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Sanity check: The 10 biggest technology belly flops of 2007

While 2007 gave us some fantastic technological innovations, it also brought the usual spate of bungles, miscues, and faux pas. In the spirit of learning from our mistakes, here is the Tech Sanity Check list of the biggest belly flops in technology in 2007.

While 2007 gave us some fantastic technological innovations, it also brought the usual spate of bungles, miscues, and faux pas. Since I believe that you learn more from your mistakes than your successes, it's important to look at some of the most glaring errors that were made manifest in the business technology sector during 2007. There were a lot of opportunities for learning this year.

Note: This information is also available as a PDF download.

10. HD DVD and Blu-ray repeat the VHS-Betamax blunder

While many mistakes are forgivable, the ones that involve wittingly repeating past errors are often greeted by the public with far less tolerance. That's the case with the next-generation version of DVD discs. The original DVD consolidated around a single standard when it became a mass-market technology, but the next-gen DVD has forked into two camps, HD DVD and Blu-Ray -- mostly because of greed and intense competition -- and in 2007 both camps started releasing movies and players in their incompatible standards.

Toshiba, Microsoft, Intel, DreamWorks, and Time-Warner Paramount are lined up behind HD DVD, while Sony, Disney, Apple, Pioneer, Panasonic, Philips, and Fox are lined up behind Blu-ray. Numerous meetings were held in 2005 to try to come up with a single standard, but neither group would make enough compromises to appease the other -- in fear of giving the other an advantage in what is expected to be a multi-billion dollar market. The ironic part is that all of this hearkens back to the video tape era that preceded DVD. In the 1980s there were two incompatible types of video tapes, VHS and Betamax. The battle lasted for years and ultimately resulted in the Sony-backed Betamax standard losing and many of the consumers who had bought those systems having to repurchase equipment and videos.

This battle also matters for business technology because it will affect the next generation of data discs -- HD-DVD Rom and Blu-ray Rom. These discs will have capacity ranging from 15 GB all the way up to (theoretically) 100 GB. This will enable great portability of big files and big chunks of data, and could completely replace data tapes as a backup standard. For more on this topic, see the CNET Quick Guide: HD DVD vs. Blu-ray.

9. Red Flag Linux is exposed as a bargaining chip rather than a Linux victory

Earlier this decade, the Chinese government appeared to throw its support behind homegrown Red Flag Linux as a way to have full transparency and control over worker software and reduce dependence on U.S.-based Microsoft. At the time, Linux advocates such as Doc Searls were asking, "Is it possible that the top Linux distribution--at least for desktops--is Red...Flag? Given a combination of Chinese demographics and government encouragement, that may well be the case." However, it was all a ruse.

The reality is that Red Flag Linux on the desktop never really took off in China, despite the government's public support. Pirated copies of Windows have always ruled the day. As I wrote in Sanity check: How Microsoft beat Linux in China and what it means for freedom, justice, and the price of software, the fear of Red Flag Linux taking hold in China led to Microsoft to negotiate a deal with the Chinese government to give them a cut-rate cost on licensing and alleve their security and source code concerns.

Ironically, Linux on the desktop may be even less of a story in China than it is in the United States, where it's less than two percent of the desktop market according to W3Counter.

8. eBay fumbles the ball with Skype

During 2005 and 2006 I knew more and more business professionals who were turning to Skype. At the time, Skype reported that 30% of its users were in businesses and I wrote about Skype's moves to better serve businesses and IT departments. In the fall of 2005, eBay purchased Skype in a move that left a lot of people scratching their heads because there were no obvious synergies between the two companies.

I continue to use Skype, especially for video calls and international calls, but I cannot think of one significant new feature that Skype launched in 2007. After a great wave of innovation in 2005-2006, the product seems to have hit a plateau during a year when companies such as Microsoft and Cisco have been making huge moves in IP telephony and unified communications.

Skype was well-positioned to become a clear leader in unified communications, potentially even launching a new VoIP standard or an entirely new market category with UC-as-a-Service. If Skype had been bought by someone like Lucent, Nortel, Siemens, or even Google, we might have seen that happen. Instead, Skype is being marginalized as little more than a nifty little consumer VoIP application, and eBay appears to be stumped about what to do with it.

7. The Wall Street Journal teaches users how to sabotage IT

On July 30, The Wall Street Journal published an article "Ten Things Your IT Department Won't Tell You" that provided tips on how users can circumvent their IT departments to install software on their PCs, visit blocked Web sites, save corporate files offline, access mail on contraband smartphones, and several other dangerous and irresponsible activities. I wrote a scathing criticism of this article in Sanity check: Did The Wall Street Journal sabotage businesses by publishing tips on how to circumvent IT?

I'm surprised the Journal didn't publish a tip on how to break into the corporate data center, steal valuable servers, and then sell them on the black market for several thousand dollars each. Maybe they're saving those tips for 2008.

6. Attackers take down e-mail servers at the Pentagon

In June, U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates confirmed that attackers penetrated an unclassified e-mail server at the Pentagon and that the server had to be taken offline when the compromise was discovered. As a result, over 1,500 workers lost access to e-mail. Gates wasn't one of them. When questioned by journalists, he admitted "I don't do e-mail. I'm a very low-tech person."

Almost immediately, there were reports that the source of the attack came from China, possibly even the Chinese Army. The Chinese government unequivocally denied the reports, saying that it was opposed to "any criminal acts undermining computer systems, including hacking."

However, in September, Fox News ran a segment in which it claimed that it had information pinpointing China for the attack. National Security Correspondent Jennifer Griffith reported, "Military sources tell Fox that in June of this year Chinese hackers linked to the Chinese government broke into the Pentagon's computers, breaching the firewalls in place to protect Defense Department computers from hackers seeking classified or operational plans. The breach in June was into unclassified computer email accounts in the Defense Secretary's policy office." Nevertheless, some media watchdogs have criticized the Fox report.

If anyone should be able to lock down their standard IT systems, it's the national defense agency of the United States. If they are incapable of protecting such valuable data assets then it's either a sad commentary on the state of information security or a strong indictment of that agency. I fear that it may be a combination of the two.

5. 802.11n can't get its standards together

It's already been a couple years since wireless vendors started offering "pre-N" and "Draft-N" wireless equipment that takes advantage of the next generation Wireless LAN technology, 802.11n. Promising longer range and much higher bandwidth (up to 300 Mbps) than previous versions of the wireless standard, 802.11n has been widely anticipated because of the widespread adoption of 802.11b and 802.11g, which provide solid network coverage but are limited in bandwidth.

The final release of the 802.11n standard has been considered "imminent" since 2006 and the official standard was expected to be only incrementally different than the various draft versions. As a result, many of the consumer-oriented vendors such as Linksys and Netgear have pushed forward with launching 802.11n equipment.

In 2007, numerous enterprise wireless vendors such as Cisco and Xirrus joined the party and decided to release 802.11n equipment with the promise of upgrading (via firmware) to the final version of N when it was ratified. While that may sound encouraging, the IEEE does not look like it will ratify 802.11n any time soon. The official release has been pushed back to late 2008 or early 2009. With so much pre-N equipment already on the market, it could become a serious compatibility nightmare when 802.11n does finally hit the market and become the predominant WLAN standard.

4. The iPhone doesn't include 3G

Apple shook up the smartphone market with the June 29 launch of its iPhone. Last week, I placed the iPhone at the top of my list of The 10 most important business technology products of 2007. Even though the iPhone is not a great business smartphone because of its lack of mobile messaging support, it has jump-started the smartphone market in a major way.

As I've mentioned before, I think the most significant feature of the iPhone is that is the first smartphone to provide a usable Web experience. With its pan and zoom controls, it allows you to effectively access standard Web pages rather than having to access special mobile or text versions of Web sites. This is highly effective when using the iPhone in Wi-Fi mode, but when you have to switch over to the cellular network, the iPhone's strong Web experience is rendered far less effective because the iPhone is limited to AT&T's pedestrian EDGE network. Steve Jobs has stated that the iPhone wasn't designed to run on AT&T's faster 3G network because the 3G chips are power hogs. That was a big mistake because it severely handicapped the phone's best feature.

Last week, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson confirmed that a 3G iPhone is coming in 2008. Anyone that is considering buying an iPhone should put their plans on ice until the 3G version arrives.

3. Sun makes Java open source, but it's a decade too late

I keenly remember when Sun introduced Java in the mid-1990s as cross-platform technology that would allow developers to "Write once, run everywhere." In reality, the cross-platform dreams of Java didn't quite pan out, as Java developers soon came up with their own pejorative version of the slogan: "Write once, debug everywhere." Nevertheless, Java has morphed into a solid Web technology that has become popular with enterprises and huge Web sites.

On November 13, 2006, Sun began taking the first steps toward making Java an open source platform. On May 8, 2007, Sun released the Java class library, one of the final steps in opening up the technology. While the Java move is wise and admirable, it's not nearly as significant as it could have been if it were done 5-10 years ago. If this move were done sooner, it could have potentially turned Java into a key Internet platform standard, uniting small Web servers and huge Web farms under a single Web platform Today, Java will have a tough time competing with the PHP/Apache lock on the low end of the Web development scale. Plus, you have Ruby also making inroads into this world. Java is arguably the strongest technology with better standards and the best libraries, but that may not matter at this point.

Ironically, Sun would have likely made more money by open-sourcing Java a decade ago and turning it into a Web platform around which it could have built an ecosystem of hardware, consulting, and training.

2. Windows Vista strikes out with businesses

As the most widely-hyped version of Windows since Windows 95, the expectations that Microsoft built around Windows Vista were monumental. Unfortunately, the product has not delivered. Despite some very creative marketing from Microsoft, Vista offers little to no incentive for businesses to upgrade. In fact, with its application compatibility and driver problems and the User Access Control debacle, there are significant incentives for businesses and IT departments to avoid Vista.

Microsoft has claimed that Windows Vista sales have been stronger than Windows XP during the same time frame after its launch and that revenue from Vista has helped drive Microsoft's strong earnings in 2007, but I questioned the true meaning of those assertions in Sanity check: The truth about Windows Vista adoption in 2007.

Nearly all of the IT managers and IT consultants that I know are steadfastly avoiding Vista, and opinions of Vista among IT professionals in the trenches have gotten progressively worse throughout 2007.

1. TJX admits that 45 million customer records were compromised by attackers

It may be the largest and most expensive information security breach in history. On January 17, TJX announced that it had discovered a significant pattern of intrusions to its computer systems that exposed customer data. TJX ordered a full investigation, and in the months that followed it was revealed that the breach was due to an insecure wireless network and that 45.7 million customer accounts were compromised over a period of two years.

The total cost of this information security disaster could ultimately top $1 billion, and as more evidence is disclosed it could tell a disturbing tale of a new breed of attackers that are motivated by financial gain and well-connected with organized crime. Criminals used to rob banks "because that's where the money is," as famous robber Willie Sutton once said. In 2007, it became clear that many criminals now view digital systems as the most lucrative targets and that they have designed elaborate systems to quietly siphon money and steal identities for financial gain.

Are these the worst? Are there any of these that you think don't belong on the list? Are there others that should have made the list? Join the discussion.

About

Jason Hiner is Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He writes about the people, products, and ideas changing how we live and work in the 21st century. He's co-author of the upcoming book, Follow the Geeks (bit.ly/ftgeeks).

106 comments
davidsgenericemail
davidsgenericemail

jason, if you were SOOOO concerned about the WSJ article on how to circumvent my IT department, then why did you bother to mention it again, let alone provide a link to it?!? that's about the worst example of pushing the enemy's agenda i've ever seen. dude: if you're disgusted with someone sharing information that's delicate, then linking all of your readers back to that same information only makes you an accomplice. don't mention it. don't link to it. don't give them any "airtime". ignore them. david koff editor, message to america http://messagetoamerica.blogspot.com

jasonhiner
jasonhiner

to dealing with the disconnect between IT and users, so I had to provide the link. I also think IT pros need to be aware that the article is out there and that their users may see stuff like the WSJ article and use the tips in it to undermine company policies.

chrisbedford
chrisbedford

Jason has the right to an opinion on the article; but we his readers have the equal right to see the article ourselves and make up our own minds. Would have been a bit weasely to refer to it and not provide the link, doncha think? :-)

Joe_R
Joe_R

.....you could have said: Jason, don't just make an empty assertion, but show proof of what you say is true. This might be a case of damned if you do, damned if you don't -- depending on who wants to supply the damnation.

Joe_R
Joe_R

You may or may not know this, but ebay currently uses Skype as an additional built-in tool to allow real verbal dialogue between a buyer and seller through its on-line auction pages. It doesn't surprise me in the least that ebay might have made a decision to buy a technology instead of creating one from scratch, especially if copyright and patent issues were involved. The move might not make sense to the regular VoIP consumer who thought that Skype could expand and get better, but ebay is in the on-line auction business, not the VoIP business. I'm sure that ebay bought the company to use that technology to enhance and improve its current business model, and for the benefit of its customers to enhance and improve the ebay experience for them, not to grow into a conglomerate enterprise. The move might be bad (or inconvenient) for customers in the VoIP market, but it was probably a great business move by ebay to improve its own on-line auction business.

JoeBeckner
JoeBeckner

It probably is a good idea for ebay to use Skype as a tool for its on-line auctions, since they have not figured out what else to do with it. According to Justin Fielding's October 3 Tech Republic posting: "The timesonline reported yesterday that eBay has admitted to massively overpaying for Skype. Back in 2005 eBay bought Skype for a whopping $2.6 billion; now they have warned shareholders that they will have to take an impairment charge of $900 million!" By the way, the definition of "impairment charge" is "worthless goodwill" http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/networking/?p=353

Joe_R
Joe_R

I didn't look into it to that extent. On balance, was it good or bad for ebay?

DT2
DT2

Has anyone noticed that there is a common denominator in the current HD-DVD/Blu-Ray and previous VHS/BETA debaucles. That common denominator is Sony...

DT2
DT2

Has anyone noticed that there is a common denominator in the current HD-DVD/Blu-Ray and previous VHS/BETA debaucles. That common denominator is Sony...

Grim Death
Grim Death

Oh Man i laughed soo hard with that red flag linux post that was just plain funny.I swear linux never fails to entertain me with there success or with there failures!

dlmeyer
dlmeyer

Oh, right, November last year. And I still haven't seen one. Lots of pictures!

JConyers
JConyers

Still irks me everytime I work with the 'New and crappier' Office. Having to click 2-3 times to do anything!

Absolutely
Absolutely

I hadn't heard that complaint yet. Does it really require more clicks to do the same thing, or is it just annoying that the menus now work differently, although the number of clicks is the same? Not that it's a less valid complaint; Microsoft should still have included alternate, previous-version menu arrangement options, to provide the "convenience" they always tout. I just want to know exactly what the malfunction is, in case I have to use it sometime.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

Well, yes, that is true, and has been for every MS change of heart since the first UI "revamps" from Windows 3 to W95, all of which have smacked of "change for the sake of change". But the point is that, annoyances though they may be, they aren't IT disasters. Each problem by itself may not be a disaster, but the combined effect was. No one doubts the sinking of the Titanic was anything but a disaster, but research since it happened shows it was the result of a series of small problems, the absence of any one of which would have left the event as a big problem but not a disaster. Most disasters are the combined effects of many small problems that build up, like the movement of one small stone resulting in an avalanche because it allowed the underlying slop to slide away below the blanket of snow. It's rare for a disaster to be due to one single major critical event.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

One of the biggest issues I've had with some of the MS Office version changes is that, in the early days, it seemed there was two team working on the office products and they took turns doing versions. It also appeared they had different ideas on menus and short cuts, thus team A would do it one way while team B did it a different way. You learn the first, have to change for the second, then relearn the first for vs 3 and learn some new ones. No two versions had the same menus or short cuts exactly the same as the earlier ones. And sometimes they varied between the products The Word menus differed to the Excel menus for the same sub menu item. With the advent of releasing it as a single suite package of Office, some of this was resolved, but they continued to change the menus and short cuts. With Office 2003, things got even worse - the program saw files created in versions older than Office 2000 as corrupted files. It then tried to open the files, said they were corrupted and then resaved them with some changes that really corrupted the files such that they couldn't be opened in the older versions of the applications. Yet backup copies not opened in Office 2003 could be opened in older versions of the applications. Many office staff where I worked complained about having to relearn where everything was, and the management disliked not being able to easily access the older files - work and legal reasons often required us to open and access portions of files from 5 to 15 years old. One of the staff found that Open Office could open the old files perfectly, as well as the new files. It could also be set to save files as .doc format. Guess what the management decision was - yep the whole office switched to OO and the staff had training to use OO. They haven't needed any extra training in the use of the suite since then, despite the many upgrades and new versions. Seems everyone EXCEPT Microsoft can write software that continues to use the same menus and is fully backwards compatible with it's earlier versions. To me, that means constant changes does equal a disaster for the users of the software, and eventually for the company as people keep jumping ship.

Absolutely
Absolutely

Absolutely: [i]MS could better "aid transition" by reducing the number of useless changes in the way that the same goal is achieved[/i] chrisbedford: [i]Well, yes, that is true, and has been for every MS change of heart since the first UI "revamps" from Windows 3 to W95, all of which have smacked of "change for the sake of change". But the point is that, annoyances though they may be, they aren't IT disasters.[/i] None of those [u]by themselves[/u] is a disaster, but since it is only possible to take them altogether, or switch office software, I still say they [u]add up to[/u] a belly flop -- which, I agree, has been going on for at least the 10 years since I began using Microsoft Office.

chrisbedford
chrisbedford

[i]If they are "no longer available," how could it matter whether I "happen to remember the entire shortcut sequence from W2K / 2K3"? Are some shortcut sequences still available, but not others? What are you saying?[/i] Apologies - while anyone who has tried to use Alt-key sequences in Office 2K7 would have understood, I shouldn't have assumed everyone would fall into this category. Very much the reverse, in fact. When you start to use keyboard shortcuts in the new version, your keystrokes are listed in a dialog box that opens with the first keystroke, but nothing else happens - i.e. no "classic" menus pop up like they do in Office 2000 / 2003. So for instance to change fonts, in 2003 you would have typed Alt-O [to bring up the "fOrmat" menu] then F [for "Font"]. To achieve the same result in 2007 you can type the same thing: Alt-O-F but only if you know the whole sequence; if you know Alt-O gives Formatting menu but don't remember the letter for Font, you are stuck with a little dialog box that says "OFFICE 2003 ACCESS KEY: ALT,O - continue typing the Office 2003 menu key sequence, or press Esc to cancel". Above is obviously a simplistic example, it can get frustrating if you wanted to go 3 or 4 levels deep into a menu sequence and just can't remember the last letter; you then have to figure your way through the new philosophy. [i]Also, I recognize W2k and 2k3 as abbreviations of Microsoft operating systems[/i] Yes, obviously I should have said Office (or O) 2K / 2K3, that was a typo. [i]MS could better "aid transition" by reducing the number of useless changes in the way that the same goal is achieved[/i] Well, yes, that is true, and has been for every MS change of heart since the first UI "revamps" from Windows 3 to W95, all of which have smacked of "change for the sake of change". But the point is that, annoyances though they may be, they aren't IT disasters.

Absolutely
Absolutely

[i]It is a bit of an irritation, in that a lot of the keyboard shortcuts are no longer available (unless you happen to remember the entire shortcut sequence from W2K / 2K3).[/i] If they are "no longer available," how could it matter whether I "happen to remember the entire shortcut sequence from W2K / 2K3"? Are some shortcut sequences still available, but not others? What are you saying? Also, I recognize W2k and 2k3 as abbreviations of Microsoft operating systems. I thought we were talking about an application here. [i]To aid transition, MS has made available Flash-animated tools that you can download for free to show you where to find the equivalent commands.[/i] MS could better "aid transition" by reducing the number of useless changes in the way that the same goal is achieved. In general, learning something new does not require re-learning what is already known. New versions of software should add new functionality that does not change how existing functions work, if they want to continue having customers.

chrisbedford
chrisbedford

Nor is it a belly-flop, in the same sense as the other items listed in this article or any of the forum postings. It is a bit of an irritation, in that a lot of the keyboard shortcuts are no loger available (unless you happen to remember the entire shortcut sequence from W2K / 2K3). In most cases the number of mouse clicks is either the same or *less* than it was in the previous version, because more commands are visible on-screen at any time. What *could* take longer, at least at first, is *finding* those commands, because the whole "paradigm" has changed somewhat, with most commands re-categorised into a new set of classifications. Not necessarily worse, just different. (Maybe not better, either!) To aid transition, MS has made available Flash-animated tools that you can download for free to show you where to find the equivalent commands. In them, a screen appears that looks like the relevant 2003 app, and in it you click (or keyboard select) the command you want; then the utility shows you the 2007 method. Go to http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/training/HA102295841033.aspx

carpeweb
carpeweb

OK, I'm picking a nit here, but I think Bayer must be pleased by your use of their trademarked brand "Aleve" (one l) instead of "alleviate".

gabrielbear
gabrielbear

VHS vs Betamax also gave us the Sony decision--the landmark that created the modern model of time-shifted, ad-reduced, on demand media consumption. Standards are always approximations. They are useful for starting points and definitions. They are useful for interchangeability, travel, etc. Much of the world is consumed by battles for standards superiority, whether of economic models, or moral systems. in reality there is one Standard: what works? and one metric for what works--healthy children. if children learn spelling better by interacting with Java based crossword puzzles or maps, Java is good. if Java forces me to finally move from mozilla to firefox, then mozilla is becoming as extinct as its logo--and no longer a a relevant standard method for communication. if an i/t department reduces expectations of privacy, honesty and loyalty by the employers, it is natural for a system to compensate with ways to bypass a false authority, and the WSJ imho should be complimented for giving a justice tool to its end readers at the risk of offending its sponsors. Another solution to the problem that the WSJ addressed would be for people to stop feeling they had to access work email when they should be with their friends and families: to realise that mankind was not made to work, but that work was made for mankind to use as a tool for exploring reality.

terry.floyd
terry.floyd

I don't think you'll really move "from mozilla to firefox" since the Firefox browser is based on Mozilla Code and is supported by the Mozilla foundation. On the other hand, if you'd like to move from Firefox to Opera, you'll have a better user experience and use fewer computer resoureces to browse the web.

Grim Death
Grim Death

Does opera have all the fire fox features like bookmark exporting and better security and such?

sireofstorms
sireofstorms

Your comments regarding the Wall Street Journal's publishing of IT workarounds remind one of the foam-at-the-mouth mewlings of Dark Ages religious scholars, who felt that keeping the masses ignorant was a Good Idea. Relax, Jason. Let others be Chicken Little when it comes to the free press. You are a better writer than that, and certainly don't need to throw trite censorship arguments into your otherwise impeccable recipe.

jasonhiner
jasonhiner

The Wall Street Journal is completely within it rights to publish the piece that it did and I would never recommend censorship. I simply think they were wrong about what they wrote. They were recommending that users circumvent IT. I was recommending that users partner with IT and that IT changes into a service-oriented department. Think that they were dead wrong verses recommending that they be censored are two completely different things.

JoeBeckner
JoeBeckner

Good response to the charges of censorship. I agree you were merely pointing out bad advice being given out by the WSJ. One point to remember is that this Wall Street Journal article came out within days after the deal was finalized for Fox News to buy the Wall Street Journal. Fox News tends to sensationalize their news reporting, so it was no surprise to me when this article came. We may have to even be prepared for a tabloid edition of the Wall Street Journal showing up at the local supermarket check out stand.

bill
bill

I think Blu-Ray will be a slam dunk winner. Why? ?? The name is sooooo much cooler. Without knowing a thing about the technology, I would bet on Blu-Ray any day. THe name HD-DVD is too confusing, with DVD-ROM and DVD-Rs in various formats already out there. Go ahead, ask the average Joe if he knows the difference between DVD+R and DVDI-RW, and then there's DVD-D and DVD-ROM. Makes my head swim! HD-DVD just sounds like another DVD, only maybe a little bit "HDer". ?? But Blu-Ray sounds like something from Buck Rogers. "Bloooooo-Ray. Hoooooooo-Ray!" So don't underestimate the market's ability to choose based on silly criteria like a cool name. ?? Nope, Blu-Ray is it.

davidjhs
davidjhs

The biggest flop of all is JAVA. This stupid junk is trying to take over my entire computer, just like AOL did a few years ago, until I wised up and JUNKED that crap - I wish I could figure out a way to remove JAVA from my pc & not be forced to use it, ever - but, no JAVA, no crossword puzzles, no online game playing, nothing. So until something better comes along, we're stuck with it. I even had to stop using my COX email service because of JAVA interference, moving everything over to MSN's Hotmail. At least THAT problem is solved. djhs

PhilippeV
PhilippeV

You asserted: "This stupid junk is trying to take over my entire computer" This is plain wrong. Java does not take over your computer. It just runs as a separate process within which it completely isolates all your java applications, running in a strong (and fast VM). The same can't be said about the Microsoft's .Net which is intimately taking over almost all services of your OS and exposes lots of thing to the Internet. Java is really fast, efficient and reliable (if you have experienced it in old versions, this is no longer true). And it is extremely solid (compared to the OS itself or the .Net arcihitecture that highly depends on the native implementation of the Microsoft's CLR library), and can even compete with C/C++ compiled applications that are ONLY optimized for a few specific platforms that they try to model more or less successfully (in addition, most of those optimizations made in C/C++ or assembly language are not even portable, or will even worsen the performance on a newer architecture, meaning that they are, most of the time, just a loss of time and causing problems when migrating or deploying them or scaling them). Of course there are several misuse of Java in some places, but this is not the fault of Java itself: complain to your ISP if it requires you to use an applet for accessing your emails online. Java was not designed as an access platform, but as a portable and transparent platform for the implementation of services and applications that an be deployed and used on all sorts of systems and devices (from big servers to small mobile appliances, including computing grids). So it can be used to write any kind of service or application, the best or the worst of them. Your Java applications that you don't like are to criticize, not Java itself. Those that created them would have most probably done the same crap using another platform technology, whatever it is. Well, if you want online gaming, there are several alternatives, but none of them are as much portable and performant on as many systems and hosts like Java is. In addition, even if Java was not open-sourced, it was NOT a limitation for creating a very large free ecosystem with it, as Java certainly has a MUCH larger ecosystem than .Net, and even Windows itself (that is highly NOT portable, including across its successive versions, where you need to constantly buy new upgrades for them just to be compatible with the newer version!) On the opposite, the same Java applications, applets or services that were written many years ago continue to work without any change on a newer version of Java, and DO benefit of the improved performance of the Java VM used to run them. And they can be redeployed on any replacement PC you have, even if it uses another OS or another version of Windows. So really, Java gives you MORE freedom for your computing environment. This is exactly this characteristic that has allowed Java to benefit now from a VERY LARGE ecosystem of libraries and great tools to work with it and build and test very reliable applications. The most important thing in Java was not really the fact that the Sun implementation of the VM was not opensourced, but the fact that its specifications were completely open, permitting a very large interoperability and separate implementations of the VM. And if you look into the Java ecosystem, almost everything in it is opensourced since long. After having worked for years with traditional C/C++ and other compilers, and trying to work with .Net with too many problems, nothing compares to Java for the ease of development with Java, for building rock-solid applications, with less bugs and faster development cycles (meaning that you can more easily integrate new features to your software. Unfortunately, if there are still games developed with other technologies, this is not because of Java performance or security defects, but because of marketing strategies with Microsoft pressing a lot the developers to use its proprietary architecture. But really great games do exist on Java. I use it everyday, and it definitely does not take much resource on my PC, ven if I leave it running some services in the background. In fact it almost never fails, unlike almost all other Windows OS services or applications (and ALMOST ALL games programmed with a native DirectX GUI interface that is definitely taking over ALL your PC and exposing it to LOTS of security problems and severe bugs or many hardware-dependant or device-driver-dependant incompatibilities).

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

JAVA has alot of potential to run very wel on your pc. If written correctly JAVA code can run smoothly and efficiently. MY single biggest problem with java isn't so java as it is the apps. Every third party vendor these days are jumping on the java platform. What happens then is you have alot of different vendors who require different java versions because their coders are too lazy (or fired once the code is completed) to rewrite their web interfaces to cope with new versions of java. What does that leave me the "almost" end user with? An "industry standard" HVAC system that depends on java 1.5.12 , a state supplied secure connection through vpn that requires java 1.5.10 and a few other apps from major corporations that require yet other versions. I always test them to see if they can at least run 1.5.x or 1.6.x, but they never do. Some apps can create memory leaks and java will allow (unless you manually insert exceptions) the bad code to create a memory leak and take up ALL memory resources. Is java good? Pretty much. Are some java apps bad? Absolutely! Java doesn't actually fail, just the apps running under causing people to blame Java (kinda like when everyone bashes Vista for some 3rd party drivers crashing) Much like every other software product out there, it's only as good as the person developing apps for it.

michael.laborde
michael.laborde

Warner Bros. is not an HD-DVD supporter. They are format neutral and put out high definition DVDs in both formats. They are seen as a potential decider in the battle if they can be swayed to go to one format over the other but so far have stuck to the neutral stance.

jasonhiner
jasonhiner

I edited the post to reflect that. Thanks for pointing it out.

Ronin69
Ronin69

While these are technology related. The flops are almost all traced to poor business decisions... not technology. HD-DVD battles (business) e-bay buys Skype (business) 802.11n standards (business) 3G iphone (business) Java open source (business) Vista no features (business)

lmenningen
lmenningen

Yes the flops are all "business" related. Vista is an example (in hindsight). Microsoft has a staff of programmers to pay and can afford to offer free updates for only so long. Eventually they have to have some income. MS buyers apparently won't pay for updates, expecting updates to be eternally free. Since MS can't charge for updates they tried to position Vista as something new. Alas, despite significant architectural improvements, some buyers expect something more dramatic but cannot articulate their expectations so a few end up loudly complaining and those complaints snowballed. If the update was free who'd complain? But it is the business decision to earn income that is the problem - the product itself as an update is objectively very fine.

jasonhiner
jasonhiner

Technology and business are inextricably linked.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

If it wasn't for TJX's lax security, Vista would have topped this list. Maybe is should be on top anyway. TJX's problem was a passive failure of omission; Vista is an active failure of commission.

mgoff2
mgoff2

Microsoft has got to realize that you can't offshore the creation of a way too beefy OS to folks who have no appetite for the stuff. Kudos from a fellow Batesburgian.

dcolbert
dcolbert

Since around early 2001, when I saw Intel hit with the first wave of crippling e-mail trojans (Fun Love, et. al.) I've privately harbored the opinion that network security is a lost cause. In response to having its global infrastructure, e-mail in particular, crippled, Intel launched a massive response, investing far more time and money in security response than prior to this attack. Unfortunately, from my perspective, we simply moved resourced from development and engineering into security response as our driving priority. Intel did not suffer another massive outbreak like the first few the rest of the time I was there, but we spent almost all of our time and resources as an organization making certain that this was the case - and I never felt assured that we would not miss a back-door or otherwise be compromised again, even with the massive investments we had made. My point is that to thoroughly secure your network, services and apps against intrustion is a nearly insurmountable job. I don't really believe it can be done. We buy ourselves the illusion of security and the complacency of knowing we have made our best effort - while development and more mundane support and maintenence roles fall by the wayside. The economic ramaifcations of such a huge investment in security is also chilling. It drives TCO through the roof - which hurts the economy in every way imaginable. It creates a world where only the deepest pockets can afford to securely offer IP based services with any assurance that security is in place driving small players from the market. Finally, it creates a security environment where there is so much to defend oneself from - that even the most seasoned IT professionals are stretched to the limits of their knowledge trying to defend their networks from every concievable attack that might be launched against them. I think the Pentagon security breach points to nothing more than this fact - IT security as an industry promises us secure solutions to protect our networks, but the complexity and cost involved makes it impractical to learn and to implement in a cost-effective manner - if you're serious about iron-tight security. If you're not, the best you are getting is a false sense of security that you've exercised your due-dilligence in implementing security solutions that will at least deter the script-kiddies. The thing that most places have going for them, home users with always-on broadband included, is that they are relative "needles in a haystack" and there are probably far more exciting targets far more wide open than they are. Corporations and Government are not wise shepherds of our private information. We're simply a pack of Sardines rolled into a ball hoping that the predators miss us when they attack.

yzayv
yzayv

Do you think Apple *wanted* the iPhone to be/do less than it could at launch? I sometimes question Steve Jobs' decisions, and I don't always like him. But I think he was being truthful about the 3G issue. I think it's coming, but 3G internet on a phone with an hour battery is less useful than a slower connection with an all-day battery. If you're at a desk all day, you could keep your iPhone charged constantly, but if you're out in the world what good is a phone with a less than full day's usefulness?

TOYJ2
TOYJ2

I afraid Blue Ray will be the ultimate winner, like the VHS-Beta struggle, the one with the porn industy backing will win and most are follwing Blu-Ray.

Jay-Dee
Jay-Dee

I don't know why this is on the list. Instead of the vendors telling us what's best (a la Vista?) we get to tell them at the cash register. This is free market competition. You may have heard of it.

JonathanPDX
JonathanPDX

There's nothing out there that I absolutely MUST see in HD/BR. And, if a video is unavailable in anything other than HD/BR, I can wait. Why should I spend my money on some failed attempt to get market share? I can wait till there's a winner and then get what I want, probably at 1/10th the price I'd pay now. Most of this tech we're spoon-fed is just garbage anyhow. Buy this! Buy this! Buy this! Oh, we've updated our model with the new ZXY124 circuit which is better than the ZXY123 circuit! Whoohoo! So buy it now! Now! Now! (And next month they upgrade to the ZXY125 circuit!) It may be free market competition, but no one said that we have to be stupidly suckered into constantly upgrading to nothing but a different bell or whistle because of the pretty ad. I've had the same cell phone for 4 years and it works very nicely. No camera, no MP3 player, no games, just a device to make calls. It's wonderful. Blu-Ray and HD DVD can kiss my...um, feet... yeah, that's it, my feet, if they think I'm going to play their stupid game.

JohnnySacks
JohnnySacks

Free market ALWAYS works for those on the winning side when it's a winner take all game like it could potentially become in the HD-DVD war.

Al_nyc
Al_nyc

This is one of those instances where having a choice is not good. Just like having incompatible wireless networks would not be good. Now everyone loses. If you are an early adopter, you might have an obsolete system in a couple of years. It also delays the technology because a lot of people will wait until one technology wins out. For now, I'm not buying either system.

martian
martian

Recalling Sony's recent track record with the rootkit fiascos (not just once, but twice) and the wonderful exploding batteries they supplied Dell for their laptops... Yeah, I'm supporting HD-DvD. Screw Sony. I hope they die in a fire.

Fregeus
Fregeus

the Beta/VHS wars was lost when Pornographic producers standardized their distribution on VHS. How much of that is true, I don't know, but if it is, then they may be the driving force again on this issue. What do you guys think? Is it true? Are they such an influence that they could ultimately decide the next standard?

JamesRL
JamesRL

Maybe its me, but why would anyone need porn in high def? Surely porn producers have to compete with internet distribution methods, so I don't see porn as having the influence it did in the VHS/Beta wars. So I would suggest they will be producing in standard DVD for quite some time, as that is readble in both new formats, and in the millions of standard DVD players out there. Of course, I'm not an expert in this area, maybe I'm wrong. James

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

Pr0n producers are a huge influence on matters like this. There are just as many people willing to buy it now, if not more than there were in the VHS/Beta wars. Sure, internet downloads take away from that...but have you seen how many distributors there are in downtown/shady parts of town? They make a huge revenue off their stores DVD sales. Do some googling and see what a few of the big southern california companies are pulling in. Truckers alone make up a huge percentage of this, as they want a steady supply of the stuff...but a very smal percentage use wireless (expensive at truck stops) or mobile broadband cards due to the coverage areas they travel. What does that leave? The old faithful dvd. Not saying I approve of it...I'd hate to have to go to my kid's school on "bring your dad to school day" and explain that I just marketed the stuff. All the same, if they went one way or the other regarding Blu-Ray or HD I think it would be a huge deciding factor. I still think neither side will win in the long run and we'll be looking at multi-format players/recorders until a new technology trumps them both.

TonytheTiger
TonytheTiger

"told them at the cash register", but you were on the losing group, and while you're holding onto your collection, your player broke, and you can't get another one? Plus having to make two versions costs more, which will raise the price of BOTH.

jasonhiner
jasonhiner

Value can come from multiple vendors competing against each other to offer a better implementation of a standard, but there's no value in competing standards. HD DVD and Blu-ray are virtually the same (except Blu-ray has a little bit larger capacity). There's no value to consumers that will result from them competing against each other on a standard. The value would come from the competition of vendors like Panasonic, LG, Sony, and Samsung competing against each other to build the best players and discs for the next-gen DVD standard, but with all of their products being compatible.

marvinator2003
marvinator2003

Yes, we will tell them at the CashRegister, but, just like all those people who bought Betamax machines, if you vote wrong, you end up with unusable machinery. Perhaps you have enough extra cash to vote in this manner and then purchase new equipment should your 'vote' not carry the weight. Most don't. Where as, if the two 'giants' would stop their bickering and decide on a single format, everyone would make money and we, the consumers, would know ahead of time which machines we'd be using next year.

Al_nyc
Al_nyc

There is a difference between HD-DVD VS bluray and beta vs VHS. The difference is that even after VHS won the video tape war, you could still use your beta machine to tape and play back video you made on your own. You won't have that option with the high def player that loses this battle. Your's stuck with a player that will only play whatever discs you had purchased to that point.

chrisbedford
chrisbedford

Sure, Beta is the standard in broadcast quality TV, but the studio Beta uses different tape cartridges (I think 1" as opposed to the living-room version which was probably 1/2" wide tape) so it is as incompatible with VHS as commercial Beta was. When last did you see a Betamax machine in your local TV/Audio store? That's the definition of "failure" we are discussing here.

meshachw
meshachw

you will be able to record and play back your own videos just like with your old beta. I do not understand why everybody talks about how Beta failed when Beta is in EVERY post-production/film and video/DVD facility and TV station in the world. There are Beta decks that cost US$60,000 and are well worth it. And this is over 30 years after it's first iteration. That's a strange definition of failure.

sigfreund
sigfreund

Just as the conflict between RW formats faded with a whimper, so shall the HD format morph into players/writers that handle both. This is just an annoying speedbump along the way.

Absolutely
Absolutely

... now that the home entertainment cabinet has gone digital already, we may switch over entirely, and replace disk players with flash thumb-drive players. Music on spinning disks is so 19th-Century.

Absolutely
Absolutely

Competition would be providing the best available product to the consumder, regardless of format, at the best prices. HD-DVD vs Blu-Ray is more like bragging & cowering in turns. I think it's just a cynical attempt, by all their corporate sponsors, to distract their customers to the ever-increasing crappiness of the "entertainment" they wish us to store on their new, shiny gadgets. No thanks.

Dr Dij
Dr Dij

I do know that many non-sony camcorders don't support it, maybe not all players. Didn't even know there was a 'format war' with it. My dvd drive says it supports all of the formats including this, probably what should happen with HD and BlueRay. The one reason I like it is that taking pictures, if you get a bad spot or dust on the laser while writing, DVD+RW is the only version of all the +/-/R/RW that you can actually read the disk as the directory is written out to that point. And they don't need to be 'finalized'. I get this every third or fourth shoot and 1 or 2 out of 900+ still pix on one 1.4gig mini-dvd disk will be unreadable from dust, or shaking camera when writing or disk defect. -R was the worst. one speck of dust and I lost all 900+ pix on the disk.

seanferd
seanferd

You may very well have seen both +&- listed for the drive. There are DVD drives what READ both formats but can only WRITE to one format. There are scads of other CD and DVD formats for different purposes, and not all drives read and/or write all of them. Some of the formats only work under either the + or - format, but not both. And yeah, salesmen like that are annoying.

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

Agreed! Just ask anyone whou bought a 4 gig iPhone the day it was released. Ask anyone who bought an nVidia 8800 GTX recently when the 8800 GT that was just released is significantly cheaper and performs very, very close. Ask me how much I paid for a core 2 duo at 2.66g back before the extreme quad core editions were relased! I knew I was getting burned and the price would fall, but I wanted it for overclocking! Anytime you buy the latest and greatest you're going to lose money and 2 months down the road the same product will be cheaper, better or both. That's why I won't buy anything outside of a standard player that won't handle both formats, I'll invest in a burner once one side wins the war or standards are put in place.

ijusth
ijusth

I have been in the computing industry for over 20 years on the tech side. I have a 1 year old computer with a new DVD burner. I could have sworn it was both DVD + and - so this weekend there was a sale on blanks and I bought the minus. Of course it turns out the burner was plus ONLY and I had to go back. Knowing technology helps but avoiding chances for confusion and mistakes is better. As a side note both items were on sale Saturday for $25 for 100 units. When I brought the minus back for an exchange for the plus the salesman wanted to charge me the full face value since the sale was over!

jjohnson
jjohnson

This may not have much to do with the PLAYING of BR/HDDVD discs, but it's worth noting when talking about DVD+R/-R. I've got a Panasonic set-top DVD burner at home that handles both formats, but it doesn't COMPLETELY handle both formats. It will read all DVD formats, DVD+R, -R, +RW, -RW, and -RAM. However, it will only burn +R/-R, RAM and +RW--you CANNOT burn DVD-RW discs on it. Granted, that's a lot less limiting, but it still invites that chance for someone to be at Wal-mart in the media aisle, thinking, "I'd really like a rewriteable disc so I can record more than once, like VHS tapes used to work. I'll just grab this -RW spool, my burner does both formats so I should be okay."

dcolbert
dcolbert

The people who get burnt on these issues are always the guys who have to be on the bleeding edge. Quickly you'll see two camps develop. Those that are impressed with the tech-specs on paper, and those that are swayed by the practical accessibility of a product. In every case I can think of, these two have been mutually exclusive (which is why VHS beat Beta). The die-hards will be able to argue online for decades about why the Amiga should have owned early PCs, or why Iomega Zip drives were clearly inferior to the Syquest 120, or about a dozen other competitive technologies over the decades. In the meantime, the rest of us can wait for the clear leader to begin to dominate, and buy once the premium price-tag has dropped to something far more sane. I know I'm not rushing into either HD or DVD. Maybe I am getting old, but DVD on my gas plasma seems a lot better than the 32" CRT and VHS I was dealing with a decade + ago.

darkgaizat
darkgaizat

I agree with you, but SO many times have I run into non-tech-savvy people who ALWAYS buy the wrong format for their burners. I think that was a huge blunder on their parts as well. I don't plan on buying EITHER blu-ray or HD-DVD until the players come out and support both. (I know they are out, but they aren't predominant) I don't have the $800 to blow on both players, and I like how someone before put it, if one of them fails in the industry you're stuck with obsolete equipment. I'm FOR competing markets, don't get me wrong, but it's a waste when it's not for the same media type.

jsnavely
jsnavely

You can vote with your money, but who knows if you're right. "Best" is a relative term. Beta was better than VHS and we all know how that turned out. After backing Betamax and MiniDiscs, are you really willing to bet that Sony is on the right side for once with the technically superior Blueray?

chrisbedford
chrisbedford

It's like having two sets of roads, and you have to decide what kind of car to buy - one that goes on the "DVD" roads or one that goes on the "BR" roads, but you can't ride both. And the studios, meanwhile, have to release movies in both formats (doubling their production / distribution overheads) or lose out on potential sales. The Vista analogy isn't really valid here - the type of disc you put in your movie player makes little or no difference to the user experience. It's more analogous with the wireless (or ethernet) standards; it's like agreeing all to talk the same language so that we can eliminate wasteful duplication of effort. I still see the whole DVD-HD vs Blu-Ray thing as being mostly about the interplay of monumental egos. If merit had had anything to do with the Betamax/VHS war, Beta would have won hands down (it is still the standard in broadcast quality equipment, used in all the studios and TV networks), but it lost due to corporate politics - Sony's mandarins decided not to release the standard for manufacture by anyone else. Much like Apple and the Mac, in fact...

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