Remember when I wrote an article a year ago predicting that always-connected computers would be heavily promoted in 2018?
Yeah, about that: not even close. Nada. All the buzz died away when the first PCs in that category turned out to be underpowered and, well, pretty awful.
Okay, that prediction didn’t pan out. But that wasn’t all! I also told you that the battle between Amazon and Google over home assistants would be the source of the most interesting technology advances in 2018, and that prediction worked out okay. So not a complete strikeout, eh?
I wrote a few other things last year that may have helped you navigate the ever-changing technology landscape. Here are a few articles to revisit when you can’t sleep.
The essential guide to being secure in a dangerous world.
A few more security tips, including one about the scariest scam of the year, where the bad guys quote one of your old passwords and claim to have a compromising video from your laptop camera.
Four articles about improving your password habits and adopting tools to help you stay secure.
Cyber battles between national governments and large enterprises are being fought largely behind the scenes. I wrote three articles to help you understand the headlines and get a deeper understanding of the real issues behind the daily political ruckus.
Five companies dominate our technology worlds, seeking our loyalty when we choose devices and services. Each has different motivations and each uses different techniques to draw us into their ecosystems. These articles provide an overview of the business strategies used by the big technology companies to control the hardware, software, services, and media that you can use most easily.
Business and news analysis
I wrote a number of analytical articles in 2018 about businesses and topics in the news, and new services that are changing our world. If there’s a theme, perhaps it’s the unintended consequences of business and political decisions when they do not take into account the nuances of how people use and design technology.
What an interesting year for Microsoft! Windows and Office are legacy products that still generate lots of revenue but which are being downplayed in favor of Satya Nadella’s vision of Microsoft as an enterprise-focused company that provides the plumbing for the entire Internet. It’s hard to argue: at the end of 2018 Microsoft was the most valuable company on the planet, ahead of Apple and Amazon and Facebook. We will still use Windows and Office for a long time, and Microsoft will profess to be excited about them as it seeks to extend their life, but Microsoft is a much different company than it was ten years ago and small businesses and consumers are not its primary focus any more.
Google is obtaining massive amounts of data about each and every one of us. So far it is using its vast AI and machine learning powers to provide genuinely useful services like Google Photos and Google Assistant. We are forced to trust the company’s culture and hope it preserves our privacy and treats us fairly.
A few more tips
In 2018 it became possible to store files online in services like Dropbox, Box, and OneDrive, but browse through them in File Explorer on our PCs as if they were stored on the hard drive. It’s a subtle but important change that will seem natural before long. I’ve written about that frequently.
I also wrote some specific tips – about a problem that many people dealt with after the April 2018 update to Windows 10; about shopping for small PCs; and the article about surge protectors which in some ways was my single most unexpected discovery in 2018.
Many thanks to my colleagues at TeamLogic IT of Santa Rosa, Mike Cook, and all the clients, friends and readers who make it so much fun to work in this exciting age of technology. I look forward to finding out what 2019 will bring. All my best wishes for a happy and prosperous new year!