from the bug-or-feature dept
Five Years Ago
This week in 2010, we got another look at ACTA when the latest draft leaked and, as expected, it was mostly bad news. So bad, in fact, that a majority of EU Parliament members signed a declaration against it, though it wasn’t clear at the time if that would make any difference. At the same time, emails released under a FOIA request gave us a closer look at just how much the USTR pushed to keep ACTA as secret as possible.
Craigslist was under attack, and caved this week by shutting down its Adult Services section (and replacing it with a black bar that read “censored”). Some people, at least, were beginning to stand up and point out that forcing Craigslist to do this actually helps the criminals it’s supposed to stop, but the anti-Craigslist “public interest” groups kept up their ongoing media attacks. Of course the real source of the attacks was Attorneys General, especially Connecticut’s Richard Blumenthal who, it turned out, didn’t even have jurisdiction over prostitution.
Ten Years Ago
This week in 2005, still two years away from the first iPhone, Motorola released its much-hyped “iTunes Phone” — and it sucked. At this time, the market for smartphones still hadn’t been carved out by the well-designed iPhone, and most people simply didn’t want phones with lots of features (or just didn’t know it yet), nor were they sure why they really needed a mobile data plan, and the future of mobile music downloads looked bleak. Of course all this renewed conversation and speculation around the possibility of a real Apple-made “iPhone”, while the company was releasing its iPod Nano (and being weakly answered by Sony’s revamped Walkman.
There were plenty of other emerging technologies to wonder about, too. People didn’t seem all too interested in interactive television, and business travellers apparently had no desire to make use of wi-fi hotspots (one of those things would rapidly change). New technologies meant to stop identity theft seemed like they might actually be making it easier. Companies were slowly coming to grips with the fact that personal work surfing can’t be stopped (and isn’t bad anyway). And in news that shocked absolutely nobody, it turned out young men like shiny new gadgets more than older women.
Fifteen Years Ago
Speaking of interactive television, Microsoft tried it back in this week of the year 2000 as well (and nobody thought it’d work then either). And speaking of gadgets, how about a Casio wrist camera? (Apparently it was pretty cool.) Robotic pets and conversational online bots were on the way, as were human-implantable tracking chips… Some people were debating who should receive the dubious title of Most Downloaded Woman.
Microsoft seemed like it might be (slowly) starting to change, and so for that matter did Bill Gates. In the younger dot-com world, we unsurprisingly discovered that the majority of internet advertising is bought by dot-coms, while some preferred to just bankrupt themselves with Superbowl ads (perhaps because being young and rich doesn’t always make you happy).
Sixty-Eight Years Ago
The word “bug” as a term for an engineering problem predates computers, but there’s a folk etymology for use of the term in the computing world that is based on a true story (though the details are often presented wrongly). On September 9, 1947, an error in the Harvard Mark II (an electromechanical computer) was traced to a literal bug: a moth that had gotten trapped inside a relay. The moth was attached to the log book with the note “first actual case of bug being found”, and now resides in the Smithsonian.