[Linux-aus] Microsoft is a reality, please just deal with it [Was: SMH and The Age :)]

Brent Wallis brent.w at infosynergy.com.au
Wed Feb 26 06:58:02 UTC 2003

Hi Jeff,
Tis morning again, and I concur, you are right to think MS are not going away.
Their recent "concilliatory" stance, if genuine could be the start of a new growth
in our industry. Pitching stones as it were, is not a good idea for long term
acceptance. But please don't think for a minute that an Aussie like me would ever let
an opportunity to "lay s**t on someone" go past....many of my international friends think
we are rather charming because of our capacity to do this without offending each other...:)
My background is not IT, I was a buyer and merchant for many years (both here and in SE Asia), 
and have finished a degree and a couple of industry certifications only in the last 10 years, whilst 
"working my way up" in IT. Hell, I am so hooked I may even look at Post Grad next year if I can afford it...:)
My motivation for doing these hard yards so late (I was 30 when I started) was to watch an Industry
stalwart (55year old Company - Food distribution) in QLD being destroyed by poor and extremely 
expensive IT. They were the first in this country to implement scanning checkouts!....but took a wrong 
turn and spent millions on an overweight DB for their distribution centre. I was a buyer then, and will 
never forget arriving one day for work to find a new Terminal on my desk.
No training, no login, no access to the data I needed to do my job.
Days later, there was no change...we just sat and watched all our hard work disintigrate.
The stock excuse mooted by the IT people was that "I didn;t know what I was doing" and "didn;t understand"....
but there was always a concern. 
Something in the back of my head was kicking at my common sense. In an unrelated incident, I ended up out of
work and started study, if for no other reason that to find out what it was I "didn;t know". The 
company (public) was subject to a hostile takeover at the time and an offer was on the table for
6 odd bucks a share. 6 months later, their shares were sub $1. They couldn't invoice properly,
they couldn;t distribute, their stock was impossible to ascertain. They were destroyed by IT.
Dozens of long term people out the door, and having been loyal for many years, most had no hope
of a new career.
To this day, I still don;t think those IT people believe they had anything to do with the collapse.
How arrogant, how utterly devoid of human concern. They would put the BOFH to shame!
So here I am, 10 years on with much more experience and knowledge....but I feel vindicated
in the fact that I have proven to myself that I had not lacked any savvy all those years ago. My original
suspicion was correct. Quality IT is a process that invloves everyone in a corporate entity, and in this day and
age, to read of the problems at RMIT, massive blowouts and the effect it has on the total structure,
one wonders if the industry has learned anything at all. I firmly believe that our Industry has come
far enough to be able to avoid "hiding" behind it's own complexity. Sooner or later, someone will 
develop the courage to start offering gaurantees for software...that would definitely be achievable
in some limited cases now.
In the case of RMIT, I suspect that the finger of blame is being pointed by the very individuals who 
are the problem, hiding behind the old stalwart excuses of "You didn;t tell us yo u wanted that....." ,
"You simply can;t change your thinking enough to suit our system.....you just don't know what your doing...."
Time will tell I suppose.
These are concepts and situations that should be debated more in our industry. 
As you have so eloquently put it, nothing is ever achieved by "singularity".
Plurality in thought and action allows any growing system to decide which is the
best option. The success of evolutionary development relies on there being choices across a wide
range of possibilities. A "black square" hung in a fine art gallery is sometimes considered a commentary
on these concepts...."this is what results when diversification is artificially stiffled...an
uninteresting void with nothing to offer".
It's clear that MS have practiced the "one size fits all" , "this is the only way" paradigm(Dave Stutz words in his Blog),
and quite frankly, having to deal with that in our industry is quite draining for my part. It's very easy to sling arrows 
at that thinking....as we all have done. We have all met the arrogant MSCE who thinks a Class A IP
with a 24 bit mask is a Class C IP. I have tried very hard these last few years to develop sound knowledge
and experience, but sometimes, it's difficult to remain open and neutral when faced with these sorts
of arrogant "I know it all knowledge". This is the sort of science where one can NEVER know it all....ever.
Open Source has turned that around, plurality in thought and deed is now firmly entrenched in IT, and
all I can see is good coming out of it. I feel, that with a Science as "young" as ours, that we have been
saved from years of stagnation.
If one can accept the fact that MS are not going away;
If the Industry can widely accept the fact that more fertile and productive development can be achieved 
by an Open Source development model;
If the industry can develop a new set of economics based on Open Source;
Providing MS are not just trying to protect their own via the same devious meansthey have used in the past;
You are right, and I  would go one step further:
There is value for us all, right now, to start re-considering what MS have to offer to the industry as a whole.
An open dialogue with them could create new avenues of development, new streams of thinking.
Who knows what could come out of that. My knowlededge of .NET is purely academic, but I would
be stupid to write it off as another MS ploy. There is very real value in it, and watching the Mono project
grow only confirms that.
In a world of openess and honesty about ones own sphere of thinking, anything is possible don;t you think?
If MS collapsed tomorrow, we would all be in trouble. 
Maybe now, there are new opportunities that only require a firm grip be held on our Open Source thinking
and a willingness to look past the arrogance of the past mistakes at MS.
PS: It took a long time for me to hit send....but what the hell...virtual bricks don;t hurt .......do they? :)

	-----Original Message----- 
	From: Jeff Waugh [mailto:jdub at perkypants.org] 
	Sent: Wed 2/26/2003 12:27 AM 
	To: linux-aus at lists.linux.org.au 
	Subject: [Linux-aus] Microsoft is a reality, please just deal with it [Was: SMH and The Age :)]

	<quote who="Brent Wallis">
	> But are not critical parts of .NET being prepared for patents?
	> http://appft1.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&d=PG0
	> 1&p=1&u=/netahtml/PTO/srchnum.html&r=1&f=G&l=50&s1='20030028685'.PGNR.&O
	> S=DN/20030028685&RS=DN/20030028685
	Perhaps, but then, it has very little to no relevance with the CLI and C#
	standards ratified by the ECMA. The patent itself is awash with prior art
	anyway, so for your average Free Software hacker, it's not much of a
	worry... Do you remember what Linus says about patents? :-)
	The "ha ha Microsoft" posts on this list are getting tiresome. Microsoft are
	a reality in the marketplace, and we are not about to decimate them any time
	soon. They're not a laughing stock, they're a valid and credible competitor.
	In tennis training, are students ever taught to 'keep their eye on their
	opponent'? Seldom, if ever. Watching the opponent is definitely important,
	but keeping your eye on the ball - ie., the work at hand - is another level
	entirely. So rather than having the weekly "Let's Laugh at MS" thread,
	perhaps it's time to consider watching the ball again?
	Everyone throws around the old Ghandi quote as if "and then you win" is our
	natural right against an unjust enemy [1]... Ever turned the quote around?
	We can only compete on our actions.
	- Jeff
	[1] Also, and quite topical, listen to "With God on Our Side" by Bob Dylan
	some time.
	                          chown -R us:us yourbase                          
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