Stories by Robert X. Cringely

Smart phones, stupid people

A Mexican press attache walked off with "six or seven" Blackberries belonging to US officials at a summit between the presidents of Canada, Mexico, and some guy named Bush in New Orleans last week.

How tech firms can save the earth

Just in case you've suddenly emerged from a coma and hadn't noticed, Tuesday was Earth Day here on our planet. And it seems like everybody is putting on their green. Even the US government has a site celebrating its efforts to ravage save the earth.

Voting accidents and other avoidable tragedies

When I was in school I learned that the difference between comedy and tragedy is that one of them ends in death and the other in marriage. (But I could never remember which is which, which may be why I have such a hard time holding onto girl friends.) Likewise, I can't really decide if our current e-voting follies are comic or tragic.

Oops, you just spilled Quechup on your pants

Just when you thought it was safe to re-enter the online dating pool (actually it's never safe) comes news from Cringester E. T. about social network Quechup putting spam sandwiches back on the menu. It seems that all of a sudden she's getting messages from other Quechup users who want to meet her. To hook up with them, however, she must sign up for a 'premium' Quechup membership at US$6 to $30 per month.

The next Bill Gates

It seems impossible, but in a few short months we will no longer have William H. Gates III to kick around anymore. The God of Windows is stepping away from his day-to-day responsibilities in June to become a roadie for U2, or possibly a fluffer personal assistant to George Clooney, or perhaps Hillary Clinton's running mate/money-honey.

Pentagon hacks and Google Maps

I have this nosy but absent-minded Uncle. He likes to paw through my emails, peruse my web history, and tap my phones. But when it comes to protecting his own, more important secrets, he's mostly clueless.

Netaholics Anonymous

If God had wanted me to be an attorney I'd have been born with a dorsal fin and razor sharp teeth. So the subtleties of the law sometimes elude me. But there have been a couple of recent court decisions that raise big questions about anonymity and privacy on the Internet, so I thought I'd open them up to all you out there in Cringeville.

Geek Week in Review

White knight, black heart. Here's a bit of chilling news: Rupert Murdoch's News Corp is apparently in talks with Yahoo on ways to save it from the clutches of Microsoft. That's a bit like being rescued from a fire-breathing dragon by a man-eating shark. The tea leaves suggest News Corp would swap MySpace for as much as 20 per cent of Yahoo. What they're less clear on is whether this would make Yahoo more palatable to Microsoft (and thus worth US$40 a share) or turn Yahoo into one of those things you have to choke down with a nose clamp and a tumbler of Scotch. Still, it would be fun to lock Ballmer and Murdoch together in a conference room and see who comes out alive.

Borderline illegal: Your laptop is not your own

Planning to travel? Maybe you want to think twice about bringing your laptop, your mobile phone, or even that iPod. (And if you're of Asian or Middle Eastern descent, that goes double.)

What's worse, MicroHoo or YaGoogle?

So it seems Google may be trying to stave off the shotgun wedding between Microsoft and Yahoo, showing up at Yahoo's window with a ladder and a bus ticket.

Happy birthday Vista?

It hardly seems possible, but it was one year ago today that Microsoft foisted Windows Vista onto a wary world. (OK -- OEMs and enterprises had Vista foisted on them in November 2006, but January was the "big launch" for most of us).

OLPC: Desperately seeking St. Nick

The One Laptop Per Child mishegas has hit the boiling point, and the hiss of steamed "Give One/Get None" donors has finally gotten the OLPC group's attention.

Hackers gone wild

It's a truism that sites get hacked every, and some may even deserve it. But we're no longer talking about individual hacks by disgruntled geeks. We're looking at massive, well-organized plans to take over vast portions of the Net. Case in point: The SQL Injection exploit that infected more 70,000 sites -- including some parts of CA's site -- according to researchers at Grisoft.