3 Things To Watch In 2013

2012 is gone, and in some ways, good riddance! Another year is ahead, another "fresh start" in many peoples lives - or at least we promise ourselves that. There are a few things I'll be watching with particular interest, some technology-based, some not. The economy is one, of course, but it's so hard for us to get any unbiased reporting on the subject I tend to just rely on anecdotal and experiential evidence - my wife tells me that grocery store items are through the roof, and I have no reason to doubt her. I know about gas prices of course, but that is such a merry-go-round of cartels and politics, who knows where that will end up?

Health care is an area I am interested in. I'm getting older, so chances are I will need it more. The Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) is starting to kick in, and it will be fascinating (maybe scary) to see the true scope and cost of the program this year and in 2014. There appear to be a lot of taxes and fees starting to pop up, and a slew of regulations - and regulations always cost someone money. It seems almost inevitable that the program will cost more than it will save over a period of years, despite cost savings being a "selling point".

I came from the UK, and used the National Health Service - that country's government-provided universal health care system. When I was there, it worked well enough as I recall; however, it has been suffering for some years with the rationing and long waits that these sort of programs engender. While the Affordable Care Act is not a single payer system, I can see a set of conditions where it becomes that - and I don't feel very positive about it.

Prediction - the public will grow to hate it.

Windows 8, Microsoft's latest version of it's flagship operating system, has been slower that hoped to find it's way into homes and businesses. The new interface seems to be the main stumbling point for most naysayers, and those who have gotten onboard still seem to find a lack of "apps" for the new OS - although Microsoft seems to be trying hard to catch up on this.

I think the marketing is a bit confusing too; the launch of the Surface devices sort of muddied the waters a bit. The initial Surface tablets (the ones with the borderline annoying "click, clack" TV spot) were designed to run the tablet version of Windows 8, known as RT. Windows RT uses apps, in a similar way to Android or Apple devices would - it does not really run traditional Windows programs.

The "normal" PC version of Windows 8 can run most of the programs you would use in, say, Windows 7 - although some may need to be updated to provide a better, more integrated use of the new Windows 8 Modern desktop interface - oh, and the Start button is effectively no more in Windows 8.

In classic "let's shoot ourselves in the foot" mode, Microsoft is making noises already about Windows "Blue" (an internal code name) coming out perhaps later this year, and Blue is supposed to work on a yearly update model, similar to Apple OS X. So folk who are squirrelly about upgrading from Windows XP or Windows 7 may think "Well, maybe I should just wait and see about this 'Blue' thing".

Prediction - Windows Vista, part deux

Research In Motion's new Blackberry 10 mobile operating system, and a new phone to go with it. The new phone is likely to be called the X10, and retains the QWERTY keyboard the traditional Blackberry devices are know for. Blackberry 10 has been delayed, and that can be a bad sign - it's also something RIM needs to get out as soon as they can, as they have lost a lot of ground to everyone else in this market. Time was when RIM's Blackberry smartphone (aka "crackberry", because of it's fanatic following) was the undisputed king of the hill among "connected" professionals, but the slide has been steady and relentless, and this would seem to be their last chance to stop the bleeding.

Prediction - Blackberry, we hardly knew ye

[caption id="attachment_6028" align="aligncenter" width="200"]blackberry Old-school "crackberry"[/caption]

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