What Should I Write About?

Barton FinkSometimes being a tech writer is hard work.

Oh, the actual writing part isn’t too bad, that’s sort of fun. The really hard part is the idea stuff. Like, what should I write about this week?

It’s not like there’s a dearth of subject matter out there.

I mean, Facebook is in court this week, accused of being a stolen concept. Born of halcyon nights at Harvard, the über-popular site was originally a concept that CEO Mark Zuckerburg was contracted to develop. Or so the story goes.

Social-web losers Divya Narendra, and twins Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, claim they hired Zuckerburg in 2004 to build  ConnectU, a now-defunct web site that was very similar to Facebook. They say he ran away with their idea.

Whatever, guys.

Narenda and the Winklevoss Bros. were either incompetent enough to let a punk scoop their killer concept, or they’re just jealous gold seekers bummed that they lost the contest.

Get over it.

Of course, I could have picked a lame Facebook topic to write about, like the CBC did. According to their web site, Toronto’s defeat by London, England, as the top regional network on Facebook was newsworthy.

I guess it’s been pretty slow at Canada’s national broadcaster lately.

Then there’s Apple, a company that’s on a tear. They just posted their biggest quarter ever, with $818 million in profit. That’s on sales of a record-breaking 1.7 million Macs, 9.8 million iPods, and 270,000 iPhones (in the last 30 hours of the quarter).

And, while I’m waxing iPhone, I did consider writing about its flaw that lets hackers in easy.

It pretty much exposes all the data on an iPhone to anyone who knows how to code up a web site just-right.

But I’m sick of writing about Apple considering they’re not into greasing my palm like some other tech companies are.

Of course, another subject could have been earth-friendly cars.

Both GM and Toyota have been talking up plug-in hybrids lately.

With gas prices hitting record highs (but still too low, in this scribe’s opinion, if people are willing to leave them idle in a summertime parking lot just for a bit of AC), it seems automakers figure the time is nigh for full-on electric vehicles.

Just ignore that diesel-burning power generator on the outskirts of town, ladies and gentlemen.

C’mon, guys. Electricity isn’t an alternative energy source.

It’s just a salve for assuaging the guilt of a power-hungry age.

Then there’s there’s the ongoing saga of Google, a company that seems to be hell-bent on manufacturing an ad-supported world.

They recently indicated that they’d like to blow $4.6 billion on wireless airwaves in the States if they can use them for high speed internet services.

The company wants to hawk the “Google Phone” and let consumers have more choice about how they use their mobile phones and what they put on them (and they want to make sure they have yet another venue for Google Ads).

This runs counter to the absolute control that all mobile service providers currently exert on the devices they sell. So, as you can imagine, Google is seriously stirring the pot with this earth-shattering idea.

But it’s not so fresh a concept, really. When you buy a computer, are you stuck to one internet provider? Or when you buy a television, are you forced to subscribe to satellite over cable?

Then there’s the $1.1 billion hit Microsoft took when they recently admitted the XBox 360 is really a piece of crap hardware in need of some solid repair and perhaps even redesign.

After pissing off its users for over a year by charging to repair defective consoles, the company extended all owners’ warranties and offered reimbursements. Nice move, Microsoft, but… ouch. Somebody’s head had to roll on that one.

So I also could have written that Microsoft, er, released their top XBox executive, Peter Moore, to video game maker Entertainment Arts. They quickly replaced him with Canadian industry veteran Don Mattrick.

Between the XBox hardware problems and the Nintendo Wii, I’d hate to be in his shoes.

Of course, I also could have written about the free wireless internet service that the City of Regina introduced a couple of weeks back.

˙But I don’t think it would have any effect on my own local council’s 20th Century mindset.

Whew, as you can see, I have a pretty tough job.

These are the things I could have written about this week. How to choose?

Let’s hope I don’t waffle so much before my deadline next week and I actually write about something interesting.

Originally published in the Yukon News on Friday, July 27, 2007.

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