I've often written here about my friend Ed Bott, who's a long-time and tremendous tech writer for the ZDNet site. There's an expression, "He wrote the book on..." and then fill in the topic. Well, Ed actually, literally did write the book on Windows 10. He's the co-author of Windows 10 Inside Out, for Microsoft Press, the definitive look at pretty much everything about Windows 10.
One of Ed's most-recent bugaboos is the spate of hysterical articles that get written about supposed-security issues with Windows 10, whereby Microsoft supposedly is supposedly mining information from users surreptitiously. He's expended a great deal of time in his column repeatedly shooting down these stories, not only explaining that the people writing them truly don't know what they're talking about, but why they don't. And he does it all in reasonably understandable human English.
This article today is one of his best. It's not only mind-numbingly meticulous in its detailed research (a Bott Hallmark), but often drippingly funny in its sarcasm. The subject is one of his too-often targets, tech writer Gordon F. Kelly of Forbes magazine. (Okay, quick pop quiz. When you have a question about high-tech, how much of you immediately first think "Forbes," as your "go to" place to rush for All Things Tech...?)
The supposed-concern in the Forbes article is how Microsoft is supposedly sending itself massive and massive amounts of data surreptitiously from users. Ed's explanation of why this is utter hooey is a stunning display of actual expertise and research, but how he goes about it is what makes his work so wonderful, full of Bottian detail and exceedingly polite, fully understated but utterly scathing Bottian humor. For instance, he writes --
What makes this whole sorry state of affairs even worse is that Mr. Kelly hasn't even done any of his own research. Instead, he is relying on ... well, I'll let him tell you:
Ed additionally notes that for all of Gordon Kelly's outrage in his supposed great discovery of his blow-the-lid-off Five Star Final scoop reporting, "There is nothing in Mr. Kelly's article to indicate that he spoke with Mr. Crust to verify his credentials or gather any additional data."
It is at this point that Ed finally gets into the specifics of Mr. Crust's discovery and describes how Mr. Crust himself explains what the steps he took to "uncover" this problem. Ed stares at the pantheon of mistakes any actual-tech person would grasp, and can only respond with two words. "Oh, dear."
I heartily recommend the article. For something so richly technical, it's actually a breeze for non-techies to read. A few times there are passages which are incomprehensible, when Ed quotes from Mr. Crust's research -- but he makes clear that there is no earthly reason to even try to understand it. It's there for demonstration purposes only. "I might have to pause here for a second to allow those of my readers with networking experience to try to make sense of those last two sentences. Don't even try. It's gibberish."
Also, there are a few times where Ed explains why, in fact, the faux-research is "gibberish," but there's no reason you have to follow the explanation. It's only important to know that there is an explanation. And he often even explains the explanation, so it can be easily followed.
Again, this is a pretty basic, human-English article to read. It's also wildly entertaining in its dripping sarcasm, and especially fascinating as an easy-to-follow lesson about being careful what you read -- not just on technology, for which most people don't have a clue and are therefore ripe to be razzle-dazzled by something that seems to make sense but is totally wrong, or really about any topic.
Seriously worth reading. You can check it out here.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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