Stupid Tech Tricks 2010

eWEEK Labs looks back at the technology miscues that marked the past year.

At the end of each year, eWEEK Labs turns its gaze not only upon the products we tested that most impressed us by their quality, innovation or overall importance, but on the technology gaffes that left us scratching our heads. With that, we present our Stupid Tech Tricks of 2010.

More IP Follies
In eWEEK Labs' 2006 Stupid Tech Tricks, I cited the patent madness that had marked the year, with the NTP versus RIM showdown that shook the smartphone world and the Novell/Microsoft patent deal that cast a shadow over the open-source software market. At the same time, I looked ahead optimistically toward potential clarifications of future Supreme Court rulings.

Jump ahead to 2010, and the software patent picture looks much the same: Smartphone vendors and adjacent players remain locked in a web of lawsuits; Paul Allen's Interval Licensing laid claim to fundamental Web ideas in a series of suits targeting popular Internet sites; and the Supreme Court passed on an opportunity to prune the patent thickets when it handed down a very narrow ruling in Bilski vs. Kappos.

Looking ahead to 2011, we're likely in for more of the same patent uncertainty. In particular, I'm waiting to hear what becomes of the 800+ patents that Novell just sold to a Microsoft-led consortium.

-Jason Brooks

Google Wave
This summer, when Google announced its plans to kill off its newfangled collaboration service Google Wave by the end of the year, plenty of Web watchers applauded the move. The service, which was billed in part as a replacement for e-mail and instant messaging, lacked a clear e-mail-to-Wave migration or integration path. If the service was to supplant e-mail, it was never quite clear how it was supposed to work.

While I was never completely satisfied with the way Google implemented the service, I maintain that it was silly for the Internet giant to pull the plug on the promising effort less than a year after unleashing it. I wasn't a heavy user of Wave, but the Labs team did try a few things with the service. For example, we used Wave for a couple of event live blogs and for planning eWEEK's 2011 editorial calendar.

-Jason Brooks

AT&T 3G Network: Nothing to Undo, Cancel?
In 2009, we lambasted AT&T 3G service for the Apple iPhone. 2010 has been more of the same. Rumors of a Verizon iPhone popped up throughout 2010-not from a love of Verizon, but from a hope for improved service in San Francisco and New York City.

Whether standing on a crowded BART platform or desperately running around the perimeter of a downtown office tower looking for a signal, we found AT&T cellular service on the iPhone to be a continuing source of frustration. In congested areas, many an iPhone user was reduced to glumly sorting stored e-mails while others using anything-but-an-iPhone happily communicated to their heart's content.

It's a testament to the iPhone's allure that some subscribers continue to tolerate elusive signals and on-again-off-again call and text messaging capabilities. In 2010, two eWEEK Labs staffers left AT&T and the iPhone: One individual moved to a BlackBerry on T-Mobile, and the other one switched to-gasp-MetroPCS.

-Cameron Sturdevant