Reflections from this past year
Dec. 31, 2012
by Mark Ollig

As Barry Manilow sang, “It looks like we made it.”

Since the 12/21/12 end-of-the-world prediction did not occur, yours truly was able to finish writing this year’s last column.

I, for one, am glad all of the predictions have ended (for now) because it was getting a bit annoying navigating through the online social media waters.

They were becoming flooded with Facebook memes, Twitter hashtags, Instagram and Flickr photos, and YouTube videos warning us about the impending 2012 apocalypse.

I suppose it only seems fitting this year ended with a prediction, and the first Bits & Bytes column from 2012, started with one.

The first column of 2012 was also one of my favorites to write.

That column was about the fine folks from the French Lombart chocolate company, who, in the year 1912, came up with the idea to use the “technology in the year 2012” theme to increase sales of their chocolate products.

Lombart created six unique postcards titled “En I’an 2012” meaning “In the year 2012.”

They placed one of the six hand-drawn, superbly illustrated, colorized postcards inside each box of their chocolates.

Each of these postcards depicted how a specific future technology from the year 2012 would assist in the delivery of their Lombart chocolate to a customer.

The Lombart people hoped the 100-years-into-the-future postcards would entice customers to want to see the other postcards, thus purchasing more Lombart chocolate.

A very clever marketing campaign, if I do say so myself.

One of the six postcards, which immediately caught my attention, was titled “Picturephone of the year 2012.”

The postcard shows a father standing next to the mother, who is sitting down at a table while speaking to their son via a circa 1912 telephone handset.

Both are smiling, and looking straight ahead at the living room wall, which is serving as a projection screen.

A live, videophone broadcast of their son is shown on the living room wall coming from the light-beam of a movie projector-like device on the table.

The device is wired into small box connected to the telephone handset the mother is using.

What fascinated me about this postcard is that it depicted a realistic-looking event created from someone’s imagination 100 years ago.

I hope you are able to look at this ahead-of-its-time postcard at http://tinyurl.com/77qdqz7.

In June, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer introduced the new mobile Microsoft Surface tablet which he no doubt hoped would compete with the Apple iPad and other popular tablet computing devices.

“This is the new Microsoft Surface. It embodies the new notion of hardware and software really pushing each other,” Ballmer said, while holding one of the new Surface tablets.

Since its public unveiling, Microsoft has not released any sales numbers of the Surface tablet. The only indication of sales came from Ballmer last month, when he was quoted as saying sales have started out “modestly,” which to me means “slow.”

I do like their commercials – I’m just not an ardent supporter of their mobile tablet device.

It might be a bit presumptuous of me, but I have a feeling their Surface tablet may end up sharing the same fate as its unpopular Vista operating system (OS).

Speaking of operating systems, in July, yours truly switched home computing from Microsoft Windows to the Apple OS.

The first week in July, I bravely walked into what I used to consider “enemy territory”– an Apple computer store – to purchase a new MacBook.

I remember how the smiling, young salesperson nodded at me when I sheepishly said, “I have been using the Microsoft Windows OS on personal computers since 1986, and so this will be a bit of a change for me.”

At work, I still need to use a Microsoft Windows OS, but I very much enjoy using the Apple MacBook and its OS at home.

I was as excited as a little kid at Christmas when I received a new Kindle Fire computing tablet which was, coincidently, a Christmas gift.

The Kindle Fire uses the Android OS.

Of course, the first thing I needed to do was to connect the Kindle’s Wi-Fi to my MacBook’s AirPort wireless network.

Once I found myself on the Web, I logged into Facebook via its mobile address and posted this status message “First time using Facebook via the new Kindle.”

Afterwards, I realized I could have downloaded the free Kindle Facebook app which provides a much better Facebook user experience.

I quickly downloaded the Facebook app and then posted my next message, “Using the Kindle app.” This status message received some friendly Facebook “likes” which made me feel pretty good.

You know, it’s not like I’m addicted to any of those online social media networks out there.

With all self-deprecating humor aside, this writer hopes you have enjoyed reading these columns during the past year, and are looking forward to the tech-filled ride which awaits us in 2013.

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