Is Science Fiction finally coming through?

For years science fiction authors have written about fantastic technologies that will make our lives easier, more fun, and generally better in many ways and ever since we have been wistfully dreaming of those times.

Now it seems that there are a lot of things new announcements and products that fulfill some of those visions.  Here are some of the cool items you may not have heard about.

Video on Demand Evolution

Cable companies have had limited video on demand for quite a while now, and more recently companies like Joost, Netflix and Hulu have began bringing us a whiter variety of programming available to watch what when want to when we want to watch it.  The networks are getting the hint by making some of their shows available as well; however until now most of these choice required you to sit in front of your computer unless you were among the small percentage of folks that have some sort of media center integrated with your audio-video system.

We have seen set-top appliances that allow us to stream this content to our sets, but that is still yet another piece of equipment to have in your living room, something many wives simply do not like.

image Recently some television makes have announced their sets will support streaming with no other device, and they will do it over Wi-Fi.  LG announced 2 of their lines will support NetFlix, CinemaNow and YouTube, while Vizio unveiled models that not only stream NetFlix, Blockbuster, Amazon and Yahoo!, but it will also support images from Flickr, streaming music from Pandora and Rhapsody and more.  Not to be left behind, Sony announced the ability to stream from Yahoo!, Amazon, YouTube, Slacker(sm) and more..  I would also be remiss to mention that the XBox360 got streaming movies from Netflix last year, and with applications like PlayOn Media Server you can get your Netflix, YouTube, Hulu, ESPN and CBS on the XBox, Playstation 3 and soon the Wii.  All we need now is to replace the actual screen with a hologram ala The Minority Report and we will have arrived!

Mobility and More

Of course everyone knows about the iPhone.  What you may not have heard of are the new generations coming with the Android operating system, with the T-Mobile G1 being the first to market.  BlackBerry and Palm have also provided significant updates to their operating system given us many choice for little computers walking around in our hands with functionality from GPS navigation to price comparisons via scanned bar codes.  Oh, and they still let us talk to people too!

This revolution in mobility is beginning to make its way into other devices.  Android has been spotted as the underlying OS for new desktop phones and with its easy to use interface it makes it perfect for other embedded devices.  Can you imaging having a microwave or oven that you can set up to come on at certain times more easily, or a refrigerator that will let you know you are running low on milk via SMS before you come home?

Automotive

The newest Microsoft Sync is pruported to read your text messages as they come in, and even recognize your voice commands for not only calling, but for interacting with the navigation system and all of your music as well.

Oh, and since you asked (I know you were going to!) the flying car is making progress.  There are still a lot of issues from logistics to infrastructure and more, but it looks like there are some very smart folks working towards making the ultimate sci-fi dream a reality.

There’s far too many other gadgets to go into without turning this post into the size if War and Peace, but be assured that it is an exciting time in technology!

Review of The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of NiggyTardust!

Well, I promised a review of The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of NiggyTardust! from Saul Williams, so here goes.

First I want to say that I have only listened to it once. It is a well produced album and you certainly can feel the influence of Trent Reznor. Many of the songs have the “industrial” undertones that one would expect from Trent.

Some of the songs are a bit too much into the rap genre for my normal listening tastes, but trying to come at it objectively they seem good. The lyrics are generally well formed, although a few songs do get a bit repetitive.

There are some pleasant tracks with songs that are a bit more melodic. They also show the diversity of the music on this album. Saul is able to heavy sounding rap to melodic industrial sounds.

All in all I am happy that I purchased the album. I doubt it will make my favorite play lists; however, I will listen to it on occasion when I’m looking for a bit of diversity from my normal listening habits.

The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of NiggyTardust

Certain artists are starting a trend of releasing albums direct on the Internet rather than going through a big record label. One of the recent bands to do that was Radiohead with their album In Rainbows. Now Trent Reznor has been working with Saul Williams and Saul is releasing The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of NiggyTardust on November 1st. The price? $0 or $5, depending on your choice. Here’s an excerpt from the email sent by Trent:

The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of NiggyTardust! has arrived! After my own recent dealings with record labels we decided to release it directly to you. Head over to http://www.niggytardust.com for all the details

and

A word on the way we’ve chosen to release this. There are obvious similarities in how Radiohead just released their new record and the way we’ve chosen to. After thinking about this way too much, I feel we’ve improved upon their idea in a few profound ways that benefit you, the consumer. You obviously will be the judge of this in the end. One thing that IS very different in our situation is that Saul’s not the household name (yet!) that Radiohead is, and that means we need your support on this more than ever. If you like what you hear, spread the word.

My take on this is, support these guys! They are fighting the big business music industry and the hold they have had over album sales for decades with the power of the Internet. If you want the music and you want to make your voice heard, pay thee $5, it’s chump change for cryin’ out loud.

Personally I want to send the record labels a message; quit sticking it to us! Stop being so greedy! At the same time I want to thank the artists for their time and effort, they are making my life more enjoyable by the music they create.

Update: One of the things that Saul is doing differently with his distribution is this. For free you can download a 192k mp3 file. For the $5 you get the choice of 192k, 320k or flac(lossless) formats. You also get a PDF with all of the artwork and lyrics regardless of your price.

It is my sincere hope that people do not take advantage of this. Sending a message to the record companies begins with this sort of grass roots movement.

Update 2: I just had to mention this.  Wikipedia already has this article about NiggyTardust, including references to the email  sent by Trent last night!  What a world we live in.  It is no longer the Information age but the Wikipedia age.  You may say, same thing, but in my opinion Wikipedia is faster than other medium!