Please, no pushing. August 6, 2007 6:21 PM   Subscribe

The executive producer of MSNBC.com is currently taking questions, comments or concerns.
posted by Brandon Blatcher to MetaFilter-Related at 6:21 PM (33 comments total)

Nothing is on fire, there is no flame out and no general feeling of outrage, despair or disgust.

Just thought it was cool that the guy popped in, explained a few things and then invited comments.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:21 PM on August 6, 2007


Meh, doesn't work on a Mac. Sucks that my tax dollars are locking me out of finding out what NASA does, and giving MSNBC and Microsoft free eye traffic.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:32 PM on August 6, 2007 [2 favorites]


I tried it on my WebTV and it didn't work there, either. I think this usage of tax dollars that locks me out of finding out about what NASA does is really reprehensible.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 6:35 PM on August 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


Boy, we sound like a bunch of whiny asshats in that thread.
posted by gwint at 6:51 PM on August 6, 2007 [2 favorites]


Agreed, gwint. I, for one, would like to apologize for driving the derail in the first place. That's not normally like me -- though I really don't know what the deal with is the SweetJesus. I'll try that "not post" button, next time.

I still wish I could look at the project -- I've been a NASA freak since I was a little kid, and I get lost in their websites all the time.
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:59 PM on August 6, 2007


just thought it was cool that the guy popped in, explained a few things and then invited comments.

i like the way he traveled back in time 6 years and joined so he could pop in, explain a few things and invite comments now.
posted by quonsar at 7:05 PM on August 6, 2007 [2 favorites]


That's not normally like me -- though I really don't know what the deal with is the SweetJesus.

What my deal was? I've worked on govenment research projects anagalous to NASA (large scale distributed simulation projects) and I have never seen a Mac in use. I found your claim very hard to believe, and I said so. When you posted some links proving your assertion, I also posted that I stand corrected.

So that's my deal. Do you walk up to people who wear Adidas and tell them that Pumas are better? That's what the whole my-os-is-better-than-your-os argument seems to me. The first reaction, more or less, to some new interesting project is "Fuck that, I use APPLE". That's lame.
posted by SweetJesus at 7:35 PM on August 6, 2007 [2 favorites]


i like the way he traveled back in time 6 years...

There's a lot that NASA's holding back - which totally explains why they're using such obscure software to "promote" their projects.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 7:35 PM on August 6, 2007


I love it when this happens.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:55 PM on August 6, 2007 [2 favorites]


More facts about Rex. I mean to post it here, but fucked it up.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:50 PM on August 6, 2007


I love it when this happens.

I love it a little less when quonsar immediately pulls a fish out of his pants and waggles it provocatively, though.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:02 PM on August 6, 2007


Never mind. Already deleted.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:05 PM on August 6, 2007


I love it a little less when quonsar immediately pulls a fish out of his pants and waggles it provocatively, though.

Yeah, sorry q, but whatever you want to call what you were doing (mocking the name with the abc's?), I axed it because it looked like a five year old took over your keyboard for a few minutes there.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 9:06 PM on August 6, 2007


I'm a little suspicious of—and a little turned on by—anyone whose first impulse when confronted by something shiny and wonderful is not to pick it up, but to show it his pantsfish.
posted by carsonb at 9:25 PM on August 6, 2007


MetaFilter: it looked like a five year old took over your keyboard for a few minutes there.
posted by homunculus at 10:34 PM on August 6, 2007 [2 favorites]


NMSBC is my favorite cable channel.
posted by quonsar at 3:56 AM on August 7, 2007


Shhh! There is no cable!
posted by Jofus at 4:41 AM on August 7, 2007


NMSBC is my favorite cable channel.

The #1 News Channel Among Dyslexics!
posted by wendell at 5:14 AM on August 7, 2007


SweetJesus:That's what the whole my-os-is-better-than-your-os argument seems to me. The first reaction, more or less, to some new interesting project is "Fuck that, I use APPLE".

I don't believe I said a thing about any OS being better than any other OS. I merely lamented that I was unable to view the site. If the site had been developed with open standards, on whatever platform, it'd be viewable by pretty much any browser, regardless of OS. You took an immediately defensive tone, and all I did was set the record straight, to which you replied "no wonder NASA's fucked up." I wasn't suggesting that the site be coded or hosted on Apple hardware, or the Mac OS. You put those words in my mouth, and your bad attitude was duly noted, which is why I wondered just what your "deal" was.
posted by Devils Rancher at 5:19 AM on August 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


Yeah, sorry q, but whatever you want to call what you were doing (mocking the name with the abc's?), I axed it because it looked like a five year old took over your keyboard for a few minutes there.

WOOHSH!
posted by quonsar at 5:39 AM on August 7, 2007


I merely lamented that I was unable to view the site

I'm suprised that NASA would be party to a website that shuts out Macs.

Really? Also first comment as derail = bad.
posted by Big_B at 8:47 AM on August 7, 2007


If the site had been developed with open standards, on whatever platform, it'd be viewable by pretty much any browser, regardless of OS.

Right, but what did anything have to do with "open standards"? It's an application, not a protocol or document format. Its like saying Linux is anti-Open Standards because I can't run K3B on Windows. It made no sense to me. It still makes no sense to me. It's a strange argument.

You took an immediately defensive tone, and all I did was set the record straight, to which you replied "no wonder NASA's fucked up." I wasn't suggesting that the site be coded or hosted on Apple hardware, or the Mac OS. You put those words in my mouth, and your bad attitude was duly noted, which is why I wondered just what your "deal" was.

Tone tends not to come through well on the internet, so I think your inferences are your own. I said "Boy, no wonder NASA's fucked up" because it seems to me they're spending a good amount of money on something they could get, essentially, for free (never mind SELinux or REHL). Reading through the marketing material they say that it's hard to find engineers with Unix experience, which is another hard one to swallow considering that the government uses a lot of Linux in research projects.
posted by SweetJesus at 8:57 AM on August 7, 2007


Right, but what did anything have to do with "open standards"?

Not being able to view the site, because of closed standards.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:32 AM on August 7, 2007


Really? Also first comment as derail = bad.

Hence my apology in this here metatalk thread. I took a tone that I try not to take around here, and it was a mistake. I love Metafilter, and don't want to be part of teh bad. Forgive?
posted by Devils Rancher at 11:12 AM on August 7, 2007


As a 3D tour of the space shuttle Endeavour, I am really getting a kick out of these replies.
posted by deern the headlice at 12:10 PM on August 7, 2007


Not being able to view the site, because of closed standards.

Trying viewing it in Lynx.. It has NOTHING to do with standards...
posted by SweetJesus at 1:25 PM on August 7, 2007


To reiterate, when you view a "website" you're just parsing a set of common document formats - an "open standard" if you will. When you attempt to use an application, like a firefox extension or an Active X control, you are using something that has NOTHING to do with open standards. They are in fact closed standards written for use with a specific target platform.

Blazecock, are you unfamiliar with the meaning of the term, or just contrarian?
posted by SweetJesus at 1:31 PM on August 7, 2007


Blazecock, are you unfamiliar with the meaning of the term, or just contrarian?

Since it's clear you're just trolling at this point, I'll outline issues with the post and let participants acting in good-faith speak to the accuracy and fairness of my concerns.

• The imaging is off-limits to anyone not using the proprietary Microsoft products "Photosynth" and "Windows XP SP 2" or "Vista RC1", as clearly outlined in the FPP.

• The "Photosynth" plug-in does not run on any non-DirectX-capable system. DirectX is not an open standard by any accepted definition of the term in the software engineering industry.

• Only Microsoft platforms are presently allowed to run DirectX, while numerous platforms can run OpenGL, making it a reasonably platform-agnostic alternative.

• A not-insignificant percentage of tax-paying citizens cannot run DirectX-only applications. The only purpose of keeping DirectX on Microsoft platforms is to force users into the Microsoft ecology and generate revenue for its shareholders.

• Deliberately choosing a closed, commercial platform to deliver public services — not only to ghettoize taxpayers but to generate profits at public expense — seems to violate the spirit of the federal government's numerous policies to openly share and disseminate information to its citizens as a public good — and as a public relations measure, a goal which NASA should be interested in pursuing (and usually does pursue).

• Government collusion with Microsoft, from DHS promulgating Microsoft-only products as a secure computing platform, to the NIH/NSF promulgating Microsoft-only products to manage grant applications, to NASA working here with Microsoft and Universal/NBC to exclude a chunk of visitors interested in America's space program, etc. constitutes a larger picture of corporate welfare of a damaging nature, helping to erode democratic standards of government, and therefore deserves scrutiny and measured criticism where open and equally useful standards exist.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:00 PM on August 7, 2007 [4 favorites]


As a 3D tour of the space shuttle Endeavour, I am really getting a kick out of these replies.

We don't do this here.
posted by evilcolonel at 3:56 PM on August 7, 2007


Blazecock, you seem a bit paranoid to me. "Government collusion with Microsoft". Do you think Microsoft and the government have formed a cartel, and are attempt to shove other competitive businesses out of the industry? Do you think there are clandestine meetings where Microsoft notifies the government of API changes, so they can get the word out to DHS? What exactly is the benefit for the government in this situation again? What are they gaining by allowing Microsoft be become an oligopoly?

You say that they've "deliberately chosen a closed, commercial platform to deliver public services1" I say they've chosen the defacto-standard that serves 97% of the market place and made a wise choice, for the sake of argument, in spending our tax dollars2 where it would have the widest range per dollar spent. You seem to be advocating that anything even quasi-related to a government funded service needs to be universally supported by every possible configuration of operating systems. Do you need to support the Wii? There are a non-insignificant percentage of tax paying citizens that own a Wii, you know.

It's ridiculous. There are a finite number of resources available, so you shoot for the lowest common denominator. In this case, it's Windows. The reason the government uses Windows is a very simple - it's the standard in the business world, and has been for 20 years. Everyone, for the most part, knows how to use Word, Excel, Powerpoint, what a Start Menu is, what My Computer is. It takes fewer resources to train people to use Windows because they already know how to. Have you ever attempted to take away a middle manager's copy of Powerpoint? They'll claw your eyes out.

This asinine argument that a Microsoft Labs project that uses pictures donated by NASA and attempts to do something really neat is somehow abusing the tax system because it forces you to get up off your ass to go see it is just so alien to me. If you really want to see it, go to a fucking library - your tax dollars are spent there too. Call a friend! Take the bus to an internet cafe. You can go see it if you motivated to do so. No one is holding you back.

1 I think looking a picture of the space shuttle on the internet is a stretch of the term "public services", don't you? It's not water or nice highways.

2 I think it's also a stretch to think that NASA spent very much of our "tax dollars" on Microsoft welfare. Photosynth takes a database of images and stitches together relationships procedurally. It's more likely that these images were taken over years for NASA's own purposes, and donated to Microsoft so they could show you something neat and you could spit on it as some strange Apple-supremacist.
posted by SweetJesus at 11:19 PM on August 7, 2007


Do you think Microsoft and the government have formed a cartel, and are attempt to shove other competitive businesses out of the industry?

No, I don't think they formed a cartel, because I understand what the word 'cartel' means, to the degree that I am capable of using it properly in a sentence.

When the administration changed hands in early 2001, existing antitrust investigations of and lawsuits against Microsoft conducted by the Department of Justice were terminated. After 9/11, the DHS made Microsoft the standard platform for their operations, despite vendor lock-in and massive, ongoing security problems that make it a ripe target for motivated terrorists. Likewise for the NIH and NSF, making grant submissions difficult to impossible, despite protests from the number of non-Windows users in the scientific community.

These are all activities, others cited further below, which indicate a relationship — however formal or informal — which benefits Microsoft economically at the expense of tax-paying citizens who are denied access.

I say they've chosen the defacto-standard that serves 97% of the market place

This number is specious at best, and even in that case, we are discussing a web platform, for which said numbers from the same web analytics company you are citing are entirely different.

Furthermore, the "Photosynth" plug-in itself is even targeted at a very small percentage of Windows users!

Reviewing the atrocious system requirements — specifically the need for a dedicated, high-end video adapter — indicates that very probably 90 to 95 percent of the Windows userbase which has not upgraded to a new Vista-capable computer with a fancy graphics card is still locked out of this Microsoft product.

This particular piece of software is not even development for "97% market share" by any stretch of imagination, and therefore arguing this as a defense for discrimination against non-Windows users is laughable. Doctor, heal thyself.

Do you need to support the Wii? There are a non-insignificant percentage of tax paying citizens that own a Wii, you know.

Unfortunately for you, the Wii runs a version of the Opera web browser — as do many cell phones and embedded devices. Were the government to enact a policy of supporting open standards-based web development, the question not even need be asked, since Opera is fastidious about open standards compliance (as are Safari and Firefox).

Internet Explorer is the only bad apple in this bunch, and it is deliberately broken, in order to break the web.

Whether the end user has a Wii, or a Nokia cell phone, or a PDA — or even, god forbid, a filthy, disgusting Macintosh — standards-based web development makes the web as available as it can be — and in the case of a public service provided by the government, as available as it should be.

In sum, the web is a democratizing tool, but Microsoft is doing everything in its power to negate the web's possibilities, except where the web allows Microsoft to extend and maintain control through its monopoly and/or through government policies it influences.

I think looking a picture of the space shuttle on the internet is a stretch of the term "public services", don't you? It's not water or nice highways.

Scientific data and related information collected with tax dollars, like other government material regularly released into the public domain, serves the public interest and should be made available to the public — regardless of our assessment of its value.

The larger pattern I have described is well-established and evidential: Microsoft and the US government have a close enough relationship, that the government has locked out a number of services to its citizens, who may use standards-compliant equipment, but not Microsoft-compliant equipment.

Microsoft has cozied up to governments in other countries, using the same tactics with the same end goal in mind: establishing and maintaining monopoly dominance in the marketplace, using its clout and the legal clout of the local leadership to stamp out competition.

If you want to learn something about the philosophies which guide Microsoft's management, specifically where lock-in is concerned, you might want to read David Bank's excellent Breaking Windows.

Indeed, we have reached your lowest common denominator, when there is no choice but those made available to us by the whims of policy dictated by a single technology corporation and its lobbyists in our government.

I doubt very much that this discussion would be the same, had Ford and the US government gotten together at the start of the automobile age and decided that all drivers must use Ford-brand gasoline, at the risk of not being able to drive their Model Ts. There are good reasons that we have anti-trust legislation.

I think it's also a stretch to think that NASA spent very much of our "tax dollars" on Microsoft welfare.

I disagree, it is well-understood that space technology is an expensive venture. Nonetheless, the bigger picture is that some public services are deliberately made to be unavailable or inconvenient for non-Microsoft users (and even most Microsoft users), to the benefit of private shareholders. This is not what either a free market or a democratically-elected government is about.

you could spit on it as some strange Apple-supremacist

More troll talk. If you don't want to continue to be the joke in this conversation, have a point that doesn't end with your jackboot on someone's throat.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:56 AM on August 8, 2007


Hehe, you're bonkers. I'm done with this.
posted by SweetJesus at 1:18 AM on August 8, 2007


Hehe, you're bonkers

And you're clearly not very bright.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:23 AM on August 8, 2007


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