HJ-ED-DHJHerald Journal Columns

December 25, 2006, Herald Journal

Looking back at 2006 and “The Tech 2006 person of the year award”

By MARK OLLIG

How can another year be drawing to a close so quickly?

It seems like we just started 2006 and here we are during this last week getting ready to say good-bye to 2006 and hello to 2007.

What new emerging high-technological devices, software programs and internet-society popularism will we see for the first time in 2007.

How will these new computing discoveries be used in our daily lives at home, in school, and at our workplaces?

Do you sometimes find yourself many times wondering, “What will I need to learn next?”

I do, too.

It is a given that learning is a lifelong process in today’s rapidly changing and high-tech world.

I do not agree with the old saying: “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” This old dog has been learning new things for a long time.How about using this saying: “It’s never too soon nor too late for learning.” I find this adage to be not only more accurate and precise but much more pleasing to this dog’s ears.

I looked back at some of my columns that I wrote for you during this last year, which essentially amounts to the last six months . . .The Bits & Bytes column “resumed” in June of this year after a “brief” eight year sabbatical.

In 1998 I thought we had become very tech-savvy and advanced. As we come to the close on 2006, we have come a very long way indeed – with only more computer and internet technological surprises to come.

It is interesting to note some of the new jargon that is being used today, here are some of the more popular words: “Blogs,” “Bloggers,” “YouTube,” “The Net,” “Google-It,” “Online Social-Networking,” “User-Generated-Content,” “VoIP,” “Virtual,” “E-Bay,” “IPTV,” “Cut and Paste,” “Gamer,” “iPods,” “Wi-Fi,” “IM,” “Chat” and those annoying “Pop-Up-Ads.”

There are, of course, many other Internet and high-tech jargon words out there. The internet jargon/slang list just keeps growing. If you want to learn more you can visit this link: http://www.netlingo.com which is a resource for new users and industry professionals, as well as a reference for students and educators. Netlingo contains thousands of Internet definitions and useful computing resources.

In 2006 we learned that Microsoft’s founder Bill Gates would be stepping down to pursue more philanthropic pursuits.

Speaking of Microsoft, they introduced the new Vista operating program to us in November. This new next generation computer operating system is designed to replace the current Windows XP version that most PC users have installed. Home users will be able to upgrade to XP in January of 2007.

Also in November, Netcraft, which is an Internet security and researching firm that has been keeping track of the number of Internet Service Providers (ISPs), web servers, and websites on the Internet, released in their estimated November survey that there is an amazing 101,435,253 websites online.

We saw in 2006 Google’s purchase of the popular user-generated content website “YouTube” in October for an amazing sum of $1.7 billion.

Finding the most current and reliable information over the Internet was the topic for a recent 2006 Bits & Bytes column. That column talked about “RSS,” which stands for “Rich Site Summary” or “Really Simple Syndication.” RSS is like getting a direct news feed automatically sent to your computer on the subjects you pick from the website that you want the information from.

A 2006 column I enjoyed writing for you was how President Abraham Lincoln made use of what is very similar to today’s e-mail. The version Lincoln used over the telegraph at that time, could be more appropriately called “T-mail.”

This is where Lincoln would send out his telegraph messages, correspondences and even his encouragement to his generals and commanders in the field.

I learned after writing the column that hot air balloons used to scout the Confederate positions were also relaying information by telegraph back to President Lincoln. Telegraph wires were strung from a ground station to the basket of the “fixed positioned” hot air balloons which would be at an elevated point in the sky. The operator in the gondola would be telegraphing the messages.

The subject of “Net Neutrality,” which I editorialized about in the October 30th column, made news in 2006 also.

Network Neutrality has been defined as an “Internet operating principle which ensures that all online users are entitled to access Internet content of their choice; run online applications and services of their choice; connect their choice of devices that do not harm the network; and have open competition among networks, applications, services and content providers.”

With “Net Neutrality,“ the network’s only job is to move data – not choose which data to privilege with higher quality service. Net Neutrality prevents the companies that control the wires or “pipes” from discriminating against content based on its source or ownership.

The top world-wide Google search terms in 2006 included “Borat Sagiyev,“ a fictional Kazakhstani journalist, “Paris Hilton” and “Hezbollah.” These were among the terms Internet users were most eager to learn about this year, according to Google.

“Google search queries, when seen in volume, tend to reflect what is collectively on our minds day in and day out,” Google said in a released statement.

2006 is also the year we celebrated Apple Computerss 30th anniversary. It is interesting to note that in 1970s, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak were going door-to-door at the University of California Berkeley dorms selling those “blue boxes” which were electronic devices that tricked the telephone network into allowing free long-distance phone calls.

Fortunately for the technology world, the pair reorganized and started making computers.

Now, 30 years after its founding, Apple Computer has grown from a tiny start-up to a household name and cultural icon known as much for its iPod digital music players as it is known for computers.

For more archived columns of Bits & Bytes, you can visit the Journal’s link at: http://herald-journal.com/news/bits.html.

Without further delay . . .the first annual Bits & Bytes “Tech Person of the Year” award goes to (drum roll please). . . YOU.

Well, if Time Life magazine can bestow this high honor on all of us, I figure so can this humble columnist.