The Top 21 Tech Screwups of 2006

Biggest Mistakes #19-#21

19. Hacker Hoaxer

Browser geeks got some troubling news last October when security researchers claimed they'd identified a serious security breach in the way Firefox handles JavaScript. Mozilla.org coders then scrambled to isolate and patch the hole before it was exploited. Trouble was, the breach was entirely bogus--"a joke," said Andrew Wbeelsoi, the young hacker who'd presented the fake flaw at the Toorcon conference, stretching the definition of humor to the breaking point.

That's one way to get your 15 minutes of fame, just not the right way.

Big Mistake: Presenting a "humorous" slide show at a meeting of serious security geeks.

Bigger Mistake: Not changing your name before submitting your resume to Mozilla.org.

20. Amanda Goes Boom

She was the first star of the video blogging revolution. But last July, Rocketboom.com's quirky-yet-perky Amanda Congdon parted ways with co-boomer Andrew Baron.

The reasons behind the breakup were never really made clear. Congdon has since landed gigs with ABC and HBO.

And after a huge spike in traffic when new hostess Joanne Colan came aboard, Rocketboom's daily draw has sunk to its lowest level in a year, according to Alexa, which tracks site traffic.

No question who won this battle of the egos.

Big Mistake: Taking away the daily Amanda fix for thousands of geeks.

Bigger Mistake: Not begging her to come back.

21. No Accounting for Taste

It was the most ambitious calendar alteration since Pope Gregory XIII. In 2000, Computer Associates CEO Sanjay Kumar and seven associates invented the "35-day month," quietly moving several days' worth of revenue from one fiscal period to another in an effort to boost CA's stock price. Unfortunately, the Kumarian calendar, while ingenious, was also illegal. Last April, Kumar pleaded guilty to his part in the $2.2 billion accounting scandal and will soon be a guest of the federal government for the next 12 years. Meanwhile, CA is trying to get back some of the $14.9 million it spent defending Kumar by repo'ing his $9 million house, yacht, and a fleet of cars including two Ferraris.

Big Mistake: Kumar proclaiming his innocence after most of his co-conspirators had rolled over.

Bigger Mistake: CA standing by its man to the bitter end.

PC World Contributing Editor Dan Tynan rarely makes mistakes... while he sleeps. When awake, he writes PC World's Gadget Freak column. He's also author of the soon-to-be-remaindered Computer Privacy Annoyances (O'Reilly Media, 2005).

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