Microsoft Blue January 24, 2010 3:28 PM   Subscribe

Microsoft Blue?

You could also just watch them.

(Full disclosure: I made that app.)


http://ask.metafilter.com/143480/Help-me-teach-myself-Physics-via-the-Feynman-Lectures#2059049


This is microsoft blue. Is it current policy to host advertising links? I pointed this out, and my comment was excised from the record.

But the link to the 'marketing tool' by the 'marketing tool' is still there, oddly enough.
posted by sebastienbailard to Etiquette/Policy at 3:28 PM (83 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

The usual policy around here is that if something is relevant and helpful and not on the front page, then it's OK if it's a self-link.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 3:30 PM on January 24, 2010


Your comment was a complaint about Silverlight, as I read it, and had nothing to do with Feynman. That said, I have no idea what endquote was linking to because the link never resolves. Linking to stuff you've made if it's not your main participation on the site and you disclose it properly is totally okay if it's relevant to the AskMe question.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:31 PM on January 24, 2010


The question writer says that he is just working through the problem sets because he couldn't find much of the supplemental material online without paying a huge amount.

App writer links to free app that includes a lot of supplemental material.

Doesn't seem wrong to me at all. If somebody is asking for a book on a topic, and you wrote a great book on that topic are you forbidden from linking it as an answer? No (well, at least you shouldn't be). It's not like the user is simply a microsoft shill. They are an active participant in the community. So no, I don't see a problem with the answer standing, but I do see a problem with referring to honest answerers as "marketing tools".
posted by cyphill at 3:36 PM on January 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also, it's seven lectures of Feynman's, and was actually compelling enough for me to once again install Silverlight. Not sure why they can't just be embedded videos, but whatever. They are spot on for the question. And the link resolved for me just fine.
posted by cjorgensen at 3:44 PM on January 24, 2010


I am reminded of a line from that modern classic Blade, wherein the titular protagonist proclaims, "Some motherfuckers always trying to ice skate uphill."

To that end, some motherfuckers are always apparently itchy to break into an apoplectic fit at the mere mention of the word Silverlight.

Calm down. Take a deep breath. It's going to be OK. I promise.
posted by kbanas at 3:46 PM on January 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


It's okay to self-link, especially if it is Microsoft spam.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:54 PM on January 24, 2010


Not sure why they can't just be embedded videos, but whatever.

That, precisely, is my point. The videos were released using a proprietary tool as a shrewd marketing move. A marketing move that is so shrewd, you still don't realize you're being sold something.

I feel as though I'm trying to tell a fish what water is.

"Some motherfuckers always trying to ice skate uphill."

When people tilt the playing field, you've got to skate uphill. Unless you're happy ending up where other people want you to be.
posted by sebastienbailard at 3:55 PM on January 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


A marketing move that is so shrewd, you still don't realize you're being sold something

In fact, they're so shrewd about selling this stuff that I didn't even realize I had paid for anything. How'd the get the money out of my wallet? Crap.
posted by 0xFCAF at 3:59 PM on January 24, 2010 [6 favorites]


In fact, they're so shrewd about selling this stuff that I didn't even realize I had paid for anything. How'd the get the money out of my wallet? Crap.

Where are they giving away Windows licenses? Sign me up.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:03 PM on January 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


sebastienbailard, relax. Yeah, I'm not a fan of silverlight either, but it sounds like you REALLY don't like it and you use linux and it won't work for you, but the link provided by someone that happens to work on the project (usually, we celebrate when an insider chimes in to help) actually does help the question asker solve their problem and is welcome here.

It's not a Microsoft spammer and the member in question has been around since soon after the site started. It sounds like your hatred of Microsoft is impeding on helping people solve their problems.

I hate lame technologies like Real Video just as much if not more than Silverlight, but if some obscure video I was searching the past few years happens to be on a server somewhere only available to people running that dodgy plugin, I'd install it and thank the person for helping me out with at least something.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 4:03 PM on January 24, 2010 [7 favorites]


A marketing move that is so shrewd, you still don't realize you're being sold something.

I'm well aware of the pitch, personally. And yeah it's annoying. So annoying that someone who wrote an app that addresses someone's problem shouldn't link to it? No.

Nearly everything is a product at some level. I pitch the library as much as I can so that people are well aware that they can check out books and don't need to buy each and every one of them. But people still purchase books. And book recommendation threads look like shopping lists to me. I guess the Silverlight thing is that people think it's a less-obvious pitch? Or that people who use Microsoft products are stupid? Honestly I feel the same way about Active-X in a lot of ways -- I recently had to run a virtual machine at home just so I could submit an invoice using an IE-only system which was literally the only way I could get paid -- but I am not the entire internet. I'd like people to stop driving cars to the store that is a quarter mile away. I would also like it if I could find red lentils in my supermarket, but they do not sell them.

The web is built on open standards and it's great to see people linking to things that are available to people using any browser on any computer. We're a little raised-eyebrow about Silverlight posts to the front page of MetaFilter. Linking to an app [hey, that he made! that's sort of neat] in the context of an answer to a question is totally okay, even if it's irritating to people for totally decent reasons.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:04 PM on January 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


I pointed this out, and my comment was excised from the record.
where can it be?
there must be something wrong with the machinery

http://ask.metafilter.com/143480/Help-me-teach-myself-Physics-via-the-Feynman-Lectures#2059049
somebody please please tell me what the hell is wrong

until i find the self-righteous one
Microsoft Blue
posted by the aloha at 4:08 PM on January 24, 2010


Following your logic we couldn't link to any of the major video sites because they all feature ads and are "selling" us something, despite the fact that these videos are free. Your original complaint about self-linking seems to be an excuse for you to get on your soapbox and complain about Silverlight. Well no one wants to hear it. Anybody that gives a crap about it probably can't use it anyway (like me), and everyone else thinks your the dork standing in the corner of the party talking to the punch bowl about how the guys who are drinking pabst have simply "been sold" the idea by Vice Magazine and probably smoke Turkish Silvers. We already get rid of silverlight (or any overly restrictive) front page posts. Getting rid of productive answers, which happen to be in a restrictive format, are counter to the spirit of ask.
posted by cyphill at 4:13 PM on January 24, 2010


I pitch the library as much as I can so that people are well aware that they can check out books and don't need to buy each and every one of them. But people still purchase books. And book recommendation threads look like shopping lists to me. I guess the Silverlight thing is that people think it's a less-obvious pitch?

People buying books at stores has not historically shut down libraries. Whereas Microsoft does have a history of "embracing" standards in order to kill the open versions of them.

Just correcting your analogy. An actual human linking to something he (inadvisedly) made in Silverlight is pretty far from "they are getting their posts onto the front page sneakily".
posted by DU at 4:15 PM on January 24, 2010


Whereas Microsoft does have a history of "embracing" standards in order to kill the open versions of them.

Does anyone think Microsoft Silverlight is going to kill Adobe Flash? Or H264 or OggWhatever?

Microsoft used to "embrace" standards and try and kill them, but where are they now? Internet Explorer is only used by people at workplaces that force them to through restrictive IT rules. HTML standards are alive and well and few if any people use anything remotely IE-only to code their sites. Microsoft Office is even in jeopardy since free services like Google Docs came along with word doc export and import (not to mention OpenOffice as a viable alternative).

Microsoft used to be a big scary industry monster ten years ago, but man, their track record ever since has been pretty pathetic and the world has constantly routed around and minimized any damage they've caused.

I can't think of a single technology or standard these days that has some stink of Microsoft killing it and replacing it with something of their own making.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 4:20 PM on January 24, 2010 [4 favorites]


I can't think of a single technology or standard these days that has some stink of Microsoft killing it and replacing it with something of their own making.

Email and calendering. My workplace recently killed off a completely serviceable POP3 server and replaced with a semi-standards-compliant IMAP server running from Exchange. Buggy as hell and requires tons of workarounds for non-Windows people to share calendars now. (I don't know how they were doing it before, but it worked fine.) They are now making sounds about "standardizing the desktop" which includes out-sourcing internal support. To Dell.

As for Google Docs killing Office: lol. OpenOffice is a slightly more realistic alternative but MS is dodging and weaving enough to keep it far from 100% reliability. The main way OpenOffice is like MS Office is in being unable to figure out where the features are hiding in the current release.

I agree that Microsoft is in a much weakened position but reports of their death are greatly exaggerated.
posted by DU at 4:25 PM on January 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


H264

...is a patent-encumbered proprietary standard.

If you have a problem with proprietary standrds, and no manners, you ought to be getting hysterical with everything positive about Apple, any YouTube post (Flash), just for starters. The fact people don't says more about their status as hysterical anti-Microsoft ninnies, and their ignorance about enemies of software freedom (hint: Microsoft is not the company the FSF boycotted for their attacks on programmer freedom).

More generally, butting into interesting conversations with wild-eyed and irrelevant hysterics about browser plugins does not improve MetaFilter.
posted by rodgerd at 4:27 PM on January 24, 2010 [4 favorites]


Email and calendering

Really? All I see are stories of universities and companies ditching their $10k exchange cluster for Google Apps for domains and that seems to be working fine for everyone (works fine for me here). Again, the problem isn't Microsoft, but stupid decision makers that prefer to toss out a free open source system that works fine for a bloated expensive one that seems more businesslike (my wife's workplace did the same thing recently and it's totally stupid and a step backwards for everyone). That said, email and calendars are doing just fine without exchange and are no threat to how I communicate online.

I agree that Microsoft is in a much weakened position but reports of their death are greatly exaggerated.

My point is reports of their threats to humanity through computers is greatly exaggerated.

It's like a slashdot post from 1999 in here.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 4:30 PM on January 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


All I see are stories of universities and companies ditching their $10k exchange cluster...

Man bites dog.

(my wife's workplace did the same thing recently and it's totally stupid and a step backwards for everyone)

See?

Again, the problem isn't Microsoft, but stupid decision makers that prefer to toss out a free open source system that works fine for a bloated expensive one that seems more businesslike...

If you want to phrase it that way, fine. The point is: Microsoft is a problem, whether because of their marketing skills or because of pointy-haired bosses is immaterial.

If you have a problem with proprietary standrds, and no manners...

That describes me pretty well.

...you ought to be getting hysterical with everything positive about Apple.

And I do.
posted by DU at 4:37 PM on January 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


endquote's answer was completely appropriate.
Your response was a noisy derail.
Silverlight is ass, yet in terms of being a nuisance that directly impacts my life, it's less of a pain than the people who make a big effing stink over it every chance they get.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 4:39 PM on January 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yay, congrats Jessamyn!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:58 PM on January 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


I actually have nothing to add, because the mods are saying exactly what I'd say, but I do want to note that this is the first time a question I've had has led to any consequences of note - in this case sidebarring of a comment followed by this post - and y'know, it's kind of weird. Especially because I thought endnote's response was pretty much a textbook case of "How to self-link correctly."
posted by Tomorrowful at 5:09 PM on January 24, 2010


Microsoft Blue?

Oh fuck off.
posted by Artw at 5:10 PM on January 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


Will do. I've got bigger windmills to tilt against.
posted by sebastienbailard at 5:13 PM on January 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh, and see you on Wednesday, Blazecock.
posted by Artw at 5:24 PM on January 24, 2010


?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:26 PM on January 24, 2010


I've got bigger windmills to tilt against.

I'm no Cervantes expert, but I don't think that carries the connotations that you think or wish it does.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 5:40 PM on January 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Actually, I think that's what the expression means -- I.e., fighting hopeless battles, especially hopeless battles that don't matter to anyone else and/or are imaginary.

Also - I really hate the whole "X does not mean what you think it means" thing.
posted by Mid at 6:45 PM on January 24, 2010


Tilting at windmills means fighting imaginary opponents.
posted by donnagirl at 7:08 PM on January 24, 2010


I suppose "bigger windmills" might be the arguable mis-use, but I took that as self-deprecation.
posted by Mid at 7:09 PM on January 24, 2010


Also - I really hate the whole "X does not mean what you think it means" thing.

If I had meant to get my Fezzik on, I would have quoted it properly. Frankly that shtick bugs me too, but I'll be damned if I'm going to go out of my way to alter my perfectly cromulent sentence just because some pedantic knobs on the internet have watched The Princess Bride too many times. ['Too many times? Inconceivable!']

Anyhoo, I get that 'tilting at windmills' is often used when trying to romantically describe a futile endeavor or unwinnable battle, but that's such a crappily unnuanced and irksome interpretation - if sebastienballard didn't know what the fuck he was on about, or mistaken about why he was against Silverlight or about why it was bad, then that would be 'tilting at windmills'. I guess I view it as being a pejorative turn of phrase implying that whomever it's directed towards doesn't know shit; when people use it as a self-description they're undermining themselves and their position.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 7:44 PM on January 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


But the link to the 'marketing tool' by the 'marketing tool' is still there, oddly enough.

The only thing that's odd here, besides you having a rather poor understanding of what's allowed in AskMe, is you referring to someone with a three-digit User ID as a "marketing tool." Shame on you.
posted by dhammond at 8:21 PM on January 24, 2010


If I had meant to get my Fezzik on, I would have quoted it properly.

You mean Inigo. Fezzik's too busy with the brute squad to worry about semantics like that.

just because some pedantic knobs on the internet have watched The Princess Bride too many times.

Hmmm.....
posted by inigo2 at 8:38 PM on January 24, 2010


                               / -\
                             -/    \                                   X
                           -/       \                                 / \-
                          /          -\                             /-    \-
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                     /                   -\                      /              \
                     --                    \                   /-               --
                       \---                 \                 /              --/
                           \--               -\              /            --/
                              \---             \       /    /          --/
                                  \--           \    /-\  /-        --/
                                     \---        -\/----\/       --/
                                         \--     /-\    |     --/
                                            \---//       \ --/
                                              /-\+       +X
                                            /-   \       / \
                                          /-    /-\     / -+
                                         /   /--   ---X-    \-
                                       /-/---       /- -\     \--
                                     /---         /-     -\      \-
                                   /--          /-         \       \--
                                 /-           /-            -\        \--
                            /---/           /-                \          \-
                         /--              /-                   -\          \--
                       \-               -/                       +            \-
                        \             -/-                         \             \/
                         \          -/-                              \         -/
                       /- \-      -/-                               \ \      -/
                     /-    -\   -/-                                 |  -\  -/
                  -/---------\-/-------------------------------------\   -\
                 |/           /                                   |        \
                 /                                                /
                |                                                /
                /                                               /
               /                                               |
              |                                                /
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        /                                               /
       |                                               /
       /                                              /
      |                                              |
      /--------------------------------------------- /

posted by fantabulous timewaster at 8:53 PM on January 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


Flash is not an open standard, nor the best option.
posted by blue_beetle at 9:16 PM on January 24, 2010


I think fantabulous timewaster found a way to change my browser font to 120pt Moulin Oblique.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:22 PM on January 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


But the link to the 'marketing tool' by the 'marketing tool' is still there, oddly enough.

Oh just fuck right off. The guy actually programmed/made something which means he is de facto not a marketing tool. It was a totally appropriate answer for the thread.

Signed,
Another Linux User
posted by Rhomboid at 9:23 PM on January 24, 2010 [4 favorites]


Expired: Hating Microsoft
Tired: Hating Apple
Wired: Hating Google
posted by empath at 11:06 PM on January 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


Btw, I watched the Feynman lectures on that, and it's pretty fucking awesome.
posted by empath at 11:07 PM on January 24, 2010


Er, actually it turns out it's Josh Santangelo. I know that guy. He makes lots of things, some of which have even been the subject of FPPs (both before and after working for MS Research) . He's certainly no marketing tool.
posted by Artw at 11:31 PM on January 24, 2010


All I see are stories of universities and companies ditching their $10k exchange cluster for Google Apps for domains and that seems to be working fine for everyone (works fine for me here).

Moving from proprietary, self-hosted software to proprietary software hosted by an advertising company. There's a win.
posted by rodgerd at 11:58 PM on January 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


There's a reason I don't participate much on the site, and it may have something to do with how easily people seem to get upset about the littlest thing. Take a breath.

What is this thread about? Hatred of Silverlight? Of Microsoft? Of me linking to something I worked on? It seems that this is a thread complaining about staying on topic that covers several different topics. I will address them in turn:

As for the Project Tuva app, it seemed pretty relevant to the topic at hand. Not only is it the only legit copy of the lectures online, it's also enhanced by lots of ancillary material in a way that's not possible on other video sites (for the first lecture, anyway. more to come, eventually, i'm told). I will admit that it was a pretty curt reply, but it was intended to be helpful.

If it helps, I am a Feynman fan. I've read the three Feynman books on the bookshelf beside me, I've watched the lectures, I really wish I could have known the man. It was really an honor to work on the aforelinked app.

Yes, it would be great if you could order a DVD of the Feynman lectures with awesome extras and things -- even though DVDs use a proprietary means of encoding video and interactivity -- but due to deals made by people with a lot more money than anyone in this thread, we do what we can.

As for Silverlight, I'll just say that my goal for about thirteen years has been to create really engaging interactive experiences. I did it with HTML, I did it with "DHTML" before we knew what JavaScript could really do, I did it with Flash when I found that I could be more expressive there, and now I'm doing it with MS stuff because the tools are simply better. When standards are actually standard and allow me to create really rich experiences without thinking about web browsers, count me in.

As for Microsoft, hate them if you want -- but leave MS Research out of it. They are the only division that does not have any kind of requirement to contribute to the bottom line of the company as a whole, as you've seen.

Sebastien, I'm sorry that you couldn't view the lectures on Linux. I don't control these things. Load up a VM with a pirated copy of XP, or use a Mac, as I do.
posted by endquote at 1:41 AM on January 25, 2010 [11 favorites]


I'm doing it with MS stuff because the tools are simply better

Remembering Portland Code Camp last year, I can't recall how many times this or that spokesperson got up and started pushing Silverlight tools in between sessions. I only mention this because, whether the above statement is true or not — with no disrespect meant to its writer, genuinely — I would not be surprised if there is a strong internal push to advertise evangelize this technology as broadly as possible in various communities.

We seem to be in a marketing phase somewhere between the first two waves of extend, embrace, and extinguish. It's up to end users to keep us from ending up at the tail end of that story.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:12 AM on January 25, 2010


I don't think you can respectfully doubt the truth of someone's statements.
posted by smackfu at 5:49 AM on January 25, 2010


(I mean, you're walking a very fine line of accusing him of being either a shill or a dupe. With no disrespect.)
posted by smackfu at 5:56 AM on January 25, 2010


So like, I make my salary by supporting a Microsoft product (SharePoint).

At the same time, I enable most of my geeky hobbies with non-Microsoft software (usually freeware or open source with a few key things being 3rd party software I actually pay for) because Microsoft software is largely pretty expensive for the individual to pay for.

We do Microsoft-based software development in-house for in-house users. We don't consult in any specific, chosen technology, but we hire out contractors in lots of different techs and platforms.

Silverlight doesn't seem to me to be worse or better than any other technology for providing more interactive than base HTML experience of the Web.

It does help us integrate our code more cleanly (through common libraries installed by default in the OS or after initial configuration through various ways and means) with other Microsoft products and run more interactive code on IE without having to deploy a shitload of client-server code in the old mode.

It is totally true that Microsoft wants to cram Microsoft tech down our throats and often "tech briefings" turn into "Look how wonderful our crack is!" briefings instead. But with respect to my professional IT situation, it makes sense for us to use the Microsoft tools.

On the other hand, I totally think Silverlight is a bad idea for Linux folks to use UNLESS they're, say, using SharePoint or some other Microsoft server product, in which case, sure, use it if it works for your OS/browser.

If not, that's fine too. Seriously. I don't give a shit.

p.s. to smackfu, I feel the same way about "no disrespect intended". It invariably leads to someone being pretty fucking disrespectful.
posted by kalessin at 6:13 AM on January 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


To avoid a preemptive derail, I wish to apologize to those who interpreted my comment as intending to be disrespectful. I don't know how much clearer I could have been that I was genuinely not being disrespectful, but making an observation about promotional efforts. I hope this apology to those folks will help in some way to make that clear or at least clearer.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:19 AM on January 25, 2010


I don't know how much clearer I could have been that I was genuinely not being disrespectful

I interpreted your statement as saying that it was impossible for a person to genuinely find virtue in these products, and that anyone talking about them positively was a de-facto shill and (perhaps unwittingly) part of a nefarious plot toward 'extinguish'. And, yeah, it seemed kind of disrespectful.

Just a data point.
posted by dirtdirt at 7:09 AM on January 25, 2010


Endquote please do not be hesitant to post quality information here.
posted by cyphill at 7:17 AM on January 25, 2010


As for the Project Tuva app, it seemed pretty relevant to the topic at hand. Not only is it the only legit copy of the lectures online, it's also enhanced by lots of ancillary material in a way that's not possible on other video sites (for the first lecture, anyway. more to come, eventually, i'm told). I will admit that it was a pretty curt reply, but it was intended to be helpful.

Just to throw another unambiguous This Was Totally Fine voice into the mix, your answer in askme was totally fine and helpful and disclosing that it was your work was exactly the way to go.

There's enough weirdness with actual fly-by-night spammers on askme that a lot of people around here have an understandably twitchy reaction to some of the weirder "oh gr8 question i ahve seen a thing abou tthis somewhere mabye check out http://obviously-my-site-i-am-a-scumbag.ru/man-i-love-seo" shit that sneaks in occasionally before we delete it.

I feel like some of that spilled over into what happened here, though I won't speak for sebastienbailard on that front. But it's definitely been the overreactive flip side of mefi's general community immune reaction to the genuinely skeezy sort of self-promoter on occasion.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:25 AM on January 25, 2010


I'll try to pop back into this thread and stay with it later this evening, rather than just leaveing with a bon mot. As it is, I'm skimming right now.

As for Microsoft, hate them if you want -- but leave MS Research out of it. They are the only division that does not have any kind of requirement to contribute to the bottom line of the company as a whole, as you've seen.

I'd posit that Microsoft is still acting out of naked self interest (and fiduciary responsibility to shareholders). If it hurts the company, they're betraying their shareholders. If it helps, it's microsoft self interest.

Sebastien, I'm sorry that you couldn't view the lectures on Linux. I don't control these things. Load up a VM with a pirated copy of XP, or use a Mac, as I do.
posted by endquote


I apologize for calling you a 'marketing tool'. Uncalled for and mean.

Still, it seems like a deliberate decision by someone to not have a big fat orange "download" up on the project tuva page. That decision is inconsistent with Bill Gates' compassionate-type stuff. It's not impossible or inconvenient to transcode this material into other popular and accessible formats.

As such, it's a deliberate omission as a marketing move. Microsoft is adept at creating and championing new file formats as a way of manipulating the market. And this is one new example, but Feynman-flavored, rather than a new MSWord document from a colleague that you can't open.

But I don't assert that you made that decision. I'd guess you'd be happy if it was out in a format vlc could read, for example, out of a love of Feynman's work that you must have picked up a bit.
posted by sebastienbailard at 10:13 AM on January 25, 2010


Microsoft is adept at creating and championing new file formats as a way of manipulating the market.

I was being perhaps a bit cryptic about this before, but seriously, you are living in the past. Microsoft is not the all powerful evil that it once was, and doesn't have the market power that it used to have. You are fighting a battle that was already won 5 or 6 years ago. Silverlight is already pretty much a failure and no threat to anyone.
posted by empath at 10:18 AM on January 25, 2010


As such, it's a deliberate omission as a marketing move.

Is Microsoft Research doing stuff in Silverlight rather than Flash because it's a Microsoft technology? Yes. Does that mean it's worthless and just an ad? No.
posted by smackfu at 10:39 AM on January 25, 2010


Given that, I do wonder how much less bitching there would have been if the original link had just said "(Silverlight required.)" I always put (PDF) next to PDF links because there is always somebody who still can't deal with PDFs and complains about it if you don't.
posted by smackfu at 10:41 AM on January 25, 2010


always put (PDF) next to PDF links because there is always somebody who still can't deal with PDFs and complains about it if you don't.

The pdf annoyance is largely due to the fact that loading a PDF tends to hang browser windows, etc, while it loads which is irritating.
posted by empath at 11:01 AM on January 25, 2010


I'd probably put pdf next to a dorect link to a pdf file, or a video or audio one for that matter, but I wouldn;t consider it necessary when linking to a page containing video or audio... okay, maybe I'd put in a (pdf) if for some mad reason someone had embeded pdf on the page, mainly due to the crashing and hanging.
posted by Artw at 11:04 AM on January 25, 2010


Having a thing like the youtube widget that let's you view pdf's in the google viewer would be nifty, though.
posted by empath at 11:07 AM on January 25, 2010


nifty, or a rollover-based browser freeze.
posted by Artw at 11:10 AM on January 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


The thing I like about MeFi is that there are a bunch of people on here who are really educated, work on really interesting projects, and know a lot about really specific things. These people are immensely helpful and interesting when it comes to helping you solve your problem or enlighten you in ways you never imagined.

No one got all crabby at me when I self-linked to a post on my blog featuring a recipe the Asker might find interesting. Just because endquote's self-link is for a product/company that many in the MeFi populous hate, doesn't mean this link is irrelevant to the Asker, against the TOS of the site, or offensive to other people on the thread.

And for the record, I love Silverlight. And I'm a Mac user. It has never crashed my browser and it runs much more efficiently than Flash.
posted by sararah at 12:33 PM on January 25, 2010


I can't think of a single technology or standard these days that has some stink of Microsoft killing it and replacing it with something of their own making.

Have you ever heard of POSIX? There's a reason why the software I write works on most operating systems out there, but most software only works on OSes from Microsoft (or, if you're very lucky, on a library that has managed to catch up to a subset of Microsoft's APIs).
posted by roystgnr at 12:56 PM on January 25, 2010


Heh. You do know what the X stands for in POSIX?
posted by smackfu at 1:11 PM on January 25, 2010


Portable Operating System Interface [for XP]
posted by Loto at 1:14 PM on January 25, 2010


mathowie: “Microsoft used to be a big scary industry monster ten years ago, but man, their track record ever since has been pretty pathetic and the world has constantly routed around and minimized any damage they've caused. I can't think of a single technology or standard these days that has some stink of Microsoft killing it and replacing it with something of their own making.”

The Open Document Format.

smackfu: “I don't think you can respectfully doubt the truth of someone's statements.”

Respect is worth less than truth.

sararah: “And for the record, I love Silverlight. And I'm a Mac user. It has never crashed my browser and it runs much more efficiently than Flash.”

Both evil.

Of course, it shouldn't be against the rules to mention your workplace or link to a project you worked on, even if you were forced by economic hardship to work for the evil empire.
posted by koeselitz at 1:44 PM on January 25, 2010


The main problem with the Open Document Format appears to be that somepeople wanted to block it becuase they hate Microsoft, and weren't able to because that isn't a real reason.
posted by Artw at 1:52 PM on January 25, 2010


Evil empire? Really? I haven't seen this app yet, because it's not available for my platform, but this kind of implied condescension towards endquote is uncalled for.

On preview, Artw, are you maybe confused about the Open and Sort-of Open Document Format? That's really funny..
posted by Dr Dracator at 1:55 PM on January 25, 2010


koeselitz - when you stop using and/or enjoying ANY products EVER that come from some "evil" fortune-500 company, lemme know.
posted by sararah at 2:01 PM on January 25, 2010


On preview, Artw, are you maybe confused about the Open and Sort-of Open Document Format? That's really funny..

Heh. Damn you similar XML format names and your soup of openness.
posted by Artw at 2:07 PM on January 25, 2010


(the funny thing being that most times I use an application capable of saving as either and I want to send it to anyone I'll actually end up saving in an Office 97 format.)
posted by Artw at 2:12 PM on January 25, 2010


It this where I share Microsoft Research's own (tm) Simon Peyton-Jones's Win32 cheat sheet? I think it is.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 2:54 PM on January 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


I may not be able to see the videos, but I'm ideologically pure. I hear there's this really cool thing called YouTube, but it doesn't seem like much; just a big blank screen.

posted using BeOS
posted by davejay at 3:21 PM on January 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


Both evil.

There are three things mentioned in the sentence to which you responded. Silverlight, Mac, and Flash. Which of those two are evil? Or are all three evil?

When your definition of evil is broad enough to encompass all things proprietary, it's too broad to be useful.
posted by me & my monkey at 3:51 PM on January 25, 2010


sararah: “koeselitz - when you stop using and/or enjoying ANY products EVER that come from some "evil" fortune-500 company, lemme know.”

Calling MS 'the evil empire' was decidedly tongue-in-cheek on my part. I hate MS as only a software person can, but I know it's a relatively minor issue for most people, and I don't take myself too seriously. And yeah, I have Flash and Silverlight installed here on my Linux machine. For me, at this point, it's sort of like rooting for a football team - it's important enough that I'll get het up about it if you really push my buttons, but in my more contemplative moments I see clearly the relative unimportance of the argument.

I really do have a loathing of Adobe, and Richard M Stallman, everybody's crazy uncle, is of course right that it's destructive to development to promulgate a closed standard like Flash or Silverlight. These things slow down the progress of the internet and of software in general. But youtube is fun, and the progress of the internet is not the highest value by any stretch of the imagination.

Dr Dracator: “Evil empire? Really? I haven't seen this app yet, because it's not available for my platform, but this kind of implied condescension towards endquote is uncalled for.”

Oops – sorry, endquote. I know nobody can hear you sarcasm on the internet; it was a joke to refer to MS as "the evil empire." I don't like the company, and I don't believe in what they're doing, but – I guess it really needs to be said – that doesn't mean I'm going to pontificate now about how awful you are for working for them. Everybody needs a job, and working there can even be a good one, from what I hear, so no aspersion intended whatsoever. If we differ in opinion, that's a matter of friendly debate, for me; I'm not going to be throwing a molotov cocktail through your office window any time soon, I promise. Heh.

Artw: “The main problem with [Microsoft Office OpenXML, or OOXML] appears to be that somepeople wanted to block it becuase they hate Microsoft, and weren't able to because that isn't a real reason.”

I didn't say this above, because it takes some time to explain. But what the hell, this is metatalk after all:

That's the handy line Microsoft has taken, and promulgated in various quarters; and some people fed up with inveterate MS-hate tend to wonder if it's true. But I think that for anyone familiar with the background of the debate there's really no question that it's a bit of a marketing canard - and of course IBM was promoting ODF hard using some similar bits of marketing.

The point is that the Open Document Format, an open standard for XML documents, has been under development for about a decade. It's clean, clear, and moreover very useful for standardizing the way documents are displayed. Even before it came about, it was clear, I think, that Microsoft has a vested interest in making sure that document formats are not standardized – go back to the early 90s and consider the process whereby MS Word and MS Excel stomped the competition, and you'll see that they did so by making sure they had the 'standard' format, and then making sure that no other program could open that format 'properly.' So when the Open Document Format, first really standardized in 2002, gradually became, because of Sun and IBM and a few other big players, the apparent new standard of the way that documents could be displayed – a real, open standard which demanded that different programs have the same access to documents – any businessperson with brains at MS must have been very, very worried; the biggest source of Office's massive supremacy over its competition was dissipating. Specifically I know that a lot of people MS were extremely concerned that they were pretty much being forced to integrate a doc format pioneered by Open Office.

So of course it made sense that Microsoft immediately, out of thin air, conjured an XML document format of its own to compete. Microsoft execs whine and moan about the underhanded tactics of IBM in this case, and they may even be right that IBM is fighting tooth and nail, but that doesn't answer the underlying question, which is: why did Microsoft feel the need to introduce a new XML standard in the first place, when a perfectly good one was already very popular? The answer is pretty obvious: because Microsoft wanted to have control over the dominant document format, and they saw that document XML could easily become the new standard.

The recent patent litigation that Microsoft has endured at the hands of i4i is pretty ironic, because MS, notorious frivolous patent filers, are suffering because of frivolous patent litigation. I don't think the patent i4i claims makes any sense at all for software; it seems to be a patent on separating form from content, so I guess i4i would be suing and claiming they had a patent on html/css if they could find any cash cows to milk there. But what's interesting is what the trial revealed about Microsoft's implementation of OOXML - that it's riddled with what they call 'custom XML,' special bits of XML which appear nowhere in the OOXML standard. To put it bluntly, OOXML is not in fact an open standard, and was never really intended to be; Microsoft is clearly still making a strong effort to make sure that no office software but theirs can open OOXML documents in the same way, and OOXML documents will look different in very real and significant ways when opened in programs other than Microsoft Office.

That's fine; they're a software company, they're there to make money, and they are absolutely correct in their belief that the only way they can retain their monopoly on document editors is by staying ahead of the curve and keeping document formats obscure and unworkable. Embrace/extend/extinguish isn't against the law. But this is clearly a case of embrace/extend/extinguish: four full years after the first standardization of document XML, they "embraced" it by coming up with a parallel document XML format, even naming it in a confusingly similar way ("Office Open XML" - and you saw firsthand how confusing that name is, right?) Now, it's pretty obvious that they're engaged in extending the Office Open XML format but adding "custom XML" and all sorts of markers and tags that don't actually appear in the document standard. Next, if the plan goes correctly, they'll be able to "extinguish," because office people all over the world will be annoyed to notice that, when they open OOXML documents in non-MS Office programs, those documents look "all wrong." All Microsoft has to do to make sure this happens is keep adding all kinds of ridiculous cruft to OOXML. And they haven't shown signs of stopping.
posted by koeselitz at 4:17 PM on January 25, 2010 [4 favorites]


I can't pass too much judgment. All of these companies are playing long strategic games. No one really cares about an open document format per se, they just want to get rid of an obstacle to selling Linux desktops to corporations.
posted by smackfu at 6:05 PM on January 25, 2010


No one really cares about an open document format per se, they just want to get rid of an obstacle to selling Linux desktops to corporations.

Oh, horseshit. Plenty of people care quite a lot that, say, accessing government documents doesn't become a privlege for those who are prepared to fork money over to a business which gains a locked-in source of revenue from citizens trying to exercise their rights or fulfil their resposibilities.
posted by rodgerd at 12:03 AM on January 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


Oh, horseshit.

Yep, this.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:24 AM on January 26, 2010


By "no one", I was referring to the "companies" from my prior sentence. Unless you think they are altruistic?
posted by smackfu at 9:52 AM on January 26, 2010


Sun and IBM are more authentic.
posted by Artw at 10:19 AM on January 26, 2010


I work with SharePoint for my daily job as well, and recently I've noticed that MS is pushing Silverlight like nobody's business. Like, for simple UI elements that would usually be system.web.ui or web parts -- the new hotness is Silverlight controls. I don't really have an good handle on the reason for this change, but it seems like using a sledgehammer to swat a fly.
posted by boo_radley at 11:06 AM on January 26, 2010


MS is pushing Silverlight like nobody's business

To clarify, this is the point I wished to make with first-hand observation.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:15 AM on January 26, 2010


By "no one", I was referring to the "companies" from my prior sentence. Unless you think they are altruistic?

Of course they aren't. The desire for an open, cross-compatible document format is not about some idealistic freedom-of-information utopia. It's a safeguard against being fucked over every couple of years for new software licenses by a company keeping your documents hostage in their locked-in format.

People want such an open format, companies move to provide it because they hope to curve a slice out of the 1000-pound gorilla dominating the market. It's one of those rare cases where the free market does what it says on the tin, altruism doesn't enter the picture at all.
posted by Dr Dracator at 1:21 PM on January 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also, this slice will obviously be curved, since a 1000-pound gorilla is, to a first approximation, spherical.
posted by Dr Dracator at 2:14 PM on January 26, 2010


Dr Dracator: “People want such an open format, companies move to provide it because they hope to curve a slice out of the 1000-pound gorilla dominating the market. It's one of those rare cases where the free market does what it says on the tin, altruism doesn't enter the picture at all.”

What's interesting to me is that, in a significant way, it really doesn't; and there's still a strong chance that ODF will fail, and obscure, proprietary formats will continue to rule. Microsoft pretty much won the big round at the ISO convention, and now dozens of countries around the world have adopted Microsoft OOXML as an official standard on the urging of Microsoft.

Microsoft is just being businesslike here. They know very well that even now they have a market share so large that they've got nothing to gain from continued development of their software; in fact, they realize that they actually have a lot to lose from continued development. How many people use Excel right now? And if Microsoft completely changed it, fixing all the terrible things that have accumulated within it and maybe even creating something that did what it does better, how many people would switch to Excel? I don't like Microsoft, but they're not stupid; they see that most of their customers are curmudgeons about computers, unable to see that Excel is the same little handheld calculator it was in 1983. Borland actually tried offering a real update of Excel, one that integrated completely into a database, in the 1990s; Microsoft won that battle, and the biggest reason they did is because people, especially business people, like what they're used to. Everybody grumbles about the silly crap in Office, but they always grumble more when you try to show them a better way to do it. Anybody who's ever worked in IT is probably nodding their head vigorously at this point.

In this case, MS knows that, if they go with the flow of development, embrace the open standard, and join with IBM and Sun in endorsing ODF, they'd be marginalizing themselves, consigning themselves to an open format that demands openness and removes the precious monopoly-boosting quirks of Word and Office in general. They knew very well that OOXML would be the same sort of quirk for most users, and that they could turn it to their advantage – look at the incredible power it's already had for them: anybody who's worked in IT or business of any kind, how often have you heard somebody get vexed about the new .docx format? And complain about the wonky conversion apparatus MS provides (which, though it works fine, is far more complicated to install and to use than it needs to be)? And then, in a fit of frustration, say to themselves "oh well, I guess I'll just have to upgrade. Argh." How many businesses would still be using Office 2003 if Microsoft hadn't prodded them into the corner of paying for the upgrade by making sure they were bombarded with .docxes until they got fed up?

They've been doing this for years: the trick is to nail it just so that the competitor's product can open documents made in your program, but it doesn't open them 'right' - Joe Businessman then gets annoyed that he's not seeing what the guy who sent him this document was seeing. As long as you have the market-share edge, this strategy exponentially increases the likelihood that you'll stay on top and even increase that market share. Joe Businessman always ends up breaking down and buying a copy of Office, since all of his friends are creating their documents in Office - it doesn't really matter to him whether OpenOffice or MS Office is 'opening the document correctly,' he just wants to see what everybody else is seeing. Microsoft's domination through the 90s was a direct result.

Microsoft understands: to stay ahead in business, you have to be willing to make software that works just well enough, and you have to be willing to sabotage it further if you want to get people to keep buying it. This is only one example - there are many others. But the upshot of "embrace/extend/extinguish" is that the free market is bad for technological development in certain fundamental ways. Interesting point.
posted by koeselitz at 9:18 PM on January 26, 2010


?
posted by Artw at 11:48 AM on January 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


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