In Pictures: Top Tech Turkeys of 2013

Gobble, gobble - these techies deserve to be carved up

  • Turkey Time Thanksgiving is a time to convene family and friends to feast on delicious meals. And, here at Network World it’s also the time to look back on the people and companies in the tech world that goofed up and did crazy, annoying and/or stupid stuff. So, grab some turkey and enjoy our list of Top Tech Turkeys for 2013.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • AOL CEO fires a 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.

  • White guys wearing Google Glass What better way to show off that you’re rich than by wearing Google Glass? There are so many rich white people wearing Google Glass that Tumblr has been set up to capture them all. And they all look ridiculous.

  • Elon Musk takes bad review of his electric car a little too personally… Tesla is a hot brand and the company is getting a lot of attention for its all electric cars. But, one New York Times test driver complained in a review about some of the downfalls of the car, saying that it doesn’t handle cold weather well and that it’s stressful to drive not knowing if your car will make it to the next charging station, and so on. Tesla’s founder and CEO Elon Musk responded, on Twitter, calling the review “fake” and demeaning the author. That’s one way to fight bad PR.

  • Scammer steals $37M 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.

  • Nirvanix doesn’t live to see Thanksgiving Earlier this year everything appeared to be fine and dandy at public cloud storage provider Nirvanix. Executives were out and about in the media giving interviews about the virtues of the company’s offerings, and it was making partners left and right. Then in the fall Nirvanix gave customers only a couple weeks notice to get all their data out of its cloud, which has been shut down. Thanks for the warning, Nirvanix.

  • Silk Road founder is caught because he gave cops his personal e-mail address Here’s a tip for someone who running an illegal online marketplace for drugs, guns and hired murders: Don’t link to your e-mail 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.

  • 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?

  • Chipotle fakes a Twitter hack Here’s one way to drum up attention for your company: Pretend that your Twitter account got hacked. Chipotle sent out a series of random tweets, making it appear that the account had been compromised. Instead, it was all just a publicity stunt. Apparently it worked: the account added 12,000 new followers on the day of the “hack,” but in the meantime some bemoaned the burrito chain for inflating its follower count by faking it.

  • What’s so hard about rolling out a nationwide website for millions of America? It was supposed to be the signature achievement of Barack Obama’s presidency, but 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.

  • United website glitch gives us free airline tickets, again In mid-October people looking to book flights on 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!

  • Guy rips off homeless people he hired to buy him iPhones In California when the newest iPhones went on sale one savvy individual offered to pay people money to stand in line for him so they could buy him iPhones that he planned to resell at a higher price. But, according to some reports, the man never paid these homeless people and left them out to dry. That’s no way to conduct shady business, sir.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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 savior 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 it 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?

  • 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 Thanksgiving dinner table. We know they’ll be with us!

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