I’m sure I’m only the millionth person to ask this, but the other day I was looking at digital cameras and wondering if I could get one that’s controllable from my PC, which I was told in no uncertain terms doesn’t exist. I apparently can’t buy a camera that I can plug into a USB port, and have some Python module that I can run that says “Take a picture, and save it on my hard drive every five minutes”. Maybe more importantly, I can’t buy a camera that I can plug in to a wall socket in the morning and say “between noon and five, record what goes on outside my window”.
I can do that with a webcam, but I can’t do it with a full-sized camera that isn’t tethered and pretending to be a webcam, and definitely not on a standalone camera. That’s just one thing, though – why can’t I tell my cellphone that between midnight and five in the morning, only these whitelisted numbers are allowed to make my phone ring, but they should ring loud? Or tell my car that it’s me, not Arlene, so fire up my half of the mp3 collection, not hers?
Where, I guess, are my scriptable devices?
One of the things that’s more frustrating about the ongoing “computer revolution” than any other thing, and I’d bet for a lot of people more frightening, is that there are computers are all over the place making decisions on our behalf, but we frequently have zero input as to what those decisions are past the initial purchase. There are microprocessors of one kind or another in damn near everything these days, and especially in smaller devices the interfaces are these horrible, tiny little things with buttons the size of a child’s fingertip and a display that looks like a five-dollar digital watch. Phones, radios, thermostats, cameras, belt buckles, this stuff is everywhere, and I can’t tell any of it what to do if I’m not standing right there twiddling the knobs.
Basically, I want to be able to delegate paying-attention-to-stuff and doing-things-routinely stuff to widgets with processors in them, in the hopes that I wouldn’t have to babysit them, and might be able to get them to do neater things. Do these wonderful toys exist? I can’t find them, if they do.