Farewell 2009

2009 was the year for a lot of goodbyes. Among them: Keith Floyd, Compuserve, Bobby Robson, Bea Arthur, Geocities, Farrah Fawcett, Jade Goody, Dubai, Ricardo Montalban, Patrick McGoohan, XHTML2, Patrick Swayze and Michael Jackson. I’d be willing to bet that you weren’t aware that MJ held a patent on his anti-gravity shoes. Which segues nicely into a review of my predictions for 2009.

Patent reform

“As we benefit from the inventions of others, we should be glad to share our own … freely and gladly.”
– Benjamin Franklin

I was hoping for a degree of patent reform but it looks like I’ll have to wait a little bit longer. Microsoft are pushing for a single, global patent system. Unfortunately, they want to implement the system used in the USA which reached new levels of ridiculousness when Google were apparently awarded a patent for displaying patents and another patent for the Google home page. Microsoft managed to patent sudo and storing word documents in XML. To the credit of the USPTO, they did put out a Request for Comments on ways to improve their processes.

Patent, copyright and libel laws all need changing to be bought up-to-date with new technologies and advances. The old system has been buckling under the strain of a world for which it was never intended for far too long now.

I thought that Twitter would have to start making money at some point but couldn’t see where it would come from. Despite what Bruce Wagner thinks, Twitter were not making a profit – which isn’t good for any company. This year some confidential documents were bought to light after a hack attack and it turned out that ambitions to make a profit were decidedly modest at best. Twitter first managed to get another round of investment funding and then signed deals with Bing and Google totaling $25m to integrate Tweets into real-time search results. The idea of Twitter micropayments was revisited once again and once again was met with apathy and ridicule. The new native Retweet functionality, Contributors and Formats all look set to move the service on to the next level.

Mobile services
Surprisingly it hasn’t been travel embracing the new mobile device era with eticketing but supermarkets and banks. Well some of them at least. My bank still uses Monilink which is a three year old solution charging 25p for a mini-statement and just 20p for balance inquiries. I have no interest in this whatsoever – especially when other banks like NatWest and RBS now have dedicated free iPhone apps that allow you do to so much more.

LED lights
I think that I can count this one as a hit. LED lights are now widely available but they are still a little bit expensive for the initial outlay. This obstacle looks to have been overcome thanks to LED research at the University of Cambridge. Always having to be one step ahead of everywhere else, remote controlled LED light bulbs went on sale in Japan this year.

F1 Racing
Things were nothing if not controversial this year. Renault came very close to following Honda and quitting Formula 1 completely. BMW did just that. Other teams – both new and returning – have taken up the slack and Michael Schumacher also made a comeback. A drivers strike over license fees, race fixing and revolt at attempts to introduce a budget cap all made for far more entertaining spectacle than most of the races once again.

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