Re: The One Thing...

Date: Thu Jan 25 2001 - 03:42:04 MST

Max More wrote:

> Sheesh, give it a break Eugene. The fact that you can't stand to see
> someone say *just one* positive thing about Microsoft makes it look like

I'll grant you readily that Flight Simulator is an excellent, probably
even the best flight simulator software on market. It is one of a
rare instance where Redmond bought a company, and managed not to screw
up a decent product. Miracles happen.

I honestly don't know of a single instance of a decent MS product having
been developed entirely in-house. Max, anyone, please tell me one, I
honestly want to know. Such a case needs to be studied, since being an
excellent diagnostic, the first step to therapy.

My point is that there's something strange going on inside Microsoft.
They have money to hire the best of the best in the industry (their
job interviews is state of the art in Spanish Inquisition), and they
did. But somehow, the company structure is scrambled, and, worse,
scrambled in a way which actively resists fixing.

For instance, yesterday was unreachable for
prolonged periods of time (see the register for details), and according
to preliminary reports it turned out Microsofts three DNS servers were
all on the same subnet, which was unreachable.


Now I'm not a system administrator, but this is one of the basic
cardinal sins of system administration. You Just Don't Do That,
even for a mom & pop shop. Not to be talking about the Death Star
of software industry. This is like putting self-destruct buttons
right next to the light switches on a Navy destroyer. (Or letting
said destroyer be run by software which makes it unmaneuvrable
for hours by entering a zero in a screen mask, see RISKS).

I wouldn't even be mentioning if this was an isolated incidence,
but you surely remember the break-in into the inner sanctum, where
the intruders had the opportunity to see and modify OS sources for
several weeks, after a guy clicked on an executable mail attachement,
containing a well-known remote administration package aka backdoor.

There were others, of similiar magnitude. The deeper you dig, the more
astonishing stuff you unearth, also the little issue of business
practices which look like a judicious mix of a buccaneer and Catharina
de Medici. Even more bogglement ensues if one reads the BUGTRAQ list
for prolonged periods of time. Worse that the bugs are many and should
never found their way into production code, MS has very deep meta
level/design problems, and as a collective entity is not even aware
that it does have them.

I think many books and dissertations will be written postmortem on the
issue, and that a similiar debacle never occurs in the industry.

> you are incapable of an objective view. The vast gulf in perspective
> between some of the programmers and the actual users (who pay for the
> stuff) astounds me. I'm amazed that all this vitriol is reserved

It seems that users are rather tolerant of flaky software, system
crashes and loss of data, and attribute the results due to their own
mistakes or that it cannot be done better, obviously, because Microsoft,
an industry leader and standard, is unable to do better.

As to users, well there's something to be said for naivete, and not
being able to associate cause with effect, especially on the really
long run. My attitude by now is to let people who insist on using
broken software despite being repeatedly pointed out alternatives
to deal with their own problems. When I was looking for a job I
explicitly ignored all heavy MS shops. Right now my desire to deal
with things Microsoft is about the same as handling week-old roadkill.
Unprovoked, I usually think about MS as much as about said roadkill.

> exclusively for MS and Gates, while Ellison and that hypocritical McNealy
> (the self-described libertarian who runs to the politicians rather than
> competing) are left alone. What's that all about?

Huh? We started this this flambe fete, since someone started expressing
glowing admiration for one William H. Gates, for what he has done to the
user community and the industry in particular.

He wasn't singing praise to Ellison, iirc. I'm not particularly impressed
with the Oracle line of database products (though being noticeably
better than Redmond's offering), particularly given recently maturing
OpenSource alternatives (check out , for instance).
They're not there yet, but it doesn't take a genius to extrapolate
that quite soon they will be.

I will not praising Sun here, though at least their OS is decent. Their
hardware is unremarkable, especially given recent trend to COTS clustering,
and Java technology is not something I could weep tears of joy about.

Summa summarum, these are the lesser villains. I would have reacted to
anyone praising them unreflexively in a somewhat toned down fashion,
but I would have reacted.

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Mon May 28 2001 - 09:56:24 MDT