Micro$oft Biz'droid Lusers (was: OT email response format)

From: Dave McGuire <mcguire_at_neurotica.com>
Date: Sun Apr 21 16:34:48 2002

On April 21, Richard Erlacher wrote:
> Well, when I want groceries, I go to the grocery store, and when I want
> computer hardware I go to the computer store ... When I want software to do
> what I want my computer to do, I have to go where they sell it.

  ...and if you take that route, you'll get what you're looking for.
Commercial software. If you're fine with that, more power to you.

> EMACS isn't particularly useful tool for everyday word-processing, either,
> though it certainly can do it. I have a "friendlified" EMACS (really a
> DOS-based EMACS-in-a-shell) that works pretty well for lots of things for
> which one normally would have used EMACS for want of another capable tool.
> Nowadays, I can do all that simple stuff in WORD, like hundreds of millions of
> others.

  Of course Emacs isn't good at word processing, because it's a text
editor. It's also not very good at schematic capture, for the same
reason. ;)

> I've gotten software gratis all my life. Even the Microsoft products I have
> were all originally provided, gratis, from Microsoft. I've never been offered
> a single bit of UNIX software, ever, by any Unix software vendor. They even
> charge for providing stuff that they claim to give you for free, and then,
> when it doesn't work as advertised, which it seldom does if it works at all,
> they charge you to make it work, which often costs plenty and results in
> nothing.

  You're missing the whole point. "UNIX software vendor". Mainstream
software in the UNIX world is FREE. It's the commercial stuff that's
the oddball in this world.

> I'm not sure what you mean by "network server." I've used a PC

  I mean it in the most general of ways.

> as a server right here in the house for over a decade. There's not

  You trust your data to a PC? Well, that's your risk, not mine. ;)

> one non-PC machine in my ISP POP either. There's a mix of OS' in-
> cluding LINUX and UNIX, but it's the most generally provisioned
> "small" ISP in the area and has a reputation for fewer breakdowns
> and fewer busy signals on dialups than any other ISP, including the
> muti-billion-dollar guys like AOL, MSN, and Qwest.

  I'd say that's pretty unusual...and having been in the thick of the
ISP industry from its beginning, I feel I can say that with some
authority. More power to them, even if they do make...questionable

  And before you take exception to that...if I were to describe to you
a commercial construction firm that made nice buildings and had a good
reputation, but they used Volkswagen Beetles to haul their lumber and
cinderblocks and radio-controlled tanks to do their welding and
riveting, wouldn't you have something to say about that?

> The first thing I'd ask about "writing the software portably" would be,
> "Who's going to do that, and whom are we serving by doing that?"
> The few dozen folks in my market area, worldwide, who'd prefer to
> use UNIX might like it, but would they send any dough our way?
> Probably not ...

  Is your work THAT unusual? I'm now VERY curious to know what you do.
EVERYONE I know personally who does electronic design work (save for
maybe two) uses some UNIX variant to do it, except for FPGA stuff we
discussed earlier. That constitutes about twenty people.

  I think this very clearly proves the point that we tend to see the
stuff in "our own worlds" very clearly, but the stuff *outside* our
own areas of experience seem very distant or even nonexistant. In my
world, Winodws and PeeCee hardware is weird, overpriced, proprietary
stuff that's difficult to find and not very widely used.
Everyone...and I mean EVERYONE in my peer group runs UNIX of one sort
or another. A few have these esoteric Windows boxes for playing video
games, but not many.

  That said, I respect the fact that your experience differs from mine,
and that you have a different point of view...and because of this, I
read your comments with interest, and learn from them.

> Secondly, I have serious doubts that there's a way to write software
> that is both portable and fully functional in all cases. There are
> limitations, I'm sure, and the devil's in the details.

  I've done it for twenty years. Most of the stuff I've written runs on
20+ different operating systems...it doesn't run under Windows, but
that's irrelevant, because it's one proprietary,
non-standards-compliant platform that most people in my industry don't
use. (See comments about "our own worlds" above)

> > Linux is a mess no matter how you slice it, mostly thrown together by
> > script kiddies with no experience whatsoever...it's a bad idea to
> > judge the entire UNIX world on the cleanliness (or lack thereof) of
> > Linux, because as even the Linux people are fond of pointing out,
> > Linux isn't UNIX.
> >
> That's probably true, but it's the only realistically inexpensive route
> into the UNIX world for one starting out or starting over.

  NetBSD/FreeBSD/OpenBSD, or about twenty different packaged
distributions ("distros" for the kiddies) of Linux. All free, most of
mission-critical quality.

> Last time I checked, the add-on required to extend the file system
> for UNIXWARE (? maybe one of the others) to larger than 2GB cost
> $2K per instance.

  ...and the people who buy UNIXWARE get what they deserve...screwed.
Support for >2GB filesystems has been standard equipment in modern
free operating systems for something like eight years. What is their

> > I'm not trying to be argumentative with you, and I respect your
> > experience...please understand that I'm trying to point out that the
> > world of computers is very different from the world of Windows
> > computers...things are, well, just done differently.
> Different, is certainly the case. Better, well, the market thinks otherwise.

  Do you honestly think software development for pure profit, where
quality suffers to enhance margins, bugs rarely get fixed, and
developments in technology are largely ignored, where programmers
write the bare minimum to get their paychecks and leave by 5pm, is
"better" just because the suits of the world buy anything that
Microsoft tries to sell them? "Better" is paying through the nose for
products versus getting better stuff for free? I'll tell you
what...YOU pay attention to the "market" and do what the suits tell
you to do...I have work to do, and I'm going to use the best tools
available...regardless of what the "market" thinks I should use.

  If any computer on your home network has EVER crashed, lost data,
munged something, or behaved unpredictably for anything other than an
age- or ac-power-related hardware failure, then my point has already
been made for me.

  And I really, truly hope I've misinterpreted you.


Dave McGuire                                 "Mmmm.  Big."
St. Petersburg, FL                                -Den
Received on Sun Apr 21 2002 - 16:34:48 BST

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