Santa Claus doesn't visit personal computing companies, so those that require a ton or so of coal in their corporate stockings must depend upon the CompuBug Dubious Achievement Awards. Here's the list for 2001:
The Lay The Rails Six Inches Farther Apart Traincar Sales Promotion award goes to Microsoft for Windows XP, which won't run applications customers already own and have been using for years. Since software doesn't wear out, the only way you are going to sell more of it is to obsolete the old stuff by making certain almost all new PCs sold have an incompatible operating system. That's why many users are convinced that the XP in WIndows XP stands for eXPletive.
The Joyce Kilmer Memorial Only God Can Make A Tree (And He'd Better Get Busy) award goes to software package designers that have taken to putting one or more cover flaps on their already ridiculously big software boxes. What a splendid way to waste even more wood pulp! Plus, it gives even more room to hide the system requirements in tiny type.
The Most Annoying award goes to those companies whose pop-up and pop-under ads make surfing the Web like walking through a minefield. A companion Baby Don't Go award is given to those companies who flip you to another endless pitch page when you try to use the back button of your browser.
X10 Wireless Technologies, Inc. of Seattle, Wash., gets the Nudge-Nudge-Wink-Wink Marketing award, for its annoying pop ads that feature young women with come-hither looks and the implication that the tiny video camera may be used to monitor bedroom antics.
The New Feature Desperation award goes to the folks at Logitech who gave us the iFeel Mouse, a computer mouse that let's you ``feel'' the desk top by moving itself when the cursor crosses an icon. Although it might -- emphasis on might -- be of some help to the visually impaired, for most of us it's a feature in search of a purpose.
The Oh By The Way award goes to those companies which, when confronted with an error in their preprinted installation manuals, try to fix it with a one-page insert in the packaging -- which you may or may not see in time to avoid a botched installation.
Finally, as always, the Patience of Job award to all the marketers and public relations folk who endure my gruff irritability in an uphill effort to make me seem smarter than I am.