Sunday, July 29, 2007

Microsoft can be trusted: NOT!

How do you know you've written a good blog? Well of course, a high number of comments and talkbacks are a nice indication, but it only means that many people like what you've written. "News story of the day" is nice too, but that is still not what I want. No, I know I've written a good blog when I keep on adding links. That means to me that I'm really on to something.

The kinds of blog that interest me less are those where I keep on flogging dumb or corrupt editors. And there are just too many of them. One reader of my blogs suggested we should create a "Razzy Award" for worst editor of the year. My nominee of the week is Neil McAllister, given his line of recent articles with Microsoft FUD ridden titles like:
  1. Open source is entangled in .Net
  2. Open source needs a profit motive
  3. Forget about open source at Apple
  4. Can't open source and Microsoft just get along?
Fortunately, DC Parris saved me by writing a better article than I could ever have done. You are dumb if you still don't catch the drift of the FOSS community. We are not swallowing our pride, we are not taking backseats and we won't stop doing what we've been doing so far. You're corrupt if you're letting yourself be used by the Dark Force to spread FUD disguised as editorials.

Speaking of the Dark Force, it seems that Neil is really hooked on satanic stuff (this is his homepage). Note that these 'Black Metal' guys are not your average metal fan: they burn churches, promote suicide, and are generally racist and anti-Christian! Well, I must admit, his personal ideas are ideologically very close to those of the FOSS community! NOT!

Corruption of computer magazines? Far-fetched? I don't think so. Correction. I know it is not far-fetched. If you happen to live in Europe, you may have seen many computer magazines this summer that included the Microsoft Office 2007 test suite on CD. You may have bought such a magazine and wondered why they were so friendly to Microsoft.

Well, that is not an accident. Those magazines signed an agreement, that they would offer their articles to Microsoft for "proof reading and comment". And in order to make these stupid editors understand what they should write, Microsoft sends them a "manual for editors" so they can produce "allowed contents". If Microsoft proposes any "changes" concerning "incorrect information on the product", those editors should "cooperate" with the software giant. It stresses that it just wants to "avoid misrepresentation of Microsoft and/or its products". Needless to say, that Microsoft will not allow any other software on the free CD, let alone abominations like Open Office.

"You're kidding me". No I'm not kidding you. This is the company that recently stated that they are "people (..) with unwavering integrity", and a "collective commitment to ethical business practices". "These Standards of Business Conduct provide information (..) to help you make good, informed business decisions". Emphasis added.

That was even too much for "Computerbild", part of the (sic) right wing Springer concern. The editors didn't sign the contact and consequently didn't bring the Office 2007 CD. Instead, they made the scandal public. "This agreement is a huge intervention in the editorial freedom." said Hans-Martin Burr, editor in chief "It's like signing the death sentence of independent journalism".

I must say, I've been researching my "Hasta la Vista" series for almost a year now, and only too many links have disappeared from the web. You will say that is not unusual. True. But especially where large, online magazines are concerned, you'd expect the oldest articles to disappear first. Untrue. Even some individual pages have been altered, some comments withdrawn or modified. I don't have any real proof for this – I really have to stress this – but it is suspicious to say the least.

I've been forced to delve into Google's cache in order to retrieve some articles or fragments of articles. Nowadays, I copy the entire article and its link in order to be safe. I'm convinced these are no incidents or coincidences. May be one time a Microsoft employee will come forward and confirm this story. "You can fool some people all the time, you can fool all the people for some time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time." Abraham Lincoln said and I still believe that to be true.

Another reader wondered whether I got paid for writing blogs like this. No, I do not get paid. This is right from the heart. If somebody offers me money to write a blog one time or another, I probably stop writing at all, do the final payments on my mortgage and retire. Yeah, Neil – my dear anti-Christ – you were so right: Microsoft can be trusted.. NOT! Excuse all the blood. ;-)

Update: Before I can continue this blog, I have to make a confession. I am and have been a fan of the Doors since 1990. The Doors was a band in the nineteen-sixties, notorious for their inappropriate behavior and language on and off stage. Jim Morrison was arrested on stage in New Haven for foul language which he had directed toward police at the concert. The most infamous incident occurred at the March 1, 1969 Dinner Key Auditorium concert in Miami, Florida. Morrison allegedly exposed himself during the performance. He was accused of lewd and lascivious behavior, indecent exposure, open profanity and drunkenness, and consequently trialled and convicted.

I regret to say, that I have been unable to disassociate my private life sufficiently from their cultural and philosophical heritage. On more than one occasion I have been under the influence of alcoholic beverages, used controlled substances (although I didn't inhale) and have had sexual relationships with women that were not my spouse (I never was married).

It was wrong. It constituted a critical lapse in judgment and a personal failure on my part for which I am solely and completely responsible. And so I ask you to repair the fabric of our mutual cause, and to return our attention to all the challenges and all the promise of Free and Open Source Software. I hope this will encourage others to come forward and distance themselves from their questionable musical taste. I know for instance, that L. is a big fan of Abba and R. likes to listen to 'The Village People' from time to time.

Just kiddin', but I think you all know what I'm talking about. I know I've touched a nerve that seemingly nobody ever touched before and I have to address it.

Epilogue: It has now been several years since I wrote this post and I have to say that I wouldn't use the same tactics again. I feel now that straight ad hominem attacks like this are counter productive - although I have to admit it was a lot of fun at the time. I can't undo what I've done, except publicly offer my excuses to the parties involved. I still feel that researching a person can be useful, but completely unrelated facts should not be part of the story.

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