Around the world, days are set aside for people to be thankful for all the good things in their lives. Friends, family, health, a bountiful harvest, a good job… these and more are all things for which to give thanks.
To commemorate these days, I wanted to share a list of the 19 technologies and trends that I am thankful for. As sys admins, IT professionals, geeks, software developers, writers and anyone else really, these are the things that make our jobs easier, some make our lives a little bit fuller, and we’re very grateful for all of them.
Speaking of wireless, isn’t it great not having to use corded mice, keyboards and headsets? Bluetooth is not going to change the world, but it makes our lives just a little better – and that’s something for which to say thanks.
- Open source software
Thank you to all the developers who continue to work on software and then share it with the world under an open source arrangement, as well as to the many companies who encourage their employees to do so.
Here’s a trend that we are particularly fond of, for obvious reasons. Blogging is one of the best and most effective ways for people to reach others. Businesses can provide additional value to their customers, customers can influence others, and people looking to change the world have a platform they can use to reach, well, the world.
- Social media
Facebook, Twitter, FourSquare, Pinterest, Google+, Reddit, LinkedIn and the myriad other social media sites and technologies out there bring the world together in subtle, and also awesome ways. How many of you have contacts on one of these services that you have never met in real life? How cool is it that you can interact with others around the world so freely and so easily?
One of the best sources of information on the web, even with the occasional fault, Wikipedia is probably a site every single one of us visits at least once a week.
For work, for personal use, for any of the millions of ways businesses use email to conduct their daily activities – it’s a safe bet that if you are reading this, your job not only exists because of the Internet, a large part of it is spent on email.
One thing I am very thankful for each and every day as I commute the 20 feet from my kitchen to my home office is that my company embraces telecommuting. The two hours I get back for myself and my family every day by not having to drive into the office really makes for a better work-life balance.
When was the last time you actually had to connect an Ethernet cable to your laptop? Copper will be around for years to come, but ubiquitous Wi-Fi is starting to really look like a reality, and being able to park yourself practically anywhere you want to do work makes Wi-Fi one technology we really do love.
- The Internet
It may seem obvious at first glance, but then again, consider. If you are reading this, your job most likely exists because of the Internet. It touches our lives every single day. Some of us can’t go an hour without checking in, tweeting, or taking a quick peek at our email; and all of us make use of the greatest single source of information in all of history as a regular part of our jobs. To think that it was invented during most of our lifetimes and has so radically changed the world, is quite incredible if you think about it.
Can you remember the last time you used a paper map or written directions to travel from point A to point B? Me neither. The GPS has made it so easy for anyone to make a road trip, gas station attendants and convenience store clerks don’t even have to know where things are anymore. Now if only they could keep the pizza delivery guy from getting lost.
- Smart phones that are getting smarter
Think about the cellular phone you had ten years ago. It had a keyboard you could use to easily send text messages and that was just the best thing ever, right? Now think about the cell phone/video/camera/email/GPS/eReader/Angry Birds/alarm system managing device that at least 25% of you are using right now to read this article. Could you live without it? Go back to going without a cellular phone at all? Sure, but would you want to?
Another trend we are all very thankful for is the growing adoption of, and support for, HTML5. Finally we have a standard that everyone can embrace, which will make for better and more consistent web experiences for everyone no matter what kind of hardware or browser they prefer.
Whether you are an old school iPad user, a die-hard Android fan, prefer your tablets to be considered e-book readers, or are embracing the new Windows 8 devices, you have to admit that tablets are revolutionizing the way people work, communicate and interact via the web. The next five years may see a shift from laptop to tablet, or if not, we’re betting that tablet features (like touchscreens, slate format) become the norm on every laptop.
- LCD projectors
Whether we’re talking about the full size projectors that come down from the ceiling, or the pocket-sized battery powered units that you can carry around with you, LCD projectors make presenting to a crowd something you can do without having to dim the lights and close the shades.
- Cloud computing
Private clouds, public clouds, hybrid clouds – Cloud-based email, cloud-based storage and cloud-based applications: we’re wild about the cloud, and you should be too. Cloud computing is the next wave in IT, and everyone is jumping on the bandwagon. We’re not ready to shutter our datacenter yet, but we also doubt anyone won’t be using something in cloud by the end of next year. It’s an exciting time to be in IT, and we’re very thankful to be involved during this revolutionary new trend.
Virtualization has been around for over a decade, but it’s finally gaining the kind of widespread acceptance as simply a technology, rather than something niche or for special purposes. In many environments the pendulum has swung so far that new server requests are fulfilled using virtual machines unless the requestor specifies a physical box, showing that this technology has finally gone mainstream.
- Green IT
Here’s a trend we should all get behind and support. From reducing the amount of waste that goes into producing computer components, to recycling hardware that is no longer needed, green IT practices are about reducing the negative impact on the environment. They don’t just deal with hardware manufacturing and recycling though. Green IT practices reduce the amount of power consumed by everything from monitors to datacenters. Green IT practices also help to reduce the amount of waste heat generated by datacenters, which in turn reduces the amount of power, which reduces the amount of carbon emissions caused by power generation.
- Increased battery life
Three years ago, my brand new laptop (at the time) could go a whole 2.5 hours before I would have to plug it in. The laptop I got this year can go almost an entire eight hour day. The improvements in battery capacity coupled with the reduced power needs of solid state drives and more efficient displays make going all day without being tied to a power socket a reality for many. Even cell phones are seeing improvements as each new year’s models have better battery life than the previous.
- Video conferencing
Whether you use it to stay in touch with friends, to see the newest family member’s first steps, or to avoid that transcontinental flight for a two-hour meeting, video conferencing helps people to connect and communicate. Being able to see a person adds so much more of a personal touch that you just cannot get in email, text or even a voice call, it really helps you connect to other people.
So there they are, the 19 technologies and trends I’m thankful for – but this list is not complete. And that’s where you come in. More than any of the ones above, I’m most thankful for YOU, the BCW readers. I wouldn’t be blogging without you, and I truly appreciate your continued support and visits to this website.