2012: ZDNet's definitive guide to the year in tech

2012: ZDNet's definitive guide to the year in tech

Summary: A look back at the hot topics, major discoveries, and technological breakthroughs of 2012: from privacy to surveillance, major product launches, successes and catastrophes.


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  • NASA lands Curiosity on Mars; alien life yet to appear

    For years, we have wanted to see what was going on, on planet Mars. We finally -- after years of failed attempts to land a craft on the red planet -- landed the Curiosity land rover on the dusty world. The craft 'tweeted' from the planet's surface with an unfortunate innuendo, but soon got to work.

    In just a matter of days, the remote-controlled robot was analyzing soil samples to determine whether or not there was in fact life on Mars (cue: Bowie). Mystery still surrounds what the Curiosity may (or may not) have found -- rumors began to swirl after NASA said it had a surprise in store, but then hedged and dumbed down any discovery "for the history books. "

  • 2012 gets nostalgic: Animated GIFs and Tesla museums

    2012 has been a strangely nostalgic time for many on the Web. Earlier this year, Oatmeal comic founder Matthew Inman set about raising money to create a museum to document the life of Nikola Tesla, the famous electricity engineer and inventor.

    Within days, the funds came rolling in -- all to remember a man that many had never heard of, though had all used technologies that were powered by his insight and inventions. 

    And, to add a little more nostalgia to the mix, animated GIFs have made a comeback, thanks to sites like Reddit and Imgur spurring the use. Like it was 1996, these short, looping, low quality images have no sound, and there's no need to wait for the content to buffer, and you don't need a browser plug-in to see it. 

  • The rise of the mini-tablets: Google, Amazon, Apple battle it out

    Google and Amazon kicked off the movement into the 7-inch tablet space with their Nexus and Kindle Fire devices. Apple was a step behind. Apple was late to join the group as the iPad mini came along later than expected.

    TheiPad mini rolled out in September, but sales have yet to match the domination of its older sibling, the iPad. Apple sold three million new iPads (with Retina display) and iPad mini tablets in the first sales weekend; the company did not break down the numbers further. However, Apple side-stepped the alleged 'death blow' to the wider mini-tablet industry by failing to compete on the sub-$200 price tag.

    While many have flocked to the mini-tablet space, many are content with their full-size devices. Exactly how the mini-tablet -- devices that are between 5-inches and 8-inches in size -- has yet to be seen. We will likely see more use-case scenarios in 2013.

Topics: Presentations, 4G, United Kingdom, Security, Privacy, Microsoft, iPhone, Government, Google, Apple, Windows 8

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  • And here is one of the story that ZDNet missed

    Why did ZDNet miss it? Because it shows apple for the company that they really are.

    Here is the order of events:
    1. apple EMBRACES html.

    2. apple EXTENDS html with a proprietary extension called Touch Events.

    3. Mobile websites everywhere start using this extended proprietary API because 95% of all mobile web traffic is done with webkit browsers (is this beginning to sound familiar?).

    4. W3C drafts a standard based on Touch Events so that ALL browsers, even those that dare to not have a huge majority, can work with all mobile web sites (is this beginning to sound familiar?).

    5. apple EXTINGUISHES the html standard by forcing the W3C to abandon the standard after apple refuses to commit to offering royalty free access to apple patents involved in implementing the standard. apple doesn't want an html standard, they want a webkit "standard" defined by whatever apple feels like including in webkit and suing the authors of all competing browser engines who attempt to be compatible with the non standard proprietary apple extensions that web developers are using because apple has such a huge monopoly on the mobile web browser engine market. This FORCES every other browser to either implement webkit or die.

    6. Microsoft, Google, Mozilla, Opera, jQuery, and a few other big players contribute to a new W3C standard called Pointer Events: "Microsoft, unlike Apple, is participating in W3C's standardization process and has made the intellectual property commitments that W3C demands"

    7. Microsoft implements Pointer Events in webkit and submits it.

    8. apple refuses to accept Microsoft's patch because: "Pointer Events spec had (unspecified) problems and that there was no point in supporting Pointer Events until real Web content used it." No point in supporting a standard until real web content used it? Huh. Back when every web developer was supporting MS "standards" apple certainly didn't have that attitude.

    9. apple is given every opportunity to join in the design process but they refuse: "Another Google developer invited Apple to join the Pointer Events Working Group to help improve the specification and address those unspecified problems, but thus far Apple appears to be unwilling to participate."

    Now, before you guys freak out and respond with "but MS did this" remember that this is the point. MS did this. They got in trouble for doing it. They got slammed for doing it. So slam apple now for their Embrace, Extend, and Extinguish tactic on web standards. We were promised that apple would be nicer. We were lied to.
    • Re: And here is one of the story that ZDNet missed

      Watch out, guys, Apple is the new badass over here...
  • What about Windows Phone 8?

    It is for me one of the most worthy hardware/software release of the year...
    • Naw

      It's just you.
    • Re; What about Windows Phone 8?

      You have to be joking. This phone is a huge flop. The phone are going to have try harrder to catch Apple or Android.
      Ian Norris
  • Speaking of technological breakthroughs

    I nominate ZDNet for upgrading its comment systems to include an advanced feature set once only enjoyed by early USENET users.
    none none