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Digital Convergence

Digital Convergence
 Technology with Integrity

By Tim Torian, Torian Group, Inc.


Digital convergence is the term for the trend toward storing and using all kinds of information in digital (computer) format. Music’s transition to MP3 is one example. As more types of information become digital, the tools used to manage them converge toward the computer and the internet. 

Digitized documents – Many federal courts are requiring that documents be submitted in digital format, usually Adobe Acrobat. Many companies are digitizing documents as the come in the door, and storing everything electronically. Dual monitors make this work much more smoothly on the desktop.  Faxing to and from the computer has been a common practice for over 15 years now.

Digital Media – CD’s and DVD‘s store their information digitally, and convert back to audio and video when played. Music is now likely to be an MP3. Tapes are going the way of 8 tracks.

On February 18, 2009, the United States will switch to all-digital TV broadcasts. www.fcc.gov/dtv  

Digital recorders – TIVO, Windows Media Center, and PVR’s are changing the way people watch TV.   These devices record live TV, and play it back when and where you want. 

Many TV stations are also making their content available on the internet. In addition, there is video that is available only on the internet. www.tvexe.com offers free software program to connect to internet TV from all over the world, with searching tools for the shows that interest you. www.masterytv.com provides self improvement seminars on demand. Some are free in exchange for your email address, full access with Subscription. On demand movie services such as www.cinemanow.com allow you to download and watch movies. Unfortunately, porn sites have leaded the way with interactive video.

XM radio and SIRIUS deliver digital audio via satellite. HD is also coming to radio –Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) transmits data at high speeds over the traditional radio spectrum. You need a digital radio to listen. http://msnbc.msn.com/id/10480765     www.communicasia.com/press_releases14June05.htm
Nearly all radio stations also broadcast on the internet. www.radio-locator.com
Podcasts are also becoming popular – a prerecorded audio show in MP3 format, which you can download and listen to at your convenience. www.podcast.net  www.podcastdirectory.com

Voice over IP (VOIP) – Analog telephones are being replaced with handsets that digitize the sound of your voice, and treat it as one more type of network information. Most new PBX systems either have VOIP capability, or have an add in card to make them connect to VOIP networks. Home systems such as Skype and Vonage are gaining popularity.  Cable companies now offer dialtone over broadband. Many predict the end of traditional phone companies as this trend continues.

Many cell phones are internet capable, allowing access to digital media. New technologies (Called Generation 3 or 3G) such as EVDO are increasing the bandwidth available for internet access to usable speeds. Cell Phone / PDA combinations provide access to Calendar, Email, Internet, Digital media player /recorder, interactive gaming, and much more. Cell phones can be outfitted with TV receivers. http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/prn/texas/3566959.html. GPS systems are available for cell phones, and are becoming standard in cars.

Wireless internet access is also having a big impact. Many cities have wireless access over a good part of their downtown. This will only grow.

Because the information is digital, the internet is playing a bigger part in all kinds of communication.  In 2005, 78.6 percent of Americans go online. The number of hours online continues to increase – rising to an average of 13.3 hours per week, and steadily growing. Of those that go online, about 90% use email. Almost two-thirds of Americans (66.2 percent) use the Internet at home in 2005, a substantial increase from the 46.9 percent of users who reported home Internet access in 2000. Access to the Internet via a broadband connection (cable or DSL) continues to rise, and is now used by 48.3 percent of users.  These statistics are from www.digitalcenter.org. They have been tracking Internet use for the past 6 years, and issue an annual report.

Tim Torian has taught computer networking at the College of Sequoias and Cal Poly Extension. He has a BS in Computer Science, and has been consulting on computer networks for the past 20 Years. His industry certifications include: Cisco CCNA and CCNI, Microsoft MCSE, and Novell CNE.  He is president of Torian Group, Inc. which provides a full range of Technology Consulting services to local business, including computer services, networking, and custom software development. They can be reached at (559) 733-1940 or on the web at http://www.toriangroup.com


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