Wins and Fails This Week in Geek v 10

Welcome to this, our tenth installment of Wins and Fails This Week in Geek, just in time for the holidays. So happy “ho ho ho” and bowls full of jelly and all that stuff to you & yours in the coming days!

It’s been yet another eventful week filled with the wrath of geeks (and just about everyone else), early Christmas presents for the nostalgic among us, and dangerous stunts gone awry. Let’s hurry into the fray.

For old timers with a love of computing magazines, BYTE was the pinnacle of computer tech publications. It was universally mourned upon its death some dozen years ago, but in what’s an early Christmas gift for nostalgic geeks everywhere, it’s been announced that BYTE is coming back as in the second quarter of 2011. You can expect the same types of content that made the original famous, with the addition of all that modern-day technology has to offer online publishing.

FAIL: Skype
Oh my, oh my, oh my. The entire world was up in arms on Wednesday as Skype suffered a catastrophic crash that plunged millions of users globally into the Stone Age of regular telephones and instant messaging. Twitter fail-whaled repeatedly under the stress of Skype users flocking to the micro-blogging service to complain, loudly and frequently, as it took the better part of an entire day for services to be restored. The poorly-timed event comes just as Skype is reaching out to big business to become their #1 solution for communication. The hullabaloo and the wrath of Skypers may make some think twice.

FAIL: Occupational Safety…
…and, to a lesser (or not?) extent, common sense. The problem-plagued musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark experienced its biggest setback yet when on Monday a vague “human error” caused an actor to plummet 20+ feet and land in the hospital in serious condition. (He was the fourth actor to be injured in the run of the show thus far.) Rather than close its doors and work out the constant stream of technical glitches, which also saw Spider-Man dangling helpless over the audience on its opening night, the musical is forging ahead with a public display that is, at this point, not much more than a massive embarrassment…and a colossal hazard.

WIN: A Very Klingon Christmas
Theatergoers in Chicago have been treated to a different sort of geek stage display: A Christmas Carol rewritten and performed entirely in the Klingon language. For those who haven’t spent a lifetime devoting themselves to developing Klingon fluency, there are English subtitles. Writer Christopher O. Kidder insists that the tale of Ebeneezer Scrooge alone isn’t what makes the production magic. “Star Trek has worked its way into the fabric of American pop culture so much,” he says, “that even those people who aren’t Trekkies understand what’s going on.” Whether this applies beyond the Tribble of Christmas Past remains to be seen, but for those who are in the know, this is proving to be a delightful holiday surprise.

FAIL: Wireless Security
In what is most definitely a cautionary tale for tighter wireless security, a Minnesota man pleaded guilty to hacking into his neighbor’s wireless network in order to pose as his neighbor and make death threats against the Vice President of the United States. He also pleaded guilty to charges of possession of child porn. After hearing this story there’s no excuse whatsoever to operate an unsecured wireless network, and to beef up protection on already “secure” networks.

WIN: Crocodile Libidos
No, it’s not the name of a band, though I admit “Crocodile Libidos” would be a band I’d probably check out. Israeli crocodiles seem to become, erm, amorous after hearing the sound of air force jets breaking the sound barrier. Sonic booms appear to be causing male crocodiles to emit a mating call in response. The mating call is usually reserved for spring, but one crocodile farmer speculates the calls are the response of crocodiles who are mistaking the booms for the sounds of rivals.

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