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The Wackiest Technology Tales of 2008 97

Posted by timothy
from the hindsight-is-much-better-than-20/20 dept.
coondoggie writes "Despite the daily drumbeat of new and improved hardware or software, the tech industry isn't all bits and bytes. Some interesting things happen along the way too. Like floating data centers, space geekonauts, shape shifting robots and weird bedfellows (like Microsoft and Jerry Seinfeld). What we include here is an example of what we thought were the best, slightly off-center stories of 2008."
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The Wackiest Technology Tales of 2008

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  • Wow.. (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anrego (830717) * on Sunday December 14, 2008 @10:13PM (#26115995)

    This sounded interesting.. but just really didn't hold my attention. Most of the stuff fell under one of two categories:

    1) stuff which is cool, but that I already knew about ..
    2) stuff which wasn't really all that interesting

    Additionally the little blurb of info the give on each was fairly dry .. .. and they have (at least for my browser) added some annoying anti-"just view the print version" stuff..

    AND GET THE HELL OFF MY LAWN!

    • Re:Wow.. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by syousef (465911) on Sunday December 14, 2008 @10:33PM (#26116109) Journal

      I agree, it was a boring slideshow...but what did you expect?

      IT and science aren't known for their amazing comic value (well unless perhaps you consider quantum mechanics - I'd call that stuff wacky). The wackiest things I see in IT are management decisions, particularly when they ask for something without a clue what it will take to build, then set a ridiculous time line. It's even wackier when a senior manager has a revelation and you realize that he's missed something big and lost the plot altogether. What isn't so much fun is explaining why a particular project won't work as intended, or trying to talk someone out of shooting themselves in the foot before losing their attention.

      • Re:Wow.. (Score:5, Funny)

        by ChromeAeonium (1026952) on Monday December 15, 2008 @01:07AM (#26116887)

        (well unless perhaps you consider quantum mechanics - I'd call that stuff wacky)

        -Hey Electron, what are you doing? You'd better not be eating my Christmas cookies!
         
        -Nope, I'm over here!
         
        -Hey, my cookies are gone! Damn it Heisenberg, isn't there any way to compensate?
         
        -Judging by the size of your microscope, I'd say someone's compensating!
         
        Yep, the Subatomic Sitcom practically writes itself.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by clickety6 (141178)

        IT and science aren't known for their amazing comic value

        What about the Ig Nobel awards?

        http://improbable.com/ [improbable.com]

        This year's chemistry prize was split between two teams of doctors. One team discovered that Coke is an effective spermacide. The other team discovered that it is not.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by stewbacca (1033764)
      You missed the obvious 22 clicks of ad revenue. I want my wasted time back, and I stopped on slide 4.
  • A slide show (Score:5, Informative)

    by techno-vampire (666512) on Sunday December 14, 2008 @10:15PM (#26116009) Homepage
    I tried to RTFA and found that the article was nothing but a stupid slide show with a vapid paragraph of comment for each. Unless there's a link to the complete text, there really isn't anything worth looking at.
  • Really, do they need so much capacity that they have to resort to the ocean?
    • Imagine how many libraries of congress that is!
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Really, do they need so much capacity that they have to resort to the ocean?

      Water has an incredible Specific Heat Capacity [wikipedia.org]. Just as a quick guess, the idea would be to use the water as a giant heatsink.

  • by VinylRecords (1292374) on Sunday December 14, 2008 @10:21PM (#26116047)

    There isn't anything relevant or newsworthy in the entire piece that was the subject of this post.

    The 'article' is merely a slide-show with some of the most poorly written reporting I have ever encountered. News today is usually infotainment and not information anymore and this is a prime example. Even entries to this piece that should be newsworthy are presented so awfully that I could barely muster the willpower to proceed to the last slide.

    Networkworld.com ... never visiting this website again.

    • News today is usually infotainment and not information anymore and this is a prime example.

      Not only that, it's not entertaining. Even rank amateurs can do better, as this InFauxmercial [youtube.com] shows.

      • I thought the Esther Dyson story was interesting to read a lot of the other stories I had come across before. Except for the Coke thing, that is just plain stupid, I think I killed some brain cells just perusing the article.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by The Bungi (221687)

      Sunday night + Something vaguely criticizing Microsoft == Slashdot Front Page

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by lorenlal (164133)

      There was one thing in that slideshow that caught my attention: Sprint losing customers.

      Now, that's not a shocker here. I've certainly suffered through some poor phone customer service with them, and some poor coverage problems. They've seemed to embarked on a company wide effort to change that, but I can only hope for their sake that it's not too late.

      Of course, AT&T with the iPhone is probably quite a draw.

      I will say this for Sprint: The biggest difference I noticed between them was that Verizon p

      • Sprint is currently the only carrier that doesn't have a shiny new consumer smart phone too. AT&T has the iPhone, T-mobile has the G-1, Verizon has the Blackberry Storm, Sprint has some cute new commercial where a VP tells people to come into the store and learn how to use the crappy phones Sprint sells. :-)

           

    • by drspliff (652992)

      All the comments we /.ers left in dismay have been deleted for some reason.

      Networkworld was already far down on my list of reputable IT news sites, and has slipped even further today.

  • One word (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 14, 2008 @10:26PM (#26116073)

    Idle

  • by j-stroy (640921) on Sunday December 14, 2008 @10:44PM (#26116173)
    I had this (jpg image of my bios) [photobucket.com] displayed after a hardware failure. "Hard Dick Mode - Enhanced". I ROFL'D heavily, it was even better than the server msg "There has been an error, the error was sucess!"

    FYI m200 tablet with nvidia chip, The graphics had some lines in it, and the factory driver would bsod.
  • Wacky? (Score:2, Funny)

    These tech stories are as wacky as those ads by Microsoft featuring Jerry Seinfeld.
  • Who cares? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Orion Blastar (457579) <orionblastar@@@gmail...com> on Sunday December 14, 2008 @10:49PM (#26116215) Homepage Journal

    Might as well talk about Vegetarian Vampires, African-American KKK members, Atheist Christian Pastors, or Dotcom CEOS worth billions who still live in their Mom's basement. It just makes about as much sense as this story.

  • So then tangent? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by rich90usa (1255170)
    So, as a suggestion, because it looks like people are going to complain about the article, why not shift the direction of the comments to user stories of their own wacky technology tales?
  • by Dzimas (547818) on Monday December 15, 2008 @12:59AM (#26116855)

    Anyone caught submitting slide shows featuring minimal content smeared over 43 colorful but vapid pages should be punished. I recommend death by stoning, preferably using a truckload of rusty 486s and a pallet or two of 14" monitors instead of boulders. As for the clever soul who deemed the content on the front page, I can only assume he/she/it is blind and suffering the after-effects of a decades-old untreated case of syphilis.

    No. Wait. This must be a sign that slashdot has been secretly acquired by Condé Nast. I anxiously await the premiere issue of Linux Vogue. Sigh.

  • by Whiteox (919863)

    Since the site is humdrum I'll tell you my wacky tale.

    I bought 2x1 GB sticks of ram for an XP box I'm currently using. This was a replacement for 2x512MB sticks.
    Booted fine up to a point, then seemed to hang just before the logon screen.
    Kernel dump crash and I rebooted. About 5 mins later the desktop loaded and nothing would work to well.
    I grabbed a linux disk and did a memtest and stick#2 failed miserably on test#6.
    So I replaced it (after testing it) and it booted fine.
    Unfortunately I had missing icons, sh

  • The little blurb about people stealing brass from bomb ranges showed empty steel casings in the picture

    • Personally, I found it even more hilarious when copper thieves tried to steal copper parts from live electric power lines, and unsurprisingly found that it held (GASP) live current. Ha ha ha, you silly copper thieves, when will you ever learn?
  • by Fantastic Lad (198284) on Monday December 15, 2008 @03:16AM (#26117485)

    While discussing the Bill Gates/Jerry Seinfeld ad spots Microsoft ran a few months back, we chanced upon perhaps the real thinking behind it. . .

    Universally hailed as a magnificent failure, we wondered exactly how with Microsoft using all the expertise of the P.R. giant, Waggener Edstrom, and the quarter-billion dollars spent on the project, such a thing could be possible. How could, with those kinds of resources, anybody achieve such a catastrophic P.R. failure?

    Then we realized, "No. It wasn't a failure at all. It was a brilliant success!"

    Here's the logic:

    After the self-destruction of Vista, Microsoft was in free fall. Investors were mightily distressed at Balmer's ineptitude. And so, as happens when huge corporations are desperate, they went to Waggener Edstrom for a rescue plan.

    The P.R. firm sat down and worked out the psychology and set up the following three act show: Act I involved subtle media manipulation presenting Balmer as the idiot he is, the weak link responsible for Vista's failure. This has been accomplished.

    Act II involved running a bunch of ads which were designed to do two things:

    1. Make sure that people knew that Gates was still involved with Microsoft; that he'd gone walkabout, but was still there in the wings.

    2. Show Gates being a hopeless geek. --He was portrayed as an awkward fool who couldn't act and had no screen presence. The whole series left you feeling painfully embarrassed and despite yourself, kind of sorry for him. --Think about that! When EVER has the world felt sorry for Bill Gates? But investors don't want him to be a charismatic actor. They want him to be a hopeless geek/genius who will rescue their share values.

    Now, act III involves the placement of the upcoming Windows 7 in the public conscious, which, surprise, surprise, is getting lots of positive response and sympathy, general good-will and a collective hope that it won't suck. (At least from the general population; Slashdotters are a breed apart.)

    Not a bad bit of P.R. work. Sneaky and manipulative, playing on those hidden aspects of the human mind to achieve its objectives. That's why Microsoft pays Waggener Edstrom 250 million dollars a year. The most powerful advertising happens when you think it isn't working.

    -FL

    • by g0at (135364)

      Now, act III involves the placement of the upcoming Windows 7 in the public conscious, which, surprise, surprise, is getting lots of positive response and sympathy, general good-will and a collective hope that it won't suck.

      1. "conscious" is an adjective. Perhaps you mean "conscience".

      2. I do not see a logical connection between "acts I and II" and "act III". My understanding is that Windows Vista is widely perceived as garbage, and simply therefore, people bent on Windows will be optimistic about its successor.

      b

      • 1. "conscious" is an adjective. Perhaps you mean "conscience".

        Ha ha. Right you are! --The funny part is that I had it right in my first draft but switched it around on a sleepy whim because I mixed it up with the idea of Pinocchio's cricket, which just sounded weird.

        2. I do not see a logical connection between "acts I and II" and "act III". My understanding is that Windows Vista is widely perceived as garbage, and simply therefore, people bent on Windows will be optimistic about its successor.

        Public opini

        • by g0at (135364)

          (The thing about conscious vs conscience is a pet peeve of mine, because so many people use it as you did while firmly believing that it is acceptable as a noun, and such usage always grates on me.)

          You're right about the bloodthirsty dog pack phenomenon, but I'm not convinced that the Seinfeld/Gates foray achieved anything to counter it. To my view, it simply reinforced the notion of Microsoft being out of touch with popular taste and sensibility, and further evidence that they are wildly trying to do some

          • Normally I'd agree with you wholeheartedly, except in this case Microsoft handed control over to the second largest P.R. firm in the U.S., which certainly doesn't share Balmer's abysmal understanding of the business world and MS's customer base.

            The more I learn about big gun Public Relations and just how advanced the science of psychology is today, --and just how little of this remarkable knowledge is recognized by the general public, the more astonished and skeptical I become about pretty much everything r

    • Occam's razor leads me to conclude that the Seinfeld/Gates ad campaign was a failure, not a step in some grand plan.

      -jcr

      • Occam's razor leads me to conclude that the Seinfeld/Gates ad campaign was a failure, not a step in some grand plan.

        Occam never studied marketing, whereas the guy I was discussing this with spent a well-compensated 20 years in the field. In any case, Occam's razor contains a serious logical flaw, (bonus points if you can work it out), and should be used far less liberally than it usually is.

        --To get an idea of just how devious P.R. firms are, research the way cigarettes and razor blades were sold to women.

      • by dangitman (862676) on Monday December 15, 2008 @05:19AM (#26118059)

        Occam's razor leads me to conclude that the Seinfeld/Gates ad campaign was a failure, not a step in some grand plan.

        I don't think Occam's razor has ever applied to Microsoft. Things that look like genius strategic moves turn out to be blind luck, while things that are absolute disasters emerge from what appears to be their most insightful thinking.

  • zzzzzzzz (Score:2, Insightful)

    by marxz (971164)
    slide 1, slide2, slidzzzzzzzz... zzz sn..gfffhk muh? wuh? good thing I needed a sleep anyway
  • by elistan (578864)
    If you want a dose of wacky technology stories (or, at least, wacky IT stories) you need to visit with the Daily WTF (Worse Than Failure) at http://thedailywtf.com/ [thedailywtf.com]

    I'm not sure where you'd go for wacky science/engineering stories though. Some website called "slashdot" or something like that, probably.
  • Whitelist networkworld.com/slideshows like this:
    @@|http://www.networkworld.com/slideshows/*

The key elements in human thinking are not numbers but labels of fuzzy sets. -- L. Zadeh

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