Donnie Jenkins, Tech Talk
Since this is the last Tech Talk column for this year, let’s take a look back to review a few major tech events of 2008.
The year started with a surprise in the hardfought next-generation high-definition DVD wars. Blu-ray was declared the victor after the HDDVD vendors led by Toshiba determined they no longer could compete. Many of us wonder if this was really a victory at all, since broadband movie streaming and video downloads had finally become mainstream.
Even today, Bluray has failed to capture much of a market. It’s likely that this format has only a short period of time to succeed or else go the way of HD-DVD. The good news is that players and burners are coming down in price.
Bill Gates of Microsoft gave his final address at the Consumer Electronics show. He has been a fixture there for years. He has decided to focus on his charitable work, a legacy from his mother, who was very involved with such matters.
Microsoft’s attempt to acquire Yahoo became the source of much speculation and comic relief, as I reported throughout the year. Their original offer was well above Yahoo’s current stock price, but Yahoo declined saying Microsoft undervalued the company. When stocks crashed and Yahoo lost millions in net worth, the comedy of errors started, with rumors and speculation running rampant. Even today there are rumors that Microsoft may buy or invest in Yahoo’s search business.
A company called Psystar produced a group of clones of the popular Apple iMac series of computers. It took a while but Apple finally sued in court to stop their production. Psystar sued back, claiming antitrust violations by Apple, which claim a judge later dismissed. As it stands now, it looks like this fracas will last a while. It’s very likely that Apple will prevail, but it should be an interesting fight.
The earth quaked as Web bookstore and service provider Amazon suffered outages at various times this year. To their credit, the company immediately responded and kept users informed at every step of the way. I really like this company, primarily because of how they stay centered on pleasing their customers and clients.
Comcast and some other internet service providers instituted limits on how much broadband use was available to their customers. Right now these limits will have little effect on most people, but they may become a problem as video-on-demand becomes more popular. I mentioned in a previous column that several free programs are available which can show how much broadband a user is consuming over a period of time, so called broadband metering software.
Google released Chrome, their long awaited Web browser. It gained market share very quickly, but appears to be peaking. I tried it and was unimpressed. Having said that, it does offer a good look at the future of browsers that act more like a desktop application. It does have promise if Google keeps updating it.
In other browser news, Opera updated its browser a couple of times this year. I use Opera more than any other browser, even though it has some quirks that drive me crazy. The “back” button does not always function correctly, and it is prone to occasional crashes, especially if you are running Microsoft Word or similar programs at the same time. It’s a love-hate relationship, but I see myself using this browser for some time to come.
Finally in the browser domain, Internet Explorer is the target of increasingly more dangerous malware. Even now it is subject to a hijacking glitch, which allows a user to be sent from a desired site to one which will install malware or cause other damage. It’s very important to update frequently if you use this browser very often.
See you next year.
E-mail Donnie Jenkins at firstname.lastname@example.org.