Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Scoble having naked conversation. You’re not invited.


Robert Scoble, the author of “Naked Conversations” and a huge proponent of “radical transparency,” apparently doesn’t entirely adhere to those principles. At least not when it comes to applying them to himself. Fine to do it to Microsoft, or, um, your company, but not Scoble’s.

That at least is the takeaway from today’s revelation that Scoble is leaving Podtech and moving to Fast Company. Money quote: “This is another blow for PodTech, which has already lost its founding CEO and is nearly out of money. The company has run through $7.5 million in funding. They are rumored to be closing on another million or so in bridge financing. But they’re very, very close to the deadpool.”

In classic radical opacity mode Scoble says in the comment string that he will indeed be doing something different as of January 15 but he won’t confirm that he’s going to Fast Company. So what is he considering? He’s not ready to say what that is. Shocking! Come on, Robert. Walk the walk, baby. Be transparent. Stand naked before us. Tell us who’s offering what. Show us the term sheets. What’s that? You’re shy all of a sudden?

Funny but in October we reported here that Scoble was on his way out of Podtech. And Scoble issued a blistering indignant denial and ripped on old Fake Steve. You can see his bloviating blather here.

Well, turns out we were right. And Scoble was blowing smoke out of his big fat ass. So much for radical transparency and naked conversations. Geez those seemed like such good ideas, right? Or maybe the concept is evolving into a new theory called “selective transparency.” Maybe someone from Wired will write a book about it. I for one can’t wait.


Monday, December 10, 2007

More incidents of copying by Vaughan-Nichols. We’re not kidding.


Well the hack of all hacks, eWeek’s Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols, aka “King of the Freetards,” turns out to be the gift that keeps on giving. Our FSJ Spotlight Team has turned up even more examples of reverse engineered stories, and we’re only back to October. Good grief.

See this story about KDE which appeared with the byline of Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols on DesktopLinux.com, and this press release from the developers who make KDE.

Or compare this article about a KACE survey under the byline of Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols with this press release by a company called KACE. Complete sentences, lifted in whole.

Or compare this article about Red Hat published under the byline of Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols to this press release from Red Hat. Complete sentences lifted, word for word.

Or compare this story about an Everex computer under the byline of Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols and this story about the same computer but under the byline of Ben Hall on a website called The Green Lounge. Entire sentences, identical. Who knows which came first? To be sure, it may be that the other guy copied Vaughan-Nichols. Or maybe they both copied the same press release.

Or see this article about Ubuntu under a Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols byline, and this press release by Canonical. Whole sentences lifted.

Or compare this story about Novell’s new version of SuSE Linux which bears a Vaughan-Nichols byline and this press release from Novell. Entire sentences lifted, word for word.

Namaste, Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols. I honor the place where the language of corporate press releases and the content of your articles become one. And as your wonderful online bio points out, it does appear that after all these years of writing about technology you just may have learned something along the way. Much love.

UPDATE: Readers, for a real howl, check out this piece where Steven J. Vaughan-Cut-and-Paste offers a little insight into how much he loves himself. Honestly, it’s priceless.


More shameless copying by eWeek’s freetard hack


Earlier today we reported that eWeek columnist and renowned freetard Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols (aka King of the Freetards) was copying material from press releases and shamelessly passing it off as his own. See that story here. Well, there’s more. Turns out this guy rips off more material than Microsoft. And that’s saying something. An FSJ Spotlight Team investigation has turned up other examples of shameless plundering by Vaughan-Nichols, who is also founder and editor of Linux-Watch and chairman of the Internet Press Guild, a journalism watchdog group that has in the past accused fellow hacks of unethical behavior. No word yet on what action if any Ziff-Davis intends to take here. Iulia and Natasha are digging through mountains of evidence and so far have turned up the following.

Example #1. Please compare this Vaughan-Nichols article about Red Hat and this Red Hat press release.

Press release:
These capabilities provide customers with a practical means of using their total compute capacity with maximum efficiency and flexibility, while improving the speed and availability of any application. Additionally, Red Hat and the University of Wisconsin have signed a strategic agreement to make Condor’s source code available under an OSI-approved license and jointly fund ongoing co-development at the University of Wisconsin.

Vaughan-Nichols article:
Red Hat claims that these capabilities provide customers with a practical means of using their total compute capacity with maximum efficiency and flexibility, while improving the speed and availability of any application. Additionally, Red Hat and the University of Wisconsin have signed a strategic agreement to make Condor’s source code available under several OSI-approved licenses and jointly fund ongoing co-development at the University of Wisconsin.

Example #2. Please compare this Vaughan-Nichols article about Eaton Corp. and this press release by Eaton Corp.

Eaton Corp. press release:
Compatible with Ubuntu releases from 6.06 to 7.10, the software will allow UPSintegration by default to assure communication, monitoring and graceful shutdown during prolonged power disturbances for the popular Linux-based operating system. The Personal Solution Pac (PSP) software is targeted at desktop and SOHOusers while the Network Shutdown Module (NSM) offers a range of advanced functionality for network installations and enterprise applications.

Vaughan-Nichols article:
This program is compatible with Ubuntu releases from 6.06 to 7.10. It enables Ubuntu systems to smoothly integrate with Easton UPS systems and assures communication, monitoring and graceful shutdown during prolonged power disturbances. The PSP (Personal Solution Pac) software is targeted at desktop and SOHO users while the NSM (Network Shutdown Module) offers a range of advanced functionality for network installations and enterprise applications.

Example #3. Please compare this article by Vaughan-Nichols about a CIO Insight poll with this article by CIO Insight announcing the results of the poll.

CIO Insight article:
This is the fifth year CIO Insight has polled IT executives on how well their major vendors deliver business value, reliability and quality.

Vaughan-Nichols article:
For the fifth year, CIO Insight polled IT executives on how well their major vendors deliver business value, reliability and quality.

Example #4. Please compare this Vaughan-Nichols article about Novell and this press release from Novell.

First sentence of Novell press release:
Novell today announced a new initiative to increase revenue and profitability for solution providers and consulting partners who specialize in selling Novell® technologies.

First paragraph of Vaughan-Nichols article:
Novell’s channel partners have not been happy lately. Novell knows that, and on Nov. 19, the Linux power announced a new initiative to increase revenue and profitability for solution providers and consulting partners that specialize in selling Novell technologies.

Next sentences from Novell press release:
Among other benefits, Novell will offer enhanced partner education, joint marketing opportunities, and free technical support for those partners demonstrating expertise in selling and supporting Novell software. Novell is also creating a new partner executive sales team which will be dedicated to, and compensated on, partner success. Working with Novell now gives partners even more compelling options for delivering IT value to their customers.

Next sentences from Vaughan-Nichols article:
Among other benefits, Novell will offer enhanced partner education, joint marketing opportunities and free technical support for those partners demonstrating expertise in selling and supporting Novell software. Novell is also creating a new partner executive sales team that will be dedicated to partner success. Working with Novell now gives partners even more compelling options for delivering IT value to their customers, the company said.

Example #5. Please compare this Vaughan-Nichols article about the GNU Affero license and this Free Software Foundation press release about that license.

FSF press release:

“The GNU GPL allows people to modify the software they receive, and share those modified versions with others, as long as they make source available to the recipients when they do so. However, a user can modify the software and run the modified version on a network server without releasing it. Since use of the server does not imply that people can download a copy of the program, this means the modifications may never be released. Many programmers choose to use the GNU GPL to cultivate community development; if many of the modifications developed by the programs’ users are never released, this can be discouraging for them. The GNU AGPL addresses their concerns. The FSF recommends that people consider using the GNU AGPL for any software which will commonly be run over a network.”

Vaughan-Nichols article:
“By itself, the GPLv3 allows people to modify the software they receive and share those modified versions with others, as long as they make the source code available to the recipients when they do so. However, a user can modify the software and run the modified version on a network server without releasing it. Since use of the server does not imply that people can download a copy of the program, this means the modifications may never be released. Many programmers choose to use the GPL to cultivate community development, but if many of the modifications developed by the programs users are never released, this defeats the community-building aspect of the GPL.

As the AGPL addresses these concerns, the FSF recommends that people consider using the GNU AGPL for any software which will commonly be run over a network.”


Shame on you, Steven J. Vaughan Nichols. Shame!


Well the freetards are back at it again, stealing material and disregarding copyrights. Check out this article from Linux-Watch about Novell delaying its earnings reports because the SEC is probing its accounting. The article carries the byline of renowned freetard hack Steven J. Vaughan Nichols (shown here with his life partner). But the article bears some eerie resemblances to this press release from Novell. Note the following bits of reverse engineering:

Novell press release:
Novell delivered a response letter to the SEC on Sept. 20, 2007. On Oct. 18, 2007, Novell received a second comment letter from the SEC indicating that the SEC had reviewed Novell’s response to the Aug. 7, 2007 letter. The second comment letter was limited to certain accounting matters. Novell responded to the SEC’s second comment letter on Nov. 7, 2007 and is awaiting a response.

Vaughan Nichols article:
Novell delivered a response letter to the SEC on Sept. 20, 2007. On Oct. 18, Novell received a second comment letter from the SEC indicating that the SEC had reviewed Novell’s response to the Aug. 7, 2007 letter. The second comment letter was limited to certain accounting matters. Novell responded to the SEC’s second comment letter on Nov. 7, 2007 and is still awaiting an SEC response.

Novell press release:
“We are confident of our accounting and are working diligently with the SEC to respond to their inquiries,” said Dana C. Russell, chief financial officer of Novell. “In an abundance of caution, we have chosen to postpone our earnings release. We look forward to completing our dialogue with the SEC.”

Vaughan Nichols article:

With these issues still in the balance, Novell has elected to not issue its fourth quarter and year-end reports. “We are confident of our accounting and are working diligently with the SEC to respond to their inquiries,” said Dana C. Russell, Novell’s chief financial officer. “In an abundance of caution, we have chosen to postpone our earnings release. We look forward to completing our dialogue with the SEC.”

Novell press release:
Novell intends to release its fourth quarter and full-year 2007 earnings upon the completion of the SEC’s review. Novell is unable to estimate when the process will be completed, but currently expects to file its Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended Oct. 31, 2007 on or before its due date of Dec. 31, 2007.

Vaughan Nichols article:
Novell intends to release its fourth quarter and full year 2007 earnings upon the completion of the SEC’s review. Novell is unable to estimate when the process will be completed, but currently expects to file its Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended Oct. 31, 2007 on or before its due date of Dec. 31, 2007.

To be sure, Vaughan Nichols didn’t just cut-and-paste Novell’s press release and call it his own story. He also added a couple of original paragraphs — a big positive quote from a Novell-loving analyst saying how great things are going at Novell these days. Just to make sure everything is fair and balanced.

The whole thing is especially disappointing considering that Steven J. Vaughan Nichols is the leader of a group called the Internet Press Guild which acts as a self-appointed watchdog agency keeping an eye on other filthy hacks. The group has in the past filed complaints accusing other filthy hacks of being unethical.

Over the weekend Katie reported this transgression to Society of Professional Journalists and asked that the group revoke the hack license of Steven J. Vaughan Nichols or at least suspend his license pending an investigation. In response, the Vaughan Nichols-led Internet Press Guild has issued an open letter stating that SJVN did not copy any lines verbatim and the whole thing is a Microsoft-funded conspiracy (with Apple acting as Microsoft’s proxy) and where’s the proof and unless someone can show the exact lines that were stolen then everyone should just shut up.

On a side note, How come when Apple gets some heat from the SEC we get our sphincters probed for weeks on end by every filthy hack in the business, but when Novell gets busted the hacks either ignore the story or, if they really really have to write something, they just parrot back Novell’s bullshit and sprinkle in a little more pro-Novell bullshit of their own?

Simple explanation, Katie says. Novell distributes Linux, which by definition means they could never do anything bad. Plus Novell is the company that saved Linux from legal attacks by the SCO Group. So when Novell gets in trouble they can count on all these little freetard hacks turning into part-time flacks for the company and helping out with damage control.

Shame on you, Steven J. Vaughan Nichols. Shame.

(Photo of Pamela Jones by Eric Raymond.)


Saturday, December 8, 2007

Valleywag confession: We’re frigtards


Nick Denton, who still claims he’s the world’s greatest investigative journalist even though he twice incorrectly identified Fake Steve and swore both times he had me dead to rights, is determined to make a go of this Valleywag gossip blog. So last summer he hired Owen Thomas (photo) and put him in charge, believing that because Owen had briefly worked as an administrative assistant at Business 2.0 he was a real Valley insider and would get all the juicy gossip. This, Denton figured, would improve Valleywag’s pathetic batting average — like maybe one in five items would turn out to be true instead of one in ten.

Sadly, Owen keeps delivering huge scoops that are really sizzly and exciting but often have just one teeny tiny problem which is that they’re simply not true. Like check out this one breathlessly posted at 2 in the morning where Owen claimed Mark Zuckerberg had sold some of his share in Facebook, which turns out not to be true. So, half a day later, Owen penned this groveling apology in which he tries to blame the whole thing on Facebook insiders who apparently gave him some bad dope.

Money quote: “The most likely explanation: Facebook’s $15 billion valuation has sparked a round of fear and greed inside the company. Early employees, themselves large shareholders, are agitating to have Zuckerberg let them take money off the table …”

Actually that’s not the most likely explanation. Owen, I hate to break this to you, but the most likely explanation is that people in the Valley friggin hate you and are feeding you fake shit because they know you’ll print it and look stupid.

As Sebastian Bach once sang: It’s so easy, baby. Or was it Ted Nugent? Or the MC5? I get them mixed up.

Owen, take my advice: Stay away from the brown acid, brother. It’s not poison, but it’s badly manufactured.


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Brent Schlender is back kissing my ass again

See here. Apparently Fortune magazine now believes I’m the most powerful person in the universe. Funny right? I mean only recently these guys were beavering away on a hatchet job about me, claiming I should be put in prison or something. And as I pointed out recently, Brent has been attacking our products like crazy lately.

But now suddenly the hacks at Fortune have turned into my biggest fans again. Money quote from Brent: “That’s five industries that Jobs has upended – computers, Hollywood, music, retailing, and wireless phones. … At this moment, no one has more influence over a broader swath of business than Jobs.”

As always, Katie did a great job on the article and Brent ran it pretty much word for word the way we sent it. Katie even ginned up a quote from me which I’ll reprint here with my own translation spliced into it:

“We don’t think in terms of power,” says Jobs. (Translation: We don’t have to, we friggin own your asses already, you little bitches, and nobody in tech can touch us. Plus we are all about the humility.) “We think about creating new innovative products that will surprise and delight our customers. (So shut the fuck up and start feeling delighted.) Happy and loyal customers are what give Apple its ‘power.’ (Also the fact that I can have any one of you killed just by making a single phone call. Remember that.) At the heart of it, though, we simply try to make great products that we want for ourselves, and hope that customers will love them as much as we do. (And we know they will because we tell them exactly what to love and exactly how much to love it, and they always do exactly what we tell them. Still amazes us, honestly.) And I think after all these years we’ve gotten pretty decent at it.”


Friday, October 19, 2007

More Mac-bashing flame bait

Well it’s a tried-and-true recipe for the filthy hacks in the computer trades. Bash Apple and pray for traffic. This lame effort by some dude at Computerworld doesn’t even bother to be original. Slow day in the newsroom I guess and the guy’s got a quota to fill, I suppose. Plus all the online publications are now measuring their hacks on traffic and in some cases even paying the poor bastards based on the pageviews they generate. Result? The whole online news business has become a race to the bottom.

Money quote from this Dvorak Wannabee: “I hate everything Apple — starting with rock star wanna-be Steve Jobs in his black turtleneck and jeans on his big, lavish stage, telling the world every three weeks or so how Apple’s newest overpriced gizmo will change the world. Snake oil, anyone? Snarky, sleazy sliminess, anyone?”

Much love the guy who sent this in. He’s a fellow hack at CW who is disgusted by this kind of hate and wants to expose it. Keep fighting the good fight, pal.


Sunday, August 19, 2007

Speaking of courageous journalists

Jim Louderback’s courageous about-face on Microsoft Vista (see here) started me thinking about the rest of the media, which is always a bad thing, because there is no single group of people that I despise more than the media. Except maybe Indians, but for now let’s stick with the the media. It’s even worse when I’m slightly baked, which I am right now.

I wouldn’t mind if the press would just admit to being the craven, resentful bastards that they truly are; what really irks me is the way they preen around and really seem to believe they’re doing God’s work on earth, speaking truth to power, blah blah blah. Remember when Apple sued those fucks who published our leaked product information, and we had to listen to all that sanctimonious bullshit from the EFF and all these others about the noble media and its super-holy quasi-religious role in our society? Now we’re hearing the same bullshit from a bunch of CNET scammers who are running a shakedown on HP. Sure, HP spied on them. So now they want money, but they’re dressing it up as some kind of great crusade in the grand tradition of Edward R. Murrow or the authors of the Federalist Papers or something.

You think the CNET case is not about the money? Right, it’s the principle. Please. HP has already offered to throw money at these people, and they want more. That’s what this is about. It’s about being an underpaid hack at CNET and not being able to afford a house in the Bay Area and then suddenly realizing you’ve hit the lottery because someone looked at your phone records and you felt all violated, boohoo. These people really believe that HP should pay them millions of dollars. Big millions. What’s most galling is that these reporters started this mess themselves when they ran stories based on information that was leaked to them by board members who were bound by ethics (and maybe the law) not to disclose information from board meetings. I’m not saying HP should be allowed to spy on reporters. And I’m not saying the reporters did anything illegal. But come on. These folks are not exactly pure as the driven snow.

I asked Katie Cotton if we spy on them too. She was like, Jobso, are you crazy? Of course we spy on them. I asked her if we might end up in trouble too and she’s like, Honey, you leave that to me and Moshe. We need you to focus on inventing the future. Okay? That’s enough for one man, even a genius like you. Besides, the less you know, the better. It’s called plausible deniability. Have you heard of it?

But I was curious about the shakedown at HP and I bet you are too. Here’s how the racket works, according to one of our lawyers who told us about it in a meeting last week. He’s a good guy, total East Coast hard-ass, former prosecutor type. He’s been with us for years, and I see him every other week or so in these meetings, but I’ve never bothered to remember his name because what’s the point? For the purpose of this post, let’s call him Mike.

Mike has a friend who works in legal at HP. The deal as it was presented to HP by the lawyers representing the CNET hacks is this: Pay up, and you won’t have to suffer months and months of endless bad press. Or, to put it another way: Instead of discussing the monetary value of whatever damage our clients suffered — because let’s face it, it ain’t much — let’s instead value this settlement by asking what it’s worth for you not to have this black cloud hovering over your brand. Because believe me, we’ll make it hover. We’ll huff and puff and call our friends at the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times and we’ll make this fucking thing into a smog cloud like the one over Mexico City in winter. You won’t be able to step outside on the HP campus without coughing.

Did you happen to notice the way the hacks at the Journal fed all that anti-Murdoch shit to Fortune and the Times when they were still hoping to fend off his takeover? You think those articles just happened by accident? Ever occur to you that those same reporters hate HP too and would just love to get in a few kicks by “covering” the CNET v. HP case? (It’s not just HP. Most business writers hate all companies. They hate business in general. I’ve never understood this. It’s like hiring guys who hate sports to be sportswriters.) Oh, and furthermore, Mr. Hurd, has it occurred to you that IBM Global Services will bring up this “scandal” in every bid where they’re going against you?

Trust me, Mike says, HP won’t fight these claims. They’ll pay up. And these weenies at CNET will be living in nice big houses in Palo Alto or Piedmont. Wait and see.


More raves for Vista


This time from Jim Louderback, the newly departed editor of PC Magazine, who uses his farewell column to do something I suppose he has wanted to do for ages — tell the truth about Vista. “Why, nine months after launch, am I so frustrated? The litany of what doesn’t work and what still frustrates me stretches on endlessly.” See here.

Then there’s this: “I could go on and on about the lack of drivers, the bizarre wake-up rituals, the strange and nonreproducible system quirks, and more. But I won’t bore you with the details. The upshot is that even after nine months, Vista just ain’t cutting it. I definitely gave Microsoft too much of a free pass on this operating system.”

Really? You think? Translation: Now that I’m no longer working at PC Mag, I can finally tell you the truth. Vista blows. Vista is a boat anchor. Vista paid my salary for the past few years, but now that I’m no longer sucking on the Redmond teat I’m going to play hero and tell you what I didn’t dare tell you before.

Okay. I’m sorry. Maybe I’m cynical. Maybe it’s just a coincidence that Jim’s epiphany about Vista is only occurring right now. What’s that? You don’t believe it? Yeah, me neither.

You know, the courage of the Fourth Estate never ceases to amaze me. Have you ever seen a group of people so convinced of their own moral righteousness, and so absolutely full of shit? Okay, maybe medical doctors. But right after that comes the press. Such proud defenders of truth, justice and the American way! Putting their lives at risk to bring us the truth. What would our society do without them?

But I digress. We were talking about Vista. Beastmaster, Monkey Boy, throw in the towel. Vista is a disaster. By refusing to admit it, you’re just making it worse. You look clueless, out of touch. You look like IBM during those years when they kept insisting the whole world really was going to move to OS/2 long after everyone knew it wasn’t going to happen. Remember those days? Remember IBM putting out press releases talking about OS/2’s fantastic momentum? Remember how you guys at Microsoft used to laugh at IBM? I’d tell you to go look in the mirror, but we all know you don’t throw a reflection. But trust me. The ghost of Jim Cannavino is roaming the halls in Redmond.

My favorite part of the Louderback piece is where Handsome Jim ends on what I hope is an ironic note: “If Microsoft can’t get Vista working, I might just do the unthinkable: I might move to Linux.”

Of course! Linux, the obvious choice! Because those Linux guys have really got the driver issue worked out. I’d offer to send you a new 24-inch iMac but you probably wouldn’t like its rock-solid Unix foundation and its best-in-class user interface and its full complement of drivers. Nowhere near as nice as that brown Ubuntu desktop preloaded on a Dell. Good luck with that.


Sunday, August 5, 2007

Damn, I am so busted, yo


Well it had to happen. Honestly I can’t believe it’s taken this long. But as you may have heard, I’ve been busted by a newspaper reporter. My cover has been blown. Guy named Brad Stone, who works for the New York Times. Have you heard of him? Well, tip of the hat to you, Brad Stone. You did the sleuthing. You put the pieces of the puzzle together. You went through my trash, hacked into my computer, and put listening devices in my home. Now you’ve ruined the mystery of Fake Steve, robbing thousands of people around the world of their sense of childlike wonder. Hope you feel good about yourself, you mangina. One bright side is that at least I was busted by the Times and not Valleywag. I really, really enjoyed seeing those guys keep guessing wrong. For six months Dr. Evil and Mr. Bigglesworth put their big brains together and couldn’t come up with the answer. Guy from the Times did it in a week. So much for the trope about smarty-pants bloggers disrupting old media. Brilliant. My only regret is that we didn’t get a chance to see Bigglesworth take a few more swings and misses.

Apple faithful, here in our darkest hour I know what you’re thinking: What’s next for FSJ? Well, I’m taking a few days off to sit in a lake and do some yoga and meditation and non-thinking. Then I’m coming back next week, badder than ever, with a new sponsor — my homeboys at Forbes.com. Turns out they’ve been reading FSJ and liking it too. Who knew?

Meanwhile if anyone can think of a cool way to use the name “Brad Stone” (all or part) as a verb, let me know.

Maybe this:

brad, v.i.:

1. To bust a fellow filthy hack without mercy and spoil the fun for everyone, in a quest for personal aggrandizement.
2. To urinate in a pool.