It that time of year again when we take a look back at the past year and see just what articles you enjoyed the most. In total, we published an astonishing 4,600 items of news, tutorials, and reviews, but I’ve narrowed it down to 20, in descending order of popularity. What were you sharing in 2012? Read on to find out.
Note to bean counters: We’re using a combined total of number of comments made and number of times the post was shared on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and StumbleUpon to calculate total popularity, using the awesome API available from SharedCount. The list does not include giveaways.
Published just a few weeks ago, Chris’ piece on beefing up your Twitter security naturally exploded on Twitter. For hackers, Twitter accounts can be an incredibly valuable prize – such as in the case of Mat Honan, a prominent tech journalist for whom a hacker’s virulent pursuit of his @mat Twitter account meant all of his iCloud data was deleted in the process.
A feature piece from Justin in which he interviews Clay Johnson, and tackles the growing problem of a restricted information diet – how everything you learn in the news is becoming increasingly personalized to your own interests, leaving you bereft of important information you really ought to know; how our information consumption is full of spam and newsletters, yet most of us feel the need to be connected to that flow 24/7, for fear of missing something important.
It’s a must read, so if you missed that one, go do that now. Seriously.
Technological progress is astonishly fast nowadays – your average singing birthday card now has more computing power inside of it than was available in the entire world in 1950.
It’s easy to forget we’ve haven’t always had the Internet, but take a look back just 15 years ago and you’ll see just how primitive sites were back then. Join us for a trip down the Internet memory lane. Ahh, good old Geocities, home to my first ever website ;)
Despite claims that posting on Google+ is a still a bit like screaming alone in a forest, the newest social network is actually growing at a faster rate than Facebook, and a number of features really give it the edge. If you’re a Google+ fan, you’ve probably tired of having to post everything to Facebook and Twitter too, so read this post where Nancy reveals all.
Bakari showed us how easy it is for anyone to get on the app train without ever touching XCode. Don’t expect to be making the next Angry Birds, mind.
In which Yaara showed us some of the whackier things you can do with an iPad, including pilotting a ridiculously awesome Parrot AR.Drone (which we also reviewed, and gave one away), and using your iPad as a dynamic cutting board (uh, no thanks).
Unfortunately the screenshots are now outdated as Facebook have changed their interface (again), but the advice is still solid so do have a quick look through to see if you’re sharing things with the world or just your friends.
If you haven’t already switched to a standing desk or have a rigorous routine for regular breaks, you might want to seriously read Ryan’s strong case on how sitting at a desk all day is basically going to kill you.
While this probably isn’t going to benefit your daily life or make you live longer, it might make for an interesting topic down the pub.
Tina shows us 5 of the best sites to sit back, relax, and learn something; if your kids keep coming home and confusing you with their astrophysics questions. Read this and in no time at all you’ll be explaining your quarks from your gluons.
Let’s be honest – information technology teaching is for the most part atrocious – in my day, they were content if you could write a half-decent Word document. No more. If you’d like to give your child that spark of excitement that comes from creating software, this article from Saikat has everything you need to get started.
The video player that handles anything you can throw at it, VLC is probably one of the first apps I install on a fresh PC. Here, Saikat walks us through some of the lesser known features that’ll make you love VLC even more, including how to use it to download YouTube videos. Whoa!
You’re sitting at the desk, when you receive a phone call from Microsoft saying they’ve detected a virus on your Windows. Prove it, you demand, and they walk you through a huge list of errors in the event viewer. Trust gained, they proceed to “fix” your computer, whilst secretly installing a trojan virus that’ll give spammers and hackers full access to your machine.
Days later, your bank account might be emptied. A nightmare scenario perhaps, but all too common. Don’t be a victim. This post probably isn’t for you, but if you have relatives or friends who aren’t so tech savvy, make sure they’ve read about it, as well as Tim’s experience of cold call technical support in 2011.
Personally, I spent 15 hilarious minutes on the phone to an Indian “Microsoft technical support” scammer before finally admitting to him I actually have a Mac. Fun times.
Another day, another Facebook scam. Angela explained how this chain letter preyed on people’s Facebook privacy fears, offering a quick fix to ensure only your friends would see your updates. In fact, the steps outlined would actually block your status updates from being seen by them. Oh dear.
Earlier in the year, Google outlined plans to make your search history – previously restricted to use within the search product it offers – to be made available across all Google products, including YouTube. Bakari explained how and why you might want to turn this off.
The issue may have been somewhat overblown though; your search history is only shared internally with other Google products in order to enhance your experience – such as seeing relevant videos when you visit YouTube.
2012 was the year of the hardware hacker, from 3D printers to Arduinos, and the more advanced sub-$100 computer-on-a-chip Raspberry Pi. Here, Christian outlined just a few of the incredible things this little device can be put to work as, including an Xbox Media Center or as the brains of a retro gaming arcade cabinet running MAME.
Though every minute detail of life is captured on YouTube nowadays, historical video archives are a rare breed. Here, Saikat showed a few different places where you can get your media fix of how life used to be.
A controversial post as people debated whether they should be rewarded or punished, Joel takes the time to remember some of the most skilled criminal hackers; from NASA to the FBI, credit card fraud and phone phreaking. A good read for anyone interested in Internet history.
A feature piece from Ryan about the people and technologies that police the Internet for child pornography, and those who prey on your children. A fascinating and surprising piece.
This year, I enrolled in my first ever free online course; Gamification, from the University of Stanford. Contrary to what I thought, it was actually really difficult; the tests were challenging, the material was engaging, and the marking was tough. I gained a lot from that course – more so than many of the courses I paid for at university – and in this article Tina shows you a few of the best places to sign up for courses that might interest you, too.
What are you waiting for? A university level education can be had for free!
Facebook security seems to be a pretty hot topic for many of you, and perhaps rightly so in a world where employers demand your Facebook password, and even Mark Zuckerberg’s sister finds the security controls bewildering. I think it’s safe to say you all love video too, from historical footage to science and learning. With this much media online, perhaps the TV is dead after all? Education also featured strongly this year, and it’s truly amazing what you can learn online.
Did your favourite post make it onto the list? The results of our user poll for favourite post are due any day now, so hopefully you made your views known there!
Thanks for making 2012 a wonderful year, from all of us at MakeUseOf. We’re looking to bring you even more useful Internet tips, tutorials and reviews in 2013!