Peter Gutmann turns to smear tactics with help from PCWorld NZ

Peter Gutmann turns to smear tactics with help from PCWorld NZ

Summary: Update 9/1/2007 - Gutmann paper cites shoddy web forum postings as source  Peter Gutmann - the man who admittedly never used Vista and author of the widely cited and widely discredited paper "A Cost Analysis of Windows Vista Content Protection" - has taken his fight in to the gutter. Now that this issue has gotten some attention and many more people are challenging Peter Gutmann to back up his claims, he's feeling the heat.

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TOPICS: Windows, Microsoft
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Update 9/1/2007 - Gutmann paper cites shoddy web forum postings as source  

Peter Gutmann - the man who admittedly never used Vista and author of the widely cited and widely discredited paper "A Cost Analysis of Windows Vista Content Protection" - has taken his fight in to the gutter. Now that this issue has gotten some attention and many more people are challenging Peter Gutmann to back up his claims, he's feeling the heat. But instead of answering to the fact that he has done zero research on his paper on Vista Content Protection, Gutmann has turned up his attacks on me by misrepresenting my position and linking to a smear piece that makes false accusations about me. Gutmann has done everything these last two weeks to attack me except defend his paper.

Who cares about the slides? The biggest misrepresentation Peter Gutmann continues to make is fixation on the "slides" he presented at Usenix Boston earlier this month. The problem is that I never asked for his slides; he offered to send them to me and post them on his website on 8/11/2007 but he's done neither as of 8/30/2007. It's been a very convenient red herring since he can continue to say no one can criticize him until they've seen the slides and obviously no one can see the slides until he decides to release them.

When I challenged Gutmann's claims with my data along with data from AnandTech, I was primarily challenging Gutmann's paper on Windows Vista Content Protection which has been out (with constant changes) since December 2006. I also challenged statements he made at the Boston Usenix which were reported by Jon Brodkin of PCWorld and Gutmann didn't deny making those statements, only that he was "selectively quoted". Since Gutmann claims I made things up about his Usenix presentation which I quoted directly from Jon Brodkin's story, does Gutmann want to now claim Brodkin's either mistaken in his reporting or that he's a liar?

I don't know what context could possibly justify statements from Gutmann's Usenix talk that Vista's content protection features cause "full steam" CPU consumption which demands more power consumption and therefore global warming. I've posted experimental data showing that there is in fact no measurable power consumption difference between 5% and 15% CPU utilization on an Intel E6600 processor. I then cited AnandTech's benchmarks on 1080p VC-1 video playback which shows a $100 CPU and a $100 video card ($49 ATI HD2400 XT works too) consuming a mere 7% CPU during 1080p playback. It isn't just me calling Gutmann out and it isn't just Ed Bott pointing out Gutmann's errors, Ken Fisher of ArsTechnica also had a nice write-up where he picked Gutmann apart.

Since Gutmann has been making these claims since last year and I never asked for his Usenix slides - which Gutmann seems to have no intention of releasing anyways -  it's silly to claim this is about the slides.  But it's still interesting to see what Gutmann has to say about his slides when he writes:

"For those who are waiting for the slides I'll post them when things calm down a bit, there just isn't any point in putting them up while things are stuck at the level of name-calling."

I don't get this at all. Why wait when many others in the press want to see this now? What is the point of waiting till "things calm down"? Sounds like Gutmann doesn't want the world to see what he said in the slides and he would rather have people forget that he ever made those ludicrous claims in Usenix Boston. The problem for Gutmann is that his claims have been widely reported and he's had his crackpot theory of a paper on Vista Content Protection for 8 months now which is easily refutable point by point.

ComputerWorld and PCWorld New Zealand joins Gutmann's smear campaign: What's even more disturbing is some of media behavior from Gutmann's homeland. ComputerWorld NZ and PCWorld NZ (New Zealand) of Fairfax Business Media which is an independent division of IDG ran one-sided stories where they interviewed Gutmann about the "fire" he's been receiving from Ed Bott and George Ou.

Rob O'Neill (ComputerWorld NZ) wrote this story on Tuesday where he basically repeats Gutmann's claims and even goes as far as to report that I have been asking other people for copies of the Gutmann Usenix slides based on Gutmann's hearsay. O'Neill also repeats Gutmann's preposterous and widely refuted claim that Vista DRM even blocks non-commercial content. O'Neill wrote:

“This is not commercial HD content being blocked, this is users’ own content,” Gutmann says. “The more premium content you have, the more output is disabled.”

At the same time, Chris Keall of sister company PCWorld NZ got in to the mix with this blog. So I reached out on Tuesday night to Keall and O'Neill hoping that they would at least try and get my side of the story if they're going to be reporting on me. To my shock, neither O'Neill or Keall contact me but they respond with a public slap to my face with the blog titled "Yahoo!xtra: who cares? | The war on George gets, low-down, dirty ..." that links to the same smear piece that makes false accusations about me which was the same smear tactic that Gutmann used.

Keall went a step further than Peter Gutmann and even re-posted the hacked up photo of my face while claiming to be "neutral". When I sent posted a complaint about his behavior, Keall immediately tried to cover it up by erasing all references to me and the photo. Keall did reference his colleague O'Neill as the source of the smear piece but it isn't clear if Keall acted independently. Covering up obviously wasn't a very bright thing to do since Google News already cached his original title and smear photo he used which I show below.

Yahoo!xtra: who cares? | The war on George gets, low-down, dirty ... PCWorld.co.nz, New Zealand - 8 hours ago Initially, I didn't even realise Xtra's Great Email Outage was happening. (Maybe I shouldn't have admitted that, since now I've no chance of scoring that ...

As you can see in Keall's current blog posting if you follow the Google News link, all references and images of me have been completely erased. I've sent a complaint to IDG's senior editors in the US (since I don't have the New Zealand editor contacts) for this juvenile and unprofessional behavior asking them to forward it to the NZ division.

I also posted a note on Keall's blog which got deleted but I soon got an email response from Chris Keall after I posted another note on his blog saying that I've emailed IDG editors. Keall refused to talk about the smear and cover-up and made no apologies on his blog or in private. In all my years as a blogger I've never had someone from a major news site engage in such underhanded tactics. No professional journalist or news site should ever cover up a mistake without acknowledging the error and making an apology publicly. It's even worse that this was a deliberate underhanded smear.

Topics: Windows, Microsoft

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96 comments
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  • Wow

    You really have hit a nerve there George.

    It has always amazed me the lengths that people will go to to defend their claims whilst strenuously avoiding actually having to release any evidence to back them up.
    nmh
    • The Wow is what PCWorld New Zealand did

      Wait till you read the bottom half.
      georgeou
      • Absolutely

        Although I notice that your post is now on Keall's blog, albeit with an addendum initialed CK, presumably Chris Keall, criticising your description of O?Neill's original article.

        I have to admit I would have expected some sort of apology/notice of correction even if Keall did not make an admission of wrongdoing in it.
        nmh
  • ZDnet needs a Counter Zealotry Blog

    Although this is pretty much what every blog seems to do. "Call out Zealots with other claims"

    Everyone seems to be basing this off of everyone else and in the end no one seems to really have a clue what is going on.

    Granted, I do like your articles where you post test shots or results. This shows that you are actually trying to use some backing of your own claims. Other blogs appear to claim differences on this matter, but further more still the insanity that follows is the tasteless attacks of support for one OS or another. My favorite line on attacks against you is one blog on the matter of font rendering that stated, "We would have tested Windows Vista, but currently we have no Vista Machines in house." This was one in the same blog that repeatedly attacked you, Mr. Ou.

    I do get tired of sifting through the links of BS to find some obscure half truth to the matter. Of course this is the way sensational journalism works.

    Keep up some of your finer posts with information to back up your content and I will keep reading.
    nucrash
    • eh??? the "Z" in ZDnet stands for Zealotry Dialogue

      This site is full of them and George Ou is is the biggest Pot kettle Black of them all. His WINTEL zealotry is there for all to see.

      But he does write some decent blogs when he's not giving opinions,
      deaf_e_kate
      • How convenient....

        How convenient it is to just lob an anonymous grenade without showing your face. Why don't you point us to your blog, site, or wherever it is you show your technical expertise?
        MGP2
  • While I have disagreed with you in the past.....

    I have disagreed with you in the past, such as the Open Office issue, but you have always been up front with how you got the results you do, and you always try to give evidence on how you got to your conclusions. We may disagree on the methods or numbers, but you do make your case, and you have occasionally changed your mind on an issue when proven wrong. This I can respect.

    However, the Gutmann situation is totally bogus, and the attempts at smearing you are nothing more than desperate attacks to support Gutmann's erroneous conclusions. He's too embarrassed to even admit he is wrong, so he goes off the deep end in trying to throw enough fertilizer around, hoping to bury the stink he has made.

    Keep to your guns. Most of us know the real truth.
    linux for me
    • Thanks

      And I'm not always right and my conclusions are how I see things and they don't necessarily work for everyone. But this Gutmann guy has taken to new lows.
      georgeou
  • Read the Expose yourself

    I'm not sure that I would take George's word for everything the report says. The majority of it recounts Ou's embarrassing tirade against Apple's wireless drivers. The part he's complaining about is only a small part of the article. See here:

    [u]http://roughlydrafted.com/RD/RDM.Tech.Q3.07/D7DEE590-2003-4DC7-8DD1-E156142D4FEA.html[/u]
    chemist109
    • Who cares what Ou said about Apple.

      The issue is what Gutmann said about Vista. All Gutmann has to do is show proof and then he can criticize Ou all he wants.

      This reminds me of all the "paranormal" investigators out there who make incredible claims but then back down once someone asks for proof or tries to test it scientifically.

      I tend to agree that Vista was poorly executed but if you are going to criticize it, then demonstrate the issue--like Adrian did with the Gigabit network/media player issue.
      otaddy
      • In case you hadn't noticed...

        These blogs are not really about Gutmann at all, they're about George.
        zkiwi
        • I don't have a paper published claiming outrageous things

          I don't have a paper published claiming outrageous things. If Peter Gutmann is going make the claim that Vista causes full CPU utilization, more power consumption, global warming, and blocks you from your own generated content, he better back it up with some data. Gutmann is supposedly an academic and his paper and his behavior has been shameful.
          georgeou
          • You don't?

            Then please explain your debunked Font "paper."

            Also, in case you hadn't noticed, you attacked Gutmann first. That is, [b]before[/b] you saw his presentation. You didn't even give him your "give me a couple of days" chance. Why should he even give you time of day, or even owe you politeness after that stunt? Yet you expect people to treat you with respect.
            zkiwi
          • It's a blog, not an academic paper. But I still provide PROOF.

            It's a blog, not an academic paper. But I still provide proof whereas Gutmann's formal paper had zero proof. Heck he admittedly NEVER touched Vista. It would be like me writing the font blog without any screenshots from Mac OS X. Then within 10 hours of the original posting, I had two separate screenshots for Mac OS X. Gutmann in 10 months has provided zero data on Vista.
            georgeou
          • Your ignoring that...

            Your whole thesis was torn to shreds by those who know more about fonts than you ever did. Yet, you persisted in trying to claim you were right. I hope that at least the "font episode" was a learnign experience for you. As far as Gutmann goes, you never gave him the same chance you would claim for yourself. You just attacked when he didn't respond to you.
            zkiwi
          • I posted legitimate data for anyone to draw their own conclusions.

            "Your whole thesis was torn to shreds by those who know more about fonts than you ever did. Yet, you persisted in trying to claim you were right.?

            That's your opinion and you're entitled to it. But no one can say I didn't present data. You can look at the data which was clear as day and spin it any way you like, but normal people will be able to look at the evidence and draw their own conclusions. They don?t have to agree with me, but I?ve posted all the data.

            ?I hope that at least the "font episode" was a learnign experience for you.?

            Learning experience? I shouldn?t ever post data unfavorable to Mac because some zealots might write emails to tell me to go die? You?re kidding right?

            "As far as Gutmann goes, you never gave him the same chance you would claim for yourself. You just attacked when he didn't respond to you."

            Gutmann has been smearing Microsoft for 9 months even after they refuted his claims. Gutmann posts an "analysis" without ever touching Windows Vista. Gutmann confirmed PCWorld's quotations and I was responding to his paper and his comments at Usenix Boston. I never asked for his slides, and Gutmann has no intention of releasing his slides until things die down (read - when people forget). I'm not going to wait for his slides before I challenge his paper.
            georgeou
          • Legitimate data?

            PROOF as you put it requires EVIDENCE, as in a look at the actual presentation, so you can see what he said in detail.

            Oh, and how many times were you wrong because you didn't research properly on the WiFi hack and the Font fiasco?
            zkiwi
          • PROOF?!?

            We've been eagerly awaiting your proof over the whole Apple fiasco for on going a year now.

            George, you really need to take a step back and stop trying to cast everything as so darn personal. It hurts your credibility when you resort to insult and invective instead of simply saying "these numbers don't seem to add up".
            Robert Crocker
          • Posted that in March

            http://blogs.zdnet.com/Ou/?p=451
            How Apple orchestrated web attack on researchers
            georgeou
          • You call that proof?

            Let me see, a PR person sends a draft of a statement for someone to issue and that's a "vicious orchestrated attack"?!?

            C'mon George, you're sitting up here on your high horse complaining about how other people are deficient in providing back up to their assertions while you went on a multi-month diatribe against Apple and the best "proof" you can get is one email and an Apple patch set?

            Where the h-e-double-hockey-sticks is the [b]exploit code[/b] from the poor maligned hackers?
            Robert Crocker