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2009: The year of tweeting, streaming, applications, and social networking

Dec. 21, 2009

by Mark Ollig

As we come to a close on 2009, we can hold our heads high; we have once again navigated our way through the high-tech waves which challenged us.

We saw twittering become mainstream and many of us are texting daily about “what we are doing right now” to our followers and reading the text of those we follow.

This columnist can be followed on Twitter at ‘bitsandbytes.’

Streaming video over the Internet by the local media has become a more interactive experience.

For example, a few weeks ago KARE 11 TV in Golden Valley conducted a live video chat over their website with on-air personality Eric Perkins which I participate in.

KARE 11 was broadcasting the Sunday night Vikings - Cardinals football game. I could see and hear Perkins making comments during the game and responding in real-time to the messages those of us in the chat were typing.

Other on-air personalities even stopped by to read and respond to our messages in the chat.

In 2009, we saw Facebook become one of the most popular online social networks.

Facebook is a social network for us to communicate and share photos and information on. It is a simple and easy way to stay in touch with our friends and family.

This year, we said good-bye to over-the-air analog television transmission signals.

I trust everyone using analog televisions has installed those converter boxes by now.

Very small notebook computers called Netbooks became the “latest thing” this year. Their smaller size and affordable price helped to make them popular.

The supreme public depository of all that is video, commonly known to you and me as YouTube, greeted the “Vatican Channel” this year, as they established their own YouTube channel.

“Today is a day that writes a new page in history for the Holy See,” Vatican radio said in describing the launch of the new YouTube site.

This year, Google made public for the first time how the data content for each computer file server they operate is protected in case of a power outage. It was revealed what each computer server contains its own internal 12-volt battery pack.

“It was our Manhattan Project . . . this is much cheaper than [a] huge centralized UPS,” said Ben Jai, Google’s Server platform architect.

May 15 you read in this column about how WolframAlpha, a new online computational search-like engine, was officially released to the public. This exciting event was video streamed live over the Internet on the Justin TV web site.

In June, I wrote about watching my oldest son’s return to the United States from Italy on my iPods application called “FlighTracker.” This application allowed me to track his flight’s progression in near real-time.

All of the flight information on speed, altitude, and plane location was refreshed automatically, without any intervention on my part. I watched the flight information updated as I viewed the plane’s icon make its way across a world map.

This past summer, Microsoft threw its hat into the search engine ring with the release of Bing, which according to Microsoft, is a new search engine that “finds and organizes the answers you need so you can make faster, more informed decisions.”

By the way, this month Google just released a new real-time search feature which allows one to enter a search term and then see in real-time, references to it as it is being used in Twitter messages or other web sources.

In July, your humble columnist wrote about suffering “burnout” from too much time spent participating on online social networks.

Spending many hours on Twitter, Facebook, various blogs, and web sites caused me to realize that needed “get-away” breaks are unavoidable and are, in fact, accepted by the online social networking community.

Another column I hope you enjoyed reading this year was about two adventurous students attending the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Sept. 2, Justin Lee and Oliver Yeh launched a helium-filled latex balloon containing a camera. The balloon rose to a height of 93,000 feet or 17.61 miles, which technically put it into the stratosphere.

The camera was set to take a picture every five seconds at 1/800 of a second shutter speed.

The students were able to take enough pictures to record the entire trip of the balloon from launch to retrieval, which lasted about five hours.

One of the color pictures taken showed the curvature of a bluish earth set against the blackness of space.

In November, numerous tweets were being sent over Twitter, as the Space shuttle Atlantis launch included a well- organized NASA ‘Tweetup’ event.

While watching the live NASA television broadcast on my iPod, I interacted with the participants or “Tweeps” at the Kennedy Space Center over Twitter. They were broadcasting live from the Kennedy Space Center.

Stay tuned, as we ride those high-tech waves into 2010.