I think a trend in IT is coming into play here producing what mentored is seeing. Over the past four to five years there has been a lot of talk in the IT (a fancy way of saying computers) industry of what they referr to as Computer Convergence. In other words PCs are moving to the center of everything that we see and do around the home from delivering content to delivering things that we need to live. In fact the only thing that the IT industry has not figgured out how to acomplish yet (as I think they will figure it out) is how to deliver all of your utilities via the internet. At the moment the only utilities that are not provided digitally via the internet has been electricity, gas and natural gas. I think all of us can see why that has been a stumbling block. At the moment you can get your phone service provided via the internet via residential VOIP, this is something new for residential customers but hardly new for business customers.
VOIP stands for Voice Over Internet Protocol and is the way that the analog voice is encapsulated in a digital packet and transmitted over an digital network to an analog device and reconvereted to an analog device. Rather simple if you know how its done. VOIP can provide better dervice then the traditional phone service, called POTS for Plain Old Telephone Service, can becuase of a simple physics rule that analog signals degrade over distance. Have you ever shouted to someone down a hallway or over a park only to have the other person not hear you. What is going on is the sound of your voice is attenuating or going away over distance. Well digital signals don't do that, how do you turn part of a bit off? A bit can't be half on and half off, doesn't quite work that way. So a VOIP is acutally better service and much cheaper to provide since the network is there already and you need not rent a seperate channel.
IT jornals are telling me over the next few decades the family PC is going to be taking on more and more jobs around the home and doing more for you. A pal of mine has a digital thermostat and digital butler (he calls it), the thermostat is connected to the internet and he can email the thermostat orders of when to turn the heat on or off. His digital bulter will turn lights on or off acording to emails recieved from him. The butler also has voice recognition so he comes home and tells the PC to turn off things or turn on things, sort of reminds me of Captain Piccard of the Starship Enterprise E talking to the computer. What the maker of the digital butler has not figgured out how to do is how to tell the stove or microwave to do things.