Microsoft Surface: Not yet here, but already forgotten

Tellingly, Cringely's readers ignore a botched tablet prediction but pounce on error involving Steve Jobs. Plus: ICANN, Web ratings, and more

Regular readers of Notes From the Field know that I end every blog post with at least one question. The reason? So I can dive into the mailbag every so often and share the wisdom of the Cringely crowd with the rest of you mere mortals. Here goes.

In "This blog has been deemed unsuitable for adults and children," I suggested that blogs and other sites should adopt their own rating systems: AO for Apple Obsessed, PT for Pointless Timewaster, and so on. Frequent correspondent B. B. wants to add "PF -- Pathetic Friendships (Facebook) and MM -- Morons Misbehaving (YouTube)" to the mix. Consider it done, B. B.

[ InfoWorld's Bill Snyder offers advice to Steve Ballmer: Give away the Surface for free -- an idea Cringely put forth in his classic post "Psst, Microsoft! Here's how you unseat the iPad." | For a humorous take on the tech industry's shenanigans, subscribe to Robert X. Cringely's Notes from the Underground newsletter. | Get the latest insight on the tech news that matters from InfoWorld's Tech Watch blog. ]

But reader R. R. says I shouldn't merely single out Apple fanboys. "To be fair to all religions, you really should also have MO (Microsoft Obsessed) and GO (Google Obsessed)," he writes.

Perhaps. But there's a kind of slavish devotion you get from Apple sites you just don't see anywhere else, even from single-minded Phandroids and Microsofties.

In "What's in a domain name? Google, Amazon pay up to find out," I wrote about ICANN's scheme to open up the current system of 22 generic top-level domain names (like .com and .biz) to possibly hundreds. I suggested that the new top-level domain name auction under way might prove to be immensely profitable to domain registrars and the folks at ICANN, but a pain in the butt to everyone else.

Cringe fan R. J., who describes himself as a "low-level schmuck that tries to fix computer problems more often than I make them worse," says he doesn't understand how the heck ICANN can arbitrarily declare someone the owner of a generic TLD:

I can understand that owning a domain name such as .coke would be reasonable for a company that actually makes the stuff. However, a domain such as .help is so much more generic that it seems impossible to apply it to or reserve it for any single entity.

It just seems like a waste of everybody's time and effort that ICANN doesn't just throw clearly and obviously "generic" domain names into the public domain and let any of us use it just like air.

He also offered to kick in $50 if I was willing to go in on an application to own .help, leaving me just $184,950 short of the filing fee. (Gee thanks, R. J.)

The answer: It's ICANN. It can do pretty much whatever the heck it wants. If it decides to award .help to one of the three applicants who ponied up the money -- or one of the 10 companies who want to own .art or the nine vying for .blog -- it can and will do that.

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