Digital Crave

13 scary tech moments in history

Marc Saltzman
Digital Crave

With Halloween nearly upon us, we thought it would be fun to look back at a few “scary” moments over the past 13 years in consumer technology, be it disastrous products, disturbing trends or frightening data breaches.

By no means is this a complete list, but a fun few that might ring a bell and send a shiver up your spine.

RealPlayer (2000)

It’s often cited as the most intrusive Internet media player out of all, with enough pop-up messages, nag screens, compatibility checks, registry rewrites and version updates to drive you absolutely mad. It’s better than it used to be, but still a pet peeve among many web users.

DigiScents iSmell (2001)

We’re not quite ready for smell-o-vision just yet, it seems. In theory, this USB-based PC peripheral emitted scents into the air when visiting specific websites or while playing computer games, such as smelling roses at or whiffing gun powder in Call of Duty, but the concept stunk to investors who pulled the plug on funding.

Nokia N-Gage (2003)

Mario, move over? Hardly. While the idea isn’t a bad one – a mobile phone that doubled as a gaming device – except the game cartridges were pricy at about $50 apiece, memory management issues (that let to freezes, crashes and the inability to start the phone at times), plus you had to hold the taco-shaped device on its side to talk on the phone (spawning many online “side-talking” video parodies). As a result, the Nokia N-Gage only sold a fraction of the phones, before killing it altogether.

WhyCry (2004)

As its name suggests, this $99 handheld electronic monitor allegedly identifies the reasons why a baby is crying and display the cause as one of five reasons: hungry, bored, annoyed, sleepy or stressed. Problem is, how do you know if it’s accurate?

Oakley Thump (2005)

Not sure what’s worse: paying $500 for a pair of outdated sunglasses or buying a pair with a built-in MP3 player that can’t hold a lot of music -- and with uncomfortable earbuds? You’d get both if you fell for the Oakley Thumps in ‘05. Oh, and what if you want to listen to music at night or while inside?

Sony BMG Music CDs (2005)

Sticking a CD with Sony BMG’s copy protection software installed a rootkit, invisible to antivirus and antispyware software, capable of turning your PC into a hacker’s paradise. As if the CD industry wasn’t hurting enough.

HD DVD (2006)

It was like Betamax and VHS all over again. Backed by Toshiba, HD DVD lost out to Blu-ray in the high-definition disc wars in the middle of the last decade – even though the format was less expensive to invest in. Proving it pays to wait until the dust settles, you wasted your money if you bought a HD DVD player (or the add-on drive for Xbox 360) and perhaps a few HD DVD movies.

Windows Vista (2007)

Ah, what a way to start off the year. In January of 2007, Microsoft released its newest operating system with much fanfare. Problem was, there were multiple privacy and security issues, a lack of driver support for hardware devices and software compatibility issues, and overall performance troubles. Not only did this bungled launch prove to be a PR nightmare but it seriously tainted the Microsoft brand – just as its main competitor Apple was gaining ground.

Palm Foleo (2007)

After losing market share in the shrinking PDA market, Palm desperately needed a comeback – but a planned $700 10-inch screen that wirelessly communicates with your cell phone so you can read and edit documents wasn’t the solution. In fact, the product was cancelled in early September of 2007 – just three months after it was announced.

User Account Control (2007)

I understand what Microsoft was trying to do here – this Windows Vista “feature” was an effort to deliver a more secure operating system, but with User Account Control turned on (it is by default), every time you do something, like install a program, you'll need to click through a series of boxes to ensure you have the administrator authorization to do so.

PlayStation Network data breach (2011)

In April of 2011, Sony’s online video game network suffered a massive security breaches that included the names, usernames, addresses, passwords, birth dates and possibly credit card information belonging to about 77 million users. Considered one of the biggest data break-ins in history, Sony was later fined over the “preventable” PSN hack.

HP's woes (2011)

Just ahead of its Q3 conference call in August of 2011, HP confirmed it would be discontinuing its just-launched TouchPad tablet and all webOS phones. HP had acquired Palm and the industry was abuzz about the potential of HP’s hardware and a Palm platform to power them, but this wasn’t to be. In fact, the $499 TouchPad quickly dropped down to a $99 fire sale. To make matter worse, HP said it was looking to spin off its computer division and then retracted the statement.

BlackBerry management shuffle (2012)

The good news: Research in Motion (RIM) co-CEOs Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie finally stepped down from the beleaguered BlackBerry maker. The bad news: New boss Thorsten Heins says he didn’t “think significant change [was] needed” at the company. The sound of a million investors slapping their foreheads echoed around the world.

There’s a lot here we didn’t cover, such as the BlackBerry PlayBook, 3DTVs and TwitterPeak. So, what;’s your “worst tech” pick over the past decade or so?

Sorry you didn't like this comment. Please provide a reason below.

Are you sure?
Rating failed. Try again.
Request failed. Try again.
We will promote constructive and witty comments to the top, so everyone sees them!
Sorry, we can’t load comments right now. Try again.

    Recommended for You

    • Gamer dies while attempting 24-hour livestream for charity

      VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (AP) — A Virginia man who died at home while playing a 24-hour video game marathon was part of an online livestreaming community where members sometimes go to extremes to build their audiences, experts say.

      Associated Press
    • Witnesses: Bar gunman shouted 'get out of my country'

      OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — In the middle of a crowded bar, Adam Purinton yelled at two Indian men to "get out of my country," witnesses said, then opened fire in an attack that killed one of the men and wounded the other, as well as a third man who tried to help.

      Associated Press 53 min ago
    • A Mysterious Blob Has Washed Up On A Beach In The Philippines

      A giant, hairy blob has washed up on a beach in the Philippines, baffling locals and prompting a worldwide race to identify it.

      The Huffington Post UK q
    • Mysterious sea creature that washed ashore in Philippines is identified; video

      The remains of a hairy, white sea creature that washed ashore Wednesday afternoon on a beach on Dinagat Island in the Philippines created a buzz among the locals of Barangay Poblacion and on social media. Most speculated it was a sea cow. Some said it resembled an Old English sheepdog. The creepy beast measured 20 feet long and, as it sat on the shoreline, became the subject of many selfies, photographs and videos. Sky News reported that the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources at first believed it could be the remains of a sea cow. But after testing samples it was determined to be the carcass of a whale in an advanced stage of decomposition, according to the Sun Star. The type of whale q
    • JaVale McGee-Shaquille O'Neal beef is so bad the Warriors reached out to TNT

      Golden State is trying to mediate the situation, according to report. The Golden State Warriors have reached out to TNT and Turner Sports after JaVale McGee and Shaquille O’Neal had a Twitter exchange about the network’s coverage of the Warriors player, according to ESPN’s Marc Stein and Chris Haynes.

      SB Nation q
    • 'Country Over Party': Dershowitz to Leave Dems If Ellison Elected DNC Chair

      Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz, a high-profile Democrat for decades, said in an op-ed published Friday that he will leave the party if Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) is elected chairman this weekend. "My loyalty to my country and my principles and my heritage exceeds any loyalty to my party," Dershowitz, who supported Hillary Clinton in 2016, wrote in "The Hill" newspaper. Dershowitz recounted Ellison's history of controversial statements and actions many deemed anti-Semitic, including the congressman's history with Louis Farrakhan's "Nation of Islam" movement. "A prominent lawyer ... told me that while he was a law student, Ellison approached her and said he could not respect her because she was a Jew and because she was a woman who should not be at a law school," Dershowitz claims in the column.

      Fox News Insider q
    • Honey Boo Boo Reveals How Mama June Hid Shocking Weight Loss from the Public: ‘She Went Overboard’

      Honey Boo Boo is spilling all of the details surrounding her mother’s body transformation. Stopping by PEOPLE Now, Mama June Shannon‘s daughters Alana Thompson (AKA “Honey Boo Boo”) and Lauryn (“Pumpkin”), opened up about watching their former pageant mom go from 460 lbs. to a size 4. Since losing weight and filming for WE tv’s new docu-dramedy Mama June: From Not to Hot, Shannon, 37, has remained hidden from the public eye as to not reveal her drastic new transformation before the show’s premiere — and it hasn’t been easy.

    • GPS device-maker Garmin reeling after workers gunned down

      OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — GPS device-maker Garmin long has revered diversity in its workforce, even when the locale of its ever-sprawling operational headquarters — a largely white Kansas City suburb — didn't reflect it.

      Associated Press
    • White House vs. media: Outlets excluded from press gaggle

      Chief White House correspondent John Roberts reports from Washington

      FOX News Videos
    • Boy miraculously survives spider bite thanks to quick-thinking dad

      A 10-year-old Australian boy has survived a bite from one of the world’s deadliest spiders after taking a record 12 vials of anti-venom, local media reported. Matthew Mitchell was helping his dad clear out the back shed at their home north of Sydney when he was bitten on the finger by a funnel-web spider that had been lurking in his shoe. “It sort of clawed onto me and all the legs and everything crawled around my finger and I couldn’t get it off,” he told the Australian Daily Telegraph. His family used his shirt as a compression bandage to try to slow the venom’s spread and rushed him to a hospital. He experienced convulsions but survived after being given 12 vials of anti-venom, which local

      New York Post q
    • Mexico's retaliation against Trump may be taking shape

      President Donald Trump has railed against Mexico since early in his presidential campaign...

      Business Insider
    • Arrest warrant: Man used hands to kill teacher inside home

      Teacher and former beauty queen Tara Grinstead vanished from her south Georgia home in 2005, leaving a mystery that had stumped investigators for nearly 12 years — until a tip led to an unexpected arrest. ...

      Associated Press
    • Pink Dog Abandoned with Brother at Shelter Responds Well to Treatment and Rescuers’ Love

      The pink pup and a buddy, who are actually boxers, were there waiting on the morning of Feb. 13 — both suffering from a treatable skin condition called demodex mange. “I felt so badly for Artie and Asia when I first saw them,” says Jennifer Glover, a registered veterinary technician for the shelter, who was the first to meet the dogs that day. Both Asia, the pink 10-month-old, and Artie, 2 years old, suffer from the common infestation of the skin by tiny, eight-legged mites.

    • 22 Times Justin Bieber's Clothes Made No Sense (23 photos)

      If anyone can make these looks work, it's Bieber. From Cosmopolitan

    • Falcons are still finding ways to help Patriots even after the Super Bowl

      The Atlanta Falcons did the New England Patriots a solid by blowing a 28-3 lead in Super Bowl LI, and they’re still doing them favors weeks later. Falcons are too kind to Pats. When the Patriots traded Jamie Collins to the Browns, it was for a conditional 2018 fourth-round pick.

      SB Nation q
    • EXCLUSIVE: Inside Mama June's Diet and Exercise Plan That Led to Her Stunning Weight Loss

      Mama June's life has definitely changed since losing the weight.

      Entertainment Tonight
    • Amal Clooney debuts her baby bump on the red carpet, is perfection as usual

      She’s a busy human rights attorney who kicks ass on the daily, but Amal Clooney took some time out of her busy…

      Hello Giggles
    • Key congressman: It's 'a good thing' if more Americans lose coverage

      Rep. Mike Burgess (R-Texas) chairs the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee related to health care, which makes his perspective on the issue rather important. If Republicans ever present their alternative to the Affordable Care Act, for example, Burgess’ panel would be among the first to tackle the policy. Maddow: Is the Trump administration stupid or nefarious? It was therefore rather striking yesterday when the far-right congressman appeared at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) and shared an unusual insight. BuzzFeed reported: Burgess was asked about concerns that repealing Obamacare will lead to a drop in the number of people with health insurance. He responded that it

      MSNBC q
    • Amber Tamblyn announces utterly ridiculous baby name - and people aren't quite sure what to think

      The US actress Amber Tamblyn and her husband, comedian and actor David Cross, have welcomed a new baby daughter – and, as per modern tradition, have taken to social media to announce the name of the new arrival. "David and I are proud to announce the birth of our daughter, Dauphinoise Petunia Brittany Scheherazade Von Funkinstein Mustard Witch RBG Cross Tamblyn-Bey jr.," wrote 127 Hours and Two and a Half Men star Tamblyn in a post on Tuesday, as she shared a video of her daughter's foot via Instagram.

      The Telegraph
    • Bloomberg Scrubs White House Correspondents’ Dinner Party As Donald Trump Vows To “Do Something” About Press

      Add Bloomberg L.P. to the list of media outlets deciding to opt out of hosting parties at this year’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner. Vanity Fair, which traditionally co-hosted the party at the French Ambassador’s residence,  pulled out earlier this month. Bloomberg joins a growing list of media outlets who don’t like this year’s dinner optics; The New Yorker said earlier this month it was scrubbing plans to host its party held at a hotel near the White…