general. The idea of a "computer" will morph to be whatever you have handy. Your software will be in the cloud somewhere, your data somewhere and when you want it, you get it. WiFi 5G will make it more possible to never have to carry a portable (laptop) computer anywhere. Whatever device you have will do whatever you need to do whenever you need to do it.

    Part of that model is that software licensing will have to change. No longer will you "own" a license, you'll just pay for access to it. Adobe and Microsoft have moved to that model with Creative Cloud and Office365, others are trying to do so. Users, at least some, are complaining because they are stuck on the "ownership" model.

    So, I started this to open a conversation. Where is computing going for the end user? Will we be renting CPU time in some cloud processor somewhere instead of having it sit on our desk or in our pocket or on our wrist? Do you think computing ubiquity is here, or coming soon, or a long way off?
    Jake

  2. #2
    Computing Ubiquity
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    I just wanted to comment on this statement:
    Sure, for older tech. But more modern security shuts down the car if the fob is outside range. The thief can start the car, maybe, and jump the ignition to get it running, but if the fob isn't close to the car, the computer will shut it down. And that is what is coming. The first generation key fobs don't have the sophistication.
    If that were the case, there would be no car thefts of these new cars.
    However, it's easy enough to develop a device that not only picks up the fob code, but then also stores it and transmits it, so as far as the car is concerned, the fob is in the car and the thief can drive it happily wherever.
    Described in this article only a couple of months old.
    Keyless car crime – what are car manufacturers doing to prevent it? | What Car?

    PS: Very good idea to move the discussion here, although I think I'm done now on this topic.

  3. #3
    Computing Ubiquity
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    Long way off? I don't think so Jake. I think it's coming a lot sooner than we might realize.

    Most folks my age have a difficult time with how fast things are moving toward computing ubiquity. The seniors that we interact with at the nursing homes where we volunteer have a hard time dealing with their flip phones. I guess what I'm trying to say is that any road toward computing ubiquity may be something that my grandchildren would welcome. Even though I'm comfortable with most newer technology, not sure I'm ready for the computing ubiquity you mention above.

  4. #4
    Computing Ubiquity
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    I'm going to throw a spanner in the works here and say, (although I think what you have suggested Jake is definitely where we are heading) you have overlooked a very important element of any future projections.

    Any long or medium term prediction we make today which does not take into account the likely economic, trade, social, religious, political, climatic and population changes that are likely to occur as a result of global climate change are likely to be flawed.
    The documentary "An Inconvenient Truth" (Al Gore)warned us about this stuff; increased greenhouse gasses, holes in the ozone layer etc way back in 2006 and we did nothing.
    Now as the truth starts to become undeniable politically and industrially, we are still sitting on our hands doing very little.

    Here is a link to a document worth reading. It is called the BT Policy Paper : Existential Climate Related Security Risk. A commissioned report written by two well respected older Australians it is a "no punches pulled" summary of the facts and projections based on the facts as we know them given that the circumstances are unprecedented.
    https://www.arnhemspeil.nl/nap/dok/2...urity-risk.pdf

    I apologise in advance for introducing a topic which might be seen as inappropriate for these forums but given that predictions are being made here, based on the continuance of the status quo it seems fair to mention a variable that could have profound effects on any predictions made about communication networks or services. Indeed we may be lucky to have a reliable energy supply in 10 years, where will 5G be then?
    I used to be conceited but now I'm perfect.

  5. #5
    Computing Ubiquity
    chscag's Avatar
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    We definitely do not want to discuss anything concerning Global Climate change or any other controversial political subject in our forums. I would appreciate it if you would kill any future discussion about that topic and not provide links.

    Thanks.

  6. #6
    Computing Ubiquity
    Rod's Avatar
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    Sure, I accept that. You are welcome to scrub it if you like.
    Thanks,
    Rod
    I used to be conceited but now I'm perfect.

  7. #7
    Computing Ubiquity
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    @Jake

    A splendid summary in clear and understandable language.

    I agree with your basic premises. The USA, North America in general, seems far ahead in this than the UK as far as I'm able to judge. And there seems little doubt that we are all heading in that general direction, albeit a varying rates.

    I foresee a few difficulties that will face us all - the industry, the political background of individual countries and legislations and, of course, the individual at the end of the chain.

    There is also the question of availability of access to the "Internet of Things" (IOT). Right now, in the US/UK, not to forget the less rich nations, there is a huge variation in our ability to get decent broadband speeds. I read in these Forums of folks stuck with 2-5 Mbps; others gleeful at getting Gigabyte speeds. Ditto 3G, 4G, never mind the prospect of 5G. And certainly in the UK, a tiny island, there are many areas with no cellular or broadband access.

    I have concerns about security. I realise that these are early days, but car thefts here are frequently reported in those with "keyless" fobs or iPhone access. The IOT is in its infancy and hacking of this has allowed vandalous damage to properties (switching off freezers for example) as well as burglary.

    So, I feel that there are many obstacles to be overcome before we can safely and widely embrace the digital future. But it will happen, I'm sure you're right.

    Ian
    Ian

  8. #8
    Computing Ubiquity
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    Good to see the conversation starting. As I said, key fobs, particularly earlier ones, have little security and are easily copied by a thief with a receiver to intercept the communications. And cars with key fobs, particularly early ones, have little internal security if a thief bypasses the locks and can get the car started.

    However, it's not hard to fix both of those issues. End-to-end encryption is a trivial thing to add to a key fob/car link, which would kill the thief-with-a-receiver weakness. And not allowing the car to continue to move unless the fob is inside is also easy to do. The computers in cars are increasingly sophisticated and well capable of such actions. The insurance agencies will apply pressure to the manufacturers by simply raising rates for cars without the security, which means car buyers will tend to buy the security, which the car makers will provide because they make money on it. Capitalism at it's finest!

    On the spread of the IOT or just the Internet, I read a story a few years back about how the trail from Kathmandu to the base camp at Everest had been a no-communications zone until satellite phones came along. But then somebody had the bright idea of putting a string of cell towers along the trail, just close enough to keep in comms with each other, so that all along the trail a simple cell phone had connectivity. And with a station at the base camp, you can now make a cell phone call from the peak of Mount Everest.

    It's actually easier to spread infrastructure of 5G than it is to hardwire a region. So, as 5G proliferates, neighborhoods that currently have terrible landline speeds will suddenly be able to use 5G cell connections for the internet. And nations with little infrastructure, like Nepal, can have widespread cell coverage. The cell coverage of the trail to Everest led to Kathmandu having pretty wide cell coverage in the city and region nearby.

    As for governments, the recent flap over Apple pulling an app the Hong Kong protesters were using to track police shows the delicate position that vendors, manufacturers and even governments are in. Pulling the app does not make it go away, it just drives it underground. Now China has to find and stop underground sites all over the world from hosting the app. In trying to squash the problem China has actually made it much harder to manage. And that is a sign that they don't think about ubiquity at all, which is blind of them. The internet has made suppression of data much, much harder to achieve.

    Ubiquity is coming, faster in some areas than others, but it's coming. The Steve Jobs and Bill Gates of the 21st century will be those who find a way to capitalize on that ubiquity to develop something we all need, but right now don't know we need it.
    Jake

  9. #9
    Computing Ubiquity
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    Here is a thought on car tech. How long do you think it will be before the "Log in with Apple" functionality will be used to open/start/lock at least one manufacturer's car? Take out your phone, facial recognition or finger press to get in, one tap on an app and voila! you are on your way. All secure, all encrypted, all uncopyable. Now add a feature that if the phone gets more than 10 feet from the car, shut down the car and you have certainly made it harder for thieves to work.
    Jake

  10. #10
    Computing Ubiquity
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    It's great article Jake and I agree wholeheartedly that this is the direction we are heading. I also take on board what Ian was saying about the varying levels of technology in different countries.

    Take Australia for example. The National Broadband Network (NBN) initiative was rolled out in 2009 and without a doubt had some political elements as part of a national government campaign election promise. Today it still does not reach many people in remote and rural areas and there are glaring gaps in the system even in inner city regions. I live 7 Km from Melbourne CBD and the NBN cable stops at the end of my street. The first two houses get it while I am stuck with a copper wire connection to the nearest node.

    Now it seems that 5G will be introduced before the completion of this "white elephant" of a project promising a faster and more accessible service to all of the areas currently lacking an optical cable connection and at a much lower cost.

    This is amusing because more than 6 years ago we had a pre paid USB internet dongle as a temporary measure for internet access which was of course limited to one computer at a time, until I found a handy little WiFi router in Radio Shack which allowed me to plug in the USB dongle and broadcast it's 3G connection throughout the house. I envisage much the same, with refinements for 5G, becoming the way of the future providing not only faster speeds but portability as well.
    I used to be conceited but now I'm perfect.

  11. #11
    Computing Ubiquity
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    Rod, depending on how well 5G actually works in practice, the idea of wired, or fiber optic cable connections may be overtaken by wireless. It's much easier to put up a network of 5G, 6G, whatever, wireless access points than to bury or string on poles a fiber optic network and then have to connect to every residence with physical connections. The provider "owns" the frequency, can use microwave to connect towers, or dig/string ONE line between the towers instead of all over the neighborhood to make the mesh of access points, but doesn't have to dig/string to every house. In your case, if a 5G station was set up at the end of the block, you'd have access!

    The key question is, "How well will it work with everyone on it at once?" If good speed and availability is achieved with everyone on it, then copper/fiber optic may have run its course.

    The biggest block to the spread of wireless will probably be the Not In My Back Yard folks who will try to obstruct the spread of the technology. Here is, for example, what's going on in Australia: Anti-5G Community Action | Real News Australia

    Here in the US, the same kind of thing is cropping up: http://themillenniumreport.com/2018/...y-of-santa-fe/
    Jake

  12. #12
    Computing Ubiquity
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    I agree, rightly or wrongly the 5G network will go ahead I think. Community group opposition or concern doesn't seem to have worked too well in the past. The industry always finds a way. Either by producing evidence contrary to the negative opinions or just introduction by stealth. Its pretty hard to reverse this type of thing once its done. The media gets flooded with promotional media about all the advantages and benefits and before you know it people are dismissing the negative views as alarmist or fringe group propaganda. The exact same thing happened with 3G and now the vast majority of people rely on it.
    I used to be conceited but now I'm perfect.

  13. #13
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    The thing people seem to be worried about is ionizing radiation from the radio signals from the 5G sites. According to what I have read, a "Metro cell" will transmit about 10-20 w overall, and a "Micro cell" will transmit 5-10 W. WiFi modems, for comparison, transmit about 1 watt, but it's inside your house. Radio power declines by the square of the distance from the transmitter. So at 1 M, if power is 10w, then at 2M it's down to 2.5w, at 3 M it's down to about 1.1w, and so on. The receivers need to be very sensitive to pick up a signal at all. At 10 M from the transmitter the received power is down to 0.1 w. At 100M the signal is .0001w. The frequencies currently planned are just above that of the old citizen's band radios, and a second band well below that. Note that the lower the band the less ionizing radiation impact there is. Also, those higher band signals won't penetrate solid objects very well, like cars, trees, walls. And that lack of penetration is why there are so many units planned. The signals are short ranged and won't get through much solid material. As I understand it, 5G when walking around outside will be pretty good just from the cells, but inside there will be a need for what are called "Pico" cells and "Femto" cells. A Pico cell would cover public areas like shopping malls, airports, train stations, skyscraper floors. A Femto cell would be the equivalent of today's WiFi router, covering a home or business for 4-32 users and a range of "10s of meters," whatever that may mean. The power from a femto cell is in the 0.1w range, btw, so about the same as today's WiFi router. Metro cells would need to be place about every couple of hundred meters, with Micro cells to fill in blank spots in coverage. Large facilities get Pico cells and finally homes/businesses that want 5G have a femto cell. I suspect an antenna will be required to be installed outside your house to actually pick up the signal and bring it to the femto cell.

    But science never stopped a good conspiracy theorist. The fact that our homes are awash in every kind of ionizing radiation with little ill effect won't stop the conspiracy theories about how this new millimeter range signal is somehow different. The bottom line is that a 5w citizens' band radio has more ionizing effect than a Metro cell will simply because the citizens' band radio is right next to you and the cell is a hundred meters, or more, away. And the radar from the nearby airport or weather radar station probably blasts out a couple of hundred watts, if not more, of ionizing radiation that washes over your house every few seconds. Microwave ovens, wireless phones, just simple cell phones of 3G and 4G are ionizing as well. You sit right next to your MBP and the WiFi inside is sending out radio waves, an BT radio waves, plus whatever radiation comes off the various chips and devices inside that may have high enough frequency of operation to spawn a bit of leakage. Your car that has a collision avoidance system? Radar. LED lights also radiate low level signals in the radio bands. I'm a ham radio operator and can hear everybody's LEDs in my receiver.

    Now consider that the Metro cell down the block can't send a signal through the wall of your house and the big worry somehow goes down quite a bit.

    Bottom line: I don't think there is anything to worry about from 5G for your health. We are already awash in signals from all sorts of sources. If you want to worry about health, get up, get out and get some exercise. Eat better, lose weight, do whatever you think makes you healthier. But don't worry about the effect of 5G.
    Jake

  14. #14
    Computing Ubiquity
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    I didn't mean to suggest that I agree with the fears voiced by some about ionising radiation. I hope you didn't take it that way, personally I agree with you, I imagine standing in front of a microwave oven subjects me to more radiation that all the transmitters in out street put together and no one is suggesting we ban them.
    You may recall the conspiracy theory about how holding a cell phone to your ear would give you brain cancer. Conspiracy theorists don't do themselves any favours by suggesting that Finland doesn't exist or that the earth is flat.
    I used to be conceited but now I'm perfect.

  15. #15
    Computing Ubiquity
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    Finland doesn't exist?
    But I have been there....

    You probably mean that New Zealand doesn't exist
    map without New Zealand - Google Search

    Hmmm...come to think of it, I have been there as well.

    Unless it no longer exists because it fell off the edge of the flat earth

    See...now it all makes sense!

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