2009 on the Web and in Tech

The year that just ended brought some interesting changes to the web and technologies. It was not a year of revolution, but a year of a good progress that has been due for some time. It was the year when Office was badly wounded, Google confirmed its leader position with couple of cool services, Wikipedia’s users made it here to stay and passwords became easier to manage. In the videographer’s world time came to say bye-bye to old fashioned tapes and in the economy that did not look so good to some the stocks of Google and Microsoft grew by about 50% since May.

Google Goes Offline

Google services were cool but when you did not have connection to the internet, they were useless. Now many services including Gmail, Calendar and Google Docs work offline when internet is not nearby or my connection dies. It’s a simple concept but a huge improvement for every Google service that has implemented it.

The End of MS Office… sort of

I have always wanted to get rid of storing my spreadsheets and text files locally. At the same time I was wondering if I could ever get rid of using MS Office, which I don’t think offers much for the ridiculously high price. This year I felt for the first time that Google Docs reached the usable level and I could to a high degree replace Office and of course keep my files online (and offline when I have no connection). Of course it helps that I quit my job and I don’t have to use inflexible old-fashioned corporate setup and share with people who never even heard of Google…  As a backup I have Open Office on my computer and I am not even bothering to download free Microsoft Office Beta. For me MS Office is dead and I am not going back to it!

New Favorite Browser

Google Chrome has been a nice and fast browser for a while. It was the best browser to use with other Google services like Gmail, Calendar and Google Docs, but it was missing two important things: Plugins/extensions and easy way to keep bookmarks online, not locally. Both features are now in version 4 and there is no way I am going back to Firefox or any other browser.

Wikipedia Going Strong

Although some are writing Wikipedia off and pointing to the decline in editors, I use it even more and often it is the only source where you can really find something of a value – especially as I am now trying to learn as much as I can about Latin America. Often the choice is between old-fashioned books and wikipedia, not other websites. Yes, Wikipedia has its problems with overzealous editors, weird markup language etc. In any case I believe in Wikipedia and that’s why I am paying for using it via annual donation. I am glad they were able to raise over 7.5 million US  for another year of operations so apparently I am not the only one who feels they are worth couple bucks a year. I predict another strong year for Wikipedia but I hope they can fix a thing or two this year.

My Last Password

With about 500 sites that I have registered over 13 years I have been using internet I was going out of my mind remembering all my passwords and using “Forgot my password” links way too often, which often delivered to email that was no longer functioning, guessing password blocked my accounts etc. Nightmare. I used eWallet to store my password, but the problem was it was not online. LastPass.com has for a while enabled me to store passwords, but it was missing easy Chrome implementation for easy use. It now works as a Google Extension and my headache is over. The extensions fills my passwords for me automatically most of the time and I can finally use secure passwords without having to remember them.

WordPress Becomes the Best

In 2009 I discovered that WordPress is way pass the not-too-clever system for publishing simple blogs (although it can still do that). WordPress with some of the plugins available reached a level that makes publishing complex blogs, online magazines or whatever you want to publish fairly easy. In 1990s I worked with couple CMS systems that cost hundreds of thousands to develop and none came even close to what WordPress can do now. No surprise to me that it won Overall Best Open Source CMS Award of 2009.

Camera Tape Out and Cheap Cameras In

2009 was also the year when time came to toss out all camcorder’s using tapes and replace them with MP4 tapeless recording. There are super cheap memorystick, SD cards etc. cameras that can produce decent pictures. In one of my projects I mixed footage from $200 dollar Sony Webbie HD and $3000 Canon XL2. I know there is a difference but funnily the client did not even pointed out the difference in quality. Tape will stay in pro cameras for a while longer, but I am not touching it unless I really have to. Good-bye hours waisting just by digitizing the tape via firewire.

Stocks of 2009

There are two giants that are here to stay and will be important the next decade. Clearly they are Microsoft and Google. Google is taking over Microsoft’s territory, but it will take them a while, because Microsoft still has bunch of smart people working for them and to Microsoft’s advantage many companies that use Microsoft’s products live a bit in the past, they are a bit slow and inflexible, so I am convinced Microsoft has couple of bright years ahead. Both stocks went up by about 50% since May. The world runs on GOOG and MSFT so the price in March/April for these stocks were just ridiculous.

Much more happened in 2009 with social networks, Apple, but I don’t relate to it as I do to the above, so I am not writing about it here. Maybe next year I will :).

Disclaimer:
In this article I talk about various companies. As of January 1st I own stock in the following: GOOG, MSFT.

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