Looking back at this year's highlights
Dec. 26, 2011
by Mark Ollig

As this year ends, I want to express my appreciation to, my readers, for having spent a few moments of your time each week reading this column.

In looking back over this past year, January started with 140,000 people attending the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.

Highlights of the CES included “passive polarized” 3D television, and General Motors futuristic concept vehicle called the EN-V (Electric Networked Vehicle).

January ended with Apple’s Macworld Conference and Expo event in San Francisco.

In addition to more than 250 vendor exhibits, Apple presented dozens of new products to the nearly 20,000 visitors who attended.

In February, Watson, the smart supercomputer by IBM, made history when it played against (and defeated) two player-champions on the television show “Jeopardy.”

We also learned about The Computer History Museum, located in Mountain View, CA, which an in-house collection containing thousands of computer-related artifacts.

March 21 was the fifth anniversary of the first Twitter message: “twttr” sent by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey.

Coffee-Cam was the subject of the April 4 column.

In 1991, many of the University of Cambridge academic researchers (working in various parts of a multi-story building) needed to walk several flights of stairs in order to pour themselves a cup of coffee from the coffee maker.

Understandably, these folks became somewhat agitated whenever discovering an empty coffee pot.

Two of these resourceful researchers rigged up an electronic video “frame-grabber” device and captured time-sequenced, still-frame images from the video camera they had pointed at the coffee pot inside the coffee maker.

Updated images of the coffee pot were sent over the universities local computer network, appearing in a corner of each researchers computer screen.

This delighted the researchers; they could now simply glance at their computer screen to know how much coffee remained in the coffee pot.

They no longer worried about holding their empty coffee cup in front of an empty coffee pot.

April also brought some computer nostalgia for the baby boomers.

The popular Commodore 64 computer form the early ‘80s was remanufactured.

The C64 was fully-modernized on the inside, while retaining its vintage look on the outside.

On May 16, this columnist wrote about Roger Fidler’s futuristic 1994 video demonstration entitled “Tablet Newspaper.”

This video showed people using what looked like an Apple iPad – 17 years before they were made.

In June, Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple Inc., took the stage at the opening of Apple Computer’s Worldwide Developers Conference.

During this conference, an enthusiastic Steve Jobs talked cloud-computing, and about Apple’s iCloud data center.

Jobs said the center of our digital lives will be migrated into the cloud.

Jobs clearly illustrated Apple’s “next big insight” of demoting the PC and Mac to being devices like the iPhone, iPad, or iPodtouch.

In July, Google’s field-testing version of their new social media site, Google+, was online.

After testing Google+, I thought it would make a legitimate challenge to Facebook’s dominance.

I am still waiting for Google+ to make a legitimate challenge.

In August, we discovered how to save our pictures, music files, and other digital data for 1,000 years, by using the new M-DISC, made by Millenniata, Inc.

It started in 1996, when Barry M. Lunt, Ph. D., experienced a revelation while examining petroglyph (rock engraving) images northeast of Price, UT.

He realized these ancient images were created by etching or chipping away at the outer layer of the dark rock, which exposed the lighter layer of rock beneath its surface.

Lunt helped develop a method of permanently “etching” digital data onto a new type of DVD surface material.

During September, our friends at Microsoft released their new Windows 8 Operating System.

On October 4, Apple Inc. did not present us with the much anticipated iPhone 5, but instead offered the iPhone 4S.

The “4S” was suggested to be an abbreviation meaning, “For Steve.”

On Oct. 5, the computing world mourned the loss of Apple Inc. co-founder, Steve Jobs.

During mid-October, the merging of film and fragrances inspired this columnist to write “Smell-O-Vision II.”

We journeyed back to 1906; inside a small-town movie theater where Samuel Lionel Rothafel took a wad of cotton wool soaked with rose oil, and placed it in front of an electric fan during a silent-film showing of the 1906 Rose Bowl parade.

The pleasurable aroma of fresh-cut roses drifted upon the people watching the film.

Today, a rectangular-shaped device equipped with 128 fragrance scent capsules called the Odoravison System, is available for use with home theater systems.

November’s columns reviewed the benefits of medical robots, and Microsoft’s motion-sensing “Kenect Effect” add-on device for the Xbox 360 console.

This month we learned about teens use of online social media sites, and the dominance of Google Search and tablet computing.

December also saw the return of Jessica’s favorite elf informant, Finarfin Elendil.

Bring on 2012.

This columnist is ready to write more about the Internet, ground-breaking technologies, social media, innovative high-tech companies, and new computing devices.

And, you know I like to look back at technology’s history every once and awhile, too.

I also want to wish my brother Tom, a very happy birthday.

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