The 12 News Days of Xmas 01 - January
Written by Editor   
Thursday, 20 December 2018

In which we look at the most noteworthy of the news items of each month of 2018. Yes it's a clip show, but it's still interesting!

January seems so, so far away now, but things happened that should still be uppermost in your mind. If I mention Meltdown and Spectre you will think it was only yesterday when you didn't know their names:

How Meltdown Works   Friday 05 Januarymeltdown

The news is full of Meltdown and Spectre attacks that appear to work on a wide range of current CPUs, particularly on Intel processors dating from 1995 on. The interesting part of the story is how the exploits work and how they could have been built into processors for so long without anyone noticing.

How Spectre Works   Wednesday 10 January

This the second part of our examination of how Meltdown and Spectre work. The aim is not to explain how to manage the vulnerabliities but to understand how they work and what exactly the flaw is in the hardware that the software can take advantage of.

Both are still with us and variations are still being discovered and maybe even exploited. There is still no sign of a hardware fix and most software fixes either slow things down a lot or are ineffective.

January was a good month for Bjarne Stoustrup:

Prestigious Prize For Bjarne Stroustrup   Thursday 04 January

C++ creator Bjarne Stroustrup has been awarded the 2018 Charles Stark Draper Prize for Engineering. The $500,000 annual award is given to engineers whose accomplishments have significantly benefited society.

I wish he could fix C++ so that it was more like the language he first envisaged. Talking of C++, its progenitor C managed to get the Tiobe language of the year award:

C - Language Of The Year 2017   Saturday 06 January

The Tiobe index isn't too be taken too seriously, but it does reflect changes in the current interest in languages and the shock at the start of 2018 is that C has put on most growth, making it the language of the year.

I wonder what the language of the year will be for 2018 - not long to wait now.

Another newcomer was the massive prime number with over 23 million digits - will it be beaten by another later in the year - watch this space:

Largest Prime Now Has Over 23 Million Digits   Sunday 07 January

The newly discovered prime is 2 77,232,917 -1. There is no real practical use for a prime of this size, it is simply for the fun and the mathematics of it. And I suppose the technical accomplishment of having the computing power to verify that it is a prime.

Of course neural networks open the year with a feat that has been improved on since, but it is still  like something out of Black Mirror. Mind reading app anyone?

nnvisioniconA Neural Network Reads Your Mind   Thursday 11 January

Is this AI or UI? The idea is simple enough - train a neural network to recognize what you are seeing from just your brain activity. Is it even possible?


The final day of the first month revealed that we were half way to a global internet. We would have to wait until later in the year to discover that Space X looks as if it is going to be the agency that puts the other half of the world on the net with its absurdly ambitious thousands of internet satellites. Of course, what if the other half of the world doesn't want to get online?

Over 4 Billion Internet Users   Wednesday 31 January

article thumbnailWell over half of the world’s population is now online, with the latest data showing that nearly a quarter of a billion new users came online for the first time in 2017. There are now over 4 Billion Internet Users and over 3 billion are active users of social media.




Related Articles

January Week 1

January Week 2

January Week 3

January Week 4

January Week 5


The 12 News Days of Xmas

01 January

02 February

03 March

04 April

05 May

06 June

07 July

08 August

09 September

10 October

11 November

12 December

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Last Updated ( Friday, 04 January 2019 )