2014: The year in quotes

From rattled airline passengers who fear the coming of smartphones to jurors who don’t know a smartphone from a tablet, here are some of the colorful quotes from IT news in 2014.

Give the audience a grin

“The founders of Snapchat last year turned down a $3 billion offer from Facebook and a $4 billion offer from Google. It was a surprising show of integrity from the guys who invented the app that lets you look at pictures of boobs for five seconds.”

- Comedian Cecily Strong giving a rundown of “top tech stories” as she helped Marissa Mayer launch Yahoo News Digest at CES in January.

Be quiet! I order you to be quiet!

“What’s going to happen when mobile communications above ten thousand feet is allowed, and John Smith receives a phone call mid-flight from his wife of 23 years, Jane Smith, announcing that she wants a divorce? What’s going to occur when busy advertising executive Ellen Jones receives a phone call mid-flight from her incompetent assistant, who has managed to screw up the big account she should have landed for her agency? ... It may be rage, it may be hysteria, it might be a panic attack, or the other passengers could hit the trifecta from hell and have all three occur simultaneously.”

- Stephanie D. Zonis of Branchburg, N.J., expressed her views to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission about a proposal to allow cellular service on airplanes.

“Short of having flight attendants who are already busy and overworked, how would one deal with folks—like myself—who have voices which are loud and project? I wouldn’t want to come to me and ask me to lower my voice.”

- Peter J. McKimmin, of San Diego, offers self-reflection in his comments to the FCC.

What is your quest?

“I knew I had found the keys to the kingdom.”

- Computer engineer Reginaldo Silva, after finding a vulnerability in Facebook’s software that brought him the largest bug bounty yet paid by the company. But it fell well short of the million-dollar payout he’d hoped for.

This new learning amazes me

“I’m kind of a dinosaur. I don’t even know what an iPad is.”

- A prospective juror in an Apple-Samsung patent infringement case confesses to his lack of gadget knowledge.

This terrible feeling of déjà vu

“I don’t know if there’s enough vision. Industry wide, the apathy regarding this recent problem is already setting in—shiny things are happening elsewhere, people are forgetting.”

- Theo de Raadt, founder of the OpenBSD project, on the waning enthusiasm for critical open-source projects in the aftermath of the Heartbleed flaw.

You can’t expect to wield supreme executive power

“We cannot deny that our decision today will have an impact on the ability of law enforcement to combat crime. Cell phones have become important tools in facilitating coordination and communication among members of criminal enterprises, and can provide valuable incriminating information about dangerous criminals. Privacy comes at a cost.”

- U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts writing for the majority in a ruling that warrants are needed for cellphone searches.

Always look on the bright side of life

“I can see the 10k Mtgox stole from me... hooray!”

- A Reddit user after the Mt. Gox site was reactivated so that users could see their balances following the company’s February bankruptcy filing.

Oh, I’m terribly sorry

“I cannot apologize enough for what happened. While I believe I did everything I could do to prevent this from happening, it still happened. Right now, I’m trying to do my best to cooperate with the bankruptcy process and the ongoing investigation.”

- Former Mt. Gox CEO Mark Karpeles in a November interview, apologizing for past mistakes and talking about how he was spending his time—he likes to bake apple pies.

Some things in life are bad

“The company purposefully messed with people’s minds” in a “secretive and non-consensual” study.

- From a complaint filed by the Electronic Privacy Information Center with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission over a study Facebook conducted to intentionally manipulate the emotions of nearly 700,000 users.

Run away! Run away!

“We found these weapons could violate the most basic human rights—the right to life, the right to a remedy and the principle of dignity. These rights are the basis for all others.”

- Human Rights Watch researcher and Harvard Law School lecturer Bonnie Docherty, in an email regarding an HRW report calling for a ban on fully autonomous weapons before it’s too late, even though they don’t yet exist.

I’m not dead yet

“If you’d asked me about Motorola a year ago, I would have said it was on a distinct trajectory towards oblivion.”

- Ben Wood, director of research at CCS Insight, regarding Motorola Mobility’s unexpected comeback.

You’ll be stone dead in a moment

“I think for BlackBerry this might be the last straw.”

- Carolina Milanesi, an analyst with Kantor Worldpanel, referring to the effect of the Apple-IBM deal on BlackBerry.

Nothing is sacred

“It isn’t surprising [the intelligence organizations] were technically able to do this. ... That they attack people they have no reason to attack and then install malware on their systems to attack even more systems is really shocking and sickening to see. On that I think we can all agree.”

— Christian Grothoff, who co-wrote an article for the German online news site Heise, speaking in an interview about a British spy program.

Victory is mine!

“It is a frothy, hot market. I suspect if you participated in these projects and got code into it you’d be highly sought after by a large number of companies. There’s just all upsides to participating in these projects, which is why you see so many people doing it.”

- Jim Zemlin, executive director of The Linux Foundation, regarding advice from hiring managers that IT job seekers should contribute to open-source projects.

Cast into the Gorge of Eternal Peril

“Passwords are a complete waste of time. They are the equivalent of signing the back of a credit card.”

- Mark Morrison, senior vice president and chief information security officer at financial service firm State Street Corporation, during a panel discussion on enterprise security.

We shall attack at once

“I don’t think the FCC is serious about Title II. I think they’re going through the motions of including it ... so they can tell the angry mob outside their gates that they considered this option.”

- Berin Szoka, president of free-market think tank TechFreedom on the FCC reclassifying broadband as a regulated utility, which some net neutrality advocates have urged the agency to do.

And now for something completely different

“They explained that if men want to put a large phone into their jeans, it has to be able to fit their buttocks. This is a company ranked worldwide number 1, number 2 in displays, and their marketing says this.”

- Foxconn CEO Terry Gou, mocking curved smartphones.

Run away! Run away! Parts 2 and 3

“Perhaps the most bone-chilling evidence we collected in this campaign was the targeting and compromise of transportation networks and systems such as airlines and airports in South Korea, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. The level of access seemed ubiquitous: Active Directory domains were fully compromised, along with entire Cisco Edge switches, routers, and internal networking infrastructure.”

- IT security firm Cylance in a detailed report about a campaign by Iranian hackers.

“The Operation Cleaver report documents how Iran is the first highly motivated Western world adversary poised to execute serious attacks against global infrastructure, not just targeting the United States, but the critical infrastructure of over a dozen different countries. They aren’t looking for credit cards or microchip designs, they are fortifying their hold on dozens of networks that if crippled would affect the lives of billions of people.”

- Cylance CEO and President Stuart McClure in a blog post about the hacking campaign, dubbed Operation Cleaver.

Taunt you a second time

“We are preparing for you a Christmas gift. The gift will be larger quantities of data. And it will be more interesting. The gift will surely give you much more pleasure and put Sony Pictures into the worst state.”

- The hackers of Sony Pictures promising a “Christmas gift” if their demands are not met.

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