Vintage 'Kattoons' Spotlight the Wit and Wisdom of Spencer F. Katt
Spencer F. Katt's Best Tips, Quips and Bon Mots
Spencer F. Katt, eWEEK's roving commentator and tipster, had lots of fun skewering the high and mighty of the tech world while offering his own pungent views on the computers, software and gadgets that have come to rule our lives. Not only did he get to share tips, quips and bon mots in his weekly column, but he also starred in his own cartoons that delivered his personal take on current tech events. Bill Gates, Steve Ballmer and Microsoft's many convoluted business maneuvers were favorite targets of the weekly "Kattoons." But just about anything happening in the broader tech universe was fair game for the tart-tongued tabby. Spencer "went to the beach," as they say in Silicon Valley," when his column went on hiatus in 2011. By looking over some of these Kattoons, it's often apparent that the more things change in the IT industry, the more things stay the same.
How to Use an 84-inch Tabletop Computer
In March 2016, after many delays, Microsoft finally shipped its Surface Hub touch-sensitive digital white board computer that could be mounted on a wall for presentations and video conferences or even used on a table-top configuration to allow people to go one-on-one with big-screen device. But Microsoft was talking about a large-scale, touch-sensitive tabletop computer much earlier in the 2000s. Here, the Katt demonstrated some potential problems for some less-tidy users of a tabletop computer.
Who Is the Real Father of Linux?
Spencer spent a lot of time lampooning Bill Gates in Kattoon after Kattoon. Here Spencer horrified Linux fans as well as plenty of Star Wars fans around the time that "Episode II–Attack of the Clones" reached theaters in May 2002, when he hinted who was the real father of the Linus of Linux Fame.
Windows Embedded Goes to Hogwarts
Windows Embedded was a version of the Microsoft PC operating system that could be used as the firmware of a variety of devices, such as point-of-sale terminals, TV set-top boxes or gaming consoles. This Kattoon suggests what might happen if Windows XP Embedded was installed on those flying broomsticks so familiar at a certain school of sorcery.
Imagine Steve Ballmer as Yahoo CEO
In early 2008, Microsoft offered to buy Yahoo for more than $44 billion. Yes, even then, Yahoo's Web business was in turmoil because its once dominant position in Web search and online advertising was undermined by a rapidly growing Google. But Yahoo rejected Microsoft's bid and decided it would stay independent by hiring a new CEO and restructuring. In this Kattoon, Spencer suggests that Steve Ballmer might make another attempt to get control of Yahoo by sending in his resume.
Steve Ballmer the Break Dancer
Ballmer was known for his boisterous personally and rapid-fire speech, especially when he was on stage promoting Microsoft products. There is a video that still circulates on YouTube showing a perspiring Ballmer chanting, "developers, developers, developers" over and over during—not surprisingly—a Windows 2000 developers conference. Here Spencer shows why Steve would be a hoot playing with the "Dance Dance Revolution" video game first introduced in 1998 and still available today.
Spencer Confronts Social Engineering
The use of social media really started to explode in the mid 2000s. But this was also a time when people and businesses were getting hit by increasingly sophisticated worms and Trojan horse malware capable of penetrating networks and stealing personal information. Web users became all too familiar with "social engineering" tactics that tricked them into opening infected messages and files triggering serious malware infestations.
Did Microsoft Seriously Consider Buying Google?
There was plenty of speculation that Microsoft was seriously considering acquiring Google before the search giant got too big to buy. Microsoft was late to the game in search and search advertising. Microsoft found it had been outflanked by both Apple and Google in mobile operating systems. Hence, the prognostications that Microsoft would buy the company it couldn't beat. But by that time, Google was too expensive and powerful for Microsoft to make a bid, if it ever actually dreamed of doing so. But in this Kattoon, Gates seems to be eyeing such a bid through his own pair of "Google Goggles."
Step Away From the MP3 Player
These days, many people are convinced, or at least they suspect, that everything they do on the Web and all their personal information and messages are subject to surveillance by one government agency or another. But even back in the heyday of the Apple iPod and flip-phones in the mid-2000s, there were worries that mobile devices were reporting back to headquarters on people's taste in MP3 playlists. Here Spencer shows the consequences of compiling a less-than-hip list.
Passing the CEO Torch From Gates to Ballmer
Steve Ballmer became Microsoft CEO in January 2000 after Gates decided to focus on his roles as company chairman and "chief software architect." In this Kattoon, Spencer speculated on the various ways Ballmer and Gates would evolve in their new positions.
"They Finally, Really Did It …"
About the time the first remake of classic sci-fi movie "Planet of the Apes" was released in 2001, Spencer re-imagined the film's dystopian ending by lamenting that the collapse of human civilization and the rise of the apes were not caused by a nuclear holocaust, but by the release of Windows XP on an unsuspecting world.