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Paul Ferris To Retire Popular Column "Rant Mode Equals One"

Apr 01, 2001, 23:59 (26 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Paul Ferris)

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 internet.com.

One of the reasons was intimidation. Recently, Microsoft's PR firm applied heavy pressure, in an attempt to make him "Stop whining, already".

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 his strategy.

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 Ethernet technology.'"

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 you!"

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 1991.

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' sincerity.

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.