Quotes of note from 2008

2008 provided plenty of notable quotables in the tech world; here's a rundown of some the best, funniest, and most eyebrow-raising ones

So many notable quotes, so little space to recount them -- that's the annual conundrum as we think back on the year and recall comments that stuck with us long after they were uttered. We've assembled some of those notable comments from stories we wrote and stories we read and offer them here in not-quite chronological order because we wanted to let Oracle CEO Larry Ellison have the last word.

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So much for holiday spirit
"It seems Ellis got fed up with Danny being obsessed with the Wii and refusing to play with him. He was told it was his turn on the Wii next, but he took it a bit too literally and used his secret weapon to sabotage the machine." -- Kerry Emsley, the mother of Danny Emsley and his 4-year-old brother Ellis, who ruined Danny's Wii by, well, weeing on it after his brother refused to share.

"It must surely be counted as a leak." -- Darren Emsley, the boys' father, who spent months trying to find the Wii for Danny, commenting that he hoped the "accident" would be covered by home-owner's insurance.

Lights! Cameras! Action!
"In a funny sort of way, I now know why Britney Spears is so screwed up. I'd never been to this kind of a photo shoot before. So I flew down to La Guardia and was driven to Soho Studios, which has this cool post-industrial look, which is very good for this kind of thing. I went into this studio and immediately had a makeup person, a wardrobe person, and a person who was offering me vegetarian smoothies. And I thought, if you lived in a world where people were doing your hair, your face, dressing you and bringing you smoothies, you might really believe that you are somebody more than an average human." -- John Halamka, CIO of Harvard Medical School and the CareGroup, in a January interview with CIO, talking about his appearance in a BlackBerry advertising campaign.

Who cares?
"Let a marketing person loose for 10 minutes and they'll come up with a category. You can say UMPC or MID, what the hell's the difference?" -- Phil McKinney, then-CTO at Hewlett-Packard, expressing exasperation at the Consumer Electronics Show regarding various terminology used to describe ultramobile PCs.

Feeling Blu
"As you can probably guess, all of us at Sony are feeling blue today. But that's a good feeling." -- Sony CEO Howard Stringer speaking at CES two days after Warner Bros. announced plans to back Blu-ray Disc.

But there's another view of Blu-ray
"You know, Blu-ray is a bag of hurt. I don't mean from a consumer point of view -- it's great to watch movies -- but the licensing is so complex. We're waiting until things settle down and Blu-ray takes off in the marketplace before we burden our customers with the cost of the licensing and the cost of the drives." -- Apple CEO Steve Jobs.

Do no evil
"While the rights they've reserved themselves are very broad, it's probably a case of their actual practice being more conservative. We just have to hope they maintain their stance of not being evil." -- Josh King, vice president for business development and general counsel at Avvo.com, a legal advice site, talking about Google's claims that its terms of service gave it a license to user content in various of its products.

"All these labels -- 'geek' and 'nerd' and 'mild Asperger's -- are all getting at the same thing.... The Asperger's brain is interested in things rather than people, and people who are interested in things have given us the computer you're working on right now." -- Temple Grandin, an associate professor at Colorado State University, on the connection between people with a form of autism called Asperger's Syndrome and IT professionals.

Shortage? What shortage?
"We've got four 300-millimeter fabs, so we can really hose this stuff out," said Sean Maloney, executive vice president and chief sales and marketing officer at Intel, explaining in June how the company planned to fix a shortage of its low-cost, low-power Atom processors. By October, the shortage was over.

A bunch of what?!
"I think the OpenBSD crowd is a bunch of masturbating monkeys, in that they make such a big deal about concentrating on security to the point where they pretty much admit that nothing else matters to them" -- Linus Torvalds, with characteristic color, explaining why he's fed up with security companies hyping software vulnerabilities.

Hamilton, Madison, Jay turn in their graves
"I get the sense that the court is suffering from a poor understanding of how anonymous speech works in the Internet age. I find the court's attempt to compare The Federalist Papers to the likes of penis enlargement e-mails not only wrong-headed but ultimately offensive to the reasons why we have a First Amendment." -- Ray Everett-Church, director of privacy and industry relations at e-mail marketing vendor Responsys and a critic of spammers, questioning a Virginia Supreme Court decision in September.

Ouch! That will leave a mark
"When you have an object that extends from the surface of Earth to geosynchronous altitude, every satellite currently in orbit, every piece of debris, and every satellite in the future will crash into the elevator. Every one, with no exception." -- Ivan Bekey, a former NASA scientist currently with Bekey Designs, speaking at a "space elevator" conference.

"It's not good to have lots of undigested products in your range. Symantec and McAfee both have indigestion." -- Websense CEO Gene Hodges on his company's plans to eschew the acquisition fervor that hit the enterprise security software market. As for whether Websense would be acquired, Hodges said that's "in the hands of the gods."

Application squirts
"All you do is squirt applications to the cloud." -- Richard Payling, Capgemini vice president of global outsourcing regarding a partnership under which is company and Amazon.com will offer application development and hosting services using Amazon's infrastructure.

Woe unto the engineers
"Engineers will no longer have any influence or say whatsoever in the way that their product appears to the outside world," either to end-users or IT administrators. -- Avaya president and CEO Charles Giancarlo at VoiceCon regarding the effect of a product development reorganization at his company.

From the Yahoo-Microsoft saga
"Until now I naively believed that self-destructive doomsday machines were fictional devices found only in James Bond movies. I never believed that anyone would actually create and activate one in real life. I guess I never knew about [Jerry] Yang and the Yahoo Board," billionaire investor Carl Icahn, in a June 4 letter to Yahoo Board Chairman Roy Bostock, referring to a severance plan Yahoo adopted shortly after Microsoft made its acquisition bid, and which Icahn termed a poison pill measure to scare Microsoft away.

"To this day I would say that the best thing for Microsoft to do is to buy Yahoo." -- Jerry Yang on Nov. 5, during a keynote appearance at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco, shortly after the Google search ad deal collapsed and days before announcing he would step down as CEO as soon as a replacement is found.

[ For the complete saga of Microsoft's attempted takeover of Yahoo, check out InfoWorld's special report ]

Tell it, Larry!
"The interesting thing about cloud computing is that we've redefined cloud computing to include everything that we already do. I can't think of anything that isn't cloud computing with all of these announcements. The computer industry is the only industry that is more fashion-driven than women's fashion. Maybe I'm an idiot, but I have no idea what anyone is talking about. What is it? It's complete gibberish. It's insane. When is this idiocy going to stop?

"We'll make cloud computing announcements. I'm not going to fight this thing. But I don't understand what we would do differently in the light of cloud computing other than change the wording of some of our ads. That's my view." -- Oracle CEO Larry Ellison during a meeting with analysts when he was asked what Oracle is doing about cloud computing.

Stephen Lawson, James Niccolai and Agam Shah in San Francisco; Fred O'Connor and Elizabeth Heichler in Boston; Juan Carlos Perez in Miami; Sumner Lemon in Singapore; and Jason Snell of Macworld contributed to this round up of 2008 quotes.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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