Readers rant: On IBM's Watson, Apple's sins, hacker superheroes, and Charlie Sheen

Are computers taking over? Is Apple's system really closed? Will hacktivists save us? What the heck is tiger blood? My readers have the answers

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In "2011: The year hacking goes mainstream" and "Anonymous no more: HBGary goes down," I wrote about the war between the hacktivist collective Anonymous and the formerly obscure security firm HBGary Federal, which got publicly pantsed by the Anons, revealing all manner of dirty dealings. C. B., a college student studying computer security, writes:

I've heard many times that hackers are proficient at getting into others computers and networks but not very good at securing their own. From reading your article, it sounds well proven. Things are starting to get nasty in cyberspace. The war is beginning, we need to train our "special forces" to combat the impeding threat. Maybe someone should start a "Justice League of Internet Heroes". Not hacktivists, but people who will do what's just and what's right.

You convinced me, C. B. I'm running out and getting fitted for my costume right now. I'm told I look quite dashing in spandex and a cape.

AOL's paying $315 million for the Huffington Post definitely stuck in my craw; I wrote two posts about it ("AOL buys Huffington Post, kills quality content as we know it" and "Lessons from the AOL-Huffington Post buyout: The mediocre shall inherit the Web"). Frequent correspondent B. B. thinks I've got my boxers in a bunch over the wrong things:

I don't get why AOL's recent acquisition deserved any mention, much less the full column you devoted to the subject…. Pointing out the dumbing down of the net thanks to the AOLamers and the Huffers hardly makes you an "old fart," but I think your slings and arrows were better aimed at Twitter and Facebook. At its most pervasive, AOL has been nothing more than a way for the grandparents and other computer neophytes to get online, and Arriana is at most a Kardashian-level luminary. By contrast, Twitter and Facebook both serve relentlessly to ensure that the school age generation will be the least educated and least productive that America has produced in the last century.

On the other hand, R. S., a well-respected security wonk, writes:

Awesome column Cringe. Yours is the only writing that has pointed out the emperor has no clothes aspect of the Huffington Post. (You could have pointed out that the models in the ads have no clothes but that would be stating the obvious).

Then, of course, there's Charlie. Cringe fan W. M. feels for the folks working on the show "Two and a Half Men" not named Sheen and what they've endured over the last nine seasons:

They must have been surviving on stomach acid, wondering when Old Charlie would self destruct and take them with him. After hearing his rant on TV, I think he needs a speech writer. All those on the show score high marks for keeping the magic that kept TV's Charlie going for so long so well.

Not to mention Jon Cryer. Is anybody thinking about Jon Cryer? And the fat kid, whatever his name is. What will happen to them?

Finally, last week I took other bloggers to task over the promulgation of "white iPad" rumors (which turned out to be true, strangely enough). Reader T. H. wonders whether I'm suffering from a Sheen-like dementia:

...was this piece really worth the electrons you seriously disturbed? Maybe IDG is demanding too many words from you to show me the quality and professional reporting I have seen for how many decades from you? ...Somehow, my brain logic does a 404 error for why you wrote this piece. As I said, I might be getting old. And maybe you are too.

Guilty on all counts. But you'll know I've really lost it when I start showing up on talk shows boasting about my Adonis DNA and my tiger blood.

Got a bone to pick with Cringe? How about the whole skeleton? What other worthy topics have I ignored? Cast your thoughts below or drop me a line:

This article, "Readers rant: On IBM's Watson, Apple's sins, hacker superheroes, and Charlie Sheen," was originally published at Track the crazy twists and turns of the tech industry with Robert X. Cringeley's Notes from the Field blog, and subscribe to Cringely's Notes from the Underground newsletter. For the latest business technology news, follow on Twitter.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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