Some unusually winning stories from 2009

There are some stories at Open Source that are guaranteed to get an audience. Anything with Microsoft in it.

There are some stories at Open Source that are guaranteed to get an audience. Anything with Microsoft in it. Anything with Firefox in it. Any mention of Ubuntu.

But not all stories are of this type. Usually, when I color outside the lines of your chief interests I hear crickets. But sometimes I hear some applause. And this is gratifying.

Today, four of the more off-the-beat stories from 2009 that you liked:

The Linux laptops of 2009 --I wrote this after making arrangements for my June trip to Taiwan for CompuTex, and you named it the fourth most-popular story of the year with over 21,000 page views. It drew 111 talkbacks and a rating of +18.

It was a think piece, looking at the disconnect between what Chinese suppliers saw in Linux and what users like me might want. Chinese is an ideographic language, so maybe they don't get our thing about keyboards. It was a think piece, concluding that companies were shipping million-unit orders without thinking enough about consumers.

Is Wolfram Alpha overhyped? --I wrote this in May, during the peak of excitement over Stephen Wolfram's Alpha, an analytics-based "answering engine" now being incorporated into Microsoft's Bing search engine. It became the 12th most-read story of the year here with almost 15,000 page views. (That's Wolfram above. Nice hairline. Grass don't grow on a busy street, ladies.)

I'm a big Wolfram fan. He's a genius. But there's a difference between pure genius and business genius, I wrote, a difference between, say, Thomas Edison and Bill Gates. The Wolfram excitement was overdone as a result.

Can VLC 1.0 change the world? --Maybe I was over-exuberant with this July post about the VLC codec going "gold" with Version 1.0. I use it, and like it. You saw it as the 14th most popular post of the year, with over 14,000 page views and a rating of +11.

Most exciting to me was VLC's use of the Ogg Theora codec,  meaning it could duck the proprietary games Apple, Real, and Microsoft had to play with content providers in order to get necessary support. Try it today.

What Asus wants in a Linux -- One lesson I need to re-learn is there can be a disconnect between readership and talkback interest. This August story drew 274 talkbacks, a rating of +19, but it was in fact only the 16th most-popular post of the year, with over 13,000 page views.

This was another of my thought pieces, the thought emerging while I was working out before coming into work. It was speculation, based on my visit to Taiwan and interviews with Chinese entrepreneurs. I used Asus because they had sent me two EeePC netbooks running Linux in 2008,. but showed nothing with Linux on it in 2009.

Since then, we have seen the HTC Android phone make a big hit, so even a blind (or near-sighted) squirrel can find a nut once in a while.