Trotting out the Golden Gobblers

Welcome to the Gibbs Institute’s Third Annual Thanksgiving Golden Turkey Awards. What a great year 2005 has been for Golden Gobblers to strut their stuff.

The ceremony trots out those individuals, companies or entities that don’t, won’t or can’t come to grips with reality, maturity, ethical behaviour or social responsibility because of their blindness, self-imposed ignorance, thinly veiled political agenda, rapaciousness and greed, or blatant desire to return us to the Dark Ages.

Our contenders last year were a varied lot of miscreants, buffoons and stooges, and after you pondered long and hard, you voted The Santa Cruz Operation and Microsoft as Top Turkeys. So who are we going to put on the rack this year?

Contender No. 1: VoIP for consumers. At first blush, consumer VOIP appears to be a great idea, but the reality is without broadband providers ensuring QoS, the call quality will often be poor and problem resolution a nightmare. Until someone figures out how to make consumer VoIP as reliable as plain old telephone service lines, only the geeks will be interested.

Contender No. 2: Apple. A few months ago I got my first new Mac in more than 10 years — a really cool twin-processor G5 with 1.5GB of RAM, and I was a believer that Apple knew how to do computers right. I discovered I was wrong. OS X is great, but Apple’s flagship productivity suite, iLife, is about as robust as a hammer made of jello. I can now crash iPhoto in at least three repeatable ways. Sad.

Contender No. 3: Rock Star Games, for the poorly hidden sex scene in “Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.” How dumb can your engineers, management and PR machine be?

Contender No. 4: Cisco. On the Gibbs Institute Snafu-o-meter, Cisco went off the scale over the Michael Lynn case, wherein Cisco tried to use security by obscurity combined with security by a lot of lawyers to suppress a presentation of a potentially dangerous exploit in IOS, Cisco’s router operating system. The fact that another major flaw was found in IOS and made immediately public just a few weeks later was ironic.

Contender No. 5: Sony BMG. A company whose digital rights management (DRM) software is as welcome as a chicken with a cough. This contender is an obvious hot favourite for an award, given the current brouhaha over its ridiculous and ill-considered DRM deployment. That’s our lineup for this year, but please feel free to nominate your own favourite blundering birds.

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