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Top 10 technology villains of 2012

We count down the top 10 bad actors in information technology this year
Mon Dec 24 2012, 11:00

TWENTY TWELVE has been quite a year for headline grabbing stories in the IT industry, and not all of them have been good.

Be it Facebook's privacy muck-up, the high-profile patent war between arch-rivals Apple and Samsung, or Apple's potentially life threating Maps app, there have been some obvious tech villains of 2012. We've compiled a list of those we view as the top 10.

Scott Thompson
Not telling porkies on your CV is rule number one of resumé writing class, but Scott Thompson can't have been paying much attention as he did exactly that, which cost him the top job at internet company Yahoo.

Suspicious investors were concerned that he'd claimed he had a computer sciences degree that he didn't have and made their objections known, putting Thompson and Yahoo's board on their back feet. Although the board stood by him at the outset, it was soon all over for Thompson and he wound up out on the street, perhaps headed back to CV class to resit his exams.

It worked out nicely for Yahoo, though, as it emerged from the haze of losing yet another CEO to stumble onto the poster girl of Silicon Valley, Marissa Mayer. She has already won over Yahoo staff by giving them all a smartphone and free lunches. Small steps folks, small steps.

Not our choice this one, but more Linus Torvalds'.

Linus was doing what he does earlier this year when the Nvidia name came up. Whether it had just been playing on his mind, or whether it was because someone brought up the problems of running Nvidia graphics cards in Linux systems, Torvalds let rip and gave the firm a verbal single digit salute.

"I know exactly what you're talking about and I'm very happy to say that it's the exception rather than the rule," he said.

"And, I am also happy to very publicly point out that Nvidia has been one of the worst trouble spots we've had with hardware manufacturers and that is really sad because Nvidia tries to sell chips, a lot of chips, into the Android market and Nvidia has been the single worst company we've ever dealt with. So Nvidia, f**k you!"

Nvidia's response could have been a doozy. It wasn't and rather than fire back it scuttled in with an update.

"Recently, there have been some questions raised about our lack of support for our Optimus notebook technology," it said. "And as a result, we've recently made Installer and readme changes in our R295 drivers."

Here's Torvalds outburst, file under "NSFW".

Patent lawyers
While the rest of us scraped by throughout 2012, patent lawyers had a jolly time of it by insisting that their clients couldn't lose if they sued their rivals over some arcane, so-obvious-it-hurts patent filed years before when they didn't even know what they'd ever do with it.

Those on Apple's and Samsung's retainers were the worst offenders, as they repeatedly failed to win cases in jurisdictions only to file more lawsuits in other countries anyway, helping to boost their incomes with their "no win, huge fee" marketing.

It's a real shame, as before 2012 lawyers had a standup reputation as bastions of truth and honesty, known for acting with decorum and decency, but the cowboys in the intellectual property departments of firms like Smythe & Smythe have undone all that with their litigious ways.


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