Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/01/16/goodbye_steve_wozniak/

Steve Wozniak, your time is up

Incompetence is not enough

By Rik Myslewski

Posted in Bootnotes, 16th January 2010 01:30 GMT

Comment It's time to file each and every story about Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak into the circular "Does it really matter?" bin.

The latest Woz news clogging the intertubes is that - quelle horreur! - his Royal Rotunditude's new favorite gadget is Google's Nexus One smartphone.

Two words: Who. Cares.

As much as I'm loathe to criticize a fellow Polack, let alone a fellow childlike doofus and merry prankster, Señor Gordo has outlived his Warholian 15 minutes by, oh, say, about 20 years.

Woz - as I'm sure every schoolchild is now taught - co-founded Apple along with St. Jobs and some other guy on April Fool's Day, 1976. He left his full-time gig at Apple on February 6, 1987. In between he designed the Apple I, the Apple II, a nifty floppy-disk controller, and some other stuff.

That's it, folks. No cure for cancer. No peace agreement in the Middle East. No fat-free chips or zero-calorie ale.

But yet his fame lives on. Why? Is it because, panda-like, he's a cuddly, infantile conglomeration of cuteness? Is it because his self-confident yet thoroughly unvarnishable geekitude gives each of us the inspiration to sigh, "If him, maybe me."

Or is that The Burgher of Big-Boned is simply a car wreck of a personage. You know you shouldn't look, but you must, God help you, you must.

It's not that Woz has done nothing noteworthy since he made his mark at Apple. On the contrary - he has kept himself in the public eye through a long series of thoroughly inconsequential pursuits. Examine the following half-dozen WozniFacts, and then let us know whether the Crown Prince of Chubby should be forever banned from the pages of El Reg.

He lost millions sponsoring two early-80s rock festivals

More than a dozen years after 1969's Woodstock Music & Art Fair had faded into a smoky haze and the Altamont Speedway Free Festival had scared away the 60s, Woz thought it would be a good idea to revive the spirit of those days by sponsoring what he dubbed the US Festival. (That's "US" as in "you and me," not as in "the States.")

Two US Festivals were held, one in 1982 and one in 1983. Both were intended to celebrate not only music, but also technology. The 1982 festival, for example, had five circus-sized tents with such exhibitors as Apple, Atari, and Quantel Computers, game-makers such as Fox Video Games, Sirius Software, and Sears Tele-Games.

A noble effort, perhaps, but a bust. Problems abounded. The inflatable multimedia Sensonics Theater, for example, collapsed after a power failure, and for the first two days of the three day festival its video and audio system refused to work.

It's estimated that Woz lost $12m on the 1982 festival - but he tried again in 1983. In some way, the second try was an improvement, with Woz losing only between $7m and $8m.

But in other ways, 1983 was worse. Far worse. Two festival goers died, one beaten to death in a botched drug deal and a second from a drug overdose. Van Halen's David Lee Roth exemplified the fact that the Woodstockian "peace, love, and beads" vibe was long gone by famously shouting to a concert-goer from from the stage: "Hey, man, don't be squirtin' water at me - I'm gonna fuck your girlfriend, pal!" Class act.

There was no third US Festival.

His favorite sport is Segway Polo

What do you get when you cross the earth's dorkiest form of expensive transportation with its most expensive sport. Yup, a sport for rich dorks: Segway Polo - and Woz fits right in.

Playing for the Silicon Valley Aftershocks, Woz was an early proponent of what has become a worldwide movement of, well, rich dorks, with teams from all over the world competing for an annual championship that's called - what else? - the Woz Challenge Cup

But as the corpulent competitor admitted to Forbes late last year after the Aftershocks lost the Challenge to the Flyin' Fish of Barbados: "I don't know if it's something that could ever be played in [the] Olympics."

As wrong as Woz was about the Us Festival, he's right on the money with that prediction. You can come to your own opinion after viewing this brief clip:

He appeared on Dancing with the Stars

It's arguable that more people know of Woz through his appearances on Dancing with the Stars than from his association with Apple. But either way, they know him as a geek. It's just that in his Apple incarnation he was a useful, productive geek.

Witness, if you will, one of the most discordant incongruities ever captured on video: the confluence of a feather boa, the cha-cha-cha, a floppy-disc-controller engineer, and Bachman-Turner Overdrive's "You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet."

The amazing - and totally Woznian - element of this eye-gouging performance is that the tubby terpsichorean exhibits as little embarrassment as talent. He's enjoying himself. He's the little kid performing in the grade-school talent show.

Charming. Almost.

He had an affair with Kathy Griffin

You are to be completely forgiven if the name "Kathy Griffin" means zero, zip, zilch, diddly-squat, or nada to you. It's hard to make a name for yourself as a sharp-tongued comedienne these days, especially when your comedic skills rank up there with Woz's dancing chops.

But Griffin did land one big fish during her career: the Big Kahuna Tuna himself. After Woz and Griffin attended the 2007 Emmy Awards together, she had the fine sense of decorum to tell centenarian talk-show host Larry King that "He took my dress off at the end of the night."

We could go on, but we won't. We'll just note that the beer-bellied boinker appeared on a few episodes of Griffin's honestly titled My Life on the D-List television series, including one entitled "What's Woz's Love Got To Do With It."

Here's what Woz's love has to do with it: The lumbering Lothario is either unlucky in love or impossible to live with. The heavyset hubby has been married four times, most recently to someone with whom he became involved shortly after he broke up with Griffin.

Good luck, Ms. Numero Cuatro.

His favorite fictional character is himself

Woz's presentation skills might best be described as "suboptimal." It may seem unfair to criticize a man for something outside of his main area of expertise, and it would be in this case if Woz weren't such a ham. Or, more accurately put, such a honey-baked, bone-in, thoroughly porky exemplar of the dramatic arts.

Woz has, for example, voiced a cartoon of himself on the animated series Code Monkeys, appeared on the aforementioned My Life on the D-List - as himself - and loved the camera in the upcoming film, Hackers Wanted.

But for a true indication of Woz's charisma and presence - or lack thereof - check out this following clip from the Los Angeles videogame-oriented cable and satellite station, G4. Be forewarned, however, that the two hosts of the show are possibly even more cringeworthy than the well-upholstered guest sitting on the well-upholstered couch.

After Apple, his career has been less than stellar

The New York Times has a succinct review of the paunchy entrepreneur's first business effort after leaving Apple: "He failed." That company was alternately known as either Cloud 9 or CL9, and it had attempted to build a universal remote.

In late 2001, the beefy businessman founded Wheels of Zeus - note the self-referential acronym, which the company cutely spelled "wOz." This then-attention-catching venture was, according to its own press releases, going to use a combination of GPS and wireless tech to "help everyday people track everyday things." wOz never tracked down a marketable product. It went under in 2006.

Early last year, Woz joined Fusion-io in the decidedly amorphous position of "chief scientist." The sturdy storage savant was tasked with, as the company then described his duties, advising on "market trends, product road maps and other strategic activities".

After that appointment, The Reg's own Chris Mellor, a kindhearted soul, wrote: "We cannot - not even at our kindest - realistically think Woz has any sort of expertise, given [his] track record, of a capability for devising a strategy to penetrate global corporate customers. I mean, in the nicest possible way, that is surely grade one, solid gold BS."

And so it is - as is the media's fascination with hanging onto the paunchy pundit's every word, preference, and hip wiggle. I, for one, just wrote 1,500 words about the guy, and I now hang my head in shame.

But enough. This madness must stop. Should we banish Woz from the pages of The Reg forever? Let me know, arm me with arguments to present to the Vulture Brain Trust™.

Stop the insanity. ®

Apology

This story originally contained some inappropriate language. It has been removed. Our sincere apologies.