Friday, December 28, 2007

My own 'best of 2007' ...

This is somehow of an anniversary post (since the blog will just make it to the two years mark from the beginning) - and what better way to mark the past than to remember the best of it - in this case a rather mixed bag of things that I really liked during 2007 - some (very few) of them might actually be slightly older but I just managed to enjoy them during this year so it counts in my book :)

I will start with a very 'populist' subject - movies - it seems however that the vast majority of the movies of 2007 were commercial trash and remakes, so there is not a huge list of titles that I really liked ...

In the third position there is a pair of (older) russian films - 'Night watch' and 'Day watch' (in this order) - both have a rather special touch, great acting and a strong moral point (even if there is also some amount of 'action') ... and I would also say a certain degree of black humor that might not be entirely visible for people that have not experienced communism first-hand.

Second-best was 'Next' - and even that one does not score very high despite the fact that I really like Biel and Cage, not to mention Philip K Dick ...

The best I saw during 2007 was however 'The Prestige' - that one was from 2006 but I never managed to see it then, and I really liked so it deservingly gets the top spot for 2007 ...

On series I can only be very brief and recommend from the newcomers of 2007 'Pushing Daisies' and 'The Big Bang Theory', and for 2008 I might keep an eye on 'New Amsterdam' and 'Eli Stone' (and all which will survive in 2008 will join my older favorites 'How I Met Your Mother' and 'House M.D.').

On books I will just have to admit that I was not very 'effective' and among the titles that I managed to finish there is just one that I would recommend - but that one is memorable indeed - it is 'Spin' by Robert Charles Wilson (and is from 2005 when it also got the Hugo award) - there is something 'just right' about it and a certain 'shock of reality' that is not often found in a SF book ... I just can't wait to have the time to read Axis :)

Now moving from the world of ideas to the more material (and materialistic) world - after quite a number of years when 'iPod killers' failed to actually do so, 2007 was the year when the iPod was actually stopped - it was not by a single product but instead by many - like Samsung YP-U3 and YP-K3 and a few of the Sandisk models on the low-cost end, by Archos on the video end plus of course the iPhone itself - and while Zune was not yet any type of threat it was growing while the iPod market share was shrinking ...

Nevertheless the raising gadget of the year was the iPhone - and I consider it an important step for this year since first it exposed Apple as a greedy monopolist ready to take advantage of the fans, but also the incredible lack of openness from the mobile phone market on which actually the Apple entry was (unexpectedly from one of the worst monopolists of all times) a step forward!

I would have liked to name a full Latitude XT Tablet PC configuration for around 1500-2000 US$ as the best notebook of the year - but such a configuration will go around 3500 US$ and in that case I will have to just recommend looking elsewhere - Lenovo X61T or Toshiba for tablets, the latest Panasonic W/Y series for traditional notebooks.

A very serious end-of-the-year hit was Asus EEE which might have been my choice as subnotebook of the year ... if it had at least a 10'' screen (which is perfectly possible in the same form factor).

However my absolute low-cost notebook device of the year is the XO Laptop (or the One Laptop Per Child = OLPC) - the result of hard work from many, many gifted people (from which the best known is of course Nicholas Negroponte from MIT). Some of the big names in the industry - Intel, Microsoft, even Apple which tried to replace the open-source OS part - desperately tried to sink the project (which was certainly threatening the establishment) but at the end of 2007 we can finally start to see it as a major success.

The browser raising most in 2007 is of course Mozilla Firefox - but I believe that the need for better use of multiple threads / processes (and a very special care for scripting on those) might be the most serious restriction for future growth.

I have left at the very end the 'operating system software' - it was a full year with both Microsoft and Apple launching new major products so you would expect the fight to be tough ... and it certainly was, but it was the battle for the last place :) Vista was just as I predicted in the first day of 2006 - but is probably heading in the right direction now and in 2008 I see it starting to grow after SP1 - but that does not change the fact that in 2007 it was mostly a flop that was 'dwarfed' by the half-of-decade-old XP (which will still continue to be a huge factor in 2008 after SP3).

Leopard was also far from what the hype was promising - it still is a HUGE failure on the older PowerPC architecture (which in itself was more hype than substance) but with the 10.5.2 update I also expect a small improvement (after all I believe like 300 things will be fixed, so people claiming it was a huge hit and that Microsoft should somehow learn from Apple are probably delusional - Apple had like 8 TOTAL hardware configurations to cover and it still totally messed one of them (iMac) and all PowerPC stuff was already messed - so people should rather think about how Vista is running on over a HUNDRED totally different configurations and how many of those it should completely trash before becoming the equal of the Leoptard :) (and I am not speaking of the old 486 that you found in the attic in the same way I am not speaking about running 10.5 on let's say a G3...)

So at this point you might be wondering which was the operating system for 2007 ... and the answer is Linux generally and Ubuntu in particular - even if at the start of the year I was FAR from impressed, the recent Ubuntu 7.10 Gutsy Gibbon was a HUGE step forward (especially for the average user) and it deserves the title of the best OS product of 2007 !!!

That being said I expect a lot of interesting new things in 2008 (I might try again to predict some of them in the very first day of the new year) and I hope that everybody will have a very happy new year!

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