There'll be something for everyone in 2007

Tom Yager gives his picks for the coming year

Some Decembers, I look to the coming year and pray that I can earn my keep on the unpredictable visits from my muse that result in a departure from some of my more done-to-death subjects. It’s something of a relief to leave 2006 behind, a year in which I spent loads of time yelling into the wind that Intel, despite its best work to-date, is further behind AMD than ever.

In 2007 let’s agree to focus on scalability. Let’s see what happens to power draw and performance when we turn off CPU cores and black-out entire sockets one by one on Intel and AMD multicore systems. Subtraction is revealing. This year, let’s look at the tangible differences between robust multicore as IBM and AMD implement it, and approximated multicore as Intel does it.

This year, let’s take a fresh look at long-forgotten PC Unix, the simple beauty that, but for in-fighting and litigiousness, would have given us a slender, mature, inviolable operating system core. Open source development would have thrived on that foundation. This year, let’s take a close and frank look at Apple’s OS X Leopard and its Darwin core, which Apple claims will be Unix-certified on its release. Let’s watch what happens to System V Unix, a criminally neglected property that belongs in the public’s hands and under responsible stewardship, which means having it taken away from SCO.

Open source Java is a greater boon than anyone imagines, not only to open source but to commercial development as well. Freedom to optimise, extend (with deviation from the specification punished by torture) and, to my mind, just plain understand what should be the hottest dynamic language on the planet for both clients and servers will carry Java to new places.

By the same token, 2007 will be many developers’ first encounter with Objective-C. I was put off by the Win32-like burdens it placed on developers; miscounted memory, file handles and similar such resources account for much of a Mac application’s debugging and QA effort.

I’m hopeful that Objective-C — which, contrary to belief, is not an Apple language but a native compiled language in the GNU compiler collection — will find favour on platforms other than the Mac. Its ready rapport with Java balances Java’s dynamic freedom with the speed of native code.

Last, let’s agree to keep little black books of emerging technologies we want to follow. Let’s remember that the greatest opportunities do not lie in the places where the crowds are forming, but in the quieter areas no one thinks to look.

There are hungry, impoverished, frightened and isolated people who are truly worthwhile investments, and their communities are genuine, ground-floor emerging markets.

In these places, interest-bearing micro-loans of a few hundred dollars breed sustainable businesses. Technology and connectivity will have an even greater impact here, with a return that’s just as rapid.

Don’t be motivated by pity; it’s corrosive. Instead, close your eyes and know that genius and drive exist in the same proportion among the unfortunate as they do among the fortunate.

One teenager blogging from a place the “civilised world” has forgotten about can gain a following, get picked up by a magazine and this can change his life and the lives of all those around him. Create possibilities with an eye towards profiting from them; I forgive you. While we wait like new parents for altruistic motivation to care for others, we waste opportunities where investment could serve the needy better than charity.

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