The festive season is approaching and the turkeys are fattening up nicely and with turkey's in mind, it is time to look back on some of the bad, sad and plain stupid stuff that happened this year. In no particular order, and with a lot of help from our sister title Network World, here comes a list of top tech turkeys for 2013
1. Patent troll called out as a “sham” by judge (finally someone called it like it is)
A Texas company named Network Protection Services collects patents then goes around suing other companies for patent infringement. It attempted to sue security vendor Fortinet, but when the case was bumped up to a California district court judge, Network Protection had to explain what it does as a company. Network Protections dropped the suit instead of defending its patent trolling practice. Cheers to the judge for calling them out as a sham, and here’s to you for being a turkey, Network Protections.
2. Reddit users accuse innocents of bombing the Boston Marathon
After the unthinkable happened at this year’s Boston Marathon finish line, everyone wanted to help out in some way. Reddit users took it a little too far. Some members of the social media forum accused innocent bag-wearing spectators from the event of being the Marathon bombers. Reddit, leave the terrorism investigative work to the experts, please.
3. United website glitch gives us free airline tickets, again
In mid-October people looking to book flights on United.com must have been very happy when they saw that plane tickets for ultra-cheap prices. What a deal! Except it wasn’t a deal. It was a website glitch, and not the first one to hit the airline. Stop teasing us with getting almost free flights, United!
4. Microsoft RT
Steve Ballmer & Co. released Microsoft Surface RT as a native OS for the Surface tablet and other devices. But it only runs Windows 8 apps, and it was priced too high for many people’s liking. Dell and others said they would not make any hardware to run RT. So Microsoft killed RT and instead released Surface 2. That one was just a mess from the beginning.
5. Houston, we have a problem
How do you troubleshoot a rover that is 30 million miles away? That’s what NASA had to deal with in March when a glitch caused its Mars rover to go into safe mode. When you’re sending a robot to another planet, maybe you should make sure the software doesn’t have any bugs.
6. BlackBerry can’t sell itself
While BlackBerry once dominated the mobile market for the business world, it has since gone severely downhill compared to Apple and Android devices. The saviour was going to be that it would be taken private and bought out by an investment firm. But, that didn’t quite happen. The company couldn’t even sell itself and instead got a $1 billion cash infusion. The whole company has pretty much just turned into a turkey. Is it time to roast it up yet?
7. The newest member of our family: The NSA!
How could we leave this one off the list? Ever since Edward Snowden so graciously informed us of the extent of U.S. spooks’ spying efforts, many have been concerned about just how much the NSA knows and what exactly they’re snooping on. Save a place setting for the NSA at this year’s Xmas dinner table. We know they’ll be with us!
8. So long, Google Reader
This summer, to the chagrin of many Google Reader users, the search giant shut down its RSS reading service. Why did Google have to kill its popular Reader app? Part of “Spring cleaning,” the company said. Can’t Google just keep things that we like? Apparently not.
9. Apple and Samsung: The patent fight that just won’t end
Apple and Samsung must really like being in court. The two companies battling it out for smartphone supremacy have been locked in a patent battle for years, and it’s not even over yet. Lawyers from each side will grace us with even more litigation about how much Samsung must pay Apple for infringements. Will this ever be over?
10. Silk Road founder is caught because he gave cops his personal email address
Here’s a tip for someone who running an illegal online marketplace for drugs, guns and hired murders: Don’t link to your email address on the site. That’s what Ross William Ulbricht apparently did, and it allowed the FBI to track him down pretty easily. Now he’s charged with delivering, distributing, and dispensing controlled substances through his website Silk Road. Oops.
11. What’s so hard about rolling out a nationwide website?
It was supposed to be the signature achievement of Barack Obama’s presidency, but Healthcare.gov got off to a rocky start when many couldn’t access the site and others had to cancel their insurance to sign up for new coverage. The website problems seem to have mostly been fixed now, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a big political mess in the meantime.
12. Scammer steals $37 million from Cisco
A California man is accused of pulling what is likely the most lucrative IT heist of the year when he got his hands on stolen Cisco hardware, altered the serial numbers and resold it to customers. His total payday: $37 million. That’s a lot of hardware. But he was squirreling away the money to pay for his four children’s higher education. Oh, and luxury cars and fancy residential properties ... which makes him a turkey.
13. College kid hacks his way into student election
Kids these days.... It’s all fine and dandy for kids to enjoy playing Angry Birds on mom and dad’s iPad, but once you start rigging school elections through software, that’s when you become a tech turkey. A California State University business school student is accused of using keylogging software to steal the passwords of 750 classmates to vote himself into winning his student body election. Instead, he just ended up in jail and in our coveted turkey’s list
14. AOL CEO fires a Patch.com employee for being an employee
Running a big company like AOL is surely a stressful job, but that doesn’t mean you have to take it out on employees. AOL CEO Tim Armstrong was giving a speech to the company’s local news division, Patch, and in the middle of the talk, he saw an employee filming him. He told the employee to put the camera down and then fired the employee. Come on dude, lighten up a little.