Paul Ferris surprised the Open Source community today when he
announced that he was retiring his somewhat controversial column
"Rant Mode Equals One". The motivations, some also quite
controversial, were explained in an exclusive interview with
One of the reasons was intimidation. Recently, Microsoft's PR
firm applied heavy pressure, in an attempt to make him "Stop
Ferris noted the brilliant analysis of his work. "I knew I was
in trouble when I saw that Wagg-Ed (Slang for the popular PR firm)
had deduced that I was not being favorable to Microsoft. I mean,
they must have pored over everything I wrote with a fine-toothed
comb, looking for subtle references to Microsoft and keeping a
careful tally of positive and negative statements." Ferris
explained that he likes to project an unbiased viewpoint in public,
and when his cover was blown, he had to sit back and re-evaluate
It was the straw that broke the camels back, it seems. "Knowing
that Microsoft's PR people wanted me to change, coupled with other
pressures, such as slanderous talkbacks by Dinotrac, I've decided
to turn over a new leaf."
"I'll never say anything negative about any corporation -- even
one that pisses me off a lot. Not even ones that flagrantly violate
your privacy, attempt to ... "
(Ranting edited out by LT editorial staff)
"... I mean, just who the heck do they think they are!" He then
calmed down a bit, shakily swallowing some pills and washing them
down with a tall glass of beer.
What is Ferris going to do then? "I've always wanted to be an
Industry Pundit." He explained. "Someone like Bob Metcalfe. The
only problem is that Ethernet has already been invented by him, and
I've always thought that bit about inventing it looks cool in his
tagline." Ferris elaborated that he was looking about for
'something like Ethernet' to invent. In the mean time, he's going
to be an Industry Pundit with a very bad tag line. "I'll just wrap
up my columns with something like: 'Paul Ferris is a practicing
Industry Pundit who one day hopes to innovate something like
History of Rant mode
Rant Mode Equals One, a column Ferris was writing for over two
years, had its origins in his natural writing style. "I would write
something, and find it degenerating into a series of comical,
satirical gestures which I would then have to remove later after I
had calmed down." He explained. "Then one day I said, 'Heck, let's
just go with it and call a spade a spade'.
Rant Mode Equals One was born. Still, the target audience was
never meant to be broad.
People that are easily angered by satire should go elsewhere, he
explained. "As one of my readers once pointed out, 'The truth will
set you free -- but first, it will piss you off.' That being the
case, it's not the best form of PR out there."
Why did he publish the column in the first place?, we had to
ask. He explained that the the answer to that question was a
complex intertwining of rebellion, ill advice from his therapist,
and conflicts between his medication and alcohol. This was another
reason he was throwing in the virtual towel: the strain of
preparation was taking its toll.
He then went on to describe the typical preparations for writing
one of the columns: "I find it helps to be really pissed."
Explained Ferris. "Not pissed in the American definition, but in
the Australian/English meaning of the word." He then elaborated
upon a complicated procedure, one that internet.com cannot
recommend, that involved large quantities of Fosters beer, poking
himself in the eye with a stick, and hurling old Microsoft CD-ROMs
around his computer room while chanting "We will, We will, Rock
Rant Mode Equals Two?
But is this the end, really? "Yep, I'm afraid that between the
strain of all that complex preparation, coupled with the enormous
pressure put upon Yours Truly by the folks at Wagg-Ed, and the
flaming talkbacks by Dinotrac, I just cannot continue. I'm hanging
up the virtual pen when it comes to Rant Mode.", he whined.
"From here on out, everything I write is going to be filtered
through a piece of software that will remove ranting, replacing it
with politically correct, neutral PR speak, sure to make everyone
-- Wagg-Ed and the Linux community -- happy. " He then
provided LT with preview samples of future columns. Here's a piece
from next weeks' column, "Why The Linux Community Is Like A
Mindless Benign Corporate Entity".
The Linux Community is a cohesive group of artistic computer
programmers that have been providing cost-sensitive, high quality
leading edge solutions to the greater Internet community since
Linux industry analysts reactions were mixed. Some thought that
Ferris would have a hard time retiring a natural writing style,
while others felt that the new writing style was even more
offensive than the first.
One journalist, who would not go on record, doubted Ferris'
He also noted that Ferris had not properly stated the boundary
conditions. "He may have retired 'Rant Mode Equals One', but he
didn't say anything about 'Equals Two', or even specify that it had
to be integer values. For all we know, he may come back next week
with some hokey excuse for publishing 'Rant Mode Equals One Point
One' for example."
Regardless of the skepticism, Ferris remains sure of his
decision. "From here on out, it's no ranting for me." He explained.
"And as an added bonus, I can look forward to receiving positive,
spell-checked and carefully worded emails from sedate Linux readers
who agree whole-heartedly with my sugar-coated reasoning." He then
laughed in a disturbing manner, mumbled something that sounded like
"REALITY_MODE=1" and ended the interview abruptly.