Sometimes the march of technology is downright scarey.

Yesterday, I went to have new passport style photos taken, because I am going to China the end of October, and I need a visa. The last time I did that (and it was only two years ago) they used a special camera that printed a dual image on Polaroid film. Now they just use a cheap digital camera, and they manipulate the image in software, and they can print out any amount of them you want, not just two. And the old Polaroid Corporation is dead-- from their inability to understand that digital cameras would give them no value add. You can still buy a Polaroid camera, and film for them, but why? Back in the day, about 25 years ago, I was sales and marketing manager for a company that made sewer flow dataloggers. They were housed in a piece of 6" diameter plastic pipe, and were something like 4 feet long. The data was recorded on no-kidding cassette tapes. The next product we made stored the data in RAM. It had all the capabilities of the first one, but was about one-tenth the size. That was about two years later. I just saw a new product from Eastech Flow Controls (which I don't think is officially released yet). Their sewer flow datalogger is programmed by, and stores up to 1 Gbyte of data on, a flash memory card. Just stick the card in, and when you want the data pull the card out. No programming, no muss, no fuss. What is certain is that the control systems of the future won't look like they do now. After all, what IS a DCS anyway? It is (with thanks to Peter Zornio for this definition) a collection of integrated software suites.  Sure, we talk about "big iron" but nobody really makes big iron anymore. Skype, Gizmo Project and other tools are dressed-up P2P file sharing programs. They distribute the load among all the connected nodes. If you are on Skype right now, you're participating, with your processor's unused cycles, in handling all the traffic of the entire global network. It is downright amazing what Skype can do. And what will the control system look like in another 25 years?