2013 – The Year of “oops”

Well 2013 is over, and it has been for a while when I write this because I am lazy, “cough” I mean wanted time to reflect. Although reusing that joke kinda makes me look lazy, doesn’t it. Anyway, I’m going to talk about 2013, but not the year as a whole, or anything like that. I’m going to focus on the tech industry in 2013, which can be summed up easily by a quote from someone at Rooster Teeth whose name I’m forgetting: “The year of oops”. Specifically, he was talking about the games industry, but I want to apply it to the broader tech industry as a whole, because in 2013 it came to a screeching halt.

I’ll start with the video game industry, which began this year with the runaway success that was the Wiiu… Okay, the fact that Nintendo prematurely released a console with not a game but Nintendo games for it is almost unsurprising at this point. I can’t remember people playing anything but Wii Sports for the first two years that console existed. The surprising thing this time was that it almost backfired. By almost I mean that I’m sure Nintendo made a lot of money off of the console, and I’m sure it will be a well loved platform in the future, but it has literally nothing to talk about on it. “Hey, have you played the Wiiu?” “Yeah, I played that cool remake of a 10 year old game on it!” “…” Is pretty much how it goes. But at least no news is good news when comparing that to Microsoft’s marketing and PR departments which appear to be made of one super-smart, typing weasel apiece.

I’m not sure exactly what Microsoft was thinking when telling people that their console was going to be doing all of the things people usually don’t like their electronic things doing: i.e. looking at them all the time. But it does show something that I am going to iterate and reiterate throughout this article: that people developing in tech companies have distanced themselves from the consumer, which makes it impossible for the developer to determine what the consumer wants. For instance, the developers at Microsoft, being around cameras all the time with high-speed internet, don’t understand that there are people, like myself, who don’t have reliable internet connections or enjoy weird, gimmicky, “cameras” staring at them all the time. The developer is so far removed from these problems that they are completely unaware that the consumer even has them.

But in the end, Microsoft did a 180 on all of that, and turned off all of their wonderful features they’ll patch back in in a few months “cough” “cough”. And throughout the entire thing Sony was in the back saying, “we don’t do that, or that, or especially that”. Keeping their mouths shut and letting the rather large ones at Microsoft make the mistakes and then address them was very clever of Sony. And in the end it looks like it might have won them the launch month, though if the past is any indication, that’ll even out over the next few years.

None of that really matters, though, because no games were released for either system, an artifact of the fact that they were just launched. I never get caught up in console hype for this reason. There are no games to play until the second year, at least. And with these always-on functions, I’m not sure I’m even going to buy a console from this generation. But for those who did buy this generation of consoles near release time, let’s at least hope that they are faster than Nintendo at releasing games for them and that they aren’t ask broken as GTA V and Battlefield 4.

Getting away from video games for a second… ha! just kidding! I’m gonna talk about Windows 8, which as far as I can tell is a phone gaming platform for your desktop. An OS that failed so miserably no huge amount of Surface tablet marketing, or giving them to all the TV shows, will save it. I’m sure Microsoft will be using those tablets for firewood soon the way they’re (not) flying off the shelves. This goes way back to the aforementioned disconnect between developer and consumer. Who asked for such a device or piece of software to be created? Clearly only people at Microsoft did. I have heard no excitement for Windows 8 (to be fair, no one is really excited about a new OS) and have not only not seen anything positive, I’ve barely seen anything at all. Such problems with the Xbox One (Did I mention how dumb that name is?) and Windows 8 (In which the titular “windows” were almost completely eliminated in windows 7) just prove that Microsoft is so big that it can just shove things at us and still make money.

And speaking of shoving things onto us, (every… single… segue… is going to be that clunky) Google decided that it hadn’t covered its quota of stupid stuff, and near the end of the year decided to shoe-horn in their failed social media site to Youtube (the only thing that makes Google money anymore) purely for statistics jacking purposes. “X-million people use Google+” now counts in at least 75% who do so under duress. What are you gonna do? Go get kicked off Blip? (something I have experience with!) As far as user-submitted, simple content, there is nowhere else to go. Blip and a few others are only for making shows and getting paid (two things I’m very bad at, so I see why they kicked me off). There is nowhere for that market to go, so they have to stay and make a Google+ account to use the basic functionality of the site they already signed up for. Hell, I had Google+ and didn’t want to link the two, why? Because the back end of Google sucks enough already without having to be afraid of accidentally moving to another service and being stuck in an infinite hole of madness. The whole guise of combining Google into “one service” or “one Account” is laughable when the rough edges between several completely different user interfaces glued together are at best badly blurred over with a Photoshop tool, and at worst serve to break the entire system. I still haven’t figured out how to get from Google+ to any other service, even though Adsense, Adwords, and Youtube all take me there. I just don’t understand how a company like Google, with so much money, infrastructure, servers, and interaction with people can create something so fundamentally broken. I mean they followed up the public stupidity that was Google Glass with this. (I forgot Glass was even in this year, because It was like five years ago that we figured out people don’t want to wear a computer on their face, or talk like an idiot to nothing, or be banned from literally every public place for spying, and don’t tell me someone can’t crack google glass in about a day and a half, because people do that with everything.)

None of this even mentions the fact that they’re basically spying on us and manipulating us into searching for what they want while chanting such a subjective, nebulous phrase like “don’t be evil”. The only way Google isn’t evil at this point is them standing up (read: trying to) the even larger travesty that is the NSA, who apparently think “help people” means “steal all of their personal information” or something similar. I can’t wait until they just accidentally release all of their data out into the wild like Target’s credit cards or Adobe’s passwords. I would have trusted Adobe more with my passwords than the NSA with where my phone has been and those guys still messed it over harder than someone trying to Google search in Facebook. So now that the Government (who, by the way, also says “don’t be evil”) and Google are spying on us, where do we turn? Right into our graves, I bet. RIght where people will be using our credit cards at Target and logging into Photoshop as us.

And that’s not all the stupid tech stuff the Government’s done this year. (I am in the US so Government means the US Government) Right after the shutdown, with its ridiculous premise of “you’re going to steal millions of dollars from the American people, so we’re going to steal it first and call you a sucker” (I hate these people), they rolled out a website for the bill they passed nearly five years ago, (in what I’m sure was a plot to make the next president look like a nob if he didn’t get reelected) but apparently this site was designed by Ted, the guy who knows computers, who sits right next to Tim, the guy who funds crack in the ‘Department of people who think they have Government jobs’ in the Government. Ted, the guy who knows computers, apparently said he could design a website (he made one for his dog), and then bopped off (with a billion dollars the way our government spends), leaving the website so broken that even the NSA’s inexplicable number of servers couldn’t save it (they should have called Microsoft).

Now some may say they should have called Apple, but Apple is experiencing its own problems now that the only person who knew what he was doing in the entire company is gone. Apple products are now as buggy as anything else now that the man who actually yelled at people who did something wrong is gone. Remember how much Apple sucked without Jobs before? If you don’t, it was like Microsoft with more colors and fewer features. Now the Iphone has become just another gimmick “ooooohhhh, different colors, oooohhhh, cheaper plastic version” I went on record saying that the second the Iphone 5c releases the Iphone has lost its exclusivity and thus a huge percent of its market share. With a few more years of this the IOS and Android (oh, hey, something good Google did, and I never use!) will be indistinguishable save for the fact that the IOS has a higher barrier to entry. Who do you think’ll win that?

But not to worry, Apple will stay afloat with the new Mac Pro, assuming people don’t throw away too many things into is trashcan center (it’s where you store the snacks). Even though they were technically released this year, they won’t be going to consumers for another few months, partially because they are made in America, and partly because Apple just wanted to release them early and said “release” with an unfinished product, another trend I don’t like. And it doesn’t have USB ports, which ensures that I won’t be buying one for three decades. Seriously, I still have several operating computers that exclusively use serial ports. But wait, there is a new Ipad! It’s about a millimeter thinner than the others, and oh, who cares anymore? Apple releases so many stupid updates to its products it sounds like Call of Duty at this point. And they broke their OS, and the Email software, and they broke Itunes for me about 17 updates ago so I don’t care. I kinda just want Apple to shut up.

Now let’s finish up with disappointment at things that nobody cared about in the end. Samsung released a watch phone, because everyone was just dying for one of those to make them look like an idiot and not at all like Dick Tracy or the Jetsons, as the commercial would have one believe. Again, another product that no one asked for and I’m positive no one wanted, just throw it in the bin with our futuristic glasses that cost more than your car and continue to surf the web on a slab and play games with a controler like a sane person. And finally, the biggest disappointment… Yahoo didn’t screw up Tumblr. Well, at least not yet, nothings happened, I mean Tumblr is still great. Who’d have thunk (ha, it’s funny because it’s wrong) that the only companies in the tech industry to not screw up this year are the newest, and the one known for screwing up. That’s both great and terrifying. And while 2013 may have been a good year for people I can say with certainty that I hope in 2014 the tech people will again figure out how to do their jobs. I hope y’all had a good 2013 and I hope you have an even better 2014, I might see you there, but probably not, because we are interacting through text on a computer screen.

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