Stories by Robert X. Cringely

Billy we hardly knew ye

It feels strange writing this, I won't have Bill Gates to kick around anymore. (Or, given that he still plans to visit the Redmond campus once a week, I'll only have 20 percent of him to kick around.) Of all the tech targets I've pummeled over the years, the world's third richest man easily commands the pole position.

Facebook: What's originality got to do with it?

Pity the innovators -- always hounded by the jealous hordes who clamor for a sliver of their success. And so it goes with Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg, though exactly who's the innovator in this scenario is a matter of some debate.

The end of Microhooglemania?

It's over, finito, kaput. The fat lady hasn't merely stopped singing, she's taken off her girdle and waddled home. There are now so many forks stuck into the Microsoft Yahoo deal that it looks like a cutlery display.

Whose Tube is it, anyway?

Frankly, I thought Viacom's US$1 billion law suit against YouTube was dead. YouTube has been kicking people off its site left and right for posting copyrighted material, even if they didn't always deserve it. And Viacom had started allowing its best material -- like South Park and The Daily Show -- to be shown on the Web for free. It sure sounded like Peace in Our Time.

Turns out Twitter's not so 'tweet'

Bad news for Twitter. The original micro-blogging service (now available in brief, mega-terse, and vowel-free versions) has been accused of aiding and abetting bad behavior on the Web. I am shocked, shocked I tell you.

Geek Week: Apple fans want 3G now, iPhones get 'wow'ed

Slouching toward Cupertino. It's not every day the Second Coming gives you advance notice, but the resurrection of the Jesus Phone -- in 3G, for the first time ever! -- is now (unofficially) slated for June 9. Or so says gadget blog Gizmodo, quoting "someone very, very close to the 3G iPhone launch." Who could be Steve Job's personal masseuse's second cousin's mechanic, for all we know, or Citi analysts Richard Gardner and Yeechang Lee, who made the same prediction three weeks ago. Given that June 9 is also the date of Jobs' keynote to the Apple worldwide developers conference, the most eloquent response I can muster is "duh." Now if Jobs doesn't announce a 3G handset on that day, that will be big news. Memo to Apple fanboys: Please stop hyperventilating. It will all be over soon.

MicroHoo, Facebook and you

Don't look now, but there's a secret cabal at work conspiring to lock you out of the public Internet. That, at least, is the hyperventilated opinion of Robert Scoble, who not so long ago was just another Microsoft employee with a blog and now is a Web 2.0 maven.

HP, AMD, and XP SP3 -- three things that don't go well together

Microsoft finally released XP's Service Pack 3 to the masses last week, which is a bit like telling someone on death row you finally got around to fixing their car. Then it turns out your car may not really run, and if you have the wrong model you'll never get out of Park.

CNET gets swallowed, Yahoo proxy fight to follow

I think, therefore Icahn. Just when you thought the Yahoo-Microsoft deal was kaput, in steps everyone's least favorite uncle Carl Icahn to muck things up. In a letter to the Yahoo board, the curmudgeon billionaire scolded board members, then announced his intentions to buy US$2.5 billion of Yahoo stock and wage a proxy battle to unseat all 10 members. So after after he forces Yahoo to succumb to the advances of Microsoft, then what? Icahn cashes out, and we're left with this forced marriage from Hell. Nice. Advice to Jerry Yang: Just lay back and think of the stockholders.

YouTube, copyrights and copy wrongs

The longer I stay in this business, the more I think I should have listened to my mother and become a copyright attorney. Don't get me wrong -- I love digging for dirt and punishing the technologically wicked, but just think of the employment opportunities.

Malware r Us

If there were any doubt the underworld of malware and the universe of legitimate software were converging, it was dispelled last week, after researchers at Symantec uncovered a malware EULA (written in Russian) that was more restrictive than the kind of thing Microsoft puts out. According to the Associated Press report, the botnet software had the following restrictions:

MicroHoo we hardly knew ye

OK, I was wrong. It turns out little Frodo and the other hobbits were able to muster enough elves, dwarves, and humans to make the Eye of Ballmeron blink and repel the evil Microsoft from Middle Internet.

HP: Bad motherboards, broken support, the black arts

Things have been kind of quiet lately on the Hewlett-Packard front. There have been no recent spying scandals, no daily kerfuffles over what the CEO is doing, saying, or wearing. Bill Hewlett and David Packard have stopped spinning in their graves at 7200 rpm.