This Dumb Year: The 57 Lamest Moments in Tech 2012

From Apple's Maps flub to Microsoft's removal of the Windows Start button, it's been a very strange year.

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Performance artist Mike Daisey, who admitted that he fudged and fabricated anecdotes in his monologue The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs


45. If it displeases the court.

A U.K. court that had ordered Apple to post a statement on its site saying Samsung’s Galaxy Tab tablet didn’t infringe on the iPad’s design tells Apple it must rewrite its prickly first version, which points out Apple’s court victories over Samsung in the U.S. and Germany and reminds readers that the iPad far outsells the Galaxy Tab.

Donald Trump

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46. Twitter defeats Trump.

On election night, @realDonaldTrump is appalled by the results and says that Barack Obama won the Electoral College (correct!) despite losing the popular vote (incorrect!). He calls the election “a sham and a travesty” and calls for a revolution. Trump eventually deletes some of his more agitated tweets but doesn’t rescind his call for insurrection.

47. Try to remember the month of December.

The Android Police blog discovers that the Contacts app in Jelly Bean 4.2, Google’s newest mobile operating system, doesn’t have any way to enter December birthdays and anniversaries.

Mitt Romney transition site

Political Wire

48. File under “Guns, Jumped.”

After Mitt Romney fails to become the next President of the U.S., his campaign accidentally launches a transition site that assumes he’s been elected. Featuring details on the Inauguration and nominees, it comes down quickly — but not before Taegan Goddard of Political Wire grabs some screen shots.

49. Haunted by the ghost of Léo Apotheker.

HP announces a stunning $8.8 billion writedown, accusing Autonomy — a U.K. software company it bought during Léo Apotheker’s brief tenure as CEO — of manipulating its financial results as an independent company to make its sales look misleadingly impressive.

Opprah Surface tweet


50. Torn between two tablets.

Oprah Winfrey sings the praises of Microsoft’s Surface tablet in a tweet to her 15 million Twitter followers, saying she’s bought 15 as Christmas gifts. Observers who are paying close attention notice that she sent said tweet from … her iPad.

51. Who needs reporting when you’ve got the echo chamber?

A sizable percentage of the tech-news Web dutifully reports on Google’s acquisition of a little-known public wi-fi company named ICOA. One problem: the news originated with a press release from PRWeb that isn’t backed up by any acknowledgement whatsoever by either Google or ICOA. It turns out that the press release is a fake, rife with typos and other clues that it’s a sham.



52. Scroogle you.

Microsoft launches “Scroogled,” an ad campaign that says Google’s practice of selling paid placements in its shopping search engine violates the company’s famous “Don’t be evil” mantra. Confusingly, Microsoft’s own Bing shopping engine also sells paid placements.


53. Memo to criminals: Probably smarter to use Google+.

New York City police bust a Bronx gang and indict it for conspiracy to commit murder, weapons and narcotics possession and more than 35 related counts. The incriminating evidence includes conversations the accused conducted on Facebook, using an apparently not-very-effective secret system of code words, like yams for drugs.

John McAfee

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54. Sorry, too confusing.

Antivirus tycoon John McAfee, on the run from Belize authorities who want to question him regarding his neighbor’s murder, apologizes for forging the geographic data embedded in a photo that seems to suggest — wrongly, he says — that he’s in Guatemala. Then when it turns out that he is in Guatemala, he apologizes for claiming the geographic data was forged when it wasn’t.

55. Bad Santa.

On the Facebook page for the Maine Mall in Portland, angry parents accuse the shopping center’s Santa Claus of rude behavior like telling a girl who wants an American Girl doll that she’ll be receiving an American football instead. The mall responds by sacking Santa.

Venus yacht

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56. No sail.

Venus, the 256-ft. (78 m) superyacht Steve Jobs commissioned from design superstar Philippe Starck, is briefly impounded in the Netherlands as Starck and Jobs’ heirs wrangle over the fee owed to Starck. (Starck and his client apparently had a rather informal agreement on the terms of their deal.)

57. It’s like an initiation into the Facebook family.

Beloved photo-sharing service Instagram, which Facebook acquired for $715 million in September, confuses and alarms users with revisions to its terms of service that suggest it plans to use their photos in ads and possibly sell them without permission or compensation. Company co-founder Kevin Systrom says the company isn’t planning anything nefarious, but that doesn’t do enough to calm everyone down, so Instagram reverts to its original terms of service. Even so, the kerfuffle inspires a class action.

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