Columnist’s Note: Before we get started on ushering out the decade (apparently that politically incorrect bum Father Time is waiting on us), we must clarify something about our column. We walk a fine line, dear readers, between writing things that computer science majors approve of and things that the technologically challenged will understand. You know that black and white picture of the guy tightrope walking between skyscrapers? That’s actually a picture of us.
Neither of us are computer science majors. We just happen to know a little somethin’ about somethin’. We’re sharing tips on technology (tested, tried-and-true from personal experience) and our view on popular technology trends. So when we write “CPU” in reference to the tower of your desktop, it’s because that’s terminology the majority of our readers know. We know the CPU is actually a little chip inside the tower, so thanks for the fact checking.
And now, to our final column for the decade.
The year 2000 doesn’t seem that long ago. Perspective will kick in when we remember some things that didn’t exist 10 years ago. The iPod did not exist. The 2-year-old infant Google did not sell keyword-based advertising. Windows ME, or Millennium Edition, came out; XP was still primordial soup.
Apple was still hawking the colorful iMac. Mac OS 9 was Apple’s standard; the OS X public beta came out in 2000. Their newest top-of-the-line notebook supported 500 Mhz processors and up to a whole gigabyte of RAM. Innovation would pick up soon because that year Steve Jobs announced he would no longer be just Apple’s interim CEO.
The Recording Industry Association of America had yet to sue anyone for music file sharing until 2000, when they sued Napster. As a sign of failed efforts to come from the RIAA, the media attention made the service more popular for the next year.
In 1998 the RIAA sued the maker of the second ever MP3 player because it was scared of music that could be copied. They lost, paving the way for MP3 players. A decade later, the RIAA is still just a headless chicken. It’s recent plan to partner with Internet service providers to cut off the service of file sharing users has been met with, get this, zero ISPs willing to partner with them.
A decade ago, the Y2K bug had people buying canned food and hiding in their homes like they were fallout shelters. Remember, people thought computer clocks would go back to 1900 instead of advancing to 2000 at midnight, thus causing all our computers to crash. On an Apple FAQ about Y2K, which is still posted on its Web site, they note, “The current Mac OS date and time utilities handles all dates between 30,081 B.C. and 29,940 A.D.” Now we feel safe bringing along our Macs when we time travel.
It was also a decade of personal growth. The first computer either of us bought was 10 years ago last month: Glen’s eMachines desktop on Black Friday 1999 from the now deceased Circuit City. It has a 4 GB hard drive and 128 MB of RAM. He spent hours of his childhood cooped up in his room, not only playing games but endlessly clicking through file structures and Control Panel settings to learn how it all worked.
Please hold off on the social life jokes. In 1999, we future columnists/roommates met each other for the first time in class at Namaqua Elementary School.
History is for better or for worse. We also saw a lot of technology this decade that never took off, not because it isn’t neat, but the market wasn’t there for it.
Satellite radio: After spending millions to launch their satellite infrastructures, XM and Sirius suddenly discovered that subscriptions were low because people can actually tune into radio stations around the world for the low price of free. Whoops.
Segways: After getting even more hype than the popular food bacon generally does, we were given a sideways scooter. Those who knew about it in advance promised a revolutionary device; Steve Jobs even said we could be looking at something bigger than the PC! But all we got in 2001 when it was released was a good punchline.
HD DVDs: Not much to be said here. Blu-ray had the PS3, plus “HD DVD” is a pretty lame name. How about Ultra-awesome-mega-powered-too-cool-for-school-HD-HiFi Disc? Then maybe they would of had a chance. Remember, in 2019 our kids will joke about HD DVD like we joke about Betamax tapes.
The best part is knowing that the coming decade and every one after it (barring nuclear war, zombie apocalypse, etc.) will be even more exciting. MySpace didn’t come out until 2003, Facebook until 2004 and the iPhone until 2007. What will 2013, 2014 and 2017 bring us? Hopefully at least the next big site to replace Facebook as the first bookmark in our browsers. But it will be oh-so-much more than that.
Columnists Ryan Gibbons and Glen Pfeiffer censor censor censor censor censor firstname.lastname@example.org, censor censor censor.