It’s been a peaceful, reflective holiday weekend. Hope you had a happy holiday, too.

My bosses asked me to think about the future in my Sunday column. So I did.

My List of Not so Great Stuff

I’ve been compiling my 1999 “lowlights” in the technology world. I’ll be printing a list on Tuesday in the newspaper. Here are a couple of the items I’ll be mentioning. As always, if you have suggestions, .

  • Wireless telephone companies innundated the airwaves and pages of various publications with advertisements trumpeting their various service plans. Many of the plans were, compared with what had been offered before, sweet indeed. So lots of customers signed up, and guess what? The wireless companies couldn’t handle the traffic, and gave their customers a lot of uncompleted and interrupted calls instead of the service that had been promised. I realize this is nothing new in the technology business — overpromising, under-delivering and then apologizing — but consumers keep putting up with it, so the industry keeps doing it.

    PC companies claimed to be offering “free PCs” to consumers — and of course, were mostly doing nothing of the kind. Typically, you had to buy three years of low-bandwidth Internet service (you were stuck with it even if you wanted faster service later on), and the PC you’d get was no great shakes. Or, in another trick, companies wanted to know everything about you — the price was your privacy. Don’t be fooled by marketing tricks.

    The tech industry persuaded Congress to pass a host of unneeded laws, including one of the most outrageous — an exemption from civil lawsuits for all but the sleaziest behavior related to problems that might or might not be caused by faulty software when the date rolls over from 1999 to 2000.

    The industry also put in front of state legislatures — in battles to be fought in 2000 — the most anti-consumer legislation in years. It’s called UCITA, the Uniform Computer Information Transactions Act, a proposed state law that would utterly destroy the few protections now available to customers of software, Internet services, e-commerce and other products and services.

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