Best tech release of 2008

What a malfunctioning hot-air-balloon ride 2008 has been, hey? From those crazy early days - when it was well known that everyone who knew what "start-up" meant would be rich by October, to the entertaining later months: "Will pitch stupid internet ideas for food". Who knows - perhaps this downturn will finally weed out those in the industry who are only here because they thought they could make more money than being administrative assistants for law firms (I'm talking to you, "New Media Community Managers").

But hey, let's just hope that 2009 isn't the year that businesses realise what an absolutely unnecessary, self-created area of expenditure the web is, and that our community managers continue to convince them that if they aren't a hyper-connected social-media engaged operation then they'll never sell another toaster.

Best Tech, 2008

Moving on to the Mr. Speaker Award for Best Tech, 2008. Innovation was thin on the ground this year - mostly just people trying unsuccessfully to monetise what they made in 2007. However, there was one release that stood out from the pack. Falling into the "evolution over revolution" category, it proved that with incredibly clever people involved, boundaries can be pushed way beyond breaking point: even in areas where many, many smart people have passed before.

Vicious SidAnd the winner is: SounDemoN and The Human Code Machine for their mind-blowing sound routine for the Commodore 64, Vicious Sid.

The Vicious Sid routine "works by resetting the oscillator using the waveform generator test bit, quickly ramping up the new waveform with the Triangle waveform selected, and then disabling all waveforms, resulting in the DAC continuing to output the last value - which is the desired sample. This continues for as long as two scanlines, which is ample time for glitch-free, arbitrary sample output."

What does that mean? I don't know, but the end result is 4 channels of 8-bit sample rate, 2 channels of SID synth with the ability to filter both SID channels and samples. THAT is freakin' amazing: 4 channels of samples, on a C64. Plus SID! Plus Filters! And enough clock cycles left over to do something on the screen (not too much I'd imagine, but who knows eh!). I hope someone makes this into a standalone programmable moosic box. That would be better than icy poles.

It's coding like this that demonstrates that I really don't deserve to call myself a nerd. Hanging around on the glorified word-processor that is the web makes you forget that there is a race of people that truly know how things work, not just how to use them. Hat's off to you fine folk.

2009

I have high hopes for the coming year - the last year in the decade: our last chance to make something that people will look back and go, "that is sooooo 2000's". I'm betting that it'll be web-based. And I invent it. (But it's subsequently popularised by someone else, who history incorrectly identifies as the creator). I'll report back in a year to see how that's going.