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You've Been a Naughty Boy, Billy

Bill Gates got a big lump of coal in his stocking this year from PC World magazine, which gave Microsoft's Windows Vista operating system the


Bill Gates got a big lump of coal in his stocking this year from PC World magazine, which gave Microsoft's Windows Vista operating system the top spot on its list of "The 15 Biggest Tech Disappointments of 2007."

"Five years in the making and this is the best Microsoft could do?" the magazine mused. "It's not that Vista is awful. ... It's just that Vista isn't all that good."

PC World's editors blasted Vista for being slower than its XP predecessor, for incompatibilities with earlier software and hardware, for its irritating security features and for its price tag - $399 for Vista Ultimate.

"No wonder so many users are clinging to XP like shipwrecked sailors to a life raft, while others who made the upgrade are switching back," the magazine wrote.

Despite all its shortcomings, the editors added, "We have no doubt Vista will come to dominate the PC landscape, if only because it will become increasingly hard to buy a new machine that doesn't have it pre-installed. And that's disappointing in its own right."

Megadittoes to that.

Some other prize Christmas turkeys on PC World's list:

#10 - Wireless Carriers. "Today's cell phone hardware is wildly innovative. ... But innovative wireless service providers? Few and far between. Voice call quality still sucks, high-speed data networks are still scarce, and the companies still want too big a chunk of our wallets ($2.50 for a 20-second ring tone -exsqueeze me?). Worse, the inability to easily switch U.S. carriers but keep your phone is grating."

#9 - Microsoft Office 2007. "Many of us spent a decade learning how to use Microsoft Office. So now that we finally have it all down, Microsoft changes almost everything about the interface in 2007, and not for the better."

#8 - Apple's "Leopard" Operating System. "Maybe we just got spoiled by the iPod and iPhone, but the glow came off Steve Job's halo after this feline fleabag debuted."

#5 - The Apple iPhone. "... aside from minor flaws like a tiny touch keyboard and lack of Flash support, the phone itself is pretty terrific. But AT&T's broadband service? Definitely second-rate. And if you want to switch to a more reliable or faster carrier, you have to take your chances with the hackers."

#4 - Yahoo. " ... there's one area where Yahoo can lay claim to being Number One: creating political prisoners. At least three times over the past five years, information supplied by Yahoo...has led to the incarceration of Chinese dissidents."

#2 - The High-Def Format War between Sony's Blu-Ray and Toshiba's HD-DVD technology. "Did we learn nothing from VHS vs. Betamax, CD-R vs. CD-RW, DVD-A vs. SACD, and so on down the line? At least the warring DVD camps worked out a compromise in the mid-90s that allowed everyone to profit from the new movie format (though it took them a while). Not so in HD land, where a take-no-prisoners attitude on both sides has left consumers cold. It will be a snowy day in Video Hell before we'll put our money down on either format."

It All Depends Whose Weiner Is Gored

Michael Weiner, a right-wing radio screamer better known by his show-biz name of "Michael Savage," doesn't like a lot of people - liberals, environmentalists, feminists, gays, illegal immigrants and, especially, Muslims. And he's not shy about saying so.

A few weeks ago, Weiner/Savage - whose radio show, "Savage Nation," reaches an estimated audience of 10 million, the third-biggest in the country behind Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity - unleashed an especially vituperative tirade against Islam and its followers. The Koran, he said, is "a book of hate," Muslims "need deportation," and followers of Mohammed should "take your religion and shove it up your behind" because "I'm sick of you."

The Council on American-Islamic Relations didn't like Weiner's comments one bit. It distributed his comments all over the Internet and called for a boycott of his advertisers.

The boycott has had a bite: According to the New York Times at least two major sponsors have pulled their spots, and Weiner himself says he's lost a million dollars worth of ad revenue for next year.

The Savage Weiner decided to fight back in an unusual way: Earlier this month he filed a copyright infringement suit against the council on the grounds that it was using his words to solicit contributions on its website (

"If they are trying to hang me by my own petard, they have no right to use my petard," Weiner told the Times. "It's my petard, not theirs."

A council spokesman said the lawsuit "seems to be a legal and rhetorical rant" and that the council's use of Weiner's words is protected by the legal doctrine of fair use, which allows excerpting of copyrighted material for purposes of social commentary.

And the Times commented: "Mr. Savage has put himself in an odd position for someone who makes his living talking and is a fierce advocate for free speech: He is complaining about others quoting him."

Meanwhile, Weiner is saying people who are offended by his remarks need to lighten up.

"Remember, I'm a New Yorker," he said. "I grew up on sarcasm and satire. People are too literal, No. 1, and they don't have a true sense of humor, No. 2."

We are not amused, Mike.

Ethics? Bah, Humbug!

This "war on Christmas" is getting ridiculous. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce just fired Santa Claus.

Well, it's actually a little more complicated than that.

For years, Santa and his entourage of elves has been a popular feature of the Chamber's annual Christmas party, one of the swankiest events of the Washington holiday season. But under strict new ethics rules passed by Congress, members of the august body are prohibited from accepting any "gifts of value" from lobbyists.

So this year, fearing that photos with Santa could be construed as "gifts of value," the Chamber handed the jolly fat man a pink slip.

Fortunately, even without a Santa the party was still awash in Christmas spirit - as well as spirits of many other varieties.

Getting rid of Santa "wasn't tantamount to coal in partygoers' stockings, since the open bars and plentiful cocktail snacks (albeit very, very tiny ones, so as not to violate the ethics rules, which have been interpreted to exclude food needing a knife and fork) were there to console revelers, no matter if they had been nice - or naughty - this year," reported Roll Call, the Capitol Hill newspaper.

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