Five-hundred columns, too many technology advances to count

Welcome to the 500th Online Guy column.

Yep, the big five-oh-oh. The Internet and the way people use it, including the off-shoots of smart phones, networked homes and pie-in-the-sky ideas has been the fodder of my prose for nearly 10 years.

What a decade it’s been. When I first penned this piece on May 17, 1998, the majority of Americans weren’t online. Today, the majority has high-speed connections at home. If you’ve been riding on the information superhighway as long as I have, you’ve replaced your home computer at least once, and probably two or three times.

We’ve gone from 14.4 kilobit per second connections and hard drives of less than a gigabyte to 3 megabit per second connections and up to a terabyte of storage on your desktop. Hardware, software and connectivity have all gotten better, faster and cheaper in the decade gone by. Look for that trend to continue in many fun ways.

I’ll share more on the future in the weeks ahead. I still have many great finds from the recent 2008 International Consumer Electronics Show.

Looking back over the previous 499 columns, I see no pattern of topics, but some do appear regularly. I’ve written about spam at least 19 times. None of these pieces included recipes for cooking Hormel’s SPAM, but they all address various elements of the Internet’s biggest annoyance — unwanted e-mail.

I’ve told you about how to fight spam and have described lawsuits targeting spammers. Still, spam is the biggest hindrance to online efficiency. Like any good cockroach species, it refuses to die. Someday, someone will win "a major award" for ridding the world of it. You’ll be sure to read about it here.

I’ve written about Bill Gates only four times, but those pieces generated the greatest feedback from readers. People love Gates and Microsoft, or they hate them. The alternative — and one I have embraced since the first time I clicked a mouse — is Steve Jobs and Apple, the company formerly known as Apple Computer.

I’ve applauded the company’s innovation, design and ability to get people to embrace the cool and functional. The company pretty much own the digital music player world thanks to the many renditions of iPods. Apple also has shaken the computing world with iMacs and the mobile computing/telephone world with the iPhone.

I’ve told you about Wi-Fi and wireless networks a half-dozen times. Many of you now have Wi-Fi in your homes.

Comdex once ruled the computing roost, but CES has replaced it as the biggest gizmofest on the planet. I’ve told you about all sorts of devices, including my favorite, the defunct machine that mixed scents to accompany Web pages. Gee, smellavision didn’t work.

The Web is here to stay, and to that I say: Here’s to the next 500.

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