Seb's 10 greatest, geekiest and most awesome things of 2009 (continued)
Yeah, sue me -- while I'm by no means a Microsoft cheerleader, I am a huge Windows fan. 2009 saw the release of, dare I say, the best operating system ever made. Sales figures of both the bundled-with-new-PCs and boxed standalone versions have been massive, blowing all other competitors out of the water. Software support is great, the Superbar is awesome... I'm hard-pushed to think of something bad about Windows 7. I guess the lack of Network Activity icon in the system tray is pretty annoying...
Can I sneak in a quick shout-out to Bing in this section too? It's not that Bing itself is amazing, but the competition with Google and the competitive one-upmanship that it fuels is priceless. It is no coincidence that Google has released a vast number of advances and technologies this year -- we have the scary, looming behemoth of Microsoft to thank for that.
Also, moving into 2010, it's vital that we put Microsoft's awful attempts at advertising behind us.
7. The Cloud, Web Apps, Botnets
2009 was the year of cheap, easily-accessible computing power. As we all know, with great power comes great responsibility! For every Panda Cloud Antivirus, there is a 250,000-zombie botnet that needs taking down. Amazon's EC2 (and scalable storage!) is growing in power, diminishing in cost and being utilized by more and more large-scale services every day. Did you know that Twitter runs in the Amazon Cloud? That's how they've managed to scale so quickly (and turn a profit!) with little initial outlay and tiny numbers of staff.
With Google now fully on board with cloud computing, and invested in its vast array of web apps, we will continue to see more end-users, large corporations and even governments move towards the Cloud in 2010.
This year, mostly driven by Twitter, we have seen the proliferation of real-time news: proper, breaking news -- not an hour after the fact, but usually within mere minutes. We've always known the Internet to be pretty special and capable of some wild things (like Flash mobs!), but it's not often that we actually hear of the Internet doing something important like this.
With the Iranian presidential 'scandal', Twitter was very suddenly thrown into the limelight. Here, handed on a social media silver platter, was Twitter's legitimacy. Who cares if 80% of all Tweets are about your bout of irritable bowel syndrome if it can also provide a voice for the oppressed protesters in Iran? Twitter's impact was so big that the event has even been nicknamed the 'Twitter Revolution'.
Recognizing the importance of news as-it-happens, most of us now follow BreakingNews (BNO) on Twitter. MSNBC, acknowledging that the conventional news wire is just too damn slow bought them out this year. Who knew that reporting on the Tiger Woods situation 30 minutes after BNO would ever be considered 'slow'... Damn Internet!
I really want to love Google. They do so much good -- they offer so much value for such a low price -- but... part of me remains cautious. I know that while I get to search maps and trawl billions of expertly-indexed websites for free, someone else is footing the bill. Is this capitalism? I pay $300 for a LCD monitor, which Samsung then spends on Google AdWords. Google takes its cut, Samsung turns a juicy profit, and I get tons of free stuff. It sounds pretty damn good to me.
2009 must surely go down in history as one of Google's greatest years. Its stock prices are soaring, their fluid cash reserves are strong and they're buying up bright new start-ups like there's no tomorrow -- recession? What recession? Meanwhile, Microsoft sits in the wings and humbly mumbles to itself about how it 'used to be my job'. I think it's fairly well-accepted that Google is fast becoming the new Microsoft -- the only real difference is the business model. Microsoft struck gold via its monopoly of the operating system market. Google's livelihood is accruing and analyzing your Internet-usage habits.
It's just a question of which method of doing business you prefer. It's very hard to say no to a free lunch though, that's for sure.
The largest science project. The most powerful particle accelerator. The biggest and coolest cryogenic system in the world. And it runs on open-source software. Linux -- Scientific Linux, a modified Red Hat distro, to be exact -- powers a machine that propels atomic nuclei to speeds within 99.9999991% of the speed of light... and then smashes them together! This year saw the first actual collision, and while the boffins at CERN haven't quite worked up to full speed yet, nor have they worked out a way of keeping baguettes out of the system, 2010 should see some really big bangs.
With a total budget of nine billion dollars, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is by far the most expensive scientific experiment ever devised. Hopefully we'll discover crazy new particles and uncover the laws of quantum mechanics. No one knows what's really going to happen -- it's an experiment after all -- but scientists assure us that the creation of a black hole is unlikely. Phew.