On New Year’s Day this year, I posted what I described as “my irreverent look forward to what we can expect this year, 2016”. Now that we are over half way through the year, I thought I’d better fess up to what proved right and wrong.
The weather becomes much colder in the northern hemisphere. Those who claimed back in November that the European winter would be long and bitterly cold claim vindication, conveniently forgetting the last couple of months of exceptionally mild weather. Tabloid newspapers start warning of a long, hot and dry summer in another effort to revive their flagging sales.
Experts from the Netherlands visit northern areas of the UK, now that their floods have frozen over, to advise them on promoting speed skating events and other suitable winter sports.
Amazingly, in the UK at least, we had a relatively mild and damp rather than soaking winter, with little ice. I had better stick to daily rather than seasonal weather forecasting in future.
A leaked internal email reveals that Adobe’s Flash engineers resigned en masse in June 2015, since when updates have been produced by a shell script.
Not only did this touch of humour not happen, but Flash still lives on, amazingly. I blame the BBC (the argument being that the BBC continues to support Flash for its iPlayer service, to avoid orphaning users, but that doing so encourages Adobe to keep supporting Flash).
Negotiators working on the EU-US Safe Harbor 2 deal announce that they are close to reaching agreement.
My first completely correct prediction: they did, and continued doing so until just a few weeks ago, when Privacy Shield (as it is now known) has finally been agreed. It will launch next week, on 1 August. We will then see how that fares when challenged in the courts, which was how the original Safe Harbour scheme came unstuck.
The day after calling for restrictions on aviation because of its adverse effects on the upper atmosphere, organisers of the UN World Climate Change Conference announce that it is to start meeting monthly. Rejecting calls for meetings to become virtual, the next venues are announced as Honolulu, Acapulco, and Dubai, with American Airlines acting as sponsor.
That was a bit cynical, and wrong. The full conference remains annual, and the next is due to convene in Marrakech, Morocco, in November 2016. I bet it’ll be much warmer there than here in the UK, though.
The US National Security Agency and UK’s GCHQ jointly announce the development of a completely secure method of encryption which incorporates a ‘golden key’ backdoor. A week later, as part of a school project, a twelve year-old discovers a way of recovering ‘golden keys’ from encrypted messages.
If only they had, it might have been more helpful to us than the UK’s IP Bill. Instead, we have a government which insists that it does not want to ban or limit encryption, but wants its security and law-enforcement agencies to be able to access any encrypted communications, thanks to the ‘co-operation’ of service providers. The twelve year-old has instead been pointing out that you can’t have strong encryption which can be broken by some ‘officials’ and not by the bad guys.
Southern California suffers massive disruption following extensive snowfall.
Thankfully that was utterly incorrect.
A survey of leading politicians in the US and Europe reveals that 70% of them don’t know what a router is, 40% aren’t even sure how to connect to the Internet, and 95% think that Raspberry Pi is a baked dish popular in New England.
Do we really need a survey? There’s hardly a government pronouncement which doesn’t demonstrate that the figures are even worse. And I’m sure that some think that all computers have Enigma chips to do the encryption too.
Apple announces OS X 10.12 to an ecstatic crowd at its annual World-Wide Developers’ Conference; it is to be named Half Dome (seized upon by critics as ‘Half Baked’), and iOS 10 is immediately dubbed The Other Half.
I concede the names were jokes, but you did read this here, first, after all. Spot on!
Northern Europe experiences a fine, warm, and dry day: the first and last of the summer.
I think that was actually a month later: we still had to put heaters on during June in the UK, and a few friends put their whole home heating systems back on.
After a rushed course through parliament, the UK’s Investigatory Powers Bill becomes law. By the autumn, the costs incurred by ISPs have grown to ten times those originally forecast. Although organised criminals and nascent terrorists have already migrated to offshore fully-encrypted services, courts quickly become clogged with thousands of cases of online bullying as a result.
The Bill did not quite make it before Parliament fled to its scattered offshore retreats for the summer, leaving the UK economy in tatters. But never fear, with its original sponsor now the Prime Minister, I’m sure that it will make the statute book in the autumn.
Chris Froome wins the Tour de France a third time. Newspapers accuse him of using a concealed electric motor.
Another completely accurate forecast, although I haven’t yet seen any stories about electric motors.
The biggest stories which I missed were, of course, the UK’s referendum fiasco and ‘decision’ to leave the EU, and the results of the US Presidential Primaries. In an early draft, I had actually included the prediction that Donald Trump would become the Republican nominee, but as with the UK referendum, I thought those were just too irreverent to even suggest.
These are very strange times in a very strange world.