In more ways than one, 2021 looked a lot like 2020, especially when it comes to technology. A number of the biggest tech failures of the past year have involved the same companies doing the same things and expecting a different outcome.
From console outages to security breaches to Facebook, the past year has been a bit of a redux. Still, there were plenty of other goofy behaviors on the part of tech companies.
We’ve picked out some of the most notable weak spots to highlight at the end of the year.
Before this absurd video – the official rollout of Facebook’s rebranding as Meta – the word “Metaverse” was something you’d only hear venture capitalists talking about in hushed circles online. Presented at Facebook Connect 2021, this clip previewed Mark Zuckerberg’s vision for the future. And it all looked like a Fortnite event. He dressed his avatar in a skeleton outfit (a huge “hello teenage friends” moment for all Phoebe Bridgers fans), then went to a meeting in a space zone.
But none of it would have been so mocking, if it hadn’t happened in the shadow of Facebook papers. Whistleblower legal counsel Frances Haugen had provided redacted versions of damning internal Facebook documents that revealed our worst opinions on the social media giant were correct. The company knew its Instagram app was terrible for teenage mental health, and that was just the tip of the iceberg. But, surely, a new name and virtual avatars were the way to sort it all out, right? – Henry T. Casey
- PS5 and Xbox Series X restocking nightmare continues
- AWS SOS: Amazon is shutting down the web
- Activision in a Blizzard of Bad Behavior
- Tesla’s “full self-driving” mode
- Apple backs off review of iPhones for child abuse
- Talk and Gab Hacked
- T-Mobile data breach (s) – again
- Apple’s overpriced cleaning cloth
- Log4j server vulnerabilities
- The boring year of YouTube TV with platform issues
PS5 and Xbox Series X restocking nightmare continues
As with 2020, it was still nearly impossible to find a PS5 or Xbox Series X, due to supply chain issues as well as bots grabbing consoles whenever there was a PS5 or Xbox restock. Series X.
And it wasn’t just the next-gen consoles. Thanks to the same supply chain issues and bitcoin miners, it’s still incredibly difficult to find high-end gaming GPUs, like the Nvidia 30-series graphics cards. Even the expected arrival of Nvidia 40 series GPU cards in 2022 is not going to improve the situation for a long time.
AWS SOS: Amazon is shutting down the web
Amazon Web Services wasn’t the only major web hosting service having problems this year, but when you have two outages in the span of a week – both in November – and a third in late December, and you are one of the biggest vendors around, it’s hard not to notice. the first AWS failure on sites like Disney +, Ring, Prime Video and Alexa, while the second AWS outage affected Twitch, Doordash and the PlayStation Network, among others.
A even more serious Internet failure in June, caused by content delivery network (CDN) provider Fastly, took down sites like Reddit, Amazon, Twitch, Etsy, PayPal, Venmo, Giphy, Target, eBay, BBC, CNN, Squarespace (and all sites Web it hosts), as well as streaming services like HBO Max, Vimeo, Spotify, and Hulu. Most of the web, then.
Activision in a Blizzard of Bad Behavior
In July, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing filed a lawsuit against Activision, alleging gender discrimination, rape and a “frat boy” culture that tolerated hostile working conditions for women. Additionally, CEO Bobby Kotick was aware of many of these allegations, according to a Wall Street Journal article, but did nothing about them.
But rather than resign or fire Kotick in the face of pressure from shareholders and employees – as well as criticism from Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo – the company instead announced a “Responsibility committee at work”To improve the corporate culture and eliminate all forms of harassment. Considering the trial allegations, it seemed too little, too late.
Tesla’s “full self-driving” mode
A year from now, cars will be able to drive us autonomously wherever we want to go, and we’ll never have to get our hands on a steering wheel or pay attention to what the car is doing again. But 2021 was not that year, despite the launch of Tesla’s “Full Self Driving” mode.
Released in beta in July – as a $ 10,000 add-on or as a $ 200 / month subscription – testers were warned to “Only use full autonomous driving in limited beta if you’re wearing constant attention to the road and be prepared to act immediately, especially in blind spots, at intersections and in tight driving situations. ” In October, Tesla released an update that caused “phantom braking,” but released a more recent update in late December that is believed to fix the issue.
Apple backs off review of iPhones for child abuse
In August, Apple announced that it will roll out a program who would scan everyone’s iPhone, iMessages and iCloud accounts for images of child abuse, then notify the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) if a certain threshold was reached.
It is a noble goal and a policy similar to those put in place by Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Twitter. However, the message around the deployment of the policy, its arbitrariness (it would take 30 photos to trigger an alert) plus the idea that Apple had carte blanche to look inside your phone, caused a backlash. In September, Apple announced the postponement of the CSAM program.
Talk and Gab Hacked
No matter who’s in office, it’s hard to start a social media site with a singular bent. Concrete example: Parler, which promised to be the right-wing alternative to Twitter and Facebook, but was excluded from the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store following the January 6 Capitol riots so as not to moderating racist, homophobic and anti-Semitic content, among others.
In addition, before the site is taken offline, activist hackers managed to archive almost all publicly available messages posted by Talking users, a total of 70TB of data. Speak was reinstated in the App Store in May, after adding “improved threat and inducement reporting tools.”
And it’s not just Talking; the far-right Gab site was also reportedly hacked in February by DDoSecrets, which said it would make the 70 GB of data – which includes passwords and private messages – available to researchers and journalists.
T-Mobile data breach (s) – again
T-Mobile does not have an excellent track record of securing customer data. In August, a data thief claimed to have stolen information from 100 million customers, including 30 million Social security numbers and driver’s license numbers. This was at least the fourth time the company had been hacked in the past 18 months – there were also incidents in March 2021, december 2020 and march 2020.
Apple’s overpriced cleaning cloth
Yes, Apple products are generally more expensive than their PC and Android counterparts, but many consumers are willing to accept “Apple tax” for product design and user experience. But $ 19 for a polishing cloth? Let’s go.
Yes, this gray nanofiber cloth has a subtle embossed Apple logo, but when you can buy a pack of 30 microfiber cloths on Amazon for the same price, Apple’s premium fabric looks ridiculously expensive. What’s more incredible is that Apple’s Polishing Cloth quickly sold out.
Log4j server vulnerabilities
We had never heard of it either, but a little server software component called log4j almost brought down the Internet in early December. It turned out to have security holes that could allow hackers to take over computers with just one line of text.
With the exception of Minecraft players running the Java edition of the game, consumer PCs and smartphones are unaffected, but millions of web servers around the world are still at high risk of being hacked – and countless personal information, banking and credit information. credit card and account passwords could be stolen.
Like a lot of free open source software, Log4j is maintained by a handful of volunteers working in their spare time. It is time for the big companies that use such software to start paying these software developers for their time and effort.
The boring year of YouTube TV with platform issues
Where do we start? Roku and YouTube TV spent the year building up muscle, as the Live TV app dropped from the Roku Channel Store. YouTube TV was then tucked inside the main YouTube Roku app, which was a nifty way to keep it alive for new subscribers. After that, the negotiations between YouTube and Roku got so bad that the YouTube app was almost completely excluded from the Roku Channel store. Fortunately, a last second fix was found. In the same way, YouTube TV and NBCUniversal almost had a falling out, with their deadline extended so no one missed Sunday Night Football or SNL.
But then YouTube TV lost ESPN, ABC and other chains owned by Disney. The channels disappeared at midnight on Saturday December 18th and have probably sent many customers looking for ways to watch these channels, as on Slingshot television and fubo tv. Fortunately, the dispute was resolved on Sunday, December 19, but that kind of annoyance was not what nobody wanted to see on YouTube TV. We cut the cord to escape these frustrating moments. – Henry T. Casey
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