2000: The year that was
by Alan Zisman (c)
2000. First published
in Vancouver Computes,
Just about time to put The Year 2000 to rest. So here
are some personal
bests and less than best for the year that was.
Biggest Non Event has to go to the Year 2000
media-whipped fears of civilization as we know if failing within
of midnight December 31, 1999, 2000 came, and by the time you're
this, has pretty much passed without anything momentous happening.
We will, of course, never really know whether
civilization as we know
it was saved by all the time and money spent upgrading computer
and software. And I have come across a run of 486s with non-upgradeable
1994-model Award BIOS chips that insist that it is the year 2994.
Runner-up: the Microsoft trial. Yes, the judge
skewered the company,
and public perception of Bill Gates has changed dramatically from
billionaire to monopolist. But the company has not been split apart,
nothing dramatic is likely to happen anytime soon.
However, this was the year when it started to look
like Microsoft simply
may not matter?at least not the way it did for most of the 1990s.
Speaking of which?
Best Microsoft Operating System: Windows 2000
just keeps on ticking. I've been running it (including pre-release
for over a year now, and it runs and runs and runs. A few things to
however. If you're a gamer, don't even think about. And some people
found it simply won't work with their hardware, either because it
include drivers for their needed peripherals or because it just won't
Least needed Microsoft Operating System:
Windows ME. Not only
a name out of an Austin Powers movie, but why bother? Upgraded Windows
98 systems run 10-15% slower and virtually no one has the hardware
to make use of its clone of Apple's iMovie. It will show up on your new
Operating System not yet ready for the desktop:
people looking for a non-Microsoft solution. Linux isn't ready for mass
acceptance. On the same notebook where I'm running Win2000 Pro, Linux
sound card and network card support. And late in the year, the
between KDE and Gnome for Linux user interface of choice doesn't help.
Once again, maybe next year.
Favorite small device: This was the year when
it finally made
sense for me to get a handheld computer. I opted for a Handspring Visor
Deluxe?running the Palm operating system, it supports the standard that
80% of handheld users have bought into. I've still got lots of its 8 MB
of RAM free, though I would have found the 2 MB on entry-level Palm and
Visor models too restricting. And by the end of the year, add-ons
use of the Visor's Springboard expansion slot finally started to
Coolest software for small devices: AvantGo. If
you get your
handheld online, it's a web browser. But more useful, it's a web
for your handheld when you're not online?even if your handheld can't
online. Choose your favorite sites from the hundreds on their list, or
add your own, and when you sync your Palm, Visor, or WinCE handheld,
Internet content is downloaded to your desktop computer and shot over
your handheld?neatly formatted to be easily readable on your handheld.
Most useful software for small devices:
Documents to Go. Unlike
the WinCE competition, Palm (and Palm-clone Visor) handhelds lack
for Microsoft Office and other standard desktop word processors and
Doc2Go (www.dataviz.com) lets you read your word processor and
documents on your handheld, and makes it easy to move files back and
The newest Professional version lets you edit the documents on your
as well, and will automatically make sure you're using the latest
of the file.
Least necessary feature for small devices:
on cell phones. Yes, digital cell phones have the wireless connectivity
that is an expensive add-on for handheld computers like Palms, Visors,
and WinCE devices. Like handhelds, cell phones give a clipped view of
Web. But their much teenier screens make it much harder to actually
any content. And try entering information typing on a phone keypad.
the hype, this is not the coming thing.
Favorite game: The Sims (www.maxis.com). Where
the classic SimCity
made you Mayor of a town, The Sims lets you play God or Goddess to the
town's inhabitants. You can be as good or evil as you choose, while
whether your creations suffer or prosper under your care.
Least Favorite Game Feature: Code bloat. We
complain about fattened
up operating systems and office suites, but does SimCity 3000 (as just
one of far too many examples of obese games) really need to install
400 MB worth of files? Even in this era of 20 GB hard drives, lets look
for games (and other software) that has been put on a diet.
Happy holidays! More in the New Year.