Daniel Eran Dilger
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Dan Lyons, Paul Thurrott: the Fake and the Phony

Dan Lyons Paul Thurrott.001

Daniel Eran Dilger

Two notorious Microsoft shills, Dan Lyons and Paul Thurrott, have sunk to new lows of historical revisionism order to decry that “the media” is conspiring to uncritically fawn over a company other than the one they have uncritically fawned over as paid flacks over the last decade. They’re wrong, here’s why.
Paul Thurrott and the Amiga.

Thurrott has lived the majority of his adult life bitter and angry about Apple. He started out his tech career as an Amiga fan. This is an important detail to consider because there was something about Commodore’s Amiga that attracted an intensely religious fervor that even Commodore’s death couldn’t extinguish.

For extremist nerds, the Amiga was Elvis, Jesus, alien abduction, heroine, the Qur’an, and the Klingon language all wrapped up into one product and branded with a name that suggested the idea of having a hot Spanish girlfriend: a life changing, unforgettable fantasy that had to be aggressively advocated until death.

Amiga was a Mac that was cheaper than the Mac, and it had some cool nerdery hardware that set it apart on a technical level, even if it didn’t look as sharp. This made Apple the natural enemy of Amiga fans, because religious devotees hate nothing more than a stronger, smarter, and more popular alternative to their own deity, particularly when they can clearly see that their god is the only true god and that all alternatives are phony heretical impostors that deserve a painful death.

Despite the fact that the two companies didn’t every really directly compete, when Apple outlasted Commodore, certain Amiga fans vowed revenge upon Apple in a blood pact of hatred that could never be overcome. Like many Amiga devotes, Thurrott channeled his intense hatred for Apple into Windows advocacy in the mid 90s, thinking that only the death of Apple at Microsoft’s hands could atone for the company’s sin in outlasting the Amiga. I am, of course, not making any of this stuff up.

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SCO, Linux, and Microsoft in the History of OS: 1980s
Microsoft’s Plot to Kill QuickTime

Amiga Replacement Therapy as a Windows Enthusiast.

Over the next half decade, Apple’s squirming torture in the hell created by the spread of Windows fed Thurrott like a loving mother. He celebrated every word uttered by the man he always referred to as “the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Microsoft,” Bill Gates. Year after year, Gates would introduce some ridiculous product idea destined for failure, and Thurrott would write about it as if it were magical manna from heaven that would poison remaining Mac heretics to death.

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Innovation: Apple at Macworld vs Microsoft at CES

However, around 2004 something horrible happened to Thurrott’s comfortable world of nursing at the bosom of Microsoft; Steve Jobs’ Apple began to gain traction in areas where Microsoft was flailing out of control. Microsoft’s plans to dominate music and other digital media with Windows Media DRM began to unravel as Apple built itself a competent foundation with the iPod and iTunes. Microsoft’s Longhorn operating system turned into a joke even as Mac OS X started being taken seriously.

Windows 95 and Vista: Why 2007 Won’t Be Like 1995
Windows Vista, 7, and Singularity: The New Copland, Gershwin

Previously, Microsoft had been so isolated from any real competition that the company’s failures were exempt from criticism. Microsoft had been held afloat by a servile tech media like the Supreme Soviet in the pages of Pravda: no amount of failure could possibly matter because there were no other valid alternatives to even consider. The official advice: it’s best to just wait and see how the supreme commanders would solve the problems they caused.

Soviet Microsoft: Stockholm Soviet Microsoft: How Resistance to Free Markets and Open Ideas
Syndrome Among Unswitchable Windows Users

When Microsoft released slow software, the potential for faster hardware was offered as a solution. When Microsoft delivered products full of security holes, performance-sapping layers of anti-virus diapers were presented as the remedy. When unworkably absurd levels of DRM were issued by the company as the future of digital media playback, passive acceptance was enthusiastically recommended by Windows Enthusiasts, including Thurrott himself of course.

Zune vs. iPhone: Five Phases of Media Coverage

The Jehad upon Apple

Thurrott and his compatriots of Microsoft Apologists found it increasingly difficult to maintain their devoted ideology once Microsoft started looking ridiculous in direct comparison to Apple, a much smaller company with a fraction of Microsoft’s resources. Thurrott first sought to console his readers with the idea that Apple could never matter because of its limited size in terms of the worldwide market share of all PCs and server products. He simply begged people to ignore the company.

WWDC Secrets Paul Thurrott Hopes You Miss

When Apple became impossible to ignore by encroaching into markets that represented the holy territory granted by god to Microsoft, Thurrott began posing as an Apple user so he could less threateningly communicate his great displeasure with every aspect of the company’s products. One of the most troubling problems with Apple products, Thurrott the Phony complains, is that the company doesn’t use its products to sell Microsoft’s. One example is that MobileMe doesn’t sync with Windows Vista Calendar; of course, that’s actually because Vista’s Calendar doesn’t yet work yet. Not even Microsoft can sync with it.

While complaining about Apple’s products as a phony fan, Thurrott also takes every opportunity to castigate a phony, invented stereotype of Mac users as worshipers of Steve Jobs who never complain and eat up the company’s products like brainwashed zombies. Of course, anyone who has ever stumbled upon a Mac-centric web page knows that Mac users are really the biggest bunch of unsatisfiable complainers ever. And while they may sometimes acknowledge a respect for Jobs’ style and contributions, they’re quick to tease, question, accuse, or even sue the company’s executive whenever a hat drops.

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Paul Thurrott’s Merciless Attack on Artie MacStrawman

The Mirror Attack.

Thurrott the Phony’s schtick is difficult to maintain for years on end, so Thurrott has lately put into use the most devastating weapon from the toolbox of disgruntled ideological losers: take everything bad about yourself and your ideology and blame it upon whatever entity you despise. Suddenly, it is somehow Apple, not Microsoft, which is the media-coddled darling despite having no real accomplishments to warrant it.

And it is Steve Jobs, not Bill Gates, who has been deified and worshipped as a golden god by a reverent audience of followers, Thurrott insists. In contrast, he maintains, it is Microsoft that is the victim of lies and propaganda attacks. There was nothing wrong with Vista, or Windows Media DRM, or SPOT watches, or Windows CE, or the Zune, or the company’s terrible marketing, or the Xbox 360’s Red Ring of Death and its spontaneous fires.

Those problems were all fictions invented by the all powerful media to hurt the good guys at Microsoft and propel forward unremarkable products from Apple, products that are only popular because of the company’s mind control advertisements, which are really all lies that no one can see through apart from him and his Windows Enthusiast scribes.

Paul Thurrott calls Apple “the Bad Guys” of Microsoft’s $300 campaign

The Phony Loves the Fake.

Thurrott isn’t the only one to happen upon this vast conspiracy of liberal media elitism. He was recently delighted to find a similar mindset emanating from Fake Steve Jobs blogger Dan Lyons, the man who for years defended Microsoft and SCO and vilified open source, Linux, and IBM’s support for the otherwise defenseless volunteers who wrote the open code that dared compete against the Redmond monopolist. Lyon’s support for SCO and contempt for Linux was so intense that he found new adoration from the equally phony Rob Enderle.

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Daniel Lyons: Fake Steve Jobs and the SCO Shill Who Hated Linux

After SCO was exposed as a lying bunch of worthless scammers, Lyons moved on to a secret gig lampooning Apple’s CEO in an often comical blog. At the same time, his Fake Steve Jobs character always seemed to utter Microsoft talking points at just the time Microsoft wanted them talked about. Later, writing as an ostensibly real journalist, Lyons wrote enthusiastically about a box of Media Center gear Microsoft shipped to his house to review, carefully ignoring any flaws while weaving in scathing contempt for the competitive offerings from Apple.

Forbes’ Fake Steve Jobs Is Also Fake On Apple
Ten Myths of Leopard: 10 Leopard is a Vista Knockoff

The Fake now insists that he halted his Fake Steve Jobs column out of respect for Jobs’ health condition, not because his fifteen minutes of fame (and corporate sponsorship) had been exhausted. At the same time, he continues his speculative autopsy of Jobs in the role of a “journalist,” desperately trying to find ways to profit from lurid stabs into Jobs’ personal life before the man can recover. Most recently, the Fake has instigated a campaign to vilify Jobs for expressing too much optimism about his own health, and subsequently taking a break to focus on recovery after finding it necessary to do so.

The Fake has styled himself as a fearless whistleblower for calling Apple’s PR team “liars” and denouncing Jobs’ attempts to recover faster than his condition allowed, writing “the last six months have been the most outrageous example of the reality distortion field I’ve ever seen.” Outrageous, really? When members of the press make such ridiculous accusations about nothing, it only serves to erase the credibility and impact of the media when it says something important.

Additionally, prior to the eruption of a gaggle of book writing phonies that churned out books about Jobs that all purported to offer some deep insight into the man, but really only perpetuated tired stereotypes invented to create a vilified legend, the phrase “reality distortion field” was coined by Jobs’ employees to describe his ability to encourage them to do the impossible by challenging their notions of what they could accomplish. RDF has since become a derisive term suggesting evil mind control, thanks to these hacks with no perspective and less imagination, who have never accomplished much on their own besides bending the truth in their books in order to make things sound more entertaining and dramatic in predictable ways.

Like Thurrott the Phony, the Lyons the Fake also takes everything bad about himself and blames it upon the entity he despises. The Fake says Steve Jobs is an out of control, lying, emotional child prone to tantrums. At least that’s the idea he intended to suggest on CNBC recently, as he attempted to scream over the top of other speakers in fervent outbursts of unprofessionalism. Apple, he insisted, only wants to deal with journalists who aren’t scathing, prejudicial hacks out to vilify the company and its products. The nerve of the company! It should be handing favors to Microsoft shills just as Microsoft does.

Daniel Lyons Cries Wolf: The Real Bill Gates Behind the Fake Steve Jobs

The War on Rational Thought.

The Fake and the Phony are only echoing (rather ineffectually) the last gasp of another band of losers: the religious right neocons. Lyons’ self-affiliation with this group of ideological failures, who continue to make up roughly a third of the US voting population, was highlighted in the Fake’s assertion that “in the eyes of the media, Apple is the corporate equivalent of Barack Obama—a company that can do no wrong.”

Warning, yikes link: Rotten Reporting – Paul Thurrott SuperSite Blog

That extreme of an outlandish, unashamedly disingenuous claim would make even the worst ten dictators of the past century blush. When has the media given either Apple or Obama a free pass? And is this in contrast to Microsoft and outgoing President Bush, who have been apparently nailed to the cross by an aggressively critical, truth seeking press in some alternative universe? With that line, the Phony Dan Lyons has lost any shred of credibility he may have still had.

Even the most devoted Windows Enthusiast would have to admit that Microsoft was never seriously criticized in the media through a decade of criminally anticompetitive behavior and embarrassingly shoddy products. Only when Apple got its game plan together and began systematically embarrassing the company did anyone ever meekly point out that perhaps Microsoft’s offerings were not quite as good in some areas. And all the while, the tech media complained about niggles in the iPod, echoed the sentiment that despite its product quality Apple faced poor chances, worried about the iPhone’s $2000 price tag compared to $99 phones, and regularly cited Rob Enderle’s pessimistic outlooks for the company. It’s all there in the Internet Archive, folks.

Similarly, it is just absurd to a ridiculous extent to suggest that Obama has been given a special exemption from criticism when he was repeatedly badgered for knowing a man with a anarchist youth activism past, or having ties to a church where an angry cleric ranted criticism of the country, or being too physically fit to lead a nation a fat asses, or having too little experience, or being too closely related to people with a non-Christian religion, or being associated with a land deal attached to shady friends.

What an Obama Presidency Means for Technology
Obama-Biden, McCain-Palin: Scandals by the Numbers

What Apple and Obama share is a respect from those who have examined their accomplishments and vision. That’s not fake or phony, it’s real. Microsoft and Bush are not victims of a critical media, they have merely destroyed their own reputations through a pattern of illegal and often incompetent behavior, something that occasionally ends up getting passively reported. This is not a partisan or biased ideology, it’s facts based on the events that have occurred over the past decade.

Fair and balanced reporting is not the art of making the world appear equal and non-controversial. It is reporting things that are wrong, and reporting things that are right. It is not done by comparing events to a list of ideological concepts to determine which events should be reported and for how long, but rather in presenting all the facts without an agenda. By this measure, the Fake and the Phony have failed miserably. When they lie about themselves and everything they’ve stated in the past ten years, and try to flip reality on its back to insist that up is down and black is white, they only beg to be ignored.

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  • elean


    while I agree with most of the stuff you write and enjoy your fact rich and well investigated articles, I canot understand, why you lower yourself on a niveau of this childish game you play with this and similar posts. This only serves to decrease YOUR credibility. Why don’t you write like a grownup man and don’t insult others with nicknames like Fake or what ever. I know, those people themselves are childish and would diserve such names, but not in an open article. This canot add to your professionalism. So please, try to moderate your anger about the lies they spread and call them by their name or something and focus on clearing the lies. Don’t take it to such a personal war.

    Please note, I enjoy reading your blog! Also there are 2 typos I guess: – When has the media HAS given either…
    – the iPhone’s $200(0) price tag

    Thank you Dan, keep up your good work!

  • Orenge

    I was a HUGE Amiga fan. I could do some really cool stuff cheaply that my Mac and Windows schoolmates couldn’t do at any price.

    And when Amiga all but died, I jumped to the next best thing–I didn’t like it, but I didn’t resist the obvious: the Mac platform had the most potential. Potential which was fully realized with OS X!

    I don’t see why an Amiga user–or BeOS or any other cool but failed platform–would then jump the other way, AWAY from cutting edge technology, and embrace Windows! Craziness.

  • http://www.lowededwookie.com lowededwookie

    I’m the same as Orenge. The Amiga was technically superior in every way to either Mac or PC but was let down by retards in management.

    I went Mac because Amiga was dying and it was going to be $3000(NZ) cheaper to do desktop video on the Mac than on PC and easier too.

    That being said I do not regret my decision and would rather go without computers than go PC running Windows.

  • AvantKore

    Thank you for calling these two obnoxious “pundits” out.

    I’ve been quite fed up with their nonsense.

    A little off topic:

    What’s with all these praise about Win 7?

    I downloaded the beta and tried it out, well, it didn’t crap out on me or anything and that’s about it.

    I mean people’s expectation about this supposedly next big OS version is so low that they actually burst into tears just coz it work?!

    What’s wrong with the tech world, seriously.

  • Per

    I admire that you’re not afraid to step on anyone’s toes, including your fans here in the comments and in the forum. I think most bloggers would hesitate to do the same. I missed the golden age of the Amiga but I have fond memories of my friend’s old Amiga-branded Commodore (I think it was called the 500). Even if it was a simple kids’ computer it could do more cool stuff than more expensive Windows PCs at the time. I remember using a MIDI sequencer and recording the results to a cassette tape… ah… good times.

    I’d love to see Lyon’s face if he reads this. His latest appearance on TV really confirmed him as an arrogant prick and this article is a well-deserved kick in the nuts.

  • T. Durden

    I also used, and very much liked, the Amiga in the late 80’s-early 90’s. Then I went into academia and it was all Unix (still is in most universities if you do math and physics).

    Except for a few attempts to use Word on a PC, I didn’t really use Windows for anything until 2003 when I left academia. And then the only reason was that I do financial and insurance math where all clients want the pricing engines to have Excel interfaces. Economists seem to like putting numbers in boxes. As far as I’ve seen, the Office package really is the number one reason for Windows usage in these industries.

    For the wife, who’s in architecture, the only reason for Windows is that AutoCAD’s not available for Mac yet. There are other alternatives, but really, they’re not very well suited for large-scale projects.

    But I guess that was all a side note. I really enjoyed reading this article, even though I’ve no idea who these people you write about are. Guess I’m not going to make huge efforts finding out, either. It is fun to see that there’s so much animosity around these various operating systems – it really looks like a religious war at times.

  • Tardis

    Dan Lyons on that TV discussion came across as a jerk: it was a panel discussion with a half dozen “experts” making their case, but he couldn’t let the others talk.

    Over the past two years, I really enjoyed the “Fake Steve Jobs” characterisation that Dan Lyons did, and was disappointed at how bad his subsequent blog site was. I guess I should have known that, if he was so wrong about SCO, he was either stupid or pushing the Microsoft line.

    Curious to discover that when us fans of the Fake Steve Jobs site were amused by the “Fake Steve Jobs” and excited by his insight, it wasn’t driven by the humour, it wasn’t driven by insider knowledge or information, it was driven purely by hatred. How can such hatred be so insightful or so humourous?

  • chuckb

    Thanks for this. The link to Thurrott’s “supersite” page is worth viewing, if only as a look into the bizarro world of Paul Thurrott and the dittoheads who fill that echo chamber. Denial doesn’t begin to describe it.

    I suppose it is just a D-list blog that should be ignored, but I also wonder how many pockets like this exist in the world.

    Thurrott does reasonable technical commentary, but suffers from two failings: (1) he makes his living writing about Microsoft, so, like Enderle, he can no longer pretend to be objective. (2) He despises Apple.

    I’ve never thought to connect his early infatuation with the Amiga to his truly bizarre rants about Apple. I’m not sure I entirely agree with that analysis, and if it is a component, I don’t think he understands that himself. Instead, I think Thurrott just knows—again like Enderle—who butters his toast and he acts accordingly.

    His supersite blog is amusing if you don’t take it seriously because of the strange worldview he projects. The same day that 3 million Windows computers are taken over by a new worm, Paul writes about “rotten reporting” because Jobs wants to keep some privacy about his medical issues. Odd choice of emphasis on the “supersite for Windows”, but as I said, it is an odd little corner of the internet.

  • kimsnarf

    I loved the Amiga. Still do. In my experience, Amiga users were no more fanatical about their platform than Mac users were about theirs. And the Amiga users clearly had the better technology. Not to mention the price/performance ratio. There was simply no contest.

    As Amiga users we viewed Windows as a much bigger threat than Mac, judging by how all the uneducated computer newbies increasingly bought underperforming PCs with ridiculously primitive operating systems and user interfaces (that is, Windows up to and including 3.11). We knew better, but the masses didn’t, and Commodore apparently didn’t either. Nevertheless, Mac was viewed more as a cute sibling than as a competitor, being more simplified and toy-like in functionality and performance but sharing a common spirit in interface and usability.

    It was not until Windows 95 that I finally experienced an operating system that in some ways could compare to the now aging Amiga OS. The main advantage it shared with the Amiga was the preemptive multitasking. The cooperative multitasking of the Mac OS was a joke and a total showstopper for someone accustomed to the delightful speed and power of true multitasking. Since I had many Windows friends, but few Mac friends, the choice was easy when it finally became time to upgrade.

    I still haven’t bought or owned a Mac, although I see the many advantages of OS X compared to the current state of Windows. These days I use XP (for ease) and Linux (for fun and work). The main things preventing me from buying a Mac is the poor choice of hardware and the poor price/performance ratio. To date there is still no OS X capable machine out there that has managed to provide a combination of features and price that I find attractive. I have an iPod Touch, though, and it’s a great device. ;)

  • John

    I love your style because it’s thought provoking. I wish you would leave out the politics.

    I never had an amiga but I could tell from my friends that did how different and pleasurable they were. It was nice to have choice, a viewpoint that ms has twisted. Apple is the only innovator now which is sad and scarey.

    Your iPhone friendly site is awesome!

  • Curmudgeon Geographer

    “Religious right neocon” is an oxymoron. There is no such thing. A neocon is someone who *once* aligned themselves liberal or progressive but now leans conservative. The religious right has *always been* politically conservative and was never politically left. Just saying.

  • stefn

    Good article, Daniel.

    With others I think your argument loses force when you broaden it into both politics and religion. Too big a stretch.

    And I say that as someone who shares your outrage, as I sense it, over the Ponzi scheme that the Republican party has perpetrated on the country for the last couple decades: Promise wealth to 95 percent of the electorate to get them to vote against their own interests and provide it to 5 percent.

  • stefn

    That reminds me: I haven’t seen or heard from a Libertarian in months. I think they are all too busy sucking at the Treasury department’s tit to talk.

  • http://johnsessays.blogspot.com John Muir

    This article steps in two hornets nests I see! Not that this is unusual for RDM, of course.

    Re: the Amiga.

    I have one old friend who was an Amiga fanatic. Unlike other commenters, he wasn’t into it for the creative potential, but more the games. This was common in Brutain at the time, where the Amiga had a strong reputation as an affordable high end gaming system.

    When the Amiga died, he went Windows. Has been there ever since, much to my frustration! Games, games, games.

    Other Amiga fans – who really were into the platform as more than just a top of the line games console – do seem to have landed on both the Mac and the PC once their ship sunk.

    Those who came to the Mac did so for the interface and the creative apps. Those who went for the PC though … I can’t say I can read them as well.

    One reason Amiga fans could learn to hate Apple but love Microsoft is this: the Amiga failed where the Mac survived. Apple’s continued survival and subsequent Renaissance is a constant reminder of what could gave been if only Commodore weren’t run by fools. Microsoft, meanwhile, just feels like the faceless force of “standardization” which is what appeared to kill the Amiga.

    Au contraire! Commodore killed the Amiga. And Apple today just keeps proving it. Long live platform diversity!

  • http://johnsessays.blogspot.com John Muir

    Re: Dan Lyons

    I was one of Fake Steve’s oldest fans. His fantasy world of ogre Ballmer, lunatic Freetards and maniacal Jobs was regularly amusing and occasionally insightful.

    But when Lyons quit it, his apparently natural tendencies shone through instead. Namely an all too familiar obsession with bringing Apple back in line with their dull and directionless competitors, equally obvious inflation of whatever talking point was going round, and a persistent sense of the very same gutless yet venomous anger that he so often dismissed among “filthy hacks” in the guise of Fake Steve.

    The fantasy blog must have been a cathartic hobby for a while. Everything he’s written since sounds like he’s been in the trade too long and he knows it.

  • Per

    Sigh. Let’s not see more complaints about Dan’s political views. It’s so tiresome. I think he has made his definition of objectivity very clear:
    “Fair and balanced reporting is not the art of making the world appear equal and non-controversial. It is reporting things that are wrong, and reporting things that are right. It is not done by comparing events to a list of ideological concepts to determine which events should be reported and for how long, but rather in presenting all the facts without an agenda.”

    Some are bound to dislike Dan’s writing because they dislike Apple. Some are bound to dislike Dan’s writing because they dislike lefties/democrats/etc. The comments on Dan’s articles are the only comments I read. I find comments on most other sites too similar to the ones typically found on YouTube (i.e. so stupid I throw up a little when I read them). I’m sick of seing people complaining that somebody’s opinions don’t match their own without being able to factually refute any claims in the article. Start your own blog and see how many would interested to read it rather than complaining that someone with insights you lack doesn’t agree with you.

    RoughlyDrafted is the best technical commentary on the internet in my opinion and has mostly been blessed with an absence of trolls complaining about politics. I hope it stays that way.

  • kimsnarf

    @ John Muir:

    Actually, many Amiga fans went the PC route precisely because of the creative potential. Not in the Windows environment, but in DOS. That is, through directly accessing the graphics and audio hardware, like we did on the Amiga. Many Amiga fans were also avid members of the demo scene, and when the Amiga hardware stagnated they went the PC route (there was never a Mac route). At this time, the PC had started to become comparable in audio hardware and 2D graphics, and was far ahead in 3D graphics. Also, many of the favorite creative apps under Amiga had received adequate PC ports or alternatives, like pixel paint programs, music trackers, assemblers and ray tracers. With the advent of Windows 95 there was finally a usable GUI. Also, DirectX eventually provided efficient, standardized and user friendly access to the hardware through Windows. There was plenty of creativity to unleash on this platform.

    However, I still haven’t talked to a former (or current) Amiga user that actually loves Windows. It’s more of an acceptable fallback. A necessity while waiting for something better (although it has been a long wait). The Mac is still regarded by many as too expensive, too restrictive and too simplistic. Even though OS X now has much more in common with the Amiga OS than Windows. OS X is improving rapidly, though, and might convince us eventually. But for the tech savvy, Linux (e.g. Ubuntu) isn’t far off in the usability department, and much more flexible.

  • mozart

    I really enjoyed the article until you felt it necessary to denigrate religious people. I’ve used macs for decades, own my own business employing people form all backgrounds, attend church regularly, am raising my family with my wife, and am conservative. I fail to see where that makes me or others like me worthy of your hate. I, like you, find Lyons’ writing to be distasteful but by taking your argument into the realm of politics and religion you risk offending a great many of others that are like yourself but may have different personal beliefs. Dislike the man for his irrational writings about a superior product and his clearly dishonest way of going about it. Don’t condemn him because of his most personal belief system as you then do a disservice to your own argument. Take the high road.

  • John E

    i was wondering what had gotten Dan all fired up to rehash this history once again until i got to the link to Thurrott’s post of 1/18. well, let’s back up a bit and look at the bigger picture of tech “journalism.”

    actually there really isn’t much tech “journalism.” there are hundreds of blogs and a few dozen major websites of course. but most of the posts are superficial recaps of press releases, leaks and rumors (many/most wrong), personal rants (“10 things i like/don’t like about …”), and flat-out say-whatever-pops-into-my-head BS. Oh, plus tons of hit-whoring. solid analytical reporting where the writer digs out more of the relevant info on their own, including the full context of the matter in history, technology, or the market and then connects the dots intelligently, is very rare.

    the recent hype reporting around the Palm Pre is a great example. at the moment it is 100% promise-ware. nobody has even got to use one yet, literally! but based on a single CES presentation and a few minutes of totally controlled touch-and-feel many “tech writers” are gushing about it and drawing conclusions about its coming impact. this of course is just plain puff, not journalism [note: need to check how they reacted to Job’s announcement of the iPhone in January ’07 for comparison].

    then their are “house journalists” that specialize in one brand and rely on inside access to specific sources for detailed content that sets them apart from other writers. Mary Jo Foley’s MS reporting is a classic example. Apple doesn’t really have any of those – for better or worse it’s tight-lipped secrecy is certainly at the maximum level for the industry.

    Thurrott of course is really attacking his two main nemeses – Mossberg and Pogue, who write for two leading national media platforms, the NY Times and WSJ – that drive him green with envy. thanks to their elevated media platforms they no doubt get bigger speaking fees, book sales, etc., compared to the chump change that poor Paul T. can scarf up.

    Both Mossberg and Pogue have made it clear they do like Apple products in general. and Pogue has written “how to” books for Apple products, which moves him as close to the house journalist category as anyone writing about Apple. Both liked the iPhone from the start, and then Pogue in particular really trashed the Blackberry Storm. but anyone that reads them knows they certainly are not fanboys.

    it is Thurrott’s undisclosed “conflicts of interest” that put him into that special category of “journalistic whores.” his mom-and-pop consulting company takes fees from undisclosed clients that in the past at least included MS, yet he never discloses this fact to his readers. instead he throws mud at other people …

  • Bill

    Thurrott’s site seems meant to discourage Windows users from switching to Macs. He claims to try to balance the media coverage of Apple, which really means post as much bad stuff as I can imagine, and imagine he does! His tech reviews of Apple products, even when somewhat favorable, are filled with discouraging words, used exclusively for this purpose, including ‘flawed’ for the iPhone, although he claims it’s a good product. But this word is seldom if ever used for other products, including those he has deemed having less quality and reliability. He is a Microsoft shill and quite disingenuous, the 25 cent word that he loves to utilize. He often selectively exclude quotes from other sources, that would actually disprove facts that he is attempting to distort. There is a reason why he has gotten the Jackass or equivalent award at some sites. Worse yet, his blog is filled with Apple haters which attempt to back him up, adding red herring when proven wrong. I have no ill will to any OS maker, and use Windows and the Mac OS, which I prefer at home, but this guy has totally lost it. If Microsoft has so much market share, why does he feel compelled to publish all the anti-Apple stuff? Is it fear or mental illness? Is he jilted? It would serve him better to only publish or post his beloved Microsoft news improving credibility, or at least rename his website to accurately proclaim it as anti-Apple-propaganda.com. A decent, credible journalist is above the fray that has lower himself into.

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  • danpoarch

    Somehow the Corporate Culture that’s invaded our society since the 80s and 90s seems to have inverted success and failure, leaving us with a piss poor White House, a visionless technology sector, journalists who desperately avoiding reporting, perpetually loss-generating tactics on Wall Street, and a society seemingly happy to be hell-bent on self-destruction. It’s pattern that’s clear and easy to see but very hard to accept for those with the biggest mouths.

  • dizzle

    Dude, you are one of my heroes. The only thing that would have made this even more perfect was a good Enderle roasting. Lyons, Thurrott, and Enderle are the Triumvirate of the Orifi

  • WebManWalking

    “Of course, anyone who has ever stumbled upon a Mac-centric web page knows that Mac users are really the biggest bunch of unsatisfiable complainers ever.”

    This, to me, was the money shot of this post. It’s going to get quoted a lot.

    Of course, on pro-Windows sites, it’s going to get reworked into “Not even Daniel Eran Dilger himself can tolerate Mac users. He recently ranted ‘Mac users are really the biggest bunch of unsatisfiable complainers ever.'” Or maybe “Not even Daniel Eran Dilger’s own following can tolerate Mac users. In a recent RoughlyDrafted article, commenter WebManWalking ranted ‘Mac users are really the biggest bunch of unsatisfiable complainers ever.'”

    Of course, the value-judgment-neutral word is “demanding”. If you’re overworked by an unappreciative boss, it’s a bitter insult. If you don’t work under that boss, and are happy with the results, it’s a glowing compliment. And there are all sorts of shades of gray between.

    Yes, we’re demanding. More importantly, STEVE JOBS is demanding. We choose to spend our money on a company’s products where the man at the top of that company has our back. We WANT insanely great stuff. He will settle for nothing less.

    The press is just people. There isn’t any law saying who is or isn’t allowed to be press, and in this country, there never can be. The press is asking, … we’re asking …, how will Apple do without Steve Jobs directly running the show? IMNotSoHO, Apple will do just fine, if someone rises to the challenge of DEMANDING insanely great products.

    Part of the confidence that Steve Jobs has to be that demanding is that he actually envisions a product better than anything currently possible. He envisions dragging and dropping a page from one PDF file into another. He envisions a single mouse click that means “I want to own that song” and everything else taken care of, from billing to delivery to syncing if you want that, all the way to your computer speakers or ear buds. He envisions watching a DVD to pass the time while you’re copying 500,000 files, and not experiencing even the tiniest audio or video glitch in the DVD playback. (Now that’s true preemptive multitasking.) He envisions true Unix with Activity Monitor as an alternative to “top”, Console as an alternative to remembering where all those log files are, an extensible System Preferences as an alternative to remembering where all of those preferences files are and what their formats are, Disk Utility, Migration Assistant, Network Utility, Raid Utility, System Profiler, etc, as an alternative to a hodgepodge of legacy command line utilities, written by many different programmers, each of whom had a different idea about how to structure a command line.

    Steve didn’t come up with all of these ideas himself. PARC showed him WYSIWYG, because they didn’t want that great idea to die in obscurity. He envisioned giving it to the masses as doable. At that time, it was a pretty hard vision to hold in one’s head. Lotta infrastructure required. And some of those insanely great ideas also came from us, because we’re unsatisfiable complainers, er, I meant to say, demanding.

    Apple will do just fine if a hard nose rises to the challenge of sifting through the myriad of ideas, finding the gems and demanding, demanding, demanding that their developers keep raising the bar.

  • jfatz

    Amiga fans are fools… It was of course the ATARI computer that was Elvis, Jesus, alien abduction, heroine, the Qur’an, and the Klingon language all wrapped up into one product!

  • http://johnsessays.blogspot.com John Muir

    @ jfatz

    Oddly enough, the only one of my friends who had an Atari ST doesn’t even have a computer today. Eccentric!

  • WebManWalking

    Odd. It says my post was at 5:00 and jfatz’s was at 5:07, yet my watch says 4:26, and I’m on the east coast.

    Dan, are you in New Brunswick, Bermuda or Puerto Rico?

  • http://johnsessays.blogspot.com John Muir

    @ John E

    You have the whole situation wrapped up right there. Thank goodness not all of journalism has descended to quite the same extent as the tech media.

    Coming up next:
    “10 more things I hate about iPhone”

  • Bill

    Elean, Dan is just calling them out. They are the wrong doers and the ones have intend to do harm because of irrational hatred. If they can do it, than so can we all. So if they can’t take it, then they shouldn’t dish it out.

    John E, Mr. Thurrott has disclosed his affiliation with Microsoft to some degree. It’s no secret that Thurrott has published books about Windows [pun intended] . Also, on his ‘what I use’ page, he fully discloses that he receives free software from MS. It’s his obsession and hatred toward Apple that makes no sense as his constant referral to Apples tiny market share would seemingly make Apple a non-threat to Windows, and something that he should ignore, rather than ruin his credibility as a good, non-biased journalist. Instead he chooses to accuse Apple of anything that can come to mind, and ignore Microsoft’s similar or worse short comings. A great example as that he calls Apple a liar, when Microsoft will go down in history as one of the largest acts of deceit in the ‘Vista Capable’ fiasco, which is currently a multimillion dollar, perhaps billion dollar lawsuit. It [Vista Capable] has harmed many, while none of his many acclaimed Apple ‘lies’ [as he suggests] has even come close to such monumental act of deceit with harm to buyers.

  • dizzle

    Paul’s live-blogging of the Keynote is classic. I will just repeat a few lines:

    >>So … iMovie 09 fixes the wrongs of iMovie 08. Good. But who EDITS video, really? >>

    Ummm Paul, welcome to this century. Mac users tend to edit video. Freakin idiot. And now it didn’t fix any “wrongs” like the utter fail that is Vista, users didn’t like some things, so they responded to users. Paul would bitch either way. After using 08 for a while, my initial problems were just that it was a new kind of interface. People who have never edited before found it great. It is those of us used to the way microsoft makes things overly complicated that didn’t.

    >>And speaking of applications targetting a seriously niche audience … GarageBand. 09. Oh my.>>

    Oh and what’s that new stupid Windows app? Paul, wake up. There is this thing called podcasting, and a ton of Mac users do it. And what is wrong with a niche audience Paul? Isn’t that precisely what YOUR website is, you dork.

    >>Why do they focus so much on things noone uses?”
    * “Case in point. Keynote. For those people who a) use Macs and b) give presentations. This is a seriously limited audience.>>>

    Umm like say PowerPoint people? Is Paul REALLY complaining that a limiting factor to criticize in a Mac presentation that it is presenting Mac software.

    He is a tool of the highest degree.

  • Seacube

    I converted to the Macintosh in 1987. At the time I was working for Martin Marietta building the second largest launch vehicle after the Saturn V, the Titan 34D. One day our manager brought in three SE and two Mac II’s and said, “You guy’s are smart, figure out how to use these things.” So we did.
    Two years later it became obvious that we would be facing substantial layoffs, so I elected to pursue private contracting with my CAD skills. The though of continuing to live in Denver and work from home as a freelancer was very attractive.

    When I surveyed the computer stores in the Denver area I asked, “Why do you recommend this computer system and what makes it a good choice for long term utility as a CAD workstation.” Three stores were pushing differing DOS computers with GUI applications, but none of them recommended the same one. Then I walked into an Apple Dealer and asked my question. The sales guy told me Apple was so committed to “their” GUI it was written into the ROM of every computer they manufactured. Additionally Autodesk had a working GUI based Beta of it flagship Autocad out in the community. It actually worked in three dimensional model space and created drawings from the numeric model, just like the CADD 4 workstations at Martin. I was sold and took out a substantial loan to purchase my first Macintosh.

    When I was in college, my writing professor spent two semesters teaching and testing us on spotting “fact” versus “emotional” arguments in the media. Once I became aware of these practices it became difficult to ignore their use. Many times I find myself staring in disbelieve at the shaded lies in this advertisement or that. More so, it is fascinating to watch
    the extent of delusion people will engage in to justify their belief in a lie, while accuse others of not seeing clearly. But it does validate the observation that once ego, status and money are involved, journalistic neutrality flies out the window.

    Over the last twenty years we have watch people, managers and journalist rationalized their choice of Mainframe, PC-DOS, MS-DOS, PS2, WANG, Novell and technologies long forgotten. While each of these solved a problem of the moment, many were anchored to a then current problem. They made it possible to improve the efficiency of the status quo, but not expand or innovate.
    But Apple, Commodore, Microsoft, SUN and Silicon Graphics innovated. Out of necessity they recognized and created utility in new markets. But out of all of these, Apple has received the greater consistent criticism in the press.

    I don’t see this as liberal or conservative journalism, so much as “sensational journalism.” Much of what is being “passed” for journalism doesn’t even qualify as fertilizer. Give me a break, between “Re-framing,” “Reality Distortion,” and even “Political correctness,” sensationalism is rampant in the “Newz Media.” It’s better to be a bad actor than a good writer. Dan Lyons and Paul Thurrott are just two annoying footnotes in a much larger problem. Maybe the next computer revolution will disassemble the Newz industry, maybe it is already happening.

    Thank you Dan for injecting sanity and facts.A year later it became obvious that we would be facing substantial layoffs, so I elected to pursue private contracting with my CAD skills. When I surveyed

  • John E

    i went back and checked the January ’07 reports at MacDailyNews about the iPhone when it too was new promise-ware. there were doubters, but generally there were a lot of very positive reactions (including Enderle) among the “tech journalists.” quite a few actually foresaw the revolution it proved to be (one even mentioned games!). Thurrott had little to say then. the negative stuff came more from the competition – MS, Nokia, et al. since i don’t read Windows blogs i don’t know what was going on with them, but that ain’t journalism anyway.

    once the iPhone was released in June ’07 – well you all remember the hype (the lines) and the uproar, including a lot of FUD as well as a lot of praise. mainly it was BIG NEWS, and everyone had to say something.

    the Pre has now had its rosy puff phase. we will see what happens when it hits the real world.

  • http://www.roughlydrafted.com danieleran

    A number of people wondered if my reference to the $2000 iPhone was a typo; I was calling attention to the fact that the iPhone was the first and only phone to ever be described as costing the full value of its two year contract, while at the same time being compared to “many phones that are available for free.”

  • Bill

    There were other peckerheads that did the same or variants such as comparing the iPhone cost + plan with other phones that did not include a data plan. Thurrott and friends often cite ‘problems’ with Leopard and Mac hardware and software, that don’t exist unless you include their fantasies. They make claims that all the above is buggy. What balls that takes considering Windows is so damn buggy that some days it’s not usable. If I had a quarter each time Internet Explorer crashed, or even crashed more than all Apple software, man would I be rich! His Winstupidsite is a big propaganda campaign, probably paid by Microsoft. Looks like insecurity or an inferiority complex couple with Bipolar disorder. OK, I actually don’t know much about what Bipolar disorder, but it sounded good. I go there to read reviews as they contain a lot of good information. You just have to ignore the anti-Apple BS.

  • http://johnsessays.blogspot.com John Muir

    @ Bill

    Bipolar disorder = manic depression = wild mood swings.

    I don’t read Thurrott, so I don’t know if he’s regularly mired in despair and then gushing in giddy highs. But knowing the state of Apple coverage in the tech media, I certainly wouldn’t rule it out.

  • Bill

    John, are you sure, because that sounds like every chick that I’ve ever dated?!


  • http://johnsessays.blogspot.com John Muir

    The longer version, as always:

    British raconteur (and national treasure) Stephen Fry made a documentary about it, after discovering he was bipolar himself. Some of the best television I’ve ever seen.

  • Bill

    Sorry that I keep posting Dan, but I was awaiting your post about Thurrott and Lyon since I thought it was so lame for them to do, that I almost registered at their sites to complain. Lyon got several complaints if you care to check it out.

    And John, I think that you’ve got the definition of female behavior when you googled bipolar ;)

  • http://www.cyclelogicpress.com Partners in Grime

    Awesome article as usual, Daniel. I was shocked at the vitriolic nature of Lyons on CNBC.

  • hmciv

    Neocon. Wow, I haven’t heard that word in years! Honestly, I thought people gave up on the phrase after young republicans found out “The Matrix” wasn’t real. ;-)

  • http://www.marketingtactics.com davebarnes

    Get a life. Find a nice girl or boy and cuddle.

  • dbargen

    From a fellow ‘Daniel’-

    I used to read your blog for the inventive ideas you had for possible Apple development. It was good reading, and encouraged me to look into technical areas I had no previous experience or interest in.

    I understand that a blog like yours requires readers to sieve the words of the informed critique from those of the apple apologista. Would it be a safe supposition that you have some financial investment in the company beyond use of their hardware/software? If so, cheering your team (full disclosure: they’re usually mine as well) on and throwing up intriguing strategy is totally understandable. At times, though, the visceral retorts push the bounds of decent argument.

    When you’ve got that kind of passion showing, it makes sense when other fervent beliefs creep into the picture. When it came to the “Apple-is-to-Obama as McCain-is-to-Microsoft” article, the comparison of “sponge-too-often-is-to-DED’s-reasoning as leftish-culture-is-to-kool_aid.” It’s sad really.

    It’s your blog, and a free country, so you can write whatever you want. However, if the objective is to inform and keep an sizable audience on your main topic, let me suggest you stay neutral on others. Fanatical evangelism is almost always trumped by rational argument.

    Statements, or questions, like, “When has the media given either Apple or Obama a free pass?” cast extreme doubt on you ability to keep your head out of the punch bowl.

    And on the ‘neocon’ issue, seriously? The term is sooo old-hat, it betrays an adherence to protest march slogans of the past. If you’re going to use labels like that, why not go the whole nine yards and sight-in on us PALEOCONS. Not that I’m suggesting it, but you might gain more credibility for using an uncommon label and sound less like someone who parrots wacky old conspiracy theories. At least the Paul Thurrot rant has been done ad-nauseum in other venues.

    [I find that arguments which center around meaningless emotional labels such as “koolaid drinkers” and “fanbois” tend to have little merit, particularly when they raise objections that are not supported with facts or even reasoning. I’d encourage you to rephrase your ideas as an actual argument, presenting why you have the opinion you do, and/or actually offering a supported, rational criticism of mine.

    Also, neocons are a self-identified group with very clearly stated objectives. Paleocons represent a very different ideology. Perhaps you should venture away from the AM radio and read a real newspaper. – Dan ]

  • gus2000

    Death to the infidels!

    Dan, you’re forgetting the real victims here…RDM readers. When I cite you as reference, I am frequently greeted with a dismissive “oh you’re one of THOSE people” rant that suggests your readers are mindless drones. I even see that attitude in the comments on occasion.

    To paraphrase one of your own quips: I’m not biased toward RDM, the facts are biased toward RDM.

  • harrywolf

    I suspect that Roughly Drafted is on a list of sites covered by Microsoft shills and paid commenters. The sites on the ‘attack’ list allow comments without complex registration and are all pro-Apple.
    In the case of Dans’ site, there is a healthy chunk of what people call ‘politics’ as well.

    Thats why I like this site and ALL of D.E. Dilgers’ writings so much.
    He tells it like it is. We can ask no more.

    I have noticed that the usual drones complaining about ‘politics’ and mildly attacking Apple are early on in the comments – I guess the watchers and the paid shills are very busy, and like to get their paid BS comments in quick.

    Giving Thurrott and the insufferably drab little creature Lyons a serious smack strikes me as redressing the balance.

    Lyons is a man who loves Steve Jobs, admires him, and hates him for everything that he, (Lyons) is not. Its called envy.

    D.E. Dilger – as usual, you are my hero! Keep doing what you do.

  • josh

    dan –

    i admit that for my own selfish financial reasons, i was pretty upset with the inconsistencies in steve’s “health issue” emails. however, i like many people have had family members who have had the big c and i know what a roller coaster it can be. the medical information is often contradictory and always maddeningly incomplete. i have no doubt that this is the source of steve’s inconsistent emails. we have all benefited from his genius and i for one wish nothing more than a full recovery for him from his current issues. peace.

    p.s. i do kinda miss the amiga, too

  • kerryb

    Not wanting to read, hear or think about politics has gotten us in the mess we are today. Come on people we are all connected no matter how big a geek you are.

  • nelsonart

    I love reading blogs that call out other bloggers. Thurrott is such an easy target and provides endless fuel for Dan’s comical tirades. The way Thurrott applies his craft is the smarmiest of them all. Pretending to be a Mac aficionado, but one with a critical eye, seeing flaws that only he can see. Wishing Apple much success while berating Steve Jobs, Mac users, Apple products, and Apple’s surging popularity, all in one breath.

    If only the rest of us shared Paul’s intellectual acuity.

    This is Dan’s best stuff, in my opinion, calling out the tards. But then he jumps the shark in the end when he detours into politics. Whether you lean left or right, to deny the media fawning over Obama sounds as obstinate as Thurrott.

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  • Jesse

    I hated the Amiga’s UI. Never got past it to learn why it was so great. Plus the colors were so dim.

  • enzos

    You have described my Amiga maniac bro-in-law to a tee – he was composing his world encompassing ‘database’ on it when in 2004 it finally sputtered, spiralled, crashed and burned. He hated the Mac with a peculiar passion, while admitting how superior it was to the dominant platform. Ironically both his sons (a military systems developer and a mathematics-boffin), being far more intelligent than their father, now own and tout the latest Apple gear.

    Thanks for the reminder, and keep adding the political chilies to the pot. What the who, it’s your prerogative since it’s your blog!