It starts this week, the naval gazing into the past year and the best, biggest, most awesome, most disappointing, etc. etc. of 2008. It’s only natural to take this opportunity to look backwards and forwards, especially when the world pretty much comes to a standstill and real news is hard to come by.
At PC World (www.pcworld.com), the “Best Of” lists include everything from a look back at the most watched viral videos — Poljemna Paszcza kept it real this year by cramming an enormous sandwich into his enormous mouth, boa constrictor-style — to the Top 10 DRM-Free Music Stores (eMusic at www.emusic.com, Amie Street (http://amiestreet.com), Amazon (www.amazon.com/MP3-Music-Download/), Jamendo (www.jamendo.com), Napster (www.napster.com), Audio Lunchbox (www.audiolunchbox.com), Live Downloads (www.livedownloads.com, but live shows only), Bleep (www.bleep.com), CD Baby (http://cdbaby.com), and the LimeWire Store (www.limewire.com). Their gift buying guides will also be useful after the holidays, when everything is priced to move.
Lifehacker (www.lifehacker.com) has a list of top free Apple downloads from last year — Mojo lets you share iTunes lists with friends over the Internet! — most popular Linux downloads of 2008 (including new versions of Ubuntu and Fedora), and all kinds of other great articles, as usual.
Discover (www.discovermagazine.com), Popular Science (www.popsci.com) and Wired (www.wired.com) are a little slower to get on the “Best of” horse this year, but have a lot of great features to read while you’re waiting. PopSci’s “The Top 100 Innovations of 2008” is also pretty heavy on the hardware and software this year, and gave the everything SIM Spore high marks for inventiveness.
Video Game sites are also in the game. The two I visit most often are Gamespot (www.gamespot.com) and IGN.com, as well as Joystiq (www.joystiq.com) and Kotaku (www.kotaku.com). If you want to look back at the year’s best games, which should be coming down in price any time now, here’s your chance.
Cnet (www.cnet.com) was still hawking Christmas deals this week, but as one of the top review sites on the web you can expect Best Of lists for everything from cameras to cell phones to desktop computers before the New Year.
Patched your Internet Explorer yet?
Internet Explorer’s reputation as the least secure of all the browsers out there got another boost in the wrong direction last week with the revelation of a critical flaw that has exploited up to 10,000 websites and over two million computers. Named “zero day”, the exploit lets criminal hackers take over your computer and steer them to the wrong websites. Basically it’s an elaborate phishing scam, where you might find yourself at a web portal that looks like a website that you use all the time, and then records your key strokes so they can steal user names, passwords, credit card details and other financial information.