Since I got started on this site rather late in the year, I haven’t done any posts yet on hot tech news. So I’ll do a quick rundown on some of the coolest stuff to hit the interwebs this year.
Google Glass–wearable internet. Looks like a pair of glasses without the lenses, but I see lenses are available. I’m cloudy on the projection, how one sees what is projected. Right now they’re pretty expensive–$1500–but the price is expected to drop dramatically once they go into full production. I’m also not clear on internet access method, simply because I haven’t gone looking. I see limited application beyond being a toy. I can see how for people with disabilities it could introduce new methods of access to information. I can also see that it may introduce eyestrain issues, not to mention being a huge distraction for some people. I can see the need for legislation regarding its use, which I find unfortunate because I would rather see LESS legislation rather than MORE; but in order to protect the privacy and rights of the viewed, something will need to be put into place.
Copyright Lawyers were the Big Winners–Please notice that I did not say copyright HOLDERS. Right up there with them is Patent Trolls. The concept of “Fair Use” is still in play but when the internet police are using robots as a poor substitute for common sense, a takedown notice is becoming disappointingly common. It’s expensive to fight both fraudulent Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown notices and patent lawsuits, and it’s immoral to have to do so. Patent trolls buy up patents or secure a patent on a technology that they didn’t create, can’t explain, and don’t produce, which is a bit of an indictment on the patent system itself. Pay attention to what you use and how you use it, but for the most part, understand that DMCA trolls and patent trolls are actually trolling for deep-pocketed fish.
Bitcoin–the emerging internet currency. Anonymous like cash, losable like cash, stealable like cash, ephemeral as mist. Usable for much more than illicit drugs and firearms, Overstock.com announced that it will begin accepting Bitcoin as currency for its transactions. I don’t own any Bitcoin, it’s hard to get organically at this point, and the price is highly volatile, due partly to the uncertainty of its future and acceptance. There were a couple of notable stories this year on Bitcoin: one man forgot that he had the encryption key to his Bitcoin vault stored on his hard drive and tossed the computer into a landfill. (Not a good idea anyway due to the toxic components in computers.) He says he had over a million dollars in Bitcoin that he now cannot get to. Still unclear as to how that will play out, but the nature of Bitcoin is that it is untraceable, so he may just be out that million dollars. The other story is about a theft of Bitcoin from one of the Bitcoin exchanges–a bunch of customers just plain lost their money when some of the exchange officials took it and split. Not that our currency is solid and stable, but it’s still a touch more predictable than Bitcoin at this point.
Raspberry Pi–the palm-sized computer for serious enthusiasts–became more widely available this year. If you want to learn how computers work, get this affordable device ($25), scour the web for some instructions, and get started.