The 10 dumbest tech moves of 2009

What do Microsoft, Google, Amazon and AT&T have in common? They're all winners of awards for bringing low comedy to high tech

4. Best use of vomit as a promotional tool award:

Goes to Microsoft, for its ever-so-charming TV ad for Internet Explorer 8's InPrivate browsing feature, in which a woman accidentally sees what sites her husband has been visiting and immediately begins projectile vomiting all over the kitchen. Interestingly, that's also how most Microsoft products make me feel.

5. Epic failures in punctuation award:

Is a tie between the country of Sweden and Google. Back in October, Sweden's 9 million residents were booted off the Net when a piece of DNS-updating software left out a period before the country's domain name (.se), causing all sites using that domain to go dark for about 90 minutes. Similarly, for about 40 minutes last Jan. 31, anyone clicking on any Google search result got a "Warning! This site might harm your computer" message. The culprit? Some employee updating Google's StopBadware database accidentally added the URL "/" to the list of dangerous sites -- which in IP-speak means "all sites." In other words, a single slash can bring the Net to its knees. See, your English teacher always told you punctuation was important.

6. Worst excuse given for surfing porn award:

Goes to Richard Cole and Timothy Cheney, the Northwest Airlines pilots who missed their intended landing strip by 150 miles after being "distracted" by an impromptu "online tutoring session" about the airline's new scheduling system. Yeah, that's what I call it too.

7. "We'll accept your money but none of the blame" award:

Goes to the Rocky Mountain Bank of Wyoming, which sued Google to obtain the name of one of its Gmail users after the bank accidentally e-mailed that person confidential financial info for 1,325 of its customers. The bank also tried to keep those 1,325 customers (and the rest of the world) from finding out about the data leak by asking the court to seal the case records. Because that's how you want your bank to act: blame the person who received the information, not the idiot bank employee who sent it to him, and then try to cover it up. We gave them bailout money for this?

8. The "not now honey, I've got a bad case of the vapors" award:

Goes to TechCrunch's Michael Arrington, whose CrunchPad got taken away from him by the people who actually built it, later emerging as the stupidly named "JooJoo." Seems fitting enough -- after years of tooting his horn about "scoops" that turned out not to be true, Arrington spent 18 months flogging a device that turned out not to be his.

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Robert X. Cringely

InfoWorld
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