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Believable Lies

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.