This may end up being my last post of 2007 because I'm going to the Texans game tomorrow and Monday night is my brother's New Year's Eve party so I'm going to be pretty busy. I've already fallen behind in my projects! User authentication without cryptography is killing me. Anyway, I wanted to piggyback on Ars Technica's summary of the past year and predictions for next year, in true end-of-year fashion. They argue that 2007 was the year of open source, online video (and user generated content), casual gaming, RIAA lawsuits, and climate. While I've encountered all those things (though I didn't get sued), I don't think they quite characterize the year, except for the online video one. In my opinion, there were few things to characterize this year. Besides online video there was mp3s gaining more ground (e.g. Amazon Digital Downloads emerged), that little thing called the iPhone, Apple cracking down more on rumor mills, the steep freefall of Vista's popularity, the renewal of World of Warcraft as digital crack, viral marketing (especially via blogs), and 300 (everyone freaking keeps saying that line and it's not funny anymore) among several summer hits (that were actually entertaining). Piracy was a hot button issue, yes, but it has been every year for the past few years. These are scattered things (except for the first two) that didn't really dominate the year but were pretty big deals and hopefully you remember them and can reminisce. If not, you can probably find news on all of those things in my archives.
What about 2008? I'm never that great at predicting the future, I just occasionally get lucky with Apple announcements. I know that for me it will be a huge year because I'm taking the frightening plunge in moving to an entirely new city and starting my first permanent full-time job. In technology as a whole though, Ars Technica bring up the good prediction of the war of the iPods. I definitely see that. I also see a war of iPhone clones upon the horizon though, which they mentioned also. I think OS tensions will rise as people stick to XP, which will remain a magnet for viruses and worms. I think people will finally be able to buy Wiis on-demand, though the Xbox 360 will still hang on and continue to beat the PS3. Of course, the Wii will get very few new games though because it's a Nintendo console. I see PC gaming gaining some increase in popularity. I see the writer's strike ending in some compromise that will ultimately hurt the writers years down the line. I see more television going online and on-demand entertainment gaining a lot of steam. Hell, surveys already show that people like watching shows online and it's helping measure ratings more accurately. And I see piracy getting stronger than ever as the MPAA and RIAA martyr more and more people. Oh, I also think we'll see more solid-state disks and Flash memory used in more places. That's all I've got though! What are your predictions, Nostradamus?
Going back to this year, DVice has a great look at why the iPhone dominated (despite all the pundits who claimed it would fail due to price): they didn't inundate people with choice. There are too many iPods, there are too many crappy phones, and in this modern-age (as I've mentioned before several times) people have to make too many decisions. They get stressed out! It should be easy to pick out and use your phone, and many people are willing to pay crazy amounts of money to reduce the complexity of their lives. That's an important concept, especially in software. Don't tell me about how the iPhone doesn't support Flash or 3G or blah blah blah, the people who are buying it clearly don't care that much. It works and they're happy. Some of them hack, and that's good and well for them. The point is, Apple's strategy worked.
I hate to talk about Apple so much, but I have more interesting news from Cuppertino: they're trying to patent a process where people can add themselves to queues for products when they're on the go. So you could order something from Best Buy when you're heading to the gym, and they'd text you when it's ready so that you could go pick it up right away. Or maybe it could skip long lines at Starbucks while you're on the way there? On the flip side, it could also track your orders: good for businesses, bad for your privacy. Apple doesn't always act on these patents, but this could be interesting, if not scary. The other big news is that the movie studios are realizing that iTunes is here to stay and are ready to talk movie rentals. No information yet, the point is that iTunes is really gaining clout with the studios for them to consider this.
One more tech tidbit: I liked this list of startup tips. It's concise, comprehensive, and interesting. It's worth a skim.
As for movies, just two things. There's a new trailer for Harold and Kumar 2. Maybe it's just because I love the first one, but I really enjoyed that trailer. I'm definitely looking forward to it coming to theaters. The other thing is to look out for these Indiana Jones 4 promotional crates at your local theater: