iGeneration 2008 in review

I started on this blog, a nervous and precarious young man, and remain somewhat a young man. To be honest, I'm surprised I've been here this long, let alone seconded onto another blog.
Written by Zack Whittaker, Contributor

I started on this blog, a nervous and precarious young man, and remain somewhat a young man. To be honest, I'm surprised I've been here this long, let alone seconded onto another blog. Still, it's been an interesting year and I'll run through some of them in a minute. So far, this year has shown us:

  • Facebook is becoming such a huge part of our lives, that even students are trying to kill it;
  • Windows Fiji, as reported by Mary-Jo Foley, turned out to be a bit of a flop;
  • We could (well, we never would have done but...) have seen the end of the world;
  • I had my scheduled nervous breakdown, which went well, thanks for asking;
  • I steal money off my parents.

If you like, you canskip straight to the iGeneration statistics page, to show you what you've been doing on here over the last year.


Not really that interesting to be honest. I started writing, but it wasn't exactly my best material. I got all of 11 TalkBacks and a handful of emails telling me to "fudge off, you're useless." Nice to get off on the right foot with you lot.


Things started hotting up a bit in June, when on the first day I wrote about a bunch of Canadian students who tried to bring down Facebook with their "supreme" law skills. I'm glad to report, they failed miserably and subsequently crawled back into the hole they came from. I managed to get myself on the very front page in full glory of the technology arena with my articles on mixing the cloud with virtualisation; using "cloudivity" if you will.

By running your life in a VHD (virtual hard drive) and synching that file to the cloud, you can in theory access your computer from anywhere, as if you were really there. Sure, you could just use LogMeIn like I actually do, but it was an interesting thought.


I also threw my laptop out of the window in a minor fit of rage, with interesting results, and sparked a mild controversy when I put Google against Live Search in a battle of the search engines. Another high point for me was bringing together two controversial topics which thought would interest the readers; the lack of women in the IT industry which my former colleague, Philippa Snare, discussed with me, and the effect of being gay in the IT arena and whether it can hold your career back and sparking a mild international incident.

July, August and a bit of September -->


We finally said goodbye to Bill Gates, after being at Microsoft for more years than I can count with limbs, fingers, toes and my special man wand. It also had my first major mistake where I learned what an embargo was... as well as the potentially damaging action against every single YouTube user on the planet. It was a dark period for me, as I had moved into my new house and was without Internet access for a whole month.

With nothing more than my depressive stories, dial-up Internet which was still being charged to the previous owner, and Tammy Cavadias, who pretty much runs behind-the-scenes and pretty much posted everything I had for that month, acting as my proxy. If it wasn't for her, it would have been one hell of a crap paycheque for July.

One of my most commented posts to date was published, discussing the top technology tips for students, including using the university network to download large files (and on-demand television) and considering investing in a wifi-cell phone. My campaign to abolish crapware, software which is pre-installed on computers just bought, began.


Things had slowed down a tad in August, but the content kept rolling out. A few of my best posts however, were the breaking of the Windows Live Messenger 9 story which had an accompanying gallery, which was only really seen here first.

My insight into the depressing future ahead for the Internet seems to have come true to some extent, especially in the last few days with the massive flaws detected in the Internet Explorer browser.

This got 50 TalkBacks and remains one of my most popular posts to date. I took August as a month to show off certain new cool things for students; the research parts of the BBC News website, some tools provided by Microsoft to make life easier when writing those essays and dissertations, as well as the look at Windows "Fiji", the failed new pack for Windows Media Center.


The month I "celebrate" my life beginning, and it went without hitch. I'm not a huge fan of birthdays, and for good reason, and this year it went by without anybody noticing which made me dearly happy. I gave an interesting insight into the two
major software corporations, both trying to work in a developmental hardware aspect into their computers and operating systems - Apple vs. Microsoft, Mac OS X vs. Windows 7... multi-touch.

Looking back after writing that article about IE7's killer feature (although, stolen shamelessly from Mozilla), the web gallery, which didn't allow any add-ins to be downloaded for it, because it didn't work. I learned a surprising lot from that article, and had some great feedback from the IE7 team afterwards. I discussed global security, and could be the first person on ZDNet to get an quote from an MI6 officer. It doesn't count the fact I know them in a social setting, but nevertheless, the article worked.

I'm proud of. Even my little sister had a go at writing an article, bless.

The rest of September, October and November -->

September (cont.)

We also nearly saw the end of the world, with the Large Hadron Collider starting (and prematurely ending) its work. Although there was little to no risk of the LHC destroying the entire universe, it was a groundbreaking article for me; going off topic quite a bit and essentially making light of a potentially worrying situation, whilst explaining in complex yet understandable detail what was really going on.

I also took time to look at the legal vs. illegal downloads of music, looking at ease, cost, viability, digital-rights management and whether "those bureaucratic tossers in Brussels" have the right to dictate what and when. After a few of my Government seminars, I actually found out, no. No, they don't technically have the authority to dictate anything. Interesting...


Boldly claiming that Vista isn't that bad is a move I'm willing to take again, to be fair. One of my most "popular" posts of the year in terms of TalkBacks, it also hit one of the most read pages on iGeneration. Although it may not have seemed to be the most fair of posts, I think I represented relatively accurately how good Vista really is. For those who have have had a good, solid installation, have an anti-virus and don't go on porn every few days, you'll find your Vista experience to be perfectly fine, I'm sure.

October also saw me getting into a bit of bother in regards to the Windows 7 screenshot I posted, then pulled, then re-posted again. It also saw the first pro-Mac post that has appeared over the course of the last year. The new MacBook is pretty good looking, albeit with a glossy, shiny screen which makes it difficult to read off.


You surpassed the 200 mark on Talkbacks on my post regarding France making steps to kick Internet pirates off the Internet, causing a furore with some people. Hey, I only report the news, I don't make it. Also with the newly elected President-Elect Barrack Obama, as the first African American taking over the presidency, this also kicked up a massive change in the policies. He's already set his sights on having a chief-technology officer and made the news when he announced some of his technology-related policies.

With the announcement that the Windows 7 beta has begun (or rather back then, was nearly ready), I had a good old think about the new features and a way Microsoft can avoid the Vista-feature-gate it had last time round. I proposed an off/on switch of features, with two modes available. Suffice to say, Microsoft declined the offer, but it made a good read nonetheless.

I took a look into Twitter to see whether there was any point in the web application. It turns out there isn't, but it made a good talking point for people - which ultimately, is what I'm here for.

December, statistics and acknowledgements -->


And here we are at December; month of Christmas, thanksgiving just gone, left-overs in the fridge, and more of my crap to put up with. I had a minor scheduled breakdown at the start of the month, which is where my best friend Elliot Harrison
took over. He posted a few posts which got some interesting comments back from people. Still, he's more qualified to write on here than me.

I wrote about universities taxing students to download as much "illegal music" as they wanted, as well as Windows Server 2008 fast becoming my favourite operating system of all time.

I also thought it was about time to quickly skim over some of the latest, and near-final features in Windows 7 ahead of the beta program. So far so good, is basically what I had to say, with a full in-depth image gallery which seemed to prove quite popular.

And finally, the most popular article on this blog, which is still increasing in momentum, was my post on Internet Explorer never being as secure as other browsers are today, in present day. It was controversial, but again, it's the talking point which I like to give people; the ability to shout, talk, bitch, moan, whine, consider, ponder and think about.


For legal reasons, I can't go into the amount of people who have been on here, reading or visiting. However, some of the stats are incredibly interesting.

From looking behind the scenes in the ZDNet looking glass, some of the visitors over the past year have come from, or at least visited from:

Michigan Technological University, Ohio State University, the University of Washington, the University of California, Oregon State University, West Virgina University, Colombia University, Harvard University, the College of New Jersey, Flinders University, Stonybrook University, Princeton University, Pittsburg University, Savannah College of Art and Design, Stanford University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the University of Oxford, the University of Cambridge, and my own lovely little home, the University of Kent.

Others who have visited also include:

South Australian Central Government, Microsoft Corporation, British Columbia Government, Google Corporation, US Department for Homeland Security, California State Government, and no less, the Royal Family... ma'am.

Considering it was only a few days ago, I got my highest visitor recording on the 15th December 2008, and more people use Windows (87.53%) and Internet Explorer (46.31%) to read the blog, with Firefox only a few percent down at 42.66%.

Page views by country
Overall traffic without figures (legal) since May
Overall views depending on browser
Overall views depending on operating system

Final acknowledgements

I know this will sound corny, and I have no need to suck up to anyone, so I won't. I would like to thank my senior editors, David Grober, Larry Dignan and Sam Diaz; especially Larry who had the faith in me to write on here in the first place, and David for putting up with the incessant emails about... crap basically. Emailing less is on my resolution list.

Many thanks go to my university colleagues who allow me the time to work and to take time out for meetings, conferences and suchlike. A big thanks to Mary-Jo Foley, my long suffering friend who has guided me along the journalism route; and Dennis Howlett which we worked together for the second half of the year. Not to mention, Jen Leggio who started just after me; we've been learning the ropes pretty much together, and I'm proud of her for doing so well in such a short space of time.

I've never had a better bunch of colleagues on ZDNet; I can genuinely say, even though being over in the UK, I haven't met a great portion of them, but they're the best bunch of guys and girls to work with. Thank you, to all my colleagues.

And you. Thanks for the views and thanks for the arguments; it's been fun and I'll carry on as per usual into the new year. Even though I'll be posting more over the next few days; season's greetings to you all, whatever your religion, faith, belief or banana.

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