The hottest tech news of 2009 (as portrayed by finger puppets)

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Welcome to Techworld's tour of the top tech tales of 2009. Feast your peepers on the delights on display.

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Apple spreads iPhone 3GS fever

Apple continued the trend of releasing new iterations of its popular products, tweaking the features enough to keep the hardcore fans happy and attract new converts. The company reported a steady increase in profits, and CEO Steve Jobs returned to work after a period of illness that caused consternation among Apple watchers. Apple also released the iPhone 3GS, the latest version of its highly-regarded smartphone.

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Godfather of Spam goes to jail

In a sign that the legal world has finally caught up with the online one, the US got tough on internet crime. Alan Ralsky, self-proclaimed 'Godfather of spam', was made an offer he couldn't refuse by a US judge: a four year jail sentence. Ralsky and his son-in-law, Scott Bradley, were charged with conspiring to commit mail fraud and violating the CAN-SPAM Act. US Attorney Terrence Berg said: 'The court has made it clear that advancing fraud through the abuse of the internet will lead to several years in prison'.

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NASA moon probe

2009 was the 40th anniversary of the Apollo mission and NASA celebrated by deliberately crashing a probe into the moon. The objective of the mission was to find water, and the space agency was happy to announce that it found "significant amounts" of the wet stuff, which could shed light on the evolution of the solar system. But not everyone welcomed the news, with some labelling it an assault on a divine feminine symbol.

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Murdoch takes on Google

Media mogul Ruport Murdoch railed against Google when he threatened to block popular search engines from listing content from The Sun, The Times, The Wall Street Journal and others, in a move designed to force readers to pay for online content. In response, Google created a new way for publishers to control how their content ends up on Google News, making it easier for publishers to opt out. Google also closed a loophole which allowed readers to get articles on subscription-based sites without paying for them. Google has also said it would let publishers limit non-subscribers to five free articles per day.

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Microsoft fires 6,000

The recession continued to bite this year, as more companies were forced into cost-cutting measures and redundancies. Even the mightiest fell to financial weakness, with Microsoft firing nearly 6,000 of its employees this year. However, with the release of Windows 7 in October, the company's position seems to have stabilised, barring some unfortunate advertising moves.

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Google behemoth keeps growing

Google on the whole had a good year, being one of the few companies still hiring in the middle of a recession. Not only that, the search giant made some significant moves to shake up the IT market and challenge the dominance of Microsoft. The first was the continuing development of the Chrome web browser, which is due to debut on the Mac soon. That news was shortly followed by the first release of the Google Chrome OS, hotly tipped to rival Windows for portable, web-connected devices.

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Michael Jackson on Twitter

The death of Michael Jackson captured the attention of the world, and nowhere more so than on Twitter. Within minutes of news that Jackson had been rushed to the hospital, millions flocked to the social networking site to tweet. The death of the king of pop eclipsed most other social networking activity, and, according to Mashable, at its peak Jackson tributes made up 30% of all tweets. In London, a flash mob was organised on Twitter to moonwalk at Liverpool St station as a tribute. The event also highlighted the popularity of social media. When Princess Diana died, we heard through TV. Twitter made the death of Jackson more immediate, and mourning became an international multimedia event.

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Rickrolling iPhone

The Apple iPhone suffered its first ever worm attack. In a nod to the "Rick Roll" Internet meme, the ikee worm spread into jailbroken iPhones, changing the wallpaper to a photo of 1980's pop star Rick Astley with the message "Ikee is never gonna give you up". A few short weeks later, Ashley Towns, the Australian hacker responsible got a job as an iPhone application developer with mogeneration.

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UK Government gets tough on filesharers

2009 was the year that the UK government decided to get tough on illegal filesharing. The Digital Britain report showcased the concerns of big content producers, while Business Secretary Lord Peter Mandelson called for tougher penalties for copyright infringers, including disconnection for persistent offenders. But consumer rights groups and internet service providers have objected to the plans, which they claim will damage technological innovation.

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What's on the cards for next year?

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The great monkey robot wars of 2010

Looking into our crystal ball app, we predict a furious uprising of monkeys against the evil robot overlords. Ape against android, chimp fights cyborg and pygmy marmosets clash with automatons in a battle for world supremacy.

Human race to be wiped out in unfortunate, but hilarious, bionic banana-related mishap.

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