Tomorrow, Americans celebrate Thanksgiving. This is an odd holiday. It’s partly religious, but also partly secular, dating back to the English colonization of eastern North America. A recent tradition is for people to share what they are thankful for. In a lighthearted way, let me share some of my tech-related joys.
• I am thankful for PDF files. Websites that share documents in other formats (such as Microsoft Word) are cludgy, and documents never look quite right.
• I am thankful for native non-PDF files. Extracting content from PDF files to use in other applications is a time-consuming process that often requires significant post-processing.
• I am thankful that Hewlett-Packard is still in business—for now. It’s astonishing how HP bungles acquisition after acquisition after acquisition.
• I am thankful for HTML5 and CSS3, which solve many important problems for application development and deployment.
• I am thankful that most modern operating systems and applications can be updated via the Internet. No more floppies, CDs or DVDs.
• I am thankful that floppies are dead, dead, dead, dead, dead.
• I am thankful that Apple and Microsoft don’t force consumers to purchase applications for their latest desktop operating systems from their app stores. It’s my computer, and I should be able to run any bits that I want.
• I am thankful for RAW photo image files and for Adobe Lightroom to process those images.
• I am thankful for Hadoop and companion Apache projects like Avro, Cassandra, HBase and Pig, which in a only a couple of years became the de facto platform for Big Data and a must-know technology for developers.
• I am thankful that Linux exists as a compelling server operating system, as the foundation of Android, and as a driver of innovation.
• I am thankful for the Microsoft Surface, which is the most exciting new hardware platform since the Apple’s iPad and MacBook Air.
• I am thankful to still get a laugh by making the comment, “There’s an app for that!” in random non-tech-related conversations.
• I am thankful for the agile software movement, which has refocused our attention to efficiently creating excellent software, and which has created a new vocabulary for sharing best practices.
• I am thankful for RFID technology, especially as implemented in the East Coast’s E-ZPass and California’s FasTrak toll readers.
• I am thankful that despite the proliferation of e-book readers, technology books are still published on paper. E-books are great for novels and documents meant to be read linearly, but are not so great for learning a new language or studying a platform.
• I am thankful that nobody has figured out how to remotely hack into my car’s telematics systems yet—as far as I know.
• I am thankful for XKCD.
• I am thankful that Oracle seems to be committed to evolving Java and keeping it open.
• I am thankful for the wonderful work done by open-source communities like Apache, Eclipse and Mozilla.
• I am thankful that my Android phone uses an industry-standard Micro-USB connector.
• I am thankful for readers like you, who have made SD Times the leading news source in the software development community.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.
Alan Zeichick is editorial director of SD Times. Read his blog at ztrek.blogspot.com.