Peter Gutmann turns to smear tactics with help from PCWorld NZ

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.

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 agoInitially, 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.