Friday, May 9, 2008

Does your puppy have an IP address?

It's only a matter of time before each of us, along with our pets, our cars, all our worldly possessions, have our own IP (Internet protocol) address. That means we will be able to be even more exact in addressing people, critters, and things via the Internet, issuing commands, monitoring status, controlling stuff no matter where we are.

Example: you get up in the morning when the alarm clock rings--at a time you pre-set it to do so the night before from your laptop. The wife sleeps on beneath her electric blanket, set for her comfort by the microprocessor in the bed control, just as was your side of the blanket and the hardness of the mattress. You smell coffee perking and the toaster pops up a nice, perfectly-toasted bagel while you shower in water that is exactly the right temperature, just the way you set them to do in the software suite on your office machine. A traffic report for the route to work is available and waiting on your PDA, constantly being updated, as well as the weather for your little corner of the world, and the pre-opening prices on your stocks. But you don't watch them on the tiny little PDA screen. You have relayed them to your 52-inch TV to view while you eat breakfast -- in one window. The other two show ESPN's "Sports Center" and trailers for the new movies due to be in local theaters this weekend, streamed to your TV from a distant website.

Still thirsty when you get to the office, you touch the vending machine in the break room with your PDA and it drops a bottle of vitamin water into the slot for you and charges $1.50 to your phone bill. During the day, you send your browser on your desktop to Fido's IP address to make sure he's okay, has water in his bowl, and is leaving the cat be. You also check on the temperature in the house, answer a call from a telemarketer on your home phone (then hit one key to blacklist that guy's IP), and accept delivery of a new VHF radio the UPS guy brought to your front porch.

(Of course, when the boss is not watching, you fire up the rig in the shack at home from your desk, rotate the beam to the heading you saw on the DX spot on your wrist watch readout, and work a DXpedition while propagation was right.)

If it's a cold day, you start your car out in the deck about ten minutes before quitting time so it will be nice and toasty when you get there. Of course, the vehicle has its own IP that you can address, including choosing the exact temperature in the car and the station that will be selected on the radio when you climb in. Of course, that station could be a stream from Europe featuring blues music or a bluegrass station from California. You could even program the exact songs you wanted to hear, in order. Or you may have the mobile rig already tuned to the roundtable frequency and the screwdiver antenna properly adjusted for you when you get there, just in case you want to talk with the guys on the way home.

The wife sends a text message to the readout on the car's dash letting you know she ordered up some groceries--including two piping hot deli meals--from the grocery store and they'll be waiting at the pickup window...but only once the store's computer senses that you are five minutes away. The meals will be hot and the ice cream won't melt.

Sound far-fetched, futuristic? Most of what I just described is possible today. Is the time coming when everything around us has full Internet addressability? Will we be issued a Social Security number and an IP address when we are born? Is all this good or bad or indifferent? Is that Fido on the dashboard readout, reminding me to pick up his tasty treats?

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