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January 2, 2020
2020. Twenty-Twenty.. Wow, the future is here dude. :-)
Last year I was gonna do this once-a-year update but after failing for a while it just became too late to not feel awkward. Needs to be near the New Year or it becomes something else..
I usually talk about the year that was with a particular focus on technology (and a bit of sports and tech) as that's one of the things I'm interested in and usually have an opinion about. 2019 was an eventful year - particularly for a fan of Liverpool FC like me.
Lets look at my personal computer, that's my main toy in life these days and its where most of the activity happens. After years with my previous Intel-based setup I decided it was time for an upgrade so I went for the new Ryzen platform. Along with a new (expensive) motherboard there was the usual RAM upgrade (64GB now) and the system installed on a .m2 SSD drive for some speed. But Windows isn't very good at making this speed shine through so to speak. The trend is to slowly replace old HDDs for faster SSDs though. At the moment, prices for anything above 1TB still isn't very consumer friendly, but in the worlds of tech, we all know prices come down eventually. Anyway, with a total storage capacity of about 10TB, only about 10% is currently SSD-based, (although I'm currently looking at the Samsung 970EVO Plus 1TB to replace my main work drive (not system drive)). The CPU I wanted to get was out of stock the day I was shopping so I got a 'temporary' 6-core Ryzen, but will upgrade to at least 12-cores later (Ryzen 3800x or better). The Graphics card is still my (by now 3 years old) GeForce 1070 because I don't think the first generation RTX is a worthwhile upgrade. I'll be getting the second gen and I also hope AMD can put some pressure on nVidia soon to drive the graphics card prices to sane leves. I recent news I saw nVidia talking about how their $1000 2080 card is better than the next gen consoles. Well gee, nvidia. How about you make your own console with a $1500 launch price and see how that works out for you.
Next I usually say something about the smartphone situation. My previous phone was an LG G5 and man that phone sucked badly. Not doing that mistake again. I played it safe in 2019 and the Samsung S10+ and it's just great. No regrets even though it was the most expensive phone I've ever bought (€1000). 2021 will probably be a good year to switch to a 5G phone. The network infrastructure simply isn't ready here yet. There was this situation with Huawei being considered a potential security risk that slowed things down a bit in Europe so 2020 isn't going to be the year of 5G just yet.
By now, it is known that both Sony & Microsoft will launch their next gen consoles later this year. 2020 is the year of the 4k consoles. 2019 wasn't a very eventful year for consoles apart from the buzz surrounding the next gen offerings. The only notable console launch was the Lite version of Nintendo Switch.
The VR hype wasn't much hype in 2019, at least not until there was an announcement from game maker and owner of the Steam platform, Valve. They have a new headset called the Valve Index which was released at the end of June. (It's the most expensive of the consumer headsets) That in itself didn't get the hype going, but then some onths later they showed a demo of their upcoming killer app: Half Life - Alyx with a release date of March 2020. So that will be interesting to see. If that game gets rave reviews (and it could) then the VR headset hype might return.
The AR hype is barely noticable these days, but there's something else that definitely is gaining momentum. The use of AI in mainstream software.
Deep Fake is a term that got used a lot during 2019. There are already plenty of really well made fakes done by ordinary people and not big budget VFX companies. Soon there will be a need for some sort of tamper-proof video codecs (watermarks etc) and it will probably require the cooperation of many big names in the tech world to get this under some sort of control. Right now almost all deep fake videos clearly state they are fake, but that could change real quick.
A couple of years ago there were privacy cencerns when the voice assitants such as Alexa, Google Home etc got popular. In 2019 there is some elevated awereness about security in mobile infrastructure and mobile apps that simply learn uncomfortably much about you. As an example, there was an app originating from Asia that would use deep fake technology to place the user famous movie scenes by replacing the actors face with the users. Of course, to get a good result, the user had to allow for a very detailed 'scan' of their own face practically giving the company (or state) behind the app access to very high detailed data that could be used against the user in other scenarios involving face recognition software and so on..
On a vaguely related note, I terminated my (neglected) Facebook account and I have not missed it one bit. I had the foresight to use an alias when I crteated the account a decade ago or so, but the AI / algorithms can still figure out who I am by looking at interactions with friends and family so enough is enough.
Lets talk about retro a bit. It's getting more mainstream I think, and I base that on the rising prices on some retro gaming stuff. As expected my exretro.com site didn't get that much attention in 2019 either. I don't really know when I will find the time, motivation and energy to get it going. I have too many ideas for other stuff I wanna do, but so little time for myself.
Speaking of stuff I wanna do but really don't prioritize like in the old days is Photography. Let me leave this same text from the 2018 update:
I also used to shoot a lot with my DSLR camera, but nowadays I get the the question, 'Hey you still do photography?' and well, yea, I still do, i still have my gear, but the photo excursions are few and far between. But when they happen, I always post on Instagram. I really should update my official Photo Site too. (f-pixel.com) Maybe that will be a 2018 project.
Except now i need to change that number to 2020 or why not 2022...
Now, as a Liverpool FC fan since 1984 I've been around and seen a lot of ups and downs. But 2019 was really a fantastic year for the club. Ok, 'we' lost the premier league by a point to Man City, but we got 3 pretty big trophies: Champions League, Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup. Also a player (van Dijk) won the PFA Award and the manager (klopp) won the Manager of the year award. In 2019 we could truly (and officially( say that Liverpool is the best club in the world. The start of the 19/20 season has also been insane, lets hope they kan keep this up in 2020.
In summary, if one takes some time to reflect, you always realize there are a lot of people who are a lot worse off than you. Like I wrote in 2018: for some, the pas year was yet another year of war, terror, natural disasters and what not. So for those of us who could live a normal life that we take for granted, maybe we should be more thankful that our problems revolve around what phone to upgrade to or rather meaningless stuff like that.
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