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How Microsoft Degrades Their Users (In a Good Cause)

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the whoa-there-nelly dept.

The Internet 174

blackbearnh writes "We all know that slow Web pages drive users crazy, but where is the boundary between too slow and too simple? As Microsoft's Eric Schurman points out, the fastest-loading page of all is a blank one, but it's also the most useless. In an interview with O'Reilly Radar leading up to his appearance at the Velocity Conference, Schurman talks about his experiences working on some of Microsoft's highest-volume sites, including the home page and Live Search. In particular, he discusses how Microsoft will selectively degrade the performance of pages to small sets of users so that they can see how various amounts of delay at different times and places affect user behavior. 'In cases where we were giving what was a significantly degraded experience, the data moved to significance extremely quickly. We were able to tell when we delayed people's pages by more than half a second, and it was very obvious that this had a significant impact on users very quickly. We were able to turn off that experiment. The reasoning... was it helps us make a strong argument for how we can prioritize work on performance against work on other aspects of the site.' He also talks about what it's like to be one of the most often-targeted DDoS sites on the planet."

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174 comments

As opposed to ... (5, Funny)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | more than 4 years ago | (#28022153)

In cases where we were giving what was a significantly degraded experience ...

... the normally degraded experience.
(Ba da BOOM! Don't forget to tip your waitress.)

Re:As opposed to ... (2, Funny)

jimmyhat3939 (931746) | more than 4 years ago | (#28022173)

That's sort of the same thing I was thinking. I mean, maybe they should have users that opt in to such an experience before they start degrading it.

Re:As opposed to ... (5, Insightful)

zxjio (1475207) | more than 4 years ago | (#28022315)

Experimenting by delaying a pageload for 500ms is worthy of ethical considerations? Would you like to sue Microsoft for emotional damage? Too many people are afraid of doing anything these days.

Re:As opposed to ... (5, Funny)

Jurily (900488) | more than 4 years ago | (#28022531)

Experimenting by delaying a pageload for 500ms is worthy of ethical considerations?

No, they should be shot on sight.

Re:As opposed to ... (5, Funny)

Jesus_666 (702802) | more than 4 years ago | (#28022825)

That's half a second! Let's do the numbers:

We assume that Live search gets ten billion hits a day. We also assume that Microsoft degraded 5% of all hits. Thus Microsoft has wasted 1000000000 * 0.5s * 0.02 = ten million seconds! Microsoft wastes more than 26 years worth of productive time per day. Now, assuming that the computer of the Live search users consume 800W on average, we find that Microsoft wastes a whopping 20.9 watt-millenia per day. Assuming that 80% of that is turned into waste heat it's obvious that this has a non-negligible impact on Earth.

Gentlemen, I think we have found the root cause for both the energy crisis and global warming (and because our bitching about the oil price annoys the arabic world, also islamic terrorism). Now all we need to do is keep Microsoft from doing these experiments and everything's dandy again.

Re:As opposed to ... (5, Insightful)

tannsi (1460623) | more than 4 years ago | (#28023213)

I think this would only actually be a problem if anyone used LIVE search.

Re:As opposed to ... (1)

ILongForDarkness (1134931) | more than 4 years ago | (#28023041)

I agree. I don't think users are entitled to access to your page, or even "fair" access to your page. If they don't like it they can go elsewhere. It would be similar to a brick in mortar store giving crappy service, if you don't like it go somewhere else next time. That was the whole point in the experiment anyways, they were trying to answer the question "How slow is too slow?".

Hopefully this will get them to speed up their pages. Hotmail for instance is an absolute dog. I have a symmetric 155Mb connection at work, even accessing my account when the connection is otherwise idle takes ~2-3 seconds to login. So there is a lot of wait in the backend that could be optimized away I'd wager. Anyways, I suspect this isn't something that hasn't been done before. Amazon for example would be very interested in this, when you have to justify a new multi million dollar datacenter it is nice to be able to quantify the need for more capacity in dollar terms.

Re:As opposed to ... (4, Insightful)

jargon82 (996613) | more than 4 years ago | (#28023285)

Exactly. It's their site, and they certainly allowed to do with it what they want :). They could do "market research" and ask people how slow it could be, but instead they are collecting real world technical data and gaining insight on to how the performance impacts real people. Hopefully they then use this to decide where to spend time on performance.

Re:As opposed to ... (1)

Jurily (900488) | more than 4 years ago | (#28023505)

gaining insight on to how the performance impacts real people.

You have about one second from them hitting Enter and them reading the results. Any faster won't matter because the brain needs a context switch too, any slower and it'll be annoying. That'll be 4 million dollars please.

Re:As opposed to ... (2, Interesting)

BikeHelmet (1437881) | more than 4 years ago | (#28023359)

If we can sue them, then we also have to sue Comcast!

They frequently slow down my browsing with their cruddy filtering, to the point where some jumps take seconds.

This isn't right(since I'm Canadian), but tracert doesn't lie!

It's horrible when a game's servers have comcast lines between them and me. Rather than 50-150 ping, I face 700+. :(

Re:As opposed to ... (5, Informative)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 4 years ago | (#28022331)

Gmail does "selective degradation" really well. E.g. if you load gmail over a slow VPN over wireless connection it says "This site is taking longer to load than normal, would you like to try the Basic Html version or wait longer". Also you can choose basic html (i.e. less ajax and css) as your default view.

Basic HTML is quite usable these days - it even does email address autocompletion on Opera. So it can use ajax but it presumably doesn't depend of it. In a way it's a bit like a well written application which can use new features if they are present but run without them on downlevel systems.

Re:As opposed to ... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28022401)

You're discussing the wrong topic. "graceful degradation" != "selective worsening".

In Gmail, the degradation is helping you cope with a poor connection. In Microsoft's experiment, the degradation is hurting you and is imposed by a coin flip.

Re:As opposed to ... (5, Insightful)

EvanED (569694) | more than 4 years ago | (#28022669)

That would probably completely invalidate the results though, for two reasons. First, the sorts of people who would opt into that wouldn't at all be representative. (It would take an unusual person to even find the opt-in, let alone volunteer for a degraded experience knowingly.) Second, knowing about it would be way too likely to affect how the people behaved.

You could get halfway by saying "would you like to help us do research" or something like that, without saying in what way, which would reduce these problems, but not completely.

So we can all enjoy super fast internet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28022155)

oh wait...

Select groups of users (5, Funny)

mysidia (191772) | more than 4 years ago | (#28022177)

selectively degrade the performance of pages to small sets of users

In other words, Firefox, Opera, XP, and Linux users. And the experiment will get turned off, once they switch back to IE8 on Vista.

Re:Select groups of users (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28022185)

In other words, Firefox, Opera, XP, and Linux users. And the experiment will get turned off, once they switch back to IE8 on Vista.

Or falsify your user agent.

Re:Select groups of users (1)

Haley's Comet (897242) | more than 4 years ago | (#28022289)

...what it's like to be one of the most often-targeted DDoS sites on the planet.

Tell me why they have to do an "experiment" to find this? Isn't that "experiement" ongoing all the time?

Re:Select groups of users (2, Insightful)

skaet (841938) | more than 4 years ago | (#28022621)

They didn't do the experiment to find that out. They're only talking about what it's like (you even quoted it).

Re:Select groups of users (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28022301)

You forgot Safari and Chrome.

Re:Select groups of users (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28022415)

In other words, Firefox, Opera, XP, and Linux users. And the experiment will get turned off, once they switch back to IE8 on Vista.

Funny, Interesting, and Insightful! A Slashdot Trifecta!

Re:Select groups of users (2, Funny)

Hecatonchires (231908) | more than 4 years ago | (#28022497)

I didn't see a single reference to our new overlords, profit! _or_ goatse in that.

Re:Select groups of users (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28022633)

Modded funny, but they actually used to do this in the olden days.

Re:Select groups of users (1)

stephanruby (542433) | more than 4 years ago | (#28023053)

Nothing says like: "Don't cut my budget. I'll show you what happens if you cut my budget you f____s"

Agile and all that (3, Insightful)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 4 years ago | (#28022213)

What is cool about the Web is that it is the most Agile of all release environments. Unlike shrinkwrap software, web software can be changed very easily and universally for all users. It brings a raw edge to the development of the software.

In this, there is also the possibility of becoming complacent and ill-tuned to the needs of your users. Taking Google as an example, they keep their services in a perpetual state of beta, always in testing, never reaching a final v1. This type of reliance on constant feedback from customers may work for a short while, but unless the product reaches a state of relative stability (in terms of both not crashing and also not changing) the users will typically find some other software to use.

So when Microsoft decides to impact a few customers with degraded QoS, they may be setting themselves up for a bigger fall later. By introducing the possibility that MS may actively sabotage your user experience in the name of experimentation and testing, they degrade their own reputation (as much as it can be degraded from its current levels) and needlessly increase FUD regarding their proffered services.

It may be for a good cause, but customers should not be the ones testing Microsoft's software. As a professional software house, they should provide good quality control before software hits the servers. It doesn't matter if this is the age of Agile or not.

Re:Agile and all that (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28022265)

In this, there is also the possibility of becoming complacent and ill-tuned to the needs of your users. Taking Google as an example, they keep their services in a perpetual state of beta, always in testing, never reaching a final v1. This type of reliance on constant feedback from customers may work for a short while, but unless the product reaches a state of relative stability (in terms of both not crashing and also not changing) the users will typically find some other software to use.

You just disproved your own point.

Re:Agile and all that (4, Insightful)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 4 years ago | (#28022285)

Yep. Half a second delay is the end of the world. Age of Linux as SaaS...or whatever buzzwords are in play here.

I'm up for a good Microsoft rant any time, any place, but if a small batch of users have to take a performance hit to improve the experience in the end for all users, isn't that a positive thing? You can't really beta test this stuff. You can try running simulations, but nothing beats real world numbers.

Would we view this any different if Apple tried it? Google?

(Disclaimer: This is a logic exercise. In reality, I doubt there's actually much MS could and would do to their site to improve my experience using it.)

Re:Agile and all that (3, Interesting)

perryizgr8 (1370173) | more than 4 years ago | (#28022317)

i think google already does this. i read about a ui designer who left google. he said that google relied too much on experimental data for their colors and ui than his advice. for example, if they had to choose the color of the search button in youtube, dark blue or light blue. so for a day, each color would be tried. due to the sheer volume of clicks, they would be able to see patterns and then decide which color users are more likely to click on.
but the key difference here is that changing ui is nowhere as prolematic as reducing speed.

Re:Agile and all that (3, Funny)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 4 years ago | (#28022353)

if a small batch of users have to take a performance hit to improve the experience in the end for all users, isn't that a positive thing?

Didn't Jesus say "the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few"?

Re:Agile and all that (2, Funny)

RuBLed (995686) | more than 4 years ago | (#28022403)

Didn't Jesus say "the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few"?

You're right. You're absolutely right. Hey, that Bible sounds like kind of a good book.

Re:Agile and all that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28023601)

You're right. You're absolutely right. Hey, that Bible sounds like kind of a good book.

I think it's terribly overrated, of questionable moral value, full of meaningless violence, and it really celebrates superstition and ignorance. And worst of all, probably the worst writing style ever.

Re:Agile and all that (4, Insightful)

rishistar (662278) | more than 4 years ago | (#28022585)

I always thought that was Spock [youtube.com] .

Re:Agile and all that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28022863)

Are you claiming that Spock and Jesus are separate people? I don't have the spare room in my home shrine for both, and I need to keep Jobu around in case someone throws me a curveball.

Re:Agile and all that (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 4 years ago | (#28022875)

Are you trying to say that Jesus wouldn't want you to "Live long, and prosper"?

Re:Agile and all that (4, Insightful)

Fallen Seraph (808728) | more than 4 years ago | (#28022439)

In this, there is also the possibility of becoming complacent and ill-tuned to the needs of your users. Taking Google as an example, they keep their services in a perpetual state of beta, always in testing, never reaching a final v1. This type of reliance on constant feedback from customers may work for a short while, but unless the product reaches a state of relative stability (in terms of both not crashing and also not changing) the users will typically find some other software to use.

Yeah! I mean, take IE6 for example. That didn't change in a REALLY long time, and lots of people use it! That makes it good, right? [/sarcasm]

Your statement neglects quality. Yes, people want sites that're stable and don't crash, and yes, changing the design every week is bad and confusing, but improving on the design and function of a site is always a good thing, so long as you do so at intervals large enough for users to adjust to. The design of Gmail has only changed drastically two or three times in it's history design-wise, but they still consider it a Beta (depending on what you consider a drastic change, of course).

The issue is that Google, once simply a search engine, is now in the Web Services industry. The fact is, no matter what the label says, Gmail and many of their other apps are not in Beta, and haven't been in a long time. They're just hesitant to call it "v1" or something because that has a sense of finality, like customers shouldn't expect it to change very often. With the web, and Web Apps in particular, that's no longer really the case. They are often redesigned and redone to improve their performance, effectiveness, ease-of-use, and even aesthetics. You even point out yourself how agile the web is as an environment for releasing software. You neglect, though, that this keeps it interesting for the users as well, because they like the feeling that their product is continually being improved at no extra cost to them (unlike many shrink-wrapped software) (Note: When I say "extra cost," I mean in addition to any subscriptions they already have to the service, if any).

The "Beta" in Google's case is very much a marketing issue as much as it is a technical issue.

Re:Agile and all that (4, Informative)

x2A (858210) | more than 4 years ago | (#28023033)

"The "Beta" in Google's case is very much a marketing issue as much as it is a technical issue"

And perhaps a commitment issue, like people who stay engaged forever but never actually get married...

Re:Agile and all that (1)

GospelHead821 (466923) | more than 4 years ago | (#28022451)

It also bears considering that part of the experiment was to observe users' responses to the degraded service. A professional software house can control the quality of their software to to an arbitrary degree, for a cost. Understanding the marginal benefit of an additional "unit" of quality, however, requires them to characterize the users' response to software experiences of varying quality.

Re:Agile and all that (1)

venio-fide (1558441) | more than 4 years ago | (#28022509)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) on Wednesday May 20, @01:03AM (#28022213)---- "This type of reliance on constant feedback from customers may work for a short while, but unless the product reaches a state of relative stability (in terms of both not crashing and also not changing) the users will typically find some other software to use." ---- First, I'm not trying to start a fight, however, I disagree with that statement. I get bored very easily and I admire Google very much because they are continuously keeping me on point. P.S. No, I do not work for them.

Re:Agile and all that (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 4 years ago | (#28023595)

So when Microsoft decides to impact a few customers with degraded QoS, they may be setting themselves up for a bigger fall later.

I bet for most users they will just think it is their internet connection. So they will stop and try to reload the page, if it takes to long to load. But that gives Microsoft the information they need without really pissing off the users, as they will blame themselves, their computer, their wireless connection, their internet connection... They may blame Microsoft web service however if they load it up the next time and things go quickly then they don't know what caused the problem. Oddly enough this type of stuff happens everywhere not just the web, being the web is very agile as you said it allows it to happen at a quicker pace but it happens slower in other sectors.

Lets take a look at Macs. back in 2002 I got a PowerBook this thing was all Metal the only plastic was on the keyboard. 2006 I got myself a MacBook Pro There is much more plastic on this model. Now the new Models coming out now use Uni-Body construction witch are more metal again. But now without a User Replaceable battery and ugly black keyboard. Now The next model we may find a nicer keyboard or a user replaceable battery again.

Re:Agile and all that (1)

bobstreo (1320787) | more than 4 years ago | (#28023613)

Actually what they probably learned is my usual response.

If a page loads slowly once, it's ok. I mean really, it is ok, I may not be paying attention once.

If response time is consistently slow over a short amount of time I'll give up and go away and try later depending on how much I like/need the site/service.

If a site or service is slow or non-responsive all the time, I'll switch to some other site that offers the same service.

Re:Agile and all that (1)

jimmyswimmy (749153) | more than 4 years ago | (#28023697)

Rather than cool, I'd call this the worst thing about the "web". If you buy a brand new X (car, TV, toaster, etc.) and half its features are missing or broken, aren't you pissed? But it's okay for software. This mentality enables companies to save money on engineering and QA and pushes these costs onto their customers. It's BS...

Re:Agile and all that (1)

darthvader100 (1482651) | more than 4 years ago | (#28023725)

Why do you think companies provide free web services other than
1. Money from subscriptions
2. Money from adverts (Google)
3. Brand recognition (google moon)
4. Useful technical information

That is why google provides many of its free services. They can provide you with what the most searched item in any country/language/day is. They can tell you the most popular video on youtube(and what countries think of different videos) They even used to track where on the search button you clicked to help in its placement.

Defence Attorneys Copy Verbatim (-1, Troll)

gordguide (307383) | more than 4 years ago | (#28022235)

" ... But if it helps me make a good, strong business argument to make other changes that will improve the experience for all of my users, for all time to come, and it means that a small segment of users for a small period of time will experience what we think will likely be a negative thing but we're not sure, it was a test worth running. ..."

If anyone in Government said the same thing, it would be a huge, unequivocal assault on freedom (where users = citizens; negative thing = anything you can't legally do to prisoners; and test worth running = ongoing study).

As a corporation, though, it's good to go.

Re:Defence Attorneys Copy Verbatim (1)

x2A (858210) | more than 4 years ago | (#28023045)

Yeah, like, if instead of Microsoft, it was the government, and instead of delaying web pages for half a second, they delayed peoples access to oxygen for up to half a day, people would be outraged!! And yes, it totally is the same thing! What if, instead of just a few selected people, it was everyone who's ever been alive? Delayed oxygen for half a day? This is proof that Microsoft has killed billions of people.

Dumbass.

Re:Defence Attorneys Copy Verbatim (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28023773)

Yeah, like, if instead of Microsoft, it was the government, and instead of delaying web pages for half a second, they delayed peoples access to oxygen for up to half a day, people would be outraged!! And yes, it totally is the same thing! What if, instead of just a few selected people, it was everyone who's ever been alive? Delayed oxygen for half a day? This is proof that Microsoft has killed billions of people.

Dumbass.

How the hell do those 2 even compare?

One of the most often-targeted DDoS sites (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28022253)

Thanks for the reminder, it's already been a couple of hours since my last flood ping! Now if you excuse me...

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And pings to send before I sleep,
And pings to send before you sleep.

Re:One of the most often-targeted DDoS sites (4, Funny)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 4 years ago | (#28022283)

So you ping and then you sleep()? Not much of a flood ping really...

live search is still useless... (2, Funny)

perryizgr8 (1370173) | more than 4 years ago | (#28022291)

...compared to google.
but the home page of live search is great. so i open it everyday and just watch the picture.

Re:live search is still useless... (1)

x2A (858210) | more than 4 years ago | (#28023063)

Off topic comment re your sig:

For some reason, whenever I see the initials RMS, my brain translates it as "Root Me Silly".

Punch your customers in the face, selectively (5, Funny)

syousef (465911) | more than 4 years ago | (#28022365)

If I were running a fast food restaurant one of the first things it would make sense to do is pick groups of customer to punch in the face instead of giving them their order. It's all for a good cause. We want to know just how much abuse they'll take before they go down the road to the competition. That will help us figure out how good our food is. Now did you want a fries with that burger? *PUNCH* How about a *PUNCH* drink?

See how absurd it sounds?

Re:Punch your customers in the face, selectively (4, Funny)

lxs (131946) | more than 4 years ago | (#28022391)

Don't be so negative. They're simply migrating the Vista experience to the Cloud.

Re:Punch your customers in the face, selectively (4, Insightful)

totally bogus dude (1040246) | more than 4 years ago | (#28022609)

It sounds absurd because what you're saying is absurd.

If you ran an experiment where some customers had their orders delayed by a few minutes more than was necessary and had some kind of metric to determine their enjoyment of their dining experience, it wouldn't be so absurd. Perhaps you provide free internet access in your store, and the extra delay results in a greater chance of people making use of it. And once they've started using it, there's a greater chance they'll decide to order a coffee after their meal and stick around for a bit longer.

Or maybe you find they're less likely to return to the store. That might be hard to track, but the point stands. There are some things which are interesting and which may or may not give unexpected results when tried in real life. If an experiment like this shows that a few minutes delay significantly upsets customers, then it becomes clear that spending extra money to have more staff on is probably actually worth the expense. On the other hand if you can show that most people don't notice, then it makes sense to risk having a shortage of staff at peak periods if you can save a bit of money.

You might even find unexpected results, for example maybe a lot of people after waiting a few minutes with nothing to look at but the menu end up ordering more than they initially would, so it's actually profitable to make people wait longer. Who knows? The only way to find out is to experiment.

Re:Punch your customers in the face, selectively (5, Funny)

nEoN nOoDlE (27594) | more than 4 years ago | (#28022805)

Hey, who invited the logic guy to this Microsoft bashing thread?

Re:Punch your customers in the face, selectively (1)

JJJK (1029630) | more than 4 years ago | (#28022841)

The metric for something like that might be the really interesting part. For that microsoft project I'd try capturing keystrokes: if you encounter strings like "nhi h8hunigtizl978hkz8i", then the user is probably banging his head against the keyboard.

Re:Punch your customers in the face, selectively (1)

DrugCheese (266151) | more than 4 years ago | (#28022847)

When have you ever been to a restaurant and ordered food but wanted to wait longer then you should for it? Same question for the internet, do you ever click on a link and hope that it takes longer than what you expect?

No

That's totally bogus dude

Re:Punch your customers in the face, selectively (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 4 years ago | (#28022931)

Your post is 'totally bogus' because no one is suggesting the people being tested 'hope' for something in this regard.

The question is - how much of a delay causes the bulk of your customer base to walk away, and what mitigation factors can you put in place to keep them.

Re:Punch your customers in the face, selectively (1)

x2A (858210) | more than 4 years ago | (#28023097)

Half a second. You've spent more time complaining about it than those people waited for their page to load.

Just to put things into some kind of perspective.

Re:Punch your customers in the face, selectively (4, Interesting)

stephanruby (542433) | more than 4 years ago | (#28023007)

If you ran an experiment where some customers had their orders delayed by a few minutes more than was necessary and had some kind of metric to determine their enjoyment of their dining experience, it wouldn't be so absurd.

Sure, it wouldn't be so absurd, because we all know that a Microsoft Live results page is just like a nice burger, or a nice frothy Guiness getting poured ever slowly. The slower it takes, the better it usually is.

In fact, that should be Microsoft new marketing campaign: "At Microsoft Live, we make all our results from scratch and we don't pre-index anything. It does take a little bit longer, and we may not be the biggest search engine around, but that's just a sign we're focusing on delivering quality results -- not fast results."

Re:Punch your customers in the face, selectively (1, Troll)

Facegarden (967477) | more than 4 years ago | (#28022791)

If I were running a fast food restaurant one of the first things it would make sense to do is pick groups of customer to punch in the face instead of giving them their order. It's all for a good cause. We want to know just how much abuse they'll take before they go down the road to the competition. That will help us figure out how good our food is. Now did you want a fries with that burger? *PUNCH* How about a *PUNCH* drink?

See how absurd it sounds?

That's just fucking ridiculous. Do you really feel similarly violated when a page loads 500mS slower versus someone punching you in the face?

If so, then wake the fuck up. It's a pretty interesting problem to determine how fast is "fast enough" for a page to load and I don't blame them.

Imagine google.com could load ten times faster than it currently does, but would increase their operating costs by ten times. I would bet that no one suggests that it would be worth it, so why is it so unreasonable to investigate the opposite?

Think before you type. You may be modded funny, but to me, that's only because there isn't a "douchebag" mod.
-Taylor

Re:Punch your customers in the face, selectively (2, Insightful)

x2A (858210) | more than 4 years ago | (#28023107)

"You may be modded funny, but to me, that's only because there isn't a "douchebag" mod"

I think the funny mod can actually be used defensively... when somebody says something, and they might be completely serious, but it's blatently obvious that it shouldn't be taken seriously, a +1 funny mod can help to set the context of which it is read :-)

Since when? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28022373)

Wait, Microsoft has a website? Since when?

Vista (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28022383)

I think they have been doing same with Vista.

Eh?? (1)

2fuf (993808) | more than 4 years ago | (#28022429)

some of Microsoft's highest-volume sites, including the home page

Why go to the Microsoft home page?

Alkamai? (2, Interesting)

CAIMLAS (41445) | more than 4 years ago | (#28022431)

Uh, doesn't all of MS's servers get fronted by Alkamai systems (running Linux) to distribute the load and help mitigate DDoS attacks?

Re:Alkamai? (4, Informative)

Phroggy (441) | more than 4 years ago | (#28022487)

There's no L in Akamai, but yes, Akamai mirrors the static content, such as images. However, dynamic content such as search results are still served by Microsoft.

DDoS (1)

jonnyt886 (1252670) | more than 4 years ago | (#28022437)

> He also talks about what it's like to be one of the most often-targeted DDoS sites on the planet.

Microsoft.com is a DDoS site? I knew it! All this time they have secretly been DDoSing their competitors and customers alike to achieve world dominance.

Windows 7 RC download (0, Offtopic)

CAIMLAS (41445) | more than 4 years ago | (#28022445)

A week or so ago I tried to download the Windows 7 RC. I tried to get the x64 and x32 version, both from within Firefox. 3.0 on Linux (x64 Ubuntu). Neither would actually start the download.

At the time, I was wondering if they were throttling or somehow inhibiting me from downloading, intentionally. The little spinning pie kept spinning, and nothing happened; no data was being sent or received, according to wireshark - it was just an irritating graphic to keep me occupied. Now I'm wondering again if it was intentional.

Re:Windows 7 RC download (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28022475)

You get the award for the most paranoid person on /.

Move along, nothing to see here (2, Insightful)

chrylis (262281) | more than 4 years ago | (#28022527)

Passing on the low-hanging fruit, it seems to me that this is pretty much exactly the kind of thing that happens all the time at the packet layer. WRED, for example, selectively drops packets even when buffers aren't full and the network is still theoretically operating under capacity so that the next TCP connection doesn't bring down the uplink. How is the Microsoft strategy qualitatively different?

Re:Move along, nothing to see here (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 4 years ago | (#28022903)

It's Microsoft that's doing it, and that means that it is filled with the evil of Beelzibub and Xenu!

Re:Move along, nothing to see here (1)

chrylis (262281) | more than 4 years ago | (#28023187)

Xenu I'll take as a given. I'll need some evidence for Beelzebub's involvement.

cops say legalize drugs - leap.cc (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28022647)

"Veteran Ill. sheriff accused of trafficking pot

By JIM SUHR

ST. LOUIS (AP) Sheriff Raymond M. Martin has been the law for nearly 20 years in a struggling southern Illinois county. But federal prosecutors say he's been breaking it lately by peddling pounds of pot, some seized by his own department, often in uniform and from his patrol vehicle.

Authorities on Monday led away a handcuffed Martin, 46, from his small Shawneetown office after his arrest on federal drug trafficking charges accusing him of supplying a dealer he threatened to kill when that man said he wanted out. The Gallatin County sheriff also allegedly pledged to use his authority to shut down rival drug traffickers.

"It's almost beyond belief," said Doug Maier, the sheriff in neighboring White County. Maier called Martin "a pretty low-key guy."

He continued, "Obviously, there was a different side that I've never observed."

Martin was jailed pending a Wednesday detention hearing on three counts of marijuana distribution and two counts of carrying a firearm, his service weapon, while trafficking drugs. He could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

A woman who answered his home telephone refused to comment, and Martin's court-appointed public defender did not immediately return messages.

Martin's job status was unclear Tuesday. Calls to Gallatin County Chairman Randy Drone rang unanswered, while calls to the sheriff's department rolled over to a neighboring dispatch center, which regularly answers calls when no deputies are in Martin's office. No one would say the exact size of Martin's department, other than to say it's small.

Martin's popularity in the county surrounding Shawneetown boasting little more than a courthouse, a couple of convenience stores and Rudy's barbecue restaurant swept the Democrat to re-election four times since he took office in 1990.

A criminal complaint accuses him of distributing more than two pounds of marijuana between April 27 and May 11. But an affidavit by Glenn Rountree, an investigator with the Drug Enforcement Administration, suggests Martin's dealings were many times that total.

In a blow-by-blow account painting a picture of a good cop gone bad, Rountree wrote that Martin hatched a marijuana-dealing scheme in November with the drug dealer who later got cold feet.

At that time, Martin handed the dealer, unidentified in court papers, two pounds of pot and asked if the man could "get rid of that" for the sheriff, who promised he'd use his power to protect him if he ever got caught selling. If the dealer didn't comply, Rountree wrote, Martin said he could "make up" a crime against him.

From then until early last month, Martin brought 1- or 2-pound amounts of marijuana on average once every couple of weeks to a rural, secluded meeting spot, Rountree wrote. But the sheriff twice brought 10 pounds and brought 20 pounds another time, according to the affidavit.

The meetings between the two were arranged by cell phone, with the dealer using vague code words Martin supplied to confuse possible eavesdroppers, including investigators, Rountree wrote.

The dealer grew unsettled over time and wanted out, but Martin would have none of that, Rountree wrote. At least twice, the sheriff pulled his service revolver and insisted emphatically to the dealer that making him "disappear" would be "that easy," according to the affidavit.

Rountree suggested the twitchy dealer went to investigators April 9. Over the next several weeks, authorities taped the dealer's conversations with Martin and tracked the sheriff's county-issued Ford Expedition.

At least once, Rountree alleged, the sheriff gave the informant marijuana seeds, saying he could pare his debt to the sheriff by growing pot plants for him.

And the sheriff dispensed advice, cautioning the man that it'd be "silly" for the dealer to get drunk or use pills and "mess it up" because "we got a good thing going."

"(You) won't even have to work and stuff," Rountree said Martin once told the snitch.

Such profit could be particularly attractive in Gallatin County, where the population has slowly eroded in recent decades as many of the region's coal mines closed. Its 9 percent unemployment rate is typical in the region. The median household income, according to 2000 Census Bureau figures, is $26,118.

Martin's county salary was not immediately available, but he received his $6,500 annual stipend from the state this month.

The area received statewide attention in 2005, when a story by the (Arlington Heights) Daily Herald noted that the tiny county with little violent crime was getting more homeland security funding per person more than $300,000 than any other in Illinois.

The article noted Martin spent "most days battling a thriving methamphetamine trade."

Allegations that Martin himself was dabbling in drugs left locals rattled, in many cases leaving them publicly reticent Tuesday. Still, many there remained in Martin's camp.

"I thought the world of that boy," said Roberta Tarrence, a 78-year-old widow with a quilting business near the county courthouse. "I've known him all of his life, and I know he was a good sheriff."

Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved."

Significance? (0, Flamebait)

Clairvoyant (137586) | more than 4 years ago | (#28022665)

...the data moved to significance extremely quickly

How are they to judge what's significant? Looking at their OS, they haven't got a clue!

I wish they would do this with their desktop apps (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28022673)

What a surprise, users are disrupted when they have to wait for a UI to respond.

Now if only they could inform the Visual Studio team, which keeps shipping crappy IDEs that take seconds to MINUTES to respond to certain operations.

Blank page? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28022801)

In IE (I need IE for some corporate intranet and extranet apps), I have set my home page to 'about:blank' and even then it takes some time to load. I have no idea why IE insists on showing me the message 'Connecting...' while loading my blank homepage. Shouldn't it come up instantly?

I submit to you (4, Funny)

ghjm (8918) | more than 4 years ago | (#28022851)

a web page more useless than a blank page.

http://havenworks.com/ [havenworks.com]

Thank you, and good night.

Re:I submit to you (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28022911)

I'd like to mod you both "flamebait" and "informative" at the same time, but I can't. Sorry.

Re:I submit to you (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 4 years ago | (#28022919)

Gaaaaaaaaah!

I think I just caught colour blindness.

Re:I submit to you (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28023295)

We had to evaluate that website for one of our IT units. In a room full of computers, all with that hideous monstrosity on the screen... where do you turn to?!

I turned to alcohol. I can still see the site, I just don't care any more. :)

Slashdot is awfully slow (0, Offtopic)

xof (518138) | more than 4 years ago | (#28022885)

I don't know what it is (I still use Firefox 1.5 on an old Ubuntu 6.06 (Dapper Drake) and /. is so slow that I hesitate to visit it. (There is always a busy script I have to stop, GoogleAds or something takes an eternity to load; not to speak about the FLASH adds... Unfortunately, RSS does not help as it is so full of advertizing that the text is difficult to find. I thing I will ditch Slashdot and digg elsewhere.

useless blank pages? (1)

neonsignal (890658) | more than 4 years ago | (#28022897)

I'd rather an empty page than a .net trojan.

Anyway, a blank [comsci.us] html page is quite meditative, in a zen sort of way. I think we need more of them.

Focus Groups? (1)

PhotoGuy (189467) | more than 4 years ago | (#28022953)

Isn't this type of study best suited for a properly designed and executed "focus group." It's surely the more appropriate way to do user testing.

Experimenting with web site delays on live users is akin to inappropriately releasing an operating system before it's ready for prime time, and letting the users suffer by finding and reporting the bugs. Oh, wait...

(Also, I'm sure MS has enough sections to their web properties, and enough traffic, and enough existing delays, that they could analyze their existing data to determine where delays are distracting or frustrating users.)

This is why I don't read Slashdot anymore... (0, Offtopic)

Nyxeh (701219) | more than 4 years ago | (#28023375)

It's become the Internets equivelant of Fox News. Accolades, comments and opinions are not based on ideas or content, they are instead based on the company suggesting them and the party line. It's just a fanboy echo-chamber hell bent on promoting an agenda, with the whole concept of discussing an idea or product based on merit being entirely alien.

With the advances in computer technology and ..... (1)

3seas (184403) | more than 4 years ago | (#28023631)

...software... in ten years time computers will be ten times faster and programs will be ten times larger and it will take the user ten times longer to do anything.....

Whats the article really about, if not how to cook a frog and how to determine the rate of turning up the heat.

Key Performance Indicators (1)

teuluPaul (731293) | more than 4 years ago | (#28023675)

If I understand the activity carried out correctly, he is working to grasp where to work on the site to improve its impact and delivery. Deciding to prioritise one aspect over another based on hunch would be difficult, but by carrying out some trials the data collected can support the decision. I'm no Microsoft fan, but that doesn't mean everything that comes out of Redmond needs te be wrong :-).
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