34. Bizarrely, Stephen Hawking’s number wasn’t included.
T-Mobile confirms that ubersocialite Paris Hilton’s Sidekick account has been hacked. The phone numbers of Christina Aguilera, Vin Diesel, Eminem, Anna Kournikova, Andy Roddick, Ashlee Simpson, and other Hilton pals all wind up exposed on the Web.
35. That’s some random stranger’s account, but yes, it did load lickety-split.
Google introduces Google Web Accelerator, a short-lived piece of Windows software that “uses the power of Google’s global computer network to make web pages load faster.” It also includes a bug that lets people see other users’ discussion groups and other password-protected information.
36. To misquote the Video Professor, “Don’t try my product.”
A Cnet story about privacy concerns over Google illustrates its point by providing information about Google CEO Eric Schmidt found via Googling: his salary, neighborhood, political contributions, and more. Schmidt responds by instituting a year-long ban on responding to inquiries from Cnet. It ends after a couple of months.
37. And yet Apple inexplicably continued with plans for the iPhone.
Rumors that iTunes will land on phones turn out to be true when Steve Jobs demos Motorola’s ROKR onstage at an Apple event. When Jobs shows how you can pause music and take a call, he pushes the wrong button and the feature fails to work. News reports later say that consumers are returning the phone at six times the usual rate.
38. But it’s SONY spyware!
Security expert Mark Russinovich discovers that a Sony BMG CD he’s bought has copy-protection that silently installed a risky, difficult-to-uninstall rootkit on his PC. Trojan-horse writers soon take advantage of Sony BMG’s software to attack its customers computers; Sony BMG says it’s “temporarily suspending” use of the copy-protection technology. It ends up paying $5.75 million to end investigations into its actions by 42 U.S. states.
39. Unpronounceable but catchy.
At the Consumer Electronics Show, Intel gets Tom Hanks, Morgan Freeman, and Danny DeVito to help it roll out Viiv, a new platform for media-savvy home PCs. Consumers have trouble figuring out what it is (and how to say it); PC vendors don’t jump on the bandwagon with great abandon. By 2007, the press is referring to it in the past tense.
40. Also, their name sounded too much like “Gizmodo.”
A few months after launching its Gizmondo gaming handheld in the U.S., Tiger Telematics declares bankruptcy and discontinues the device. It had burned through $300 million. In a weird coda, Swedish cofounder Stefan Eriksson crashes and totals a $2 million Ferrari Enzo a few weeks later while driving along the Pacific Coast Highway near Malibu. He claims a mysterious stranger named Dietrich was at the wheel, but is eventually arrested on suspicion of embezzlement, grand theft auto, driving while intoxicated, cocaine possession, and on weapons charges.
41. This is why Santa’s workshop runs Linux.
Windows honcho Jim Allchin ruins Christmas for the world’s PC makers by announcing in March that the shipping schedule for Windows Vista has slipped. Consumers won’t be able to buy computers with the new OS until January 2007, leaving manufacturers offering machines running a five-year-old OS for the 2006 holiday season.
42. They should have stuck with the “Windows Vista Inadequate” ones.
In the face of Vista’s delays, Microsoft encourages PC manufacturers to slap “Windows Vista Capable” stickers on XP machines. The stickers turn out only to mean that the computer can run the lower-end versions of Vista, and don’t guarantee they’re able to use the new OSes’ signature Aero interface. Legal hijinks ensue, and internal Microsoft documents suggest the company knew it had a problem on its hands even as it was egging on consumers to buy cheap XP machines with Vista in mind.
43. If you have to ask what the chartreuse one costs, you can’t afford it.
Apple releases a new consumer laptop called the MacBook. The model in a matte black case costs $150 more than an identically-configured shiny white one.
U.S. Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) helps explain Net Neutrality by saying the Internet is not “a big truck,” but rather “a series of tubes.”
45. And once you’re gone, your loved ones would be insane to cancel, too.
An AOL customer who tries to cancel his service records and then releases a terrifying phone call in which an AOL rep named John “helps” him by repeatedly refusing to terminate the account. It turns out AOL uses an 81-page manual (cover line: “You Gotta Love It!”) to train reps to convince customers not to flee.
46. On the plus side, sleeping reps can’t browbeat you if you try to cancel.
During a visit from a service technician, a Comcast customer shoots video of the tech snoozing on his sofa.
47. Hey, they’re only AOL users.
AOL releases twenty million search keywords entered by 650,000 search-engine users, supposedly for the benefit of researchers. The searches have been anonymized, but The New York Times and others discover it’s possible to identify who performed some of them. AOL declares the release a “screw-up” and multiple heads roll, including that of its CTO.
Scandal breaks out when Newsweek reports that HP responded to leaks from its board by hiring private investigators who obtained the phone records of board members and reporters by claiming to be them–a ruse known as “pretexting.” Before the dust settles, Chairwoman Patricia Dunn and General Counsel Ann Baskins are forced to step down.
49. I shouldn’t mock, I didn’t buy Facebook either.
In September, the Wall Street Journal reports that Yahoo is in talks with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to buy his brainchild (still limited to college students) for a billion dollars. It doesn’t happen. Three years later, still-independent Facebook’s value is estimated at $9.5 billion.
50. Why not the Yahoo or the Mapquest?
During a CNBC interview, President George W. Bush confides that he uses “the Google” to look up maps.