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The year in tech lunacy - an El Reg guide

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Yes, readers, it's that time of year again. Time to remember our favorite moments of the year in tech. No, we don't mean the debut of Windows 7. Or the arrival of the iPhone 3GS. We mean that moment when Vladimir Putin bitchslapped Michael Dell. Or when Eric Schmidt officially turned Google into public enemy number one.

Here's the entire list, including not one but two appearances from Michael Dell. We love you, Michael. We really do.

Michael Dell mauled by the Russian bear

When Michael Dell sat on a panel at Davos Economic Forum last January, he was joined by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. Under the ex-KGB man, Russia was riding a wave of boisterous nationalism buoyed by rising oil prices. Observers had talked of a new cold war, as Russia resumed flying bomber missions over western countries and invaded neighboring Georgia.

But Dell proceeded to exhibit a Sarah Palin-esque ignorance of current events. "How can we as an IT sector help you broaden the economy as you move out of a crisis and take advantage of that great scientific talent that you have?"

Putin didn't exactly like the question. On live TV, the PM told the PC maker: "We don't need any help. We are not invalids. We don't have limited capacity. People with limited capacity should be helped. Pensioners should be helped, developing countries should be helped."

Steve Jobs embraces his inner Joe Stalin

The thing about Joseph Stalin's show trials and purges in 1930s Soviet Union was that his victims never realized he had it in for them. The victims - especially in the higher echelons of the party - would go to their graves blaming others for their fate, continuing to believe the great leader still loved them. Little did they know it was papa Joe who had signed their death warrants as he stroked his bushy black mustache.

And so it was a painfully familiar moment when John Devor, chief executive of shareware developer The Little App Factory, wrote a lengthy appeal to the CEO of the decade. After Steve Jobs' goons demanded he change the name of his company's rather useful iPodRip application, even though it had been shipping since 2003, Devor targeted Jobs' sense of fair play and decency, his competitive spirit, and his belief in customer service before wrapping up.

"We are in desperate need of some assistance and we beseech you to help us to protect our product and our shareware company, both of which we have put thousands upon thousands of hours of work into," Devor said.

How did the CEO of the decade respond? "Change your apps name. Not that big of a deal. Steve"

Google scraps "steal-all-the-World's-boffins" plan

Among the many things to thank Google for, according to Google, is the fact that it's not robbing the industry of too many top technology minds. In December, Google vice president Bradley Horowitz painted a fairytale picture of flat management and gentlemanly behavior when he recounted the conversation he'd had with one of his engineers.

Horowitz came to the engineer with a handful of non-Googlers he wanted to hire. But the engineer would have none of it.

As Horowitz remembered: "[The engineer] stopped me and said: 'These people are actually important to have outside of Google. They're very Google people that have the right philosophies around these things, and it's important that we not hire these guys. It's better for the ecosystem to have an honest industry, as opposed to aggregating all this talent at Google.'"

No, really. That's what he said.

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