GIF wins 2012 US Word of the Year award

13 Nov 2012

The Oxford Dictionary defines the word Gif as: "a lossless format for compressing image files". It's a noun, a computing term and the official 2012 US Oxford Word of the Year.

Gif beat out words like Eurogeddon, Higgs boson, Super PAC, and superstorm to take the crown this year. Unsurprisingly, Gif also beat out Yolo (You Only Live Once). Which as many of you know is not a word, or a good way to live your life.

Oxford picked Gif as its word of the year because, according to them, it has become very trendy this year. In fact, it even started being used as a verb. As in, "He Gifed the highlights of the debate" or "I just Gifed you doing the Gangnam Style dance".

Gif first entered the lexicon in 1987. It originally started out its life being called "graphic interchange format" but quickly became an acronym when it was decided that three words is too many to pronounce.

With its victory, Gif joins the ranks of previous Word of the Year winners such "squeezed middle" and "tweet".

Meanwhile, the award for the UK Word of the Year went to "Omnishambles" - a celebration of government incompetence originating on the satirical TV show The Thick of It.

White space standard group aims to kickstart internet of things growth

13 Nov 2012

Wireless icon

Weightless, the open standards group aiming to kick start the internet of things via the use of white space communications, has promised it is on course to deliver its first complete specification in the opening quarter of 2013.

The group, which is backed by the likes of ARM, CSR and UK start-up Neul, has just issued version 0.9 the Weightless Specification and expects to make further progress early next year.

It aims to create the blueprint which will allow machines to communicate with other machines, paving the way for the internet of things, where low-power sensors can be placed on all manner of objects, from building lights, or road-side pollution monitors to offshore wave monitors or museum objects.

This could provide an unparalleled opportunity to collect data, and understand and interact with the world around us.

Those behind Wireless believe it will allow devices with a chipset costing less than $2 and with a battery life of 10 years to be internet-enabled, and capable of using white space spectrum to communicate across distances of up to 10km.

The latest version of the specification has added detail on the handling of alarm events, network selection and improved encryption.

The group believes that the use of white space technology is fundamental to the emergence of the internet of things, providing the best way of ensuring devices can communicate without needing dedicated wireless networks.

In the UK, communications regulator Ofcom has said it expects the first examples of white space technology to come online in 2013, having ruled that it would not seek to license access to the spectrum.

Meanwhile, the International Telecommunications Union has predicted there will be 25 billion M2M devices online by 2020, dwarfing the number of human internet connections.

Steve Ballmer admits "modest" Surface sales

13 Nov 2012

Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer failed to provide exact numbers on Surface tablet sales during an interview with French magazine Le Parisien, but he did call the average number of Windows 8 tablets sold "modest".

The device did sell out within the first 24 hours of its release for pre-order. However, with no exact details on how many the company had in stock to begin with its anybody's guess what that really means.

During his interview, Ballmer talked about his company's new 10in tablet but failed to give any details on a potential 7in Surface. When asked about the potential of an iPad Mini competitor Ballmer gave the old stand-by of "no comment".

The anything but modest chief executive also talked about the press reception for the new tablet. Ballmer said that the press reaction has been "phenomenal". Which may, or may not, be entirely true.

The Surface has been a landmark launch for Microsoft, representing the firm's serious forray in to hardware - not including its Xbox games console and disastrous Zune media player. It's a move that has ruffled the feathers of some of its hardware partners.

While some of those partners will shed few tears if Surface flops, others will be left asking: If Microsoft cannot succeed with a tablet running Windows 8, who can?

Of course, it's still too early to call the Surface a bust. But the pressure on Microsoft to show it can succeed just ratcheted up another notch.

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