The Top 21 Tech Screwups of 2006

Biggest Mistakes #10-#12

10. Google: Blogging for Dummies

You'd assume the company that owns Blogger.com might know a little something about, well, blogging. You'd be wrong. Not once, not twice, but three times Google bungled its own blogs in 2006. After a butter-fingered employee accidentally deleted the company's official blog last March, 19-year-old college student Trey Philips immediately laid claim to googleblog.blogspot.com (but quickly gave it back). In October, an attacker exploited a bug inside Blogger to post a bogus message claiming Google had discontinued a joint advertising project with eBay.

That same month, a Google employee posted two messages to its Blogger Buzz site that were meant for her personal blog (nothing naughty, thank Google).

Big Mistake: Allowing the Google-teers to blog without adult supervision.

Bigger Mistake: Believing any big corporation walks on water, even if it's trading at more than $500 a share.

11. RIAA: Scouts Dishonor

The good news: Both the RIAA and MPAA made it through the entire year without suing a single dead person for illegally downloading files.

Their big blunder (and the bad news): Enlisting the Boy Scouts of America in their hunt for file-sharing scofflaws. Scouts in the Los Angeles area can now earn an activity patch for learning about peer-to-peer networks, touring a Hollywood studio, or recording a public service announcement about the evils of file swapping.

Big Mistake: Using a revered institution to serve a narrow industry agenda.

Bigger Mistake: Teaching young boys how to rat out their parents for downloading "Hips Don't Lie."

12. Windows: Genuinely Disadvantaged

If a piece of software quietly installed itself, couldn't be removed, and phoned home with information about your system, you'd probably call it spyware. Microsoft has another name for it: Windows Genuine Advantage. Last April, Microsoft began distributing WGA as a "critical" Windows update that transmitted data back to Redmond after every reboot and nagged owners of counterfeit copies of XP (and some legit ones) to pony up for the genuine article.

WGA's installation and disclosure process caused angry users to sue the software giant. Microsoft backed off, slightly, by letting people shut off the nagging and reducing how often the software phoned home. But it still maintains that WGA exists to protect us from the evils of Windows piracy.

Big Mistake: Microsoft thinking nobody would notice.

Bigger Mistake: Users believing Vista's validation process will be any better.

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