Favorites of 2011

What has seemingly become a tradition on this blog is my annual “Favorites of” post, where I recap some of my favorite things of the year. Even though the posts on this blog have slowed in recent months, I would like to keep that tradition, so here they are!

Tech Favorites

First and foremost, I am a tech nerd. That means I have a few technology related favorites I’d like to share with you. While I always get new gadgets and try out new services, I did add a new category this year simply titled, “Technology,” which encompasses anything that wouldn’t fall under gadget or app. This could be a programming language, like PHP, or a new technique, like Responsive Web Design.

Favorite Gadget: The Samsung Galaxy Nexus. As usual, the competition was pretty stiff since I purchased quite a few technological goodies this year, from a Macbook Air to Google TV and even a new tablet (which I love), but the [dubious] honor of my favorite gadget this year has to go to my new phone, the Samsung Galaxy Nexus. It’s super slim and light, the camera has no shutter delay, and oh yeah, it’s the first phone to run Android 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich. My full review of the device is coming soon over at android.appstorm.net.

Favorite App: Spotify. I figured this category would be interesting this year because not only did I start writing for 2 app sites (android and web) but a bunch of new services launched this year, including Amazon CloudPlayer and Google Music. I feel Spotify is the clear winner, however, for a few reasons. Despite the fact that its ads are pretty annoying, the service does allow you to listen to all of music you want for free; it also gives you a way to disable ads, if you’re willing to pay. You might remember a couple of years ago that my favorite app was lala, which Apple bought and subsequently killed in 2010. I’m glad to say that Spotify has filled that void.

Favorite Technology: Responsive Web Design. As a web developer, I enjoy seeing what new things are emerging for me to try. 2011 was the year of responsive web design. Not a totally new concept, the idea behind it is to leverage HTML5 and CSS 3 to customize your single website design based on the media it’s being viewed on (desktop, tablet, smartphone, super-secret spy watch…well maybe not that one…yet). With the constant stream of new devices of all shapes and sizes, responsive web design is an incredibly important technology/technique that anyone in the web development field should become familiar with.

Media Favorites

This year in media was huge for me because I got into a very big, very beloved franchise: Harry Potter. in 2011 I read all of the books and watched all of the movies for the first time; those books and movies could easily take the cake for my favorites, but in the spirit of variety, I didn’t choose them for every category. Besides that, I’m really late to the party on both the books and the movies, so it’s not exactly like I’m making a recommendation here, and I kind of put Harry Potter in a league of its own since there is a ton of depth to the world.

Favorite Book/Book Series: The Hunger Games. Let me just say: Wow. This book series was absolutely incredible. I flew through all three books in a fairly short amount of time because of how thrilling and encapsulating they were. The series has everything: action, suspense, depth to the characters, and a bunch of twists. It’s a book series I strongly recommend, especially with a movie based on it coming out in March 2012. Here’s the book’s description from Amazon.com:

Katniss is a 16-year-old girl living with her mother and younger sister in the poorest district of Panem, the remains of what used be the United States. Long ago the districts waged war on the Capitol and were defeated. As part of the surrender terms, each district agreed to send one boy and one girl to appear in an annual televised event called, “The Hunger Games.” The terrain, rules, and level of audience participation may change but one thing is constant: kill or be killed. When Kat’s sister is chosen by lottery, Kat steps up to go in her place.

Favorite Movie: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. This movie just beat out Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 for the sole reason that while I read both books and loved them, Dragon Tattoo was exactly like the book. I wouldn’t change a thing about it; it was perfect. David Fincher (Social Network, Fight Club) is probably my favorite director and he’s got himself another gem. I strongly recommend this if you haven’t see it. (PS, this was my favorite book in 2010!)

Favorite TV Show: How I Met Your Mother. You should know this about me by now. I’m late to all of the awesome parties. The same thing goes for How I Met Your Mother, which I just got into this year. Man-o-man this is a funny TV series. I thought I’d be hard pressed following something up with Dexter (which was my favorite last year, and CRAZY this year), but HIMYM is fantastic.

Favorite Music: Blink 182 (Neighborhoods). Blink has been my favorite band since high school and when they got back together I was really excited. This year the released their first new studio album in 8 years. I had high hopes, and those hopes were met. Neighborhoods has remnants of old Blink that have been influenced by the other projects they were part of since the break up. Is it their best? Maybe not, but it’s definitely a great album and it did not disappoint.