Golden Gobblers 2012: Angry birdbrains of tech

Who are the top turkeys in tech? Cringely serves up a few deserving candidates. Please pass the gravy

Reuters/Brian Snyder

Golden Gobblers 2012: Angry birdbrains of tech

It's time again for that beloved holiday tradition in Cringeville known as the Golden Gobblers. These awards were created to honor individuals in the world of technology whose giblets we'd be happy to see roasted and served on a platter. 

Last year the Golden Gobblers honored naughty Twitter user and now ex-Congressman Anthony Weiner, doomsday evangelist Harold Camping, and famous bald guy Steve Ballmer, among others. This year's 10 winners are all equally deserving to get stuffed. Here they are.

Reuters/Stephan Lam

Scott Forstall

The now former senior VP for Apple lost his way -- and his job -- when he failed to apologize for the Mapocalypse, the spectacular failure of Apple's new maps app for iOS 6. Apparently Forstall really did intend to put the Brooklyn Bridge in the middle of the East River and for the app's 3D flyovers to look like MC Escher drawings. They call these devices "magical" for a reason.


Paul Ceglia

The man who claims to own half of Facebook is now facing federal charges after allegedly faking a contract between himself and then-college-student Mark Zuckerberg. The Web designer from upstate New York laid claim to Facebook in July 2010 after producing a contract signed by Zucky that allegedly gave him half ownership in a project called "PageBook."

When the feds impounded Ceglia's computer, they found a copy of a 2003 contract between him and Zuckerberg, but no mention of PageBook. Now Ceglia is facing up to 40 years in the pokey for mail and wire fraud.

The good news: If convicted, he's sure to add lots of new friends in prison.


The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers earns a special collective Golden Gobbler this year. Not only did ICANN open the floodgates to possibly hundreds of new top-level domains (sowing the seeds of massive future confusion while making a tidy $350 million on application fees), it introduced, then abandoned a series of laughably inept schemes to ensure that all 1,930 applications would be considered fairly. My favorite: the digital archery contest, which measured how accurately applicants logged into ICANN's website at a predetermined time, give or take a few milliseconds.

These guys make the Keystone Kops look like Navy Seal Team 6.


Rachel Nyswander Thomas

The VP of Government Affairs for the Direct Marketing Association earns her spot in our list of Butterballs for suggesting that future Do Not Track technology, which is intended to keep advertisers from tracking our movements across the Web, be tweaked to allow advertisers to track our movements across the Web. That's a bit like hiring McDonald's to cater the National Vegan Convention.

Reuters / Steve Nesius

Frederick Humphries

The FBI agent who launched the investigation into Paula Broadwell's email accounts did it as a favor for gal pal and wannabe-Kardashian Jill Kelley. He then leaked news of the probe to two right-wing congressmen, igniting one of the biggest scandals in CIA history and bringing down its director, General David Petraeus. Somewhere along the line he generously shared a pic of his pecs with Kelley, launching an FBI investigation into his own conduct.

Hey Fred: Next time someone asks you to eviscerate someone's privacy over a tawdry but otherwise legal affair, please do us a favor and keep your shirt on.

Project Orcans

The Romney campaign's top-secret get-out-the-vote app was a spectacular success -- for President Obama. On Election Day, Orca quickly found itself beached, leaving thousands of GOP volunteers stranded with little or nothing to do. The problem? A massive project failure on all levels, from development and testing to implementation and deployment.

Yes, they did build that.


Charles Carreon

When this attorney accused The Oatmeal's Matt Inman of libeling alleged humor site Funny Junk after Funny Junk helped itself to thousands of Inman's cartoons, he had no idea he was about to take on the entire Internet. But not only did Carreon refuse to back down, he accused Inman of siccing Web vigilantes on him, filed suit against more mockers, and tried to block Inman's efforts to donate $210,000 to charity.

Inman eventually won, the charities got the money, and Carreon backed off, but only after he'd posted a video about Inman called Psycho Santa on his website. Hey, Chuck: Just because you're named Carreon doesn't mean you have to act like a vulture.

Mountain View Police Department

Thomas Langenbach

The former VP at SAP's Palo Alto labs came up with an ingenious way to make extra cash: Go to Target, pick up overpriced Legos sets (like the $140 Star Wars Millennium Falcon), slap a cheaper bar code on them, check out, and pocket the difference by reselling the kits on eBay. Langenbach did this 2,000-plus times, according to law enforcement officials. He was captured in the act on surveillance tape and found with bogus bar code printouts in his car and hundreds of Lego kits in his $2 million home.

Despite all that, the Barcode Bandit turned down a generous plea bargain and pleaded not guilty. Apparently Lego's Jailbreak Joe served as his legal counsel.

Reuters/Chris Helgren

Julian Assange

The Audacious Aussie makes his second consecutive appearance in the Gobblers thanks to his daring escape from house arrest at a tony Sussex estate to his current abode in London's Ecuadorian embassy, not to mention his punishing schedule of window frame press conferences and celebrity interviews.

We know he was famous for something once, but we can longer remember what it was.

Tumblr / Drunk Nate Silver

The meme machine

Texts From Hillary, Binders Full of Women, Mo Farrah Running Away, Big Bird Fired, Drunk Nate Silver, Gangnam-style everything, yadda yadda. The average elapsed time between news item to hashtag to fully fledged photo meme complete with its own Tumblr page has been reduced to less than five minutes.

Please, Internet memesters, just give it a rest. McKayla Maroney is not impressed.

Who are your top turkeys of 2012? Post them below or email me: Also: Happy Thanksgiving, all.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.