Steve Gibson Resorts to Reusing Testimonials for Long-Broken SpinRite on Security Now

Egads! They got me!

Steve Gibson’s SpinRite program has been broken for the entirety of this decade. It doesn’t run on modern machines which use AHCI to access the hard drive and instead requires legacy ATA. It doesn’t work under UEFI and instead requires a legacy BIOS.

For these reasons, it literally does not run on modern computers. People who still swear by the snake oil program must keep old computers around for the specific purpose of running the Dumbo feather program.

Steve Gibson needs Security Now as his vehicle to keep a stream of new customers coming to buy his now-useless program. With the pittance that Leo pays Steve, he says in his own words this is literally the only reason he continues doing Security Now.

“Leo pays me so little that I pay Elaine more than half of what I receive from TWiT. And if it were not for my ability to keep SpinRite alive through the podcast, this would never have been a viable use of my time.”

— Steve Gibson, July 7, 2017

As you saw in the video at the top of the post, Steve has resorted to reusing testimonials, presumably because no new ones can come in, because the program physically cannot run on modern machines.

What’s shocking is that he pretended to have never heard of the blog post, the “KSOD”, or any of the rest of it. Steve dishonestly presents each reading of the testimonial as if it was a new testimonial that just came in.

The Total Drama Scholarly Research Team set out to find other examples, and they were found easily. This is not an exhaustive list, but here are some examples of testimonial re-use.

  • Security Now 622 and 481
  • Security Now 600 and 333
  • Security Now 456 and 312
  • Security Now 599 and 334
  • The research team was too frustrated to continue after finding this many examples.
Steve Gibson could not be reached for comment.

In the interest of allowing Steve Gibson to explain himself, we requested comment from him on this article. He did not reply. We then requested comment again in his SQRL newsgroup. He did not reply.

Thanks to BillEverlasting in our chat room for giving us the initial tip for this story. Submit your own tips to help us find stories we may have missed!

We fully expect many of these links to disappear, but we have archived everything in case. Let us know in the comments if he starts deleting anything.

53 thoughts on “Steve Gibson Resorts to Reusing Testimonials for Long-Broken SpinRite on Security Now”

  1. Snakeoil, still selling RLL/MFM/ESDI/Prototype IDE disk checking algorithms on current spinning rust/SSD’s.

    Takes a year to run on 1TB+, this just wastes peoples time.

    Useless silly bullshit. Life is too short.

    Go sell mattresses, twig/berry junk food and bogus investment software like Leo, at least less sketchy and in the open dishonesty.

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  2. He continues to sell software unfit for modern architectures but never discloses this. I’m so glad he’s finally being called out for this unethical and possibly illegal behavior… he literally preys on people who’ve suffered a hard drive failure just like the holistic doctors telling terminal cancer patients they can be healed.

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  3. I also think the comment about how much Leo pays is interesting. If I remember correctly, Dicky D has said that Leo paid him $500 per episode of The Giz Wiz back in the day. That’s 26 grand a year for an hour of on-air work per week (maybe triple that to three hours since he does all of the prep on his own, and that’s still a great income). And I have to imagine that Security Now makes much, much more money than The Giz Wiz ever did, so Steve is probably making much more than Dicky D did. And for hosts like Mary Jo and Paul Thurrott, their “prep” is their actual day jobs, so they’re making good money for an hour a week, too.

    Anyway, in the full post where that quote is taken from (http://archive.is/8UFA8), Steve contemplates a career change from a software developer to a fulltime podcaster using the Patreon model. I don’t think he’d be able to replicate the income Leo gives him for minimal hours per week – which is at least $26k a year – with viewer donations.

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    1. About 5-7 years ago Thurrott said that he was being paid $300 per show. For 2 hours of work that’s not bad, but it’s only $15,600 per year. I’m sure pay varies by show and host(s), but Gibson is for sure making a pittance.

      And deservedly so! Security Now is one of the worst shows I’ve ever seen. That kind of long, drawn out explaining of things doesn’t work in today’s jump cut/bite size world. There’s a way to present security info in consumable form, Gibson is incapable of doing that.

      The sooner he and Leo part ways the better.

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      1. Eh, direct pay for this type of gig isn’t the whole picture. I bet Thurrott makes at least a dollar in promotional value or marketing spend for every hour on Leo’s channel per dollar paid to his wallet. Or at least did at some point in time.

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      1. Twit Insider:
        How is $26000 a “great” income?

        Any yes, Leo pays Steve $500 per show. Prep time is not paid, Travel is not paid. It is a flat fee.

        Because it’s a part-time job that requires just a few hours a week. Let’s say he spends 5 hours a week between prep and the two-hour show. That’s $100/hr. Sounds like a good gig to me. I didn’t mean to suggest he could live off SN, but it certainly bumps him into a higher tax bracket.

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      2. Twit Insider:
        How is $26000 a “great” income?

        Any yes, Leo pays Steve $500 per show. Prep time is not paid, Travel is not paid. It is a flat fee.

        $26k for 5 hours a week is great. Over a 40 hour work week that would be $208k a year.

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  4. Great post…but the one before this has two pieces of info that require examination and or a post of their own:

    1. Here’s Leo scrolling through nude selfies of himself and Lisa on iOS Today: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XzYSEvqCch4&feature=youtu.be&t=1h5m54s

    2. Here’s Snubs calling Leo a narcissist in a public Facebook post: https://www.facebook.com/snubs/posts/10103178041656184

    Leica Lens, King Leo Laporte. Let’s go go go!!!

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    1. Thurrott Legend:

      1. Here’s Leo scrolling through nude selfies of himself and Lisa on iOS Today: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XzYSEvqCch4&feature=youtu.be&t=1h5m54s

      At least he didn’t display any genitals in this one. But in that same section, you can see photos of Lisa and her kid (I can never remember his name). They’re waaaay too physically intimate for a mother and teenage boy. It’s so creepy. It’s even creepier that her husband is photographing it all. 😡

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      1. JAS: At least he didn’t display any genitals in this one. But in that same section, you can see photos of Lisa and her kid (I can never remember his name). They’re waaaay too physically intimate for a mother and teenage boy. It’s so creepy. It’s even creepier that her husband is photographing it all.

        It’s beyond disgusting. In one of the photos she’s leaning back in a chair and he’s standing over her and they’re nose to nose. That’s the kind of pose you do when your young in love, not when you’re mother and son.

        There’s some freaky shit going on there that we have no idea about. My guess is the kid is on the spectrum.

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    1. He has done far worse than this on SN since the early days, namely his whole Raw Sockets meltdown.
      SN is still going strong namely because he is actually pretty grounded in reality and actually unsmug for a “security researcher”, through some miracle, even though as a human he is at lest three standard deviations from the mean in both. And his show allows people who are non-matriculated in security technology to feel like they are learning something, much like Michio Kaku makes people feel they are learning about M-Theory as he rambles on about it.
      I’m all for it if it means a few extra people don’t get infected for stupid reasons.

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  5. If you were a regular listener you would know that once he has finished sqrl he will be straight onto upgrading spinrite. He is a victim of his own success because how was he to know that sqrl would take off like a rocket? The reason that sqrl never appears to be getting finished is because he insists on hand coating it on a Sinclair zx80 because it is virus free.

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    1. Haha is he still saying that? That was his line years ago when I last listened. Any day now he’ll update spinrite! Yeah right, the snake oil still sells to gullible people, why touch it.

      As for squirrel, that will never take off. It’s too complicated for normal people to use. As you hint, he should be writing it in some language that others can contribute to, not 6502 or whatever. Besides, any kind of password replacement will only get traction if Facebook or Google implement it. And FB/G aren’t gonna use something that they themselves didn’t dream up, especially not something written in assembly by a charlatan crackpot.

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  6. I haven’t listened to it in several years, but in its prime, Security Now was the best thing to come out of TwiT, so I would implore TD to show restraint when it comes to maligning Steve.

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    1. The Prick House: I haven’t listened to it in several years, but in its prime, Security Now was the best thing to come out of TwiT, so I would implore TD to show restraint when it comes to maligning Steve.

      So you’re saying for the good of TWiT we should refrain from maligning someone who blatantly lies to listeners???

      That’s like forgiving all the raping Bill Cosby did because of the good that came out of the Cosby Show. Sometimes you have to call out other people’s shit and this is one of those times. Have some fucking principles FFS.

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  7. Reading the full thread on the newsgroup, he is most definitely fed up of Leo/TWIT and surprisingly candid about it.

    For his faults, I cut Steve some slack, because when it comes down to it, he *is* actually skilled with computers/programming. Contrast with the parade of dilettantes that have made up the majority of TWIT’s history.

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      1. bigbigbison:
        yes, that thread is full of steve airing grievances.

        Is everyone employed by TWiT as delusional as Leo? On what planet is Gibson starting a Patreon and making enough money to turn Security Now into a full-time business?

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    1. I must respond to these scandalous rumours which are demonstrably false!

      1) Jenny the ferret is female. At most Mr. Glibson is bi-sexual.

      2) Mr LaPorque is also famous for his acceptance of the LGBT community. Just look at his Life Partner 3.0, who allegedly chose a female gender, while still maintaining a masculine appearance. It takes a considerable level of courage for Mr LaPorque to appear in public as a couple… but I salute you Mr. LaPorque!

      Let us not descend to the gutter by propagating fake news.

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  8. In the FAQ he does say “SpinRite provides complete interaction with IDE-interface PATA (parallel ATA) and SATA (Serial ATA) drives, and it can also be used with any other type of drive — SCSI, USB, 1394/Firewire — that can be made visible to DOS through the addition of controller BIOS or add-on DOS drivers”

    Yeah, he should probably be better about explicitly saying it won’t work on modern systems up front. I’m guessing most of the copies he sells are to folks running very old legacy systems. This is surprisingly common in manufacturing.

    At least Steve does have tech chops. I don’t lump him in with the clowns we see coming and going nowadays. As the network went downhill, and became unwatchable for me, SN stood above the rest for continuing to have solid information and it was alone in the fact that Leo would shut the fuck up for periods of time and let Steve do his thing.

    Honestly the only thing that I find offensive here is that Leo is paying Steve shit money. Steve was always prepared for those shows and I’m sure there is a good amount of hours in prep. Probably more so than any other show.

    Gonna cut Steve some slack. The testimonials are marketing. They are commercials. So what if he aired the same commercial twice.

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    1. ManBaby: Yeah, he should probably be better about explicitly saying it won’t work on modern systems up front. I’m guessing most of the copies he sells are to folks running very old legacy systems. This is surprisingly common in manufacturing.

      Are there actually manufacturing companies who would stop to run Spinrite on production drives instead of just replacing them and rebuilding the data through a standard restore procedure?

      At least Steve does have tech chops. I don’t lump him in with the clowns we see coming and going nowadays. As the network went downhill, and became unwatchable for me, SN stood above the rest for continuing to have solid information and it was alone in the fact that Leo would shut the fuck up for periods of time and let Steve do his thing.

      I do agree that Steve can be informative, but his analysis is no better than what a good computer-science university student could accomplish. Also Steve lacks the motivation (and competence) to finish projects, for example CryptoLink. He said he stopped developing it because he was afraid the government would compel him to put in a backdoor. This is a complete cop out. Thank fucking god the people at Open Whisper Systems (who make Signal) had the balls to finish their crypto app so we could all have safe encrypted communications. They didn’t back down and roll over like Steve Gibson.

      Honestly the only thing that I find offensive here is that Leo is paying Steve shit money. Steve was always prepared for those shows and I’m sure there is a good amount of hours in prep. Probably more so than any other show.

      I agree that Steve is severely underpaid. TotalDrama has investigated this and determined that Steve makes no more than $550 per show with “more than half of this” going to his transcriber Elaine. This is absolutely shameful for allegedly the most popular show on the TWiT network. However according to iTunesCharts.net Security Now is NOT the #1 TWiT podcast.

      Gonna cut Steve some slack. The testimonials are marketing. They are commercials. So what if he aired the same commercial twice.

      I think you are are smart enough to see the difference between a 60-second infomercial with testimonials in which the same commercial is repeated exactly every time, and what Steve is doing with Spinrite testimonials. Steve’s use of testimonials is meant to convince listeners that the software is still being used/praised today by many new users, and that is one of the reasons you should buy it. So it really is dishonest and deceitful to continue to pass off old testimonials as new.

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      1. King Leo Laporte: Are there actually manufacturing companies who would stop to run Spinrite on production drives instead of just replacing them and rebuilding the data through a standard restore procedure?

        You’d be surprised. There are many thousands of companies out there in the 20-100 head count range who have absolutely shameful IT practices. I’m guessing that’s where a lot of Steve’s bread and butter is. Think things like animal hospitals, local mechanic’s shops and low volume manufacturing houses.

        King Leo Laporte:
        I do agree that Steve can be informative, but his analysis is no better than what a good computer-science university student could accomplish.

        Partially agree. Depends on the student. Very few would be able to speak to things as well as he does. Articulation can be hard to find with really good engineers. Sure, you could find other people to do the job. Just like the rest of us at our jobs.

        King Leo Laporte:
        Also Steve lacks the motivation (and competence) to finish projects, for example CryptoLink. He said he stopped developing it because he was afraid the government would compel him to put in a backdoor. This is a complete cop out. Thank fucking god the peopleat Open Whisper Systems (who make Signal) had the balls to finish their crypto app so we could all have safe encrypted communications. They didn’t back down and roll over like Steve Gibson.

        Can’t speak to this since I stopped listening. As a fomer several hour a week TWiT listener, I just come here out of curiosity and entertainment.

        King Leo Laporte:
        I agree that Steve is severely underpaid. TotalDrama has investigated this and determined that Steve makes no more than $550 per show with “more than half of this” going to his transcriber Elaine. This is absolutely shameful for allegedly the most popular show on the TWiT network. However according to iTunesCharts.net Security Now is NOT the #1 TWiT podcast.

        Yeah, it’s a pittance. Almost insulting really. A typical freelancer in software engineering, which is was Steve would be…should be in the $100ish per hour range as a completely non-benefited worker. A typical episode is what, 2-2.5 hours. Figure a few minutes before getting miced up, a few after talking to Leo about random shit for the show. That’s 3 hours. That leaves 2.5 paid hours for show prep. When you factor giving half the money to his assistant for transcription, he’s doing the show at a loss.

        King Leo Laporte:
        I think you are are smart enough to see the difference between a 60-second infomercial with testimonials in which the same commercial is repeated exactly every time, and what Steve is doing with Spinrite testimonials.Steve’s use of testimonials is meant to convince listeners that the software is still being used/praised today by many new users, and that is one of the reasons you should buy it. So it really is dishonest and deceitful to continue to pass off old testimonials as new.

        I do see both sides of the argument.

        It’s a niche product. I bet only a tiny fraction of customers ever write one of those. He’s obviously ran out of them. If he was really a dishonest person, he would just fabricate them completely and we wouldn’t have this little TD article here. However, I don’t think he’s trying to pull one over. I would agree maybe he could change his advertising approach, or maybe front load it with a disclaimer that he read it from a previous episode.

        I think he’s just a dude trying to hack out a living using the limited and shrinking platform provided by Leo….who pays him for all intents and purposes – less than nothing.

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      2. King Leo Laporte: Are there actually manufacturing companies who would stop to run Spinrite on production drives instead of just replacing them and rebuilding the data through a standard restore procedure?

        Rebuilding drives isn’t that difficult here’s a Louis Rossmann video showing a platter swap – if the platter is damaged Spinrite won’t help.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J9P4UadRdNA

        If Spinrite was really the world’s best hard drive utility Gibson would have been bought out by a manufacturer and be broadcasting from a beach. It isn’t.

        Don’t feel too sorry for Steve, years ago he got a block reward forBitcoin – 50 coins, back when they were worth $50. Bitcoins are now worth almost $4,000 each and will probably go much higher – I believe Steve still has his 50 Bitcoin.

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  9. I actually liked Security Now but stopped after the Bluetooth vibrator talk. Leo’s perversion and either not paying attention and saying the same thing or asking questions already answered, if not straight up arguing with Steve, I canceled my subscription.

    I would love to see Tom and Steve reunite. His filling for Leo on SN were always better. Now if he teamed up with the FMCP… His filling in were always worse than Leo.

    But yes, Steve is a perfectionist to a fault. You can’t take 7 years developing something before releasing in the modern age. Better to be good enough and done rather than perfect and never.

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  10. OMFG sometimes these articles are a little reaching but my God this is a sack of shit.

    Unless he’s marketing it to the aging WinXP ATM market or the 3rd world this is a sham, no wonder it’s associated with Leo.

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  11. Kudos and condolences to the tipster. Kudos for finding it and alerting the TD Investigative News Desk, and condolences for the in depth knowledge it required, that can only have come from a severe and relentless exposure to Mr. Glibson’s incontinent ramblings. I can only hope this was via the audio stream; I have it from reliable sources that the video stream of Mr. Glibson’s bouncing Adam’s apple is used at Gitmo as a form of advanced interrogation technique, one that extends from the primary viewing into the victim’s nightmares. Rather brutal but it does conserve water.
    I’m sure Mr. Glibson relishes the thought of his netcast being used to protect his country, and for those who code hard core on green monochrome monitors, his cutting edge in-depth exposé of all things security, canine and ironically, sleep apnea is indeed like a Security Blanket: not really functional, but an effective physical placebo.
    I am unable to criticize him for this service to his country and fellow citizens, however unintentional or duplicitous in the means used to achieve it. The same cannot be said of Mr and Mrs. LaPorque. All these extra downloads are enabling the tormenting of low wage staff around the world during their many cruises, financed by these Cuban impressions.

    Mr. Glibson would do well to remember “He who sups with the La Porques should have a long spoon.. or his own Mason Jar”

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    1. MarkPugnifer2.0:
      I would like for him to finish SptinRite 6.1, something that he has been plugging for 5+ years now.

      I’ve avoided Security Now like the plagued because of Steve’s long, boring explanations for everything. Since this article I dove into a few episodes and god almighty, he’s a fucking snake oil salesman. The only reason Leo keeps him around is because it’s 90-120 minutes he can check email, eat, etc. uninterrupted.

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  12. Bigger issue is that quote by Steve.

    In the past, Steve sold a lot of Spinrite from the show. Combine the effects of spinrite becoming obsolete and twit ratings plummeting, his sales are probably down 90%.

    It is not fair to fully blame Leo but Steve can’t afford to do the show anymore, he does a great deal of preparation. Meanwhile, Leo is still scamming advertisers and firing people to keep his end profitable. Steve wants his fair share and is surely contemplating dumping Leo.

    Look for some snark from Steve. He seems like a lapdog to Leo but money is money. This will blowup. Look for Leo to speak lovingly about their 15 years to get Steve to forget his issues.

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    1. Sometimes it is just easier to do a show on a schedule and get a check in the mail than actually setting up your own shop.

      One thing to note. Over the past two years those checks in the mail have gone from net 5 days to net 60. It can take two months to get the check. This is Lisa’s little cash flow scam.

      Leo has become the same douchebag he once hated working for. That’s the real irony here.

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      1. Twit Insider:

        One thing to note. Over the past two years those checks in the mail have gone from net 5 days to net 60. It can take two months to get the check. This is Lisa’s little cash flow scam.

        That’s really interesting. Did Leo reveal this on a recent show?

        Net 60 is pretty fucked up. Especially when you are dealing with the amounts we are talking. These people are hardly rolling in dough.

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        1. ManBaby: That’s really interesting.Did Leo reveal this on a recent show?

          Net 60 is pretty fucked up.Especially when you are dealing with the amounts we are talking.These people are hardly rolling in dough.

          What does Net 60 mean?

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        2. Net60 would strongly imply that they do not have enough cash on hand to pay staff while also keeping a healthy reserve. They are literally waiting for the advertising checks to come in the mail to pay their staff, like a payday loan victim.

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      2. Didn’t you read the comment thread?

        Twit Insider:

        One thing to note. Over the past two years those checks in the mail have gone from net 5 days to net 60. It can take two months to get the check. This is Lisa’s little cash flow scam.

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        1. That’s a scam for the ages. So if Steve records an episode of Security Now yesterday he has to wait 60 days in order to be paid? Why would anyone work with TWiT if that’s the case?

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  13. Wait when Lisa finds out all the big corporations are paying Net 120 or Net 150…. Alcoa tried that Net 150 crap on me!!! Oh, Just wait till Lisa sets up her own Bank and offers to finance the receivables for her hosts.

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