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Bits And Bytes

I got an email.  The guy who sent this email is a longtime Windows user (not someone from the coder channel, obviously), perfectly happy with XP (well, okay, coders that have to mess with M$ do prefer that build).  His email asked me why people like me hate M$ so much.  I was starting to think up answers when I froze....

This is part of the influence of my teacher.  It took a long time for me to pick up on the lesson, but she taught me that, sometimes, the question you are answering is not the question you were asked.  I meditated on his question.  This guy already knows about M$' questionable dealings and shifty behavior to lock in users.  So, obviously, my reasons for hating M$ will not be news to him.  Therefore, that is not the question I have been asked.

I soon realized what his question actually was -- he didn't want reasons for my hatred.  He wanted to know what motivated me (and others like me) to make such a big deal out of it.  Why do we think it is so important to run Linux on any hardware?  Why are we constantly taking cheap shots at M$?  Most people don't give Shit One about this stuff, why does it inflame our passions so that we have to inform the world, whether it is listening at that moment or not?  So, that is the question I am going to endeavor to answer here today.

First, I want to say that, while I take cheap shots at M$, I don't hate M$ users.  If you truly believe in software freedom, that means allowing others the freedom to use what they want.  If they like Windows, fine.  If they like the Mac, fine.  Once again, freedom entails choosing your own path.  I use Windows myself sometimes.  Remember the pic of my dev machine?  The game engine I use will only compile under Windows, so I can't use the Linux version.  My tower for capturing video, likewise, is Windows, because the video capture devices don't work under Linux.  Denying others choice while I allow myself (whether or not it is based on practicality instead of principle doesn't matter, I'm still using Windows) makes me a hypocrite and demands I be attacked as such.

Now, the simple, no bullshit answer to why I talk about this stuff so much is because I can't not talk about it.  That leaves a lot to be desired from an informational standpoint, so let me clarify.  I am a firm believer that you learn more about a man by his enemies than by his friends.  Anyone can get along if they like each other.  But when that line gets crossed, when someone does something that so incises you, you can no longer just live and let live, that's when you learn what they are really like.  What makes them abandon live and let live, what makes them hate?  The reasons and the way they express that hatred tells you EVERYTHING about that person's values and humanity.

Everybody has these "X good, Y bad" impulses.  It's rivalry, which is part of human instinct.  Everyone wants to be better than they are.  This is expressed in two ways.  First is to be the best at something we appreciate, whether intellectual or athletic or geeky or whatever.  We want to be the one people come to for results.  The other way is by being a part of something bigger than ourselves.  Grass roots politics, military service, religious groups, that sort of thing.  It is an outlet for our energies to affect positive change on ourselves and the world around us.  No one can do everything.  No one can support every charity, no one can minister every person.  So you have to choose.  And what we choose directly corresponds to what is most important to us.

For me, my hatred of M$ and love of Linux is simple -- Windows, as an operating system, is just an operating system.  But the way it became the dominant OS offends my sense of order and fairness.  Linux corresponds with what I approve of and appreciate, the ability to tinker, learn, adapt, and be good to others.  These things are not just fanboyish interests, they directly relate to my values and ethics.

Now, in fairness, I don't expect everyone to share my passion.  I know, when I write about computers or open source or things like that, I'm going to lose key portions of my readers.  Likewise, I know I'll lose readers who don't like Stress Puppy, or think I really don't get politics, or see I'm about to rip on predatory religion and think, "Oh, God, not this shit again!"  I am free to speak my mind, and others are free not to listen.  I'm not going to be offended when some of my posts are skipped.  If everybody liked everything I liked and hated everything I liked, they'd be me (my teacher doesn't lie, but I do sometimes wonder if she really reads EVERYTHING I write).

So, the reason I go on about this is because I'm compelled to.  I can't keep my mouth shut.  I don't do it to challenge or spite anyone, I do it because...I have to.

Uh...did I make my point in any of that up there?


( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 19th, 2010 01:30 am (UTC)
Yes. Yes you did.

I don't much care for MS, but my reasons area because Windows has given me more headaches over the years, caused me more problems, froze and/or crashed...and I find Office to be bloated and full of far more than most folks need for simple word processing and spreadsheet needs.

Then, a friend went to work for them. A good, decent man who was meticulous about his programming, about his approach to programming and he took pride in his work. In short, he was a diligent professional who wanted to do the job right.

That ain't the way MS does business. As I am sure you know, there is so much crap buried in the OS source code...and the programming isn't pretty, the code has no trail so somebody else can come along behind it and debug it. They are bass-ackwards in their approach to getting a product ready for market, namely they announce the product and the street date, then begin work on it.

He got fired because he couldn't adapt to the "corporate" culture at MS. THAT is the big reason I hate MS now.

That, and my Mac's just work. (most of the time, that is...)
Oct. 19th, 2010 03:35 pm (UTC)
Your friend's experiences remind me of Rainforest Puppy's.

Rainforest Puppy is a legendary white hat hacker (his name is an inside joke in an upcoming Stress Puppy strip). He first came to M$' attention when he found a slew of security flaws in Me by himself. M$ decided to hire him as part of a security initiative.

Rainforest Puppy eventually quit because of what he found to be a flawed approach to computer security. He stated companies wanted "boxed" solutions. They wanted to fix it once and never worry about it again. As a software engineer and ace hacker, he knew how the field is constantly shifting and evolving and how "one fix" will never happen, you have to keep ahead of the problem. He also objected to M$ making fixes and patches available to business concerns before the general public. He felt everyone should get the patches at the same time, not only because it was fair, but it would also help restrict the ecosystem and slow the spread of malware.

Last I heard, he was a private security consultant (and doing very well. With him, you get what you pay for). But here's someone who isn't just a guy with skill to trade, he is an expert. And even he was stifled by M$' corporate culture.

I hope your friend is doing okay now. I know its tough to walk away from a good job, but sometimes, there's no other way to deal with it.

And as far as your Mac working most of the time? Dude, I've biffed my Linux system a few times, too, especailly in those early days before apt-get (Darwin, my main computer, needed a complete reinstall because of my mistakes). No system is perfect. Although I think we can both agree that Windows is nowhere NEAR the Mac or Linux's league.

Sending you geek love. Remember, MacOS is Unix. Gotta love Unix (well, other than Slolaris, that is....)
Oct. 19th, 2010 03:41 pm (UTC)
My buddy didn't walk away. He was shown the door. By security...and he was floored by the experience.

After a bit of time, he landed on his feet and if you use a Windows box and have anything by Norton on it, he worked on it...so he's doing okay.

There's a young student who works in our office who loathes all things Apple. Says they don't sell computers, they sell a lifestyle. He also adamantly refuses to being an M$ Fanboy...

Anyhow, he ripped me for getting the iPad. Which will meet my specific needs quite well, was a good fiscal choice and is just darned pretty to look at while doing so. He even "suggested" that if I didn't want him to break the iPad that I not let it get too close to him. His email sig line reads "Not sent from an iPhone."

Methinks there is something more at work here than meets the eye, no?
Oct. 19th, 2010 06:56 pm (UTC)
I'm glad he landed on his feet.

"Suggested?" What an asshole! You know, teasing and taking cheap shots and arguing is one thing. Wanton destruction of SOMEONE ELSE'S PROPERTY is another.

Never, in all my open source evangelizing, have I ever done something like that. I've joked (my sister and her husband got a Win laptop. I told them not to bring it in the house), but I've never gone over the line like that (I got into an argument with a Win fanboy a few years ago. Passionate? Sure. Cruel? No). And more to the point, when I act like an asshole, I expect people to treat me like an asshole, I don't use it as validation of my superiority. To do that right, you have to make the right people mad. And trying to make someone made just because it is trendy for your subculture to hate on something someone does is doing it wrong. Humor and arguments are weapons and must be wielded against the correct targets. Hitting a regular person who is doing nothing wrong is indefensible.

Something more at work? Yeah. My money is on mania bordering on psychosis. What's the over/under?

Sorry. Reading about behavior like that just infuriates me.
Oct. 19th, 2010 02:03 am (UTC)
Somewhere you did.

I don't hate MS, but I am using Linux. Why? Simply put, Windows Vista stopped working on a harddrive that was only two months old. Rather than shell out another $100 for another hard drive, I chose to install Linux Ubuntu. It works just fine, does everything I need it to do, and I'm happy with it. After using it for about six months now, I'm reluctant of ever going back to MS.

Oct. 19th, 2010 03:39 pm (UTC)
Sounds like my experience. I gave Linux a test spin, and soon found myself gravitating towards it. If it weren't for Linux, I would not be programming again.

I've always hated the idea of buying anti-virus and such. What other product requires you to buy something to protect you from it? There was an exploit under Fista about a year ago. M$ patched it after about two months and praised their software engineers for working so quickly. The longest I have heard of a security flaw in Linux going unpatched is two days. At the moment, the biggest threat to Linux is the timeclock issue, and that'll probably be fixed when it becomes more critical.
Oct. 19th, 2010 02:01 pm (UTC)
hmm... oh, what were you saying? I wasn't paying attention.
Oct. 19th, 2010 03:40 pm (UTC)
I was talking about mermaids. Do you prefer the dolphin tails, or the fish tails?
Oct. 20th, 2010 02:51 am (UTC)
Well, fish tails are more traditional. And yourself?
Oct. 20th, 2010 11:49 am (UTC)
Well, the fish tail is traditional (as is the two-tailed depiction instead of the single tail), but annecdotal evidence suggests that the dolphin or whale tail, as in smooth skin without fish scales, could be more accurate. In 1917, the crew of the Leonidas was sailing from New York to Le Havre in France. During the trip, a being of some sort swam alongside the ship for about six hours. It swam topside for about fifteen minutes at a time. The entire crew got a look and said it was a mermaid with black hair and smooth texture tail.


...What? I just know stuff....
Oct. 20th, 2010 12:58 pm (UTC)
That's right. You know stuff... about mermaids.
Oct. 21st, 2010 12:54 am (UTC)
Oh, who DOESN'T know about the Leonidas? Just the other day, I was in a sports bar, and I mentioned the Leonidas, and everyone stopped talking about the Bears and the Hawks and such to talk about whether or not mermaids might be real. Sounds to me like YOU'RE behind the curve. Therefore, YOU'RE the one with a problem.
Oct. 22nd, 2010 01:01 am (UTC)
"Just the other day, I was in a sports bar,"

I don't know, but something about this one statement makes me think that you may not be telling the whole truth.
Oct. 22nd, 2010 10:54 am (UTC)
Trying to shift the focus to the sports bar, huh?
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )

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