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Roundup: 2019 Tech News and Trends to Watch

Welcome back to work - for those of you still in a semi-conscious state after over-indulging on food and alcohol for the past week and a half, here's something to read while you’re necking your fifth caffeinated beverage before 10AM. If nothing else you can justify it as “research into evolving technologies this year”.

Blockchain

We’re actually not as enthused about this as the rest of the world seems to be - our opinion tends to be that it’s buzzword used in grant proposals to justify millions in investment funds.

Last year saw some progression from cryptocurrency to other applications, such as Quantum Ledger Database from AWS. Another release from AWS (Managed Blockchain) makes it easier for developers to get their hands dirty with the technology. This will undoubtedly give rise to other random uses for the technology that no-one has yet considered - which is good, because there have got to be more interesting things that people can do with this other than “invent” another type of coin that has some obscure conversions to be made back to a real dollar value.

Microsoft Acquires GitHub

GitHub needed a new CEO - Microsoft were happy to provide one, everyone is happy right?

Well… this one left several developers feeling uneasy about the future of the git hosting platform, some were uncertain enough to jump-ship as soon as the announcement was made.

We’re not that convinced that Microsoft are going to foul this one up that fantastically, they should’ve learnt from their previous mistake acquisition, Skype, in which they took a perfectly good consumer oriented product and butchered it to a business focused tool. I’m not still bitter about that at all.

Combined with this, Microsoft has been uncharacteristically altruistic of late with their increasing contributions to the open source community and other endeavours, we’re still wondering what game they're playing.

Of course there are people out there who have speculated that this move is all part of Microsoft’s “embrace, extend, and extinguish” plan to take over the world. We’re not quite cynical enough to be included in this group, but we’re not naive enough to dismiss it completely.

Microsoft on Edge

Microsoft were busy last year, another announcement they made in early December was the final demise of EdgeHTML. They’re ditching the rendering engine behind their Edge browser in favour of Chromium, the engine that coincidentally powers Google Chrome.

Any developer anywhere who’s had the displeasure experience of working with Microsoft’s browsers from the last decade will be excited by the prospect of not having to deal with stupid edge-cases (pun intended) where various browsers (looking at you IE) don’t behave themselves and had a developer experience comparable to someone doomed for an eternity of suffering.

Another proponent of all that is good on the internet and maker of the Firefox browser that originally unseated IE as the most popular browser, Mozilla, posted a warning, given that they are now one of the two remaining major vendors for browser engines, this decision from Microsoft is giving more power to Google to control the state of the web as we know it.

In the weeks following the announcement - rumours started to surface that Google is deliberately making it difficult to maintain a performant web browser on the internet through use of it’s extensive online portfolio. These claims are currently unsubstantiated but could indicate some more nefarious goings on in the company.

ePrivacy Regulations

We already mentioned this in the 2018 roundup but since GDPR caused such chaos, we feel this deserves a mention of its own.

The proposal on the EU Commission website outlines some key points including stronger rules, more enforcement and expecting other communications services such as WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger to guarantee the same level of confidentiality of communications as traditional telecoms operators.

Two points that stood out to me were:

  • Simpler rules on cookies
    All the cookie consent notices and popups that were thrown onto websites at the beginning of the year can largely be removed, with the regulation requiring controls to be implemented in browsers (which have only been there for the last two decades) and clarifying that cookies for non-intrusive experience improvement (shopping cart) or site usage statistics (Google Analytics) are exempt.
  • Protection against spam
    Not quite sure how this is going to be enforced as advertised, in the UK there is already the Telephone Preference Service for phone calls, but emails are a little harder to report since it is possible to forge senders or simply not provide a sending address. These sorts of things are usually caught in the spam filters of most large providers such as Gmail or Hotmail.

All of the proposed new regulations will be enforced by the existing authorities as defined by the GDPR.

More Electric Vehicles

And now for something completely different. A little interest of myself and Chris is that we’re massively enthusiastic about electric vehicles, so why aren’t we driving electric cars yet you ask? Range. No, not range anxiety, range convenience. Having to plan in a 40-60 minute stop on a long journey every 100 real-world miles makes an unnecessarily long journey even longer! For the love of my knees, no that’s not acceptable yet. We’re following the market until there is a greater choice of vehicles that can easily complete a 250-300 mile journey on a single charge. Not simply from an environmental point but also the general cost of running and the technology that is brought around from the innovation required to build them.

There looks to be several companies poised to make leaps forward in the electric vehicle arena this year with the Kia e-Niro and Hyundai Kona having ranges close to 300 miles, people won’t have to change their commuting habits. Battery technology is improving the point where the difference in range is less than 100 miles when compared to a typical small hatchback.

What else?

Did we miss something? Do you have something exciting launching this year? Tell us in the comments so we know what to look out for!


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