Even a chimp can write code

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Eric Raymond shows his ugly side

I have a feeling some folks in Microsoft had a good laugh at Eric S. Raymond's expense last week. Someone on the research team told an MS recruiter (a vendor incidentally) that ESR would be a good employee candidate. So the recruiter sends him a feeler via email. The email has the usual template content:

Your name and contact info was brought to my attention as someone who could potentially be a contributor at Microsoft. I would love an opportunity to speak with you in detail about your interest in a career at Microsoft, along with your experience, background and qualifications. I would be happy to answer any questions that you may have and can also provide you with any information I have available in regard to the positions and work life at Microsoft.

ESR's response to him is a riposte you'd expect from a pre-pubescent teen: totally banal, and lacking in stature and tact. It is reproduced here so you and I can continue to have a laugh long after it is taken off ESR's blog:

I’d thank you for your offer of employment at Microsoft, except that it indicates that either you or your research team (or both) couldn’t get a clue if it were pounded into you with baseball bats. What were you going to do with the rest of your afternoon, offer jobs to Richard Stallman and Linus Torvalds? Or were you going to stick to something easier, like talking Pope Benedict into presiding at a Satanist orgy?

If you had bothered to do five seconds of background checking, you might have discovered that I am the guy who responded to Craig Mundie’s "Who are you?" with "I’m your worst nightmare", and that I’ve in fact been something pretty close to your company’s worst nightmare since about 1997. You’ve maybe heard about this "open source" thing? You get one guess who wrote most of the theory and propaganda for it and talked IBM and Wall Street and the Fortune 500 into buying in. But don’t think I’m trying to destroy your company. Oh, no; I’d be just as determined to do in any other proprietary-software monopoly, and the community I helped found is well on its way to accomplishing that goal.

On the day *I* go to work for Microsoft, faint oinking sounds will be heard from far overhead, the moon will not merely turn blue but develop polkadots, and hell will freeze over so solid the brimstone will go superconductive.

But I must thank you for dropping a good joke on my afternoon. On that hopefully not too far distant day that I piss on Microsoft’s grave, I sincerely hope none of it will splash on you.

Cordially yours,
Eric S. Raymond

What a pompous ass!

Now, from time to time, we are all guilty of thinking of ourselves as being more important to the cause than is actually the case. Apparently ESR is the only person on Earth to think of himself as the leader and founder of the open source movement. The biggest thing to come out of this -- aside from ESR's ego -- was the absolute cluelessness of the guy to the fact that the free/open-source software community doesn't think he has as big an impact on the tribe as he claims to. That delusion probably also made him mistake this initial feeler to be a 'job offer'.

Before I joined Microsoft, I was involved with the Java Community Process, which while not F/OSS, did follow the principles of community-driven software development that is such an important ingredient of F/OSS. I have used many open source solutions and have made minor contributions to some. So you could say I drank the kool-aid. When I look at it from that perspective, here is a guy -- admittedly an important figure in the F/OSS world -- with an opportunity to tell us in Microsoft why he wouldn't dream of being one of us. He could have framed his response in any manner of ways. The response could have been aimed at telling Microsoft where he thinks it is going wrong. Or aimed at marshalling the F/OSS rank and file. Instead he resorted to invectives and cheap shots.

Years ago, when I read "The Cathedral and The Bazaar", I thought of ESR as a bright and insightful guy. I have now lost all respect for him.

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Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Introducing the WPF Web Browser Application!

With the September CTP of WinFX, Express Applications are no more. Fear not, you can still build Windows Presentation Foundation applications that run in a web browser. Only now, they are called Web Browser Applications (or WBAs). The extension has changed from .xapp to .wba and the new MIME content type is application/x-ms-wba. If you've installed the new WinFX bits and the Visual Studio Extensions for WinFX, you'll see project templates this.

Why did we make this change? Well for starters, the names were always working names. Also it turns out xapp is trademarked (by SAP, I think). And we don't want to confuse Express apps with the Express SKUs (as in Visual Studio C# Express edition). In no way are Web Browser Applications lite versions of WPF applications. So that misapprehension had to be removed.

This new name isn't cool, so why choose it? That's because the coolness of the Windows Presentation Foundation can and will speak for itself. It does not need the name to be its crutch. Besides, this name is generic enough that it cannot be trademarked, yet very accurately describes what that flavor of WPF application does.

I've heard a few people on the team here at Microsoft refer to Web Browser Applications as webbahs and for the record, I severely dislike that term. I know we do it with XAML (pronounced zammel) but let's just stop there. Please.


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WinFX September CTP is out!

The WinFX September CTP has just been released. Get it here. The SDK is here. We have listened to customer feedback and made improvements. We've also added a whole bunch of new features in the Windows Presentation Foundation (formerly Avalon). I'll talk about features I care about, in future posts.

The team has also made sure the platform is secure and more stable & performant than it has ever been. That focus on improving the fundamentals remains an ongoing exercise, until we release to market (RTM).

As always folks on my team and I are asking people to give this a whirl and tell us how we are doing and where we can improve. You can leave a comment here or better still post them to the Windows Presentation Foundation newsgroup.


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Saturday, September 10, 2005

Thinking of Eddie

I was driving with Ashley earlier today; we were rocking to Iron Maiden's The Number of the Beast. Actually I was. She was, let's just say, a passive participant. Anyway, I was extolling tales of the great heavy metal bands of yore. When I was growing up in India, every kid who dreamed of being in a rock band, saw Iron Maiden as the embodiment of that band. In those days, Bruce Dickinson (Maiden's lead singer in the 80s) and Rob Halford (Judas Priest lead vocalist) were larger than life. They were gods! Widely revered and religiously emulated. Now as I listen to the music, it doesn't seem as heavy as it did when I was thirteen. But boy, in my teenage years they epitomized bad ass! Nowadays it seems you have to kill someone or be shot at to be a bad ass in the music world.

My love for British metal bands still continues. My newest addiction is Nymphetamine. Not a controlled substance, mind you. It is Cradle of Filth's genius of an album (I don't know how to classify this band, so let's just call it metal). I've listened to that CD hundreds of times in the past few months and still haven't tired. With this album, Cradle of Filth definitely stakes claim to being the best metal band you've never heard of.

Update: Oh, by the way, Eddie is Iron Maiden's mascot; the zombie-like creature you see in all their album covers.

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The human brain may still be evolving

Today's issue of Science reports the findings of a team of researchers from the University of Chicago, who have identified two alleles that have evolved significantly over the last 60,000 years. These alleles associated with genes microcephalin and ASPM, are said to be responsible for the size of the human brain. This comes behind last year's discovery of 20 genes associated with the brain that have evolved faster in the great ape lineage than, say, in mice. It was widely believed that human evolution has flatlined for the last 50,000 years or so. This new theory turns that on its head. If true, it could mean the human brain has and continues to evolve.

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