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How the Year Looked On Slashdot 161

Happy New Year! It's that time (as of now!) for the UK, and since the Slashdot backend operates in Greenwich Mean Time, that seems as good a reason as any to welcome 2012 now instead of local midnight for any of the various U.S. time zones. Everyone has a different take on how to rank the events of the last year; read on below for a few notes on some of the goings on of the past 31,536,000 seconds (give or take). The list is pretty arbitrary, drawn from the thousand-ish stories that hit the Slashdot page in that time; please say in the comments what news hit you the hardest this year.

Politics and all that:

Events in the Middle East dominated much of the news, including in particular the ways that governments have been tracking (and sometimes imprisoning or killing) opponents; California-based Blue Coat flatly denied selling equipment to Syria to help that sort of tracking before 'fessing up to it. (And in the U.S., the Occupy movement set about occupying bits of various cities, drawing both admiration and scorn.)

Related: The nuttiness surrounding Wikileaks continues.

Then there's the still unfinished story of SOPA; at least in some cases, speaking loudly seems to've caused businesses to change their public stances as defenders of the law as proposed; could this be called washing SOPA out with mouth?

On the tech front:

Donald Knuth published the 4th volume (or at least the first installment of it) of his ambitious Art of Computer Programming.

Netflix's management decided to couple a change that many customers thought was a stupid rate increase with what many people (customers or not) felt was a stupid name change; the company at least agreed on the name change, and reverted it.

HP seemed to do an interesting dance, both by shaking up its management structure , then announcing it was considering a spin-off of its PC hardware business before canceling that maneuver. HP sent a different but similarly mixed set of messages with a fire sale on its WebOS tablets (to the disappointment of those who praised and wished more success to WebOS).

Nokia also did some shaking in place. It's been a rough year for phone junkies on the whole, with Blackberry outages and privacy debacles both intentional and accidental from RIM, and no joy for those who'd expected iPhone 5, along with a handful of security issues for Android phones made it a rough year for phone junkies.

Meanwhile, the Linux kernel reached the magical number 3.0, and then 3.1 even though Mr. Linux himself, true to form, downplayed the leap from 2.x as basically just a number. Notably, the kernel suffered a persistent power-use regression, but also (Yay!) a fix.

On the GUI front, Gnome3 and Ubuntu's Unity generated lots of excitement, particularly from those who dislike the changes they bring. Forks and workarounds ensued — open source abides. We've seen also quite a bit this year about the Raspberry Pi, IMO the most exciting hardware news stuff of the year.

Questions of the stars:

Speaking of the Raspberry Pi, we were glad to have had the chance this year to ask questions of Eben Upton, as well as of William Shatner and Phil Plait, The Bad Astronomer, among many others. (And though it's sad, must also note rejections to our requests to interview Steven Hawking, Tom Lehrer, Freeman Dyson a distinguished list, at least.)


Several of the biggest names in technology will sadly no longer be around for the years to come. After years of uncertain health and swirling rumors, Steve Jobs succumbed to pancreatic cancer. Less known outside tech circles, both John McCarthy and Dennis Ritchie died as well, both leaving rich legacies of software and inspiration. For all that he thrived on being a bad penny to both sides of the political spectrum, Christopher Hitchens, too, will be missed. On the other side of the "world changing" coin, this year also brought the end for Usama Bin Laden, Muammar Gaddafi, and North Korea's not-particularly-dear leader Kim Jong Il.

A different kind of ending: after a few years of life support, 2011 witnessed (with CmdrTaco's help) the final flight of the U.S. Space Shuttle. Everyone who had a chance to see a Shuttle launch will have a great story to tell their children.

Coming attractions:

Whatever the eventual fate of the other players in the phone world, 2012 will probably mean the end of the road for Symbian phones.

It's time for a reality check on the space hotel that was predicted for 2012; I'd place my bet against. Less happily, the continuing push for surveillance and tracking means I wouldn't bet against the projected nationwide trials in the coming year of face-recognition and tracking software from the FBI.

Finally: the end is near. That is, the actual end of the world (versus this recent contender), as predicted by the Mayans, as interpreted by various non-Mayans, and massaged to give us a few more years (or at least a few more months). Or, you can choose to rotate your tinfoil hat one quarter turn clockwise and take NASA's word for it — whatever the fate of humanity, Earth itself will probably keep right on going; we hope you'll stick around for the rest of the story — we're still waiting for The HURD
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How the Year Looked On Slashdot

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  • by msobkow ( 48369 ) on Saturday December 31, 2011 @08:33PM (#38552752) Homepage Journal

    The Occupy protesters have a lot to learn about how to present their arguments to the public, how to convince people who don't agree with them, and how to explain themselves to people who have no idea what they're talking about. Their dreams of changing the world won't happen without those skills and years of dedication.

    But they sparked a movement and made people aware there are issues. The question is whether they can stop their self-righteous whining about their "rights" and see themselves as the public sees them, so they can face up to facts and work on their public perception problems.

    No one shot at you like the Arab Spring protesters. You weren't under military guard like the Palestinians. You didn't spend decades fighting for the right to use effective medication without being arrested for it by the DEA. You weren't systemically abused like the black community before the civil rights movement.

    You spent over TWO MONTHS squatting in public parks without effectively delivering a message to the PUBLIC instead of amongst your own faithful at the protests. When there were conflicts with the police while you were being evicted, you were only maced and shot with rubber bullets. No one was killed. You had to scream in the faces of the officers for TWO MONTHS before they'd even go that far to get rid of the camps.

    Freedom of speech rights my ass. Occupy doesn't know what their rights are and what they mean, how to deliver a message, or how to work for change. Instead, they come across as a bunch of posers and whiners squatting in the parks and demanding the right to squat there for the rest of their lives while they wait for the world to change itself just because they discovered the world isn't fair.

    Despite that, Occupy was the news story of the year to me. It was a brief spark of hope dashed by the incompetence of self-styled "victims" who insult those who know what actual oppression is.

  • Re:Steve Jobs (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 31, 2011 @08:54PM (#38552890)

    I don't follow Apple or Jobs news so his death came out of nowhere. Didn't know he had cancer or that he was dying from it.

    I didn't either but I knew he had cancer because of the fallout from him getting into the queue (ahead of just as deserving people) for a liver transplant in Tennessee even he lived on the West coast.

    It's great being a famous billionaire with a private jet and plenty of fanboys - get to knock out all those poor kids who also need livers out of the way so you can continue with your life of creating consumer electronic toys.

    The doctors who gave Jobs and David Crosby their livers should be ashamed of themselves.

  • by msobkow ( 48369 ) on Saturday December 31, 2011 @09:16PM (#38553052) Homepage Journal

    And as with any Occupy members, if you don't blindly agree with them, you're labeled as being of the "1%" even if you're on unemployment. After all, being of the "1%" is supposed to make you feel ashamed. Maybe someday I will be of the 1%, but if I am, it'll be because I WORKED to get there.

    But don't listen to anyone who tries to help you get the message out or who tries to teach you how to influence change. That'll take away time from you being able to cry "nobody listens to me" and "nobody understands" while you harass the police until they get pissed off enough to punch you in the face. Don't worry, as we've seen, if you get in their face for 2-3 months they WILL lose their patience and give you that damning "police abuse" video for you to share with everyone as proof of your victimization.

  • Re:2012 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <> on Saturday December 31, 2011 @09:38PM (#38553212) Homepage Journal

    Just in time for the desktop to be replaced by the, er..., tablet/hand/palmtop!

    Seriously though, the number one and number two phone and tablet operating systems are both Unix based, with Linux taking the lead for the number of users. Ten years ago who would have believed that BSD would be in millions of people's pockets, or that the most popular mobile OS would be open source with its proprietary rivals from the likes of Nokia and Microsoft rapidly dying off?

  • by Charmonium ( 2441996 ) on Saturday December 31, 2011 @09:45PM (#38553258)
    I thought CmdrTaco retiring from Slashdot is worthy of mention.
  • by thermopile ( 571680 ) on Saturday December 31, 2011 @10:07PM (#38553394) Homepage

    Seriously, as far as slashdot goes, CmdrTaco's last missive and farewell [] really has to stand as a notable event in 2011, at the very least for Slashdot.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 31, 2011 @11:47PM (#38553858)

    if I am, it'll be because I WORKED to get there.

    Nobody's gotten to the 1% through their own sweat in a long, long time.

    Occupy's problem is that it's less of a movement than it is an unfocused outpouring of anger. In the end, it won't get anything done (and that's the good news: it's managed to buck all the wranglers who thought they could corral it and break it to their will like the Tea Party ended up).

    just because they discovered the world isn't fair.

    I always wondered what it would look like when people realize the game isn't fair and quit.

  • by DNS-and-BIND ( 461968 ) on Sunday January 01, 2012 @02:06AM (#38554384) Homepage
    Well, let's not sugarcoat the situation. The "greenies" were openly celebrating Fukushima while totally ignoring the SIXTEEN THOUSAND HUMANS DEAD in the tsunami. Seriously, they were celebrating because the crisis would help them to shut down nuclear power plants forever. Germany did, eh? Just look at any of the Slashdot threads and you'll find their comments, moderated up to +5 insightful.
  • by msobkow ( 48369 ) on Sunday January 01, 2012 @05:14AM (#38554882) Homepage Journal

    "We The People".

    Not "We The Citizens".

    The rights enshrined in the US Constitution are supposed to apply to everyone, especially those accused of criminal activities by the government.

    President Obama, the US Congress, and the US Senate are traitors to their own nation's values.

    What a shame the sheeple go along with it, sacrificing their rights in the name of a chicken-little "War on Terrorism" that couldn't stop a Texan from killing a half dozen people, several dozen cars from being fire-bombed over the past few days in California, or an incompetent underwear bomber from trying to set off his shorts.

    You should know from the experience of the Israelis that imposing police-state security on the people does not result in safety, only in government and military control of those being oppressed and occupied. Why do you think it'll work any better in the US than in Israel?

    I call on the world to demand that the UN veto be taken away from the United States. We cannot allow a government that doesn't respect it's own social mandates to have the final say on how other governments act. Letting someone who wants to arbitrarily jail and hold the accused for an indefinite time without charges or a quick and speedy fair trial have the final say on how the UN members are to respect human rights is so incredibly wrong-headed and stupid that I can't believe any nation in the world is willing to put up with it.

    If the Americans want to screw themselves into a police state, let them. But don't let them force that Orwellian nightmare on the rest of the world.

  • by Phoenix666 ( 184391 ) on Sunday January 01, 2012 @10:10AM (#38555690)
    About a great many things when it comes to Occupy Wall Street. They are not self righteous whining posers unless you do not agree that Americans have the right to free speech, the freedom of assembly, the right to free and fair elections, and the many others enumerated in the Constitution.

    You are also quite mistaken about how the Occupy protesters "have a lot to learn" about messaging, organizing, persuading others, etc. New York is the worldwide capital of advertising, fashion, and image making in general and those industries were heavily represented at OWS. How do we know? Well, you heard about OWS for months; when was the last time you heard about traditional, take to the streets protests? Hint: it's not because the latter don't happen all the time but because the powers that be have grown quite expert at ignoring/dismissing/hiding them. But OWS got your attention precisely because they are expert at communicating.

    You're also mistaken about their goals. You did not need to look much farther than the Wikipedia entry [] to find them, but it is easier to get your information from Glen Beck/Rush Limbaugh/Fox News than to do a little independent checking.

    What is a legitimate question is to ask, what's next? Occupy Wall Street represents a different approach than the traditional approaches that the 1% have become past masters at pigeonholing/deflecting/defeating/ignoring. That's why they have gotten as much coverage as they have, because it's different. But how to take it to the next level is an open question. It will, however, be taken to the next level because the underlying issues have not been addressed and the government has not even started to pretend to address them. They're doubling down on tired forms and bankrupt memes.

    I hope OWS and the Tea Party forces team up; they differ on the margins but share the same core concerns--the system doesn't work any more for the vast majority of the American people. Crowd-sourced surveillance and expose of the 1%, the way they are trying to monitor and control us, I believe will be the straw that breaks the camel's back of the status quo. The 1% can only succeed under the cloak of night and in the comfort of their backrooms and private clubs. If we rip that cover away, the public revulsion will be instant and universal and ineluctable.

The first Rotarian was the first man to call John the Baptist "Jack." -- H.L. Mencken