dan tynan on Feb 02 2008
I love lists. Years from now researchers at the Human Genome Project will uncover the code sequence that makes some people obsessively churn out lists (bulleted, numbered, or otherwise) where others live blissfully list free. I’m sure it will turn out to be right next to the one that makes some people organize the contents of their refrigerators alphabetically.
I’ve got that gene. This may be one reason why magazines and web sites pay me to write ‘list’ stories for them. Particularly lists of things that are bad, for some reason. (Must be my naturally cheery disposition.) So, naturally, I’ve decided to list some of them here. In no particular order…
I start with this one because it’s fairly recent (as of now anyway) and it got HUGE traffic. People love best of/worst of lists, especially when it pisses them off as much as this one did. Among the 15 biggest disappointments: Office 2007, Apple Leopard, the iPhone (yes, I know), and Windows Vista. I got called all sorts of names on Slashdot, Digg, and PC World’s own forums by Apple and MS fanboys, both of whom was convinced I was in the other’s pocket. Big fun.
This is a privacy story I wrote for Infoworld.com in September 2007. It’s actually not as serious as the name implies — but yes, you should be paranoid, at least about some of this stuff. People really are watching you and your online activity in some fashion. Especially at work. Other snoops include Google, data brokers, drive-by hackers, your ISP, the RIAA and MPAA, and our good friends in the federal government. And no, I don’t need to adjust my meds, but thanks for asking. But if you don’t believe me, buy my book (Computer Privacy Annoyances, OReilly Media) before it goes completely out of print and see for yourself.
This is the mother of all list stories, which I co-authored for PC World along with about a dozen other people. A lot of arm wrestling went into this list, first published in December 2005 but holding up pretty well, I think. The winner? The Sony Walkman (pictured here). Others in the top 5 include the iPod, Tivo, Palm Pilot, and the first Sony CD player (which cost like $1000 back in 1982). Damn I feel old.
Why would PC World list the 50 best of all time but only the 25 worst? Beats me. But I have to imagine it had something to do with how much they could afford to pay me. (And, really, a list of 25 gets just as many hits as one with 50 — that’s the name of this game.) Number one on the BAAAAD list? AOL of course. The rest of the top/bottom five: Real Networks, SoftRAM, Windows ME, and Sony BMG’s delightful CD root kit. List purists can find the entire 25 outlined here.
A United States senator once said it, so it must be true: The Internet isn’t a dump truck, it’s a series of tubes. And many a reputation has gone swirling down those tubes, thanks to the Net’s ability to expose scoundrels, scalawags, liars, cheats, and fools–and then broadcast the scandal to a billion glowing screens….. Here’s my PC World story from January 2007 on the ten worst scandals to spread across the Net, from AOL outing a gay sailor to Dan Rather’s font problems. And what ended up as number one on my list? You guessed it: MonicaGate. Have a cigar….