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Believable Lies

Sep 19, 2000, 14:23 (78 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Paul Ferris)

Editor note: The following talkback was entered in response to our letter to MSNBC.com. It did indeed originate from a computer at Microsoft. Likely the opinion expressed here is that of a lone employee. Paul Ferris has taken the time to respond to the criticism of Linux Today. The original talkback is highlighted in italics.

Y'all Are Too Bloody Funny

For reference, I'm a coder for Microsoft. Yes, children, you have your flamebait, so go to it (d00d, you guys REWL!!!). I know all of you are salivating, getting ready to tell me how code I never wrote (or probably ever even SAW) sucks.

Onward.

I guess it's possible that ANY company might "fix" a poll to get the results that they want. I've heard bad examples of not so much "fixing" as "poll shopping" to get the right results (IE, both MS and Oracle have gone shopping for the "right" TPC results). Not denying it happens, and the a$$holes who work in OUR marketing dept. have been just as guilty of the a$$holes who work in the Sun or Red Hat marketing depts. Marketing is about believable lies.

Tom,
You make a false assumption here. Marketing for Microsoft may be about believable lies (thanks for the quote, I'll use it in a future column), it may be that way for some other proprietary companies. Lies are unfortunately lies. Some of the reasons myself and the readers of this forum are here is because we've decided not to put up with the lies anymore.

As for your excuse about why it's OK -- try it yourself. Go out and shoplift some stuff. On the way out of the store, stop the security guard and tell him you didn't want to pay for it -- you saw some 15-year-old kid doing it, so it should be OK for you too. Let me know in advance when you're going to try this so I can take pictures of you being loaded into a squad car.

You have made a different choice, it seems. I applaud your honesty in at least the fact that you came forward as a Microsoft employee. But your assumption that "Everybody's just full of it, and so are we." (referring to your marketing department) -- it's a broken one from the beginning.

There are people that do spew lies in the Linux community -- they learn to change rather quickly. Ask around -- we're a rough crowd to please. We have high standards -- the truth is one of them. Getting along with each other, it's another one. They are inseparable qualities in the long run.

Would we -- Joe Schmoe Microsoft employees -- do it? Would ANYONE I know that I work with do it? You have to be kidding.

You have to admit, however, that that doesn't mean someone at Microsoft didn't.

The amount of paranoia on this board is second only to some info I saw on a web page about "chemtrails" once.

And now I have to point to the unprofessionalism in your own statements.

We're not a bunch of lunatics. We're a democratic crowd. Diverse opinions abound. Not even all of the people I work with are in total agreement with the posting of this story. It's still news, however, and we're covering it. It was one person's idea, and it got posted. It's something the community respects. I myself would be laughing out loud at a rogue Microsoft employee swaying the results and getting exposed -- by Microsoft -- for doing it. I would be applauding actually -- applauding Microsoft.

It would say something positive about Microsoft if it happened. It would say they weren't afraid of the truth, if that were the case. The fact that they won't come forward and just spill it as it is -- it's sad.

And Chemtrails? Give me a break -- we're paranoid about a lot of things, but BS is BS -- and we're tired of it. Yes, I love to rant, and I love to have a good time. I'm truthful as I can be about all of it. Somewhere deep inside that gut of yours, you know I'm speaking the truth to you too, even as I write this.

Try to do yourself a favor -- stop grouping us together in some big lump. We're easier to dismiss that way, but it's self-deception. It's not an us versus them scenario here -- it's Microsoft against a process. In other words -- you compare "Chemtrails" paranoia with a group of people that would just like a little honesty. Some might be a bit over the edge -- some of us are just plain sick of the lies.

It's part of this grand scheme of things -- we're doing something called "creating society". We believe (it's a stretch here, I know) that the only way anything constructive can occur, is when we are all truthful about it.

A great example, to use your own example, is the benchmark shopping that Microsoft did hiring Mindcraft in 1999 -- the results of those benchmarks have now been used to improve the latest Linux kernel. This would not have been possible had there not been a lot of honesty among the people in the Linux community.

Possibly Microsoft could learn a bit from this, as their own products are now not doing so favorably in the benchmarking arena.

It's scary really; not because we're "scared of the penguin" (many of us consider the various Unices to be superior operating systems, many of us run Linux at home or work in addition to WinXXXX).

Thanks for the sound bytes. I now have someone who claims to be a Microsoft programmer, giving me praise of Linux. I'll use it my next column. Well, maybe not. You have to consider the source of information when you want credible quotes....

Seriously, it looks great on paper when you say something like this. Unfortunately, in the real world, when I go out to purchase a PC, I end up wading through scads of equipment that doesn't allow me the choice that you wax so profoundly about. Say I want to set up a secure web server. I go out to purchase a new Gateway PC. It has a copy of Microsoft Windows preinstalled on it. Where's my choice there, to remove the product that doesn't fit?

Please don't suggest that I can just remove Windows. If I'm not using it, I shouldn't have to pay for it. Why should I send money one way when in the long term that money is used as a vote against my own choice? Yes, seems a bit crazy, one guy thinking that a few bucks is going to get rid of his choice. Well, there are a few million of us now. We're all in agreement: This sucks. We don't want you to have our money -- we'd rather spend it on a product -- rather -- we'd like to vote for the product we use. That way we'll have the choice you refer to above.

I don't for a minute expect Microsoft to go away anytime soon. I do expect to have my choice, however. You can take that to the bank. In the mean time I have to piece my computers together, or face buying computers with products that are not line items -- I cannot remove them easily.

This, fortunately due to many factors, not the least of which is your employer landing in a Federal court, is changing.

A professional knows what he likes, and uses it. A true professional might use Win2000 for some things, Linux for others, and something completely different for a third niche.

I agree with you there. It's nice to choose products based upon merit, and not whether or not they are say, crammed down your throat. This group of people you're throwing rocks at is going to ensure that that choice happens.

The real issue you are ignoring is the fact that Microsoft doesn't coexist with any known standard for very long. "Embrace and Extend" tactics and other things on a long list -- they have over the years attempted to remove our choices. We're paranoid all right -- Just because you're paranoid, it doesn't mean someone's not out to get you. I will agree with you here, however, in your assessment of the superiority of most Unices over Microsoft products for some tasks (and not others) -- and in the fact that choice is an important thing.

A professional uses what he needs to use to get the job done. A true professional wouldn't be posting M$-suxxx messages on boards like this, because he would be too busy working (I'm on my day off, that's my excuse... what's yours? :)

I work here. I respect this forum. Your post is actually welcomed, believe it or not. It's something we honor -- democracy. Come here and post as often as you like. Try to keep it less personal, and more on topic. I question your definition of professionalism, however. Read on.

No, this stuff is scary because the mentality is really bordering on paranoid schizophrenia. ANY pro-Windows info MUST be fixed or invalid or just "a joke" (the most common description on here). ANY pro-Linux info MUST be true and honest and valid. This is the kind of black or white, paranoid thinking that leads to terrorism and other wonderful things.

(Hahahah) Right. Good one.

PARODY_MODE=1
You Microsoft Zealots are all like. You crouch in the dust of your cubicles, nothing but the light of your power strips and UPS warning lights to guide your way. You think we think ALL of your marketing data is falsely generated? (etc, etc).
PARODY_MODE=0

Get real. We've had a blast with the polling stuff, for the most part. It was funny until it became obvious that the whole thing was rigged. Our poll was obviously rigged. It was a laugh and a half. You, yourself, should lighten up. What we want is honesty -- we strive for it in fact. I'm glad MSNBC pulled the poll -- it was done after an extremely large amount of protest. It hints that somewhere, somehow, something was done right. It's too bad we had to protest before the right thing was done.

Nobody here thinks the things you say. We see a lot of false marketing data from Microsoft -- it's gone on far too long, for that matter. The fact that the company has such a reputation is a weight you'll have to bear if you're going to associate your name with it (I notice that you didn't, and I don't accept your worry about script kiddies in full -- I suspect other motivations, like you'd like to keep working for a living at Microsoft. It's a healthy fear -- I respect it actually).

An evangelist is someone who is so scared of "his team" losing, that he refuses to even ADMIT that sane, sober, hardworking people might prefer something else.

No, my dictionary clearly defines "evangelist" as "one who practices "evangelism". It defines Evangelism as well: Zealous preaching and dissemination of the gospel, as through missionary work. Militant zeal for a cause.

It also defines "dumbbell (n.) 1. A weight consisting of a short bar with a metal ball or disk at each end that is lifted for muscular development and exercise. 2. Slang A person regarded as stupid.

Possibly the Microsoft dictionary espouses the definition you're using here, I don't know. But go ahead and make fun of people attempting to spread the truth (and I'm talking about observable truth here, truth you can touch and count, not theory or opinion).

We're passionate about Linux, because it's worth being passionate about. You may not be all that passionate about Microsoft products. I feel sorry for you, actually, if that's the case. Keep thinking that we're all just nuts who spout off about things because we're "losing." I'll warn you though, there will be more of us tomorrow than today. Also, are we to assume that we're all drunken, lazy, losers? If you don't mean the words you speak, it's best not to speak them.

Some people do, actually, prefer Microsoft products. Possibly, even after they've become technically educated, and have used Linux to its full potential. I have yet to meet one of those people, but when it happens, I'll think of you and your statement above as possibly true for a small minority of the population.

If you were to ask most MS coders (for instance -- since they are who I work with; marketing dweebs might say something different...), they'd say "yes, Red Hat (Caldera, Debian, whatever) Linux is a good OS, but I have this, this, and this problem with it." Note the lack of bashing (I know y'all won't believe me, but I believe me cuz I WORK here :)

No, I don't notice the "lack of bashing" that you point to here. What I notice is you attempting to paint lack of bashing over "this, and this, and this "problem" with it.

And yes, there are Windows evangelists just as there are Linux evangelists*. And yes, it's quite possible that a Windows evangelist is trying to "fix" this poll (since Linux advocates would OBVIOUSLY never stoop so low...)

Windows evangelists happen. Some of them are paid to happen, as one Steve Barkto can attest to. Other than that, what you do speak here is true -- there were people attempting to fix the poll in the Linux direction as well.

The hypocrisy of hearing folks suggest that it's okay to fix polls as long as the polls are pro-Linux is really, really funny. To misquote Orwell "all poll-fixings are bad, but some poll-fixings are more bad than others..."

Well, at least we can agree on this.

[ Insert usual marketing BS about how these opinions are my own and not those of the Borg, etc. etc.]

I will take this time to be innovative here myself:
[ Insert usual marketing BS about how these opinions are my own and not those of the Linux community, Linux Today, My Father , etc. etc.]

-- Tom (not inserting email address because some 15-year-olds think that spamming a mailbox makes them a truly 'l33t haxxor.
Not Linux fans, of course.)
Oh, no, you're not attempting to cast us all as 15-year-old l33t haxxor's, now are you? That would be a similar mistake to what you said earlier.

sysadmin: you can verify from my proxied IP that I am indeed posting from the MS domain, after someone inevitably accuses me of being a troll.

* even though it's far "cooler" to be a Linux evangelist these days. It's probably because you somehow think that anti-establishment ranting somehow makes you automatically cool... It's like those cookie-cutter punk rock kids in High School who all were SO incredibly unique, all with the same unique purple-black hair, all with the same unique all-black wardrobe and the same unique piercings and same unique favorite bands that they all listened to together, uniquely...

Not that Linux advocates are like that (even tho I could probably easily write a 50-line prog that would generate "Anti-M$ Rants" (rantgen.cpp, link with deeplybitter.lib and run as a dependant[sic] service off of oracle.com and thechurchoftorvalds.net))

Actually, here you get a bit personal (wink, wink). Write that program. I'd love to see it. It would be a great example of true, Microsoft innovation. My guess is that I don't have much to worry about.

Anti-establishment ranting? What you fail to realize is that the establishment was the thing that has Microsoft in court, up against a wall right now. The "establishment" is really what you yourself should be worried about. These small, petty things, like "the truth", and "U.S. Trade Law". They keep getting in the way, don't they?

No, the rantings of some of the Linux crowd (such as myself) -- you would love to easily dismiss them. They're just rantings, lunatic fringe stuff. Stuff that big companies like Microsoft don't have to worry about. They aren't the things that "true professionals" such as yourself have to worry about.

Professional, I'm not going to debate here.

Professional at what, now there's a topic of discussion.

Whether or not what I do is "cool" is actually beside the point. It's actually not all that cool. It's a lot of work, in fact. I believe in it strongly. I could be doing other things for a living. I'm happy, however, to be here. I get to speak the truth, uncensored and pretty much the way I see fit. I sign my name to it, actually.

I wish you the same luxury yourself some day. In the mean time, I have to tell you honestly -- I feel deeply sorry for you.


Atroturf:
The process of providing misleading responses in public discussion forums, email and newsgroups, meant to be interpreted as truthful and widely accepted public opinion. Writing letters to writers or editors attempting to either sway their opinions or instill doubt in the minds of their controlling editors. A costly technique, practiced by large corporations, such as drug conglomerates and in the context of this article -- Microsoft.
Notes
This does appear to be a post by someone from Microsoft. It was entered originally here.

I am, in fact, Paul Ferris, and I speak for myself. Linux Today's talkback forum is a place where diversity is accepted, and valid, truthful discussion is honored.

I had no problem with this talkback, other than the references to the community as a homogeneous entity, that degenerated quickly to references of 15 year old haxxors and lunatics. Rant as I do, the stuff I talk about is truthful, and I'm under the opinion that it bothers a few people in the upper northwest regions of our country. The main issue is the personal attacks against people who strive to see the truth exposed. The idea that we're all luny, well, I'm not going to be quiet about it.

I've made an article out of this to elevate what I think is a problem in the community -- the spread of dissension and hatred, and the idea that we're all just a crazy bunch of people yelling in the dark. The idea that expecting truthful discourse (including marketing material, such as polls, in this example) is asking for too much -- the person who entered this talkback belittles that idea. I do not. It is a fundamental error, in fact. One that caused our posting of the story, in fact.

We've had a lot of success. We're a diverse crowd, made up of people from all walks of life. Everyone is indeed welcome -- Corporations, 15 year old kids, whoever wishes to contribute and be constructive. That is, after all, a decent goal to strive to. When it starts getting personal, and destructive -- that's when you have to question it. When it spreads lies and dissension, you will know it is wrong.

It may not be all that clear, but I'll make it so right now. I don't have a problem with any successful corporation. I have a problem with disruptive and false marketing tactics. I have a problem with technological deception and standards twisting, especially when the end result is less diversity. Less technical diversity results in weakness, all around. Linux and Apache have helped build the Internet, for example, and there is as good of an example of diversity as you're going to get.

We as a community have to hold the higher ground here. As we all have seen (those of paying attention at least), the Linux community is typically hardest on itself. The truth, even the most painfully ugly truth about ourselves, is often discussed in broad daylight. This is as it should be.

It's not a quick fix, it's not an easy fix, but it works in the long term.

May our marketing materials always be truthful. I'd hate to live in the world of the person who posted the talkback above. The fact is that I refuse, and instead live here. The philosophers out there in the audience may be thinking that both worlds are the same, and in fact they do intersect in places. I'll tell you this -- It's much more the former than the latter. I know I'm not alone in the world I've chosen either.

I myself have no problem with Microsoft products, so long as they don't intrude upon my choices of Linux and other open solutions, such as FreeBSD for example. If someone else thinks they are a solution for their needs -- that's ok in this context.

The forum on Linux Today is an open one -- the pollution of it won't be tolerated without some form of exposure, and I choose truthful exposure over any other kind. I simply believe that the only cure for darkness is the light of day.

In case someone at Microsoft would like to respond to this article, my email is clearly open. This article will, however, remain on Linux Today as a record -- I have no remorse about exposing astroturf. You can count on it catching more of the light of day, as a matter of fact. It's been going on, and I've spoken before about it. I've clearly said I would be exposing more of it, and now I'm following through with what I said I would do.

I guess what I'm trying to say here is directed at whoever in Microsoft has decided that Linux Today is a problem to deal with. Listen closely -- you were warned, and you decided to keep going forward. This is a public forum, and I will not see it ruined by hopeless garbage like this.

In case you think that's not fair, respond. I'm all ears. Or write my my boss.. But I urge in any case that you be truthful. Don't say I didn't tell you it would be that way first.

You were given plenty of warning, and I live up to my promises.


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