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Moraelin writes | more than 5 years ago
(With apologies to the brothes Grimm.)
There was once a man who was a Jack-of-all-trades; he had served in the war, and
had been brave and bold, but at the end of it he was sent about his business,
with three farthings and his discharge.
"I am not going to stand this," said he; "wait till I find the right man to help
me, and the king shall give me all the treasures of his kingdom before he has
done with me."
Then, full of wrath he went along the road and came to a huntsman who was
kneeling on one knee and taking careful aim with his musket.
"Huntsman," said the leader, "what are you aiming at?"
"Two miles from here," answered he, "there sits a fly on the bough of an
oak-tree, I mean to put a bullet into its left eye."
"Oh, come along with me," said the leader; "the two of us together can stand
against the world."
The huntsman was quite willing to go with him, and so they went on till they
came to a man standing on one leg, and the other had been taken off and was
lying near him.
"You seem to have got a handy way of resting yourself," said the leader to the
"I am a runner," answered he, "and in order to keep myself from going too fast I
have taken off a leg, for when I run with both, I go faster than a bird can
"Oh, go with me," cried the leader, "three of us together may well stand against
And to make the long story short, he went and gathered a few more companions,
each with a grander claim to some super-ability than the others.
Meanwhile, the old king had tried to persuade his daughter to marry the young
and respected son of a duke, for he had no sons and was thinking that the future
duke might once make a good king too. Unfortunately the young
princess had read a few books too many, and was fond of imagining herself as quite the real
Amazon. She demanded of her father that if any man is to win her hand, he
must best her in a contest of speed, endurance and military skill, like some
ancient queen was said to have chosen her husband. And any man entering the
contest must be willing to bet his very life on the outcome.
Now the king was fairly open minded for that age, and more than willing to admit
that some women could make fine warriors. His people were still remembering the
fierce shieldmaidens of the northmen, for example. But his daughter had always
been a sickly bookworm, always short of breath, and also a little on the chubby
side. The thought of her besting a trained knight was too much.
Wisely, the king said he'll go to his room to think about it, and laughed
himself nearly to death into the pillow.
Still, he figured out that it's simpler than arguing with his daughter. So he
agreed to send the town cryer to proclaim the decision. Secretly, he also sent
a runner to the duke, urging him to send his son with the swiftest horse to
enter the contest he cannot possibly lose.
Unfortunately for the duke's son, the ex-mercenary and his merry band were just
entering to city as the cryer proclaimed the news. Thinking that with the help
of his marvelous companions he cannot lose, he went straight to the king and
asked to be tested against the princess.
The king was taken aback by the audacity of a common man to ask to marry a
princess, but he realized that his announcement hadn't actually mentioned any
restrictions. Fancying himself a man of great honesty and honour, the king agreed to
keep his word and let him try, and sent for the princess to decide the test. She chose a race to
a far away well, and the first who would make it back with a pitcher full of
water would win.
"Easier than I expected," thought our ex-mercenary. "My runner will surely best
any man or woman in the land." And asking for a little time to prepare, he went
and asked his man with a detachable leg to dress in his clothes and run the race
in his stead.
So the court gathered to watch, and at the blow of a horn the two competitors
were off... much to the amusement of everyone present. The princess was soon
panting and tripping over her long skirt, and making very poor progress.
Unfortunately, her opponent was making even poorer progress, limping and cursing
and dragging a leg behind him.
By evening, the race was over, with the princess handing her father the pitcher
a good ten minutes before her opponent.
The ex-mercenary was aghast, He went to the man with the detachable leg and
started screaming at him, "What was that all about?! What did you think you were
doing?! Why didn't you run faster than a bird, like you said you would?!"
"Dude, " said the other man to his defense, "I thought you were kidding and I
answered in kind. Haven't you seen a wooden leg before? I lost my real leg
to a cannonball at the siege of Altdorf."
The conversation would have continued longer, but a squad of the king's guards
showed up and took our depressed ex-mercenary to the king.
"Son, " said the king, "I figure you've lost fair and square, and it's only fair
that you keep your end of the bargain. You have until morning to make your peace with
God, assisted by the castle's priest. But since I like your courage, you shall
not hang like a common rogue. You shall be beheaded at dawn, by sword, like a
knight or noble would."
"No, father, wait!" intervened the princess who, truth be told, was starting
to find the man more handsome than the groom her father had chosen for her.
"This man has shown great valour in taking the challenge. Should we not give him
a second chance?"
The king rolled that thought around in his head for a bit, then spoke, "That is
very chivalrous of you, my daughter, and it would hardly be befitting me
to stand in the way of such chivalry. Fine. Choose your next challenge, then, and tomorrow
he shall face you again for his life."
This time the princess chose a contest of archery. Our hero politely inquired
if he may use a gun, saying that it was a more familiar weapon to him. The
princess agreed. With that, the king called the meeting over, and asked the
guards to lead the man and his companions to a guest room in the palace.
So this time the ex-mercenary asked his hunter companion to dress like him and
go in his stead the next day.
The next day, two large targets were set at a hundred paces away. The two contestants
were given a dozen arrows and respectively a dozen bullets, and told to start
Again the princess did rather poorly, only now occuring to her that
reading about ancient Scythian archer women didn't actually count as archery
training. Only half of her arrows hit the target at all, and none of
them went even close to the bullseye.
Unfortunately our hero's sharpshooter did even worse, with barely two of his
shots even touching the target. As the court jester remarked, he did at least
get one bull's eye. He actually shot the eye of a bull across the road to the right,
dropping him dead on the spot. But since it wasn't on his target, it didn't
Again, our ex-mercenary was shocked and he went to berate his huntsman, "What in
the Lord's name was that all about?! Didn't you say you could hit a fly in the eye
from two miles away?! How could you miss a five foot wide target at a hundred
paces?! I could have shot a higher score myself than you and that tomboy put
"To be honest, " the hunter answered, staring at his own shoes, "that was a
joke, and it never occured to me that anyone would take it seriously. I mean,
really," he continued as he showed his gun, "this is a smoothbore musket.
You said you were in the army, for crying out loud. Two miles? It can't even
shoot a ball past two hundred paces. Even at one hundred, as my old captain
used to say, the only way to hit a man is if you aimed at another man."
And as the guards were taking him first to the king, and then to the place of
his execution, it occured to our hero that maybe he should have tested his
employees instead of simply believing any wild claim.
One day an Ass put on a Lion's skin and proceeded to amuse himself by taking a stroll through the woods, trying to scare all animals he encountered. He brayed at a Wolf in what he thought to be a good enough imitation of a lion's roar, and the Wolf ran away into the bush. He did the same to a Monkey, and the monkey too ran up into a tree. The Ass was proud of himself. At long last he saw a Fox, and proceeded to do his best imitation of a lion's roar at him too.
The Fox however was a lot less than impressed, and answered, "Ho ho ho, if it isn't an ass trying to look important. Congratulations, though, I almost took you seriously until you opened your mouth."
Not minding the Ass's dejected looks much, the Fox continued, "But seriously, don't you have something else to do or someone else to bother? I've worked 60 hours this week so far, and it's only Friday _morning_, and, frankly, I have neither the time nor the mood to entertain you guys." And the Fox trotted along, ignoring the Ass.
The Ass was now depressed and he went to the side to munch on some leaves, and he started drawing doodles in the dirt with a hoof to pass the time and take his mind off the brutal rejection he had just received. He ate and he doodled, but somehow he just couldn't take his mind off it.
Suddenly he heard a voice nearby, "Ah, finally someone with some fashion sense. I was starting to think it's a lost cause..." As the startled Ass rose his eyes, he saw an impressively tall Lion in front of him, eyeing him and his doodles in the dirt.
"I'm toast," thought the Ass, "there's no way a Lion would mistake me for the real thing."
So, in desperation, the Ass started to bray at him. "Syyynergy!" He brayed. "Leverage! TCO! Customer-centric! Industry best-practices!"
"Ah, " brayed the new 'Lion' right back, in the best donkey language, "so you speak management too. This day is looking brighter already. Between you and me, the other candidates are a joke. Have you seen what they wear to an interview? By the way, you _are_ here about the job opening, right?"
"Huh? What job?," replied the bewildered Ass.
"Well, to keep the story short," brayed the 'Lion', "I used to be the manager of this forest clearing, but they promoted me, so now I have to find a replacement. And Tim here," said the 'Lion' pointing to yet another Ass dressed in a lion skin, "is our HR representative. He'll help me pick a good candidate. I guess you haven't sent in a CV either, since you're not here for the interview, but I guess we could bend the rules a bit if you want to take part anyway."
"Uh, ok..." answered the Ass, still not entirely sure what he's walked into.
"I see you brought a sample of your work too," continued the 'Lion', pointing a hoof at the doodles in the dirt. "Nice flowchart. What is it of?"
"Oh, that," grinned the Ass, "nothing in particular. I was just thinking of food, mostly."
"And you drew a good hundred square metres of flowchart just about that? I'm impressed. Reminds me of some of my best work: the corporate regulation and flowchart of how to piss. Admittedly, it was mostly to annoy the Wolf, but I digress. Well, I can't make a definitive commitment yet, so this is strictly off record and non-binding, but I think your chances are good. We'll call you later if we decide to hire you."
In the interest of fanboys and zealots everywhere, and to spare them the minimal thinking effort, I propose the following form. All the options are genuine from genuine posts encountered on the Internet in the last decade. The wording may not be the original, but the spirit hasn't been altered at all.
You are a liar, and the feature/bug (cross out the one that doesn't apply) you talk about doesn't even exist, because:
 I haven't personally seen it happen, therefore it doesn't exist.  It only happens once every 1-2 hours on my computer. (But that won't stop me from both it doesn't exist.) ... and even that is my fault. (But that won't stop me from pretending that I'm an expert on what to do on your computer.)  Nobody told me about it.  It only seems to happen to a couple (of hundreds) of whiners.  "Everyone" knows it's not true.  "Everyone" knows it can't be true for programs made by _______________ (insert company.)  I once worked as Level 1 tech support at an ISP, and had to deal with your kind of idiots every day.
You're only claiming that because you're:
 paid by _______________ (insert same, or competitor company) to post that  brainwashed by __________________ (insert same, or competitor company)  not elite enough to like the right stuff, let me tell you what your tastes should be.  a liar.  a troll.  in denial.  against innovation.  having mental problems that you confuse for having different tastes than I do.  too stupid to use a computer.
The problems you encountered -- and which I still claim that it doesn't exist -- are your own damned fault, and can be solved by:
 defragging your computer. (Race conditions and crashes just appear out of nowhere, if you forget to defrag your computer.)  activating AA in your drivers. (AA solves rendering artefacts. Broken graphics and glitches are called artefacts too. You do the maths.)  buying a new quad-core triple-SLI compressor-cooled overclocked computer. (What do you mean your config matches the recommended specs? If you don't have a computer that cost $5000, you shouldn't be playing games at all.)  replacing your motherboard with a compatible one.  turning off your firewall and/or antivirus.  rebooting your computer. (As any Level 1 tech support guy knows, that's the miracle cure for everything.)  learning to play the damned game. (Yes, falling through the ground is just because you're a noob.)  stopping being so lame as to do or like other things in a game than I do.  saving every 5 minutes in a different slot.  using the cheats / external trainer programs. (Hey, it's already playable with that cheat, so stop asking to fix the game.)  stopping posting about it! If people find out that the game sucks, there won't be enough players to make mods that fix it!  introspection and realizing that only your mental problems and personality deffects prevent you from seeing things exactly my way.  packing your computer in the original carton, taking it back to the shop, and telling them that you're too fucking stupid to own a computer.
I am an authoritative source on the subject because:
 I have used the program for few minutes. ... on a friend's computer.  I have installed it on a computer.  Although I haven't yet, I plan to use the program in the future. ... and I have a good feeling about it.  I have read about it in another thread.  A couple of people have aggreed with me before.  I know that _______________ (insert company) would never do that.  My user id is lower.  I have a gazillion of level 70 characters! On every server!  I was in the beta! (But somehow it's just not recorded anywhere.)  I could pwn your sorry ass in the game.  I could beat you up IRL.  My dad probably makes more money than yours.  I once worked as Level 1 tech-support for an ISP, and that makes me the expert on all software, hardware and users.
Furthermore, I'd like to state that:
 you're a liar.  you're a noob.  I'm going to mod you down in other threads for disaggreeing with me.  someone should mod you down in this thread too, for disaggreeing with me.  you'll only have the right to criticize it, when you can make a better program.  if you don't like it, fix it yourself.  you're too damn impatient. It will rule after they patch it and/or people make mods that fix it.  it's people like you who are the problem with society today.  you're living proof of what's wrong with education today.  we need a goddamn IQ test before letting idiots like you use a computer.  you mis-spelled "math" as "maths", therefore you're stupid and uneducated, and nobody should listen to your opinion.  I don't even understand what your problem is. Learn to write more than a paragraph, noob.  nobody has time to read a whole page about where the bug happens. If you can't say it in 1 sentence or less, it's not worth reading.  people should just respect and listen to us who've earned our expertise in Level 1 tech support.
There was once a slave born in Phrygia in Asia Minor, named Aesop. He wasn't particularly handsome or strong, but he had a particularly remarkable wit. One day, when the caravan and its slaves were leaving for Ephesus, the slave driver divided the burdens into rather unequal shares, and let each slave pick his. Aesop picked the heaviest burden of them all, a large bread basket, about twice as heavy as anything else there. The other slaves called him a fool for it, but Aesop knew that he'd have the last laugh. For, you see, the bread was used to feed the slaves and by the end of the very first day, Aesop had nothing to carry except an empty basket.
He was pretty proud of its wit.
On the third day, the team leader... err... slave driver called a meeting and announced that the caravan owner wasn't satisfied with their progress, and they'd be late in reaching their goal (Ephesus) at this rate. So the tasks would have to be re-evaluated, to match each team member's strengths.
Aesop was given half of Wally's share, who was already limping under the load of four papyrus scrolls, about half a pound each, with prayers for the Temple of Aphrodite in Ephesus. So two of them were dumped into Aesop's empty basket. "Well, that's still not too bad," thought Aesop.
The next day, a couple more slaves complained that they can't keep up the pace, and Aesop got half of their share too. One more day, and he was back to his original load. When trying to complain to the slave driver, Aesop was reminded that he's already shown off his strength, and it's only normal to use each resource to its fullest. As a consolation, he was also given a few canned motivational slogans, like "There's no I in team", which only managed to insult Aesop's intellect.
By the end of the week, Aesop was not just tired, but also hungry. All the energy for carrying that heavy basket had to come from somewhere, and he was already at the limit of his body's reserves. Aesop went to ask the slave driver for a raise in his rations, but was told he should be thankful to still have this job.
"We could use slaves from India instead of you!," he was told, "They carry twice the load for half the rations."
"So what are you going to do, then? Free me?"
"Well, no," said the slave driver, "you're still a slave, you still have to work for your bread one way or another. And you've signed a non-compete clause, so you're not going to work for a caravan any time soon. But we could sell you to a tin mine or to an asbestos weaving shop. I hear they have a life expectancy shorter than a mouse in the temple of Bastet in Bubastis."
Aesop doubted that anyone can carry twice the load for half the rations, but went back to hauling the basket. By the time they reached Ephesus, Aesop was looking disturbingly like a walking skeleton, but they made it in time. The caravan owner and the slave driver gave themselves a bonus for the good job, while the slaves were told again that they should be happy to still have their jobs. Still, they had the rest of the day off.
By the start of the next day, the caravan was assembled to leave again for the next town, this time a nearby town. While the others got their loads, Aesop was taken aside and told the good news that for his performance on this project, he's getting a raise of half a slice of bread a day. Then he was given a large empty sack and a shovel and told to fill it with sand. That would be his load for this trip.
"You've got to be kidding!" said Aesop, "Do they really need sand over there?"
"Well, no, not really," answered the slave driver, "See, they're on a beach anyway. But we'll only make the big trip to Ephesus again next year, and I have to somehow justify keeping the team until then. Otherwise the corporate rules say I'd have to get rid of you here, and get someone else next year. So we'll have to make up some work, so you can still get paid. Well, or at least fed."
Aesop rolled that around a bit in his head, but somehow "at least I get fed" failed to reduce the sting of the fact that he was doing something purely useless and fake.
"Can I at least fill it with leaves or grass, then? I mean, it's not like anyone actually needs the sand."
"I'd love to let you do that," shrugged the slave driver, "but, see, we're paid by the kilo. Plus, I couldn't justify keeping someone with your abilities around, if you'd actually have less workload than someone cheaper."
A couple of years go by like that, and Aesop is starting to look pretty muscular by now, if rather thin. He's even up to two extra slices of bread per day, which isn't bad by slave standards. Or wouldn't be if the workload hadn't doubled in the meantime too.
The team is assembling in Ephesus to pick their burdens, and Aesop is already reaching for his usual shovel and the two empty sacks. As I was saying, the load had increased in the meantime. As he's picking the shovel up, the slave driver approaches Aesop. He's accompanied by two hoplites from the caravan's guard.
"I'm sorry, Aesop, but I'm affraid I'll have to let you go. Sorry. Rest assured it's nothing personal, it's just business."
"You mean, as in, go free?" a broad hopeful grin widens on Aesop's face.
"Well, no," the slave driver shakes his head, "you're still a slave, you still have to work for your bread, and we still have a duty to make the most money out of you one way or another. But we sold you to some guys from Etruria who needed a gladiator. When they saw your muscles, it was an easy sell. Said something about needing a match for some slave from Gaul called 'The Ripper.' Our security people here will accompany you out."
"But... why?" stutters a shocked Aesop. "Have I not been your best slave? Have I not hauled loads that nobody except a mule or Hercules himself could have hauled?"
"Try to understand, Aesop, it really is just business." answers the slave driver. "You also eat more than any other slave, and we have a fiduciary duty to make money for the shareholders. It adds up, and the market is tough. We don't make as much per transport. Management has already promised to reduce costs by firing the most expensive personnel and replace them with cheaper slaves from India. Which reminds me, before you leave, show that new Indian guy where you usually get sand from."
Guess all I've been trying to say all along, sometimes in rather trollish terms, is that the real world isn't made of good-vs-evil, black-vs-white. My world has no pure immaculate white, and no pure light-sucking black.
Both extremes are just that: extremes. They're something to be feared, rather than something to seek. (If nothing else, seeked as something to reduce everything to.) And most people do fear them.
The real world is nothing like "Microsoft=EVIL vs SUN=GOOD", nor viceversa. It's not like "Windows=EVIL vs Linux=GOOD" either. Nor viceversa. And it's not like "Government=EVIL vs Pure Anarchy=GOOD". Same thing about corporations.
The real world is a lot more complicated, and a lot less comfortable than those simplifications.
There are plenty of good sides to choosing Solaris or Linux for your desktop or server, but then there also are plenty of damn good reasons to choose Windows. Either choice won't be 100% perfect, but rather a compromise. Either choice won't be 100% universal either: what worked for you, may not work at all for someone else. Etc.
Same about the corporations themselves. If you look at the history of computing, whoever was losing always wanted open standards. Whoever was winning, always wanted proprietary and preferrably patented stuff to lock the customers in.
Sun, IBM, Novell, etc, were all once in the same position where Microsoft is now: trying to lock the customers into one single vendor for upgrades, and into fundamentally incompatible formats and interfaces. That's how the Unix fragmentation happened, if you didn't know that already. (And that's what paved the way for Microsoft to win, incidentally.)
There are no villains and heroes. Just a bunch of greedy people trying to make a buck. Your buck.
Right now, pumping resources into Linux and promoting open standards is their best weapon. But if either of them got back on top, they'd do the same thing all over again.
Either way, remember if you still just feel a need to be a zealot for a multi-billion dolar corporation's interests, at least do yourself and it a service: don't sound like an extremist. Try to at least _look_ aware that the real world is made of shades of grey.
And try to at least look like you care about someone's actual problem, not like a rebel on a holy jihad. Your bosses might listen to a business plan where Linux will save them this much money. They will _not_ however listen to foaming at the mouth about how MS is pure evil and needs to be uninstalled from all computers, at all costs.
Try also to at least look like you've actually taken everything into account. Blowing one single problem out of proportion ("but Windows has viruses!"), and obviously avoiding all else (e.g., the cost to retrain everyone to use Linux), you've lost their attention. Or mine.
Again: a real solution is always the best compromise, among a bunch of crappy compromises. If yours is a clear cut case of 100% good vs 100% evil, you've just told everyone that you didn't do a real analysis. You might as well wear a "I'm not giving you a solution to your problem, I'm giving you a dogma" sign, because that's what everyone will understand.
The more I read Slashdot and other IT sites (e.g., www.theregister.co.uk), the more I'm starting to doubt that it's got anything to do with either technology or journalism. It's pretty much a case where you can predict that any article will be just an excuse to rehash one or more of the following fashionable black-vs-white prejudices. Just because it's fashionable to do so.
1. Microsoft = EVIL, IBM = GOOD, Intel = EVIL, Sun = GOOD, Apple = GOOD, etc. Clear cut cases of super-heroes vs super-villains. (It doesn't matter what MS does. Even if we're talking about offering a compiler for free, it's inherently evil just because it's MS, and it's fashionable to be Anti-MS. Conversely it doesn't really matter what Sun does, and how it never offered more than hot air to support its occasional "We love F/OSS" fits. It's good just because it's foaming at the mouth against MS and Intel.)
2. Any corporation is inherently an incarnation of the Supreme Evil (TM). Unless, of course, it happens to be fighting against MS or Intel, in which case the exact same behaviour now counts as Lawful Good.
3. Anyone who dares question the Good Anti-MS corporations in any way (e.g., a stock analyst daring to say that Sun's cancelling every single CPU it was supposed to release in the next 3 years doesn't exactly inspire confidence to buy Sun stock) is automatically (A) A loonie, (B) a retarded drooling user running pirated MS software, (C) a MS fanboy, (D) paid by MS to spread FUD, or, of course, (E) all the above.
4. Your bugs suck, while ours smell sweet and never cause any harm. That the Opera browser I'm writing this in crashes by itself every couple of hours, is of course benign, and shouldn't keep anyone from thinking that it's a great browser. But if IE has some obscure bug in all that pile of code, it's time to gather a proper medieval angry mob, with pitchforks and torches. And call every IE user an idiot, while we're at it.
Corolary: having to update our favourite non-MS programs (e.g., Mozilla or Opera) every 2 weeks against bugs, is just normal and benign, and only idiots don't have the latest version already anyway. Having to download an update to IE 4.5 (or God forbid actually upgrade to IE 6) is an outrage, and someone should kill MS for that.
5. Noone should be allowed to keep me from stealing their work. It doesn't matter if it's music or algorithms. (See the endless foaming at the mouth about algorithm patents.) The fashionable IT whore should never have to pay for anything ever. If you worked to produce something, I should be legally allowed and encouraged to just come over and help myself.
6. Nothing should change, ever. Doubly so if, God forbid, it requires one to learn new skills. Not only we should all still be using a command line, but we should probably still all be programming in COBOL on punched cards.
Corolary: everyone who did learn new skills is to be ridiculed and called names.
Wake up people. Reality isn't as simple and clear cut as Superman comics or Star Wars movies. There are no super-heroes or Paladins in shiny armour, and there are no super-villains cackling manically over death-ray blueprints.
If you've read my posts, you may have noticed I'm not quite anti-Microsoft. Let me explain.
I think the computer is a tool. Its worth is no more, and no less, than what programs you run on it and what data you have on it.
Linux has come a long way since I have first used it. It came on a stack of 5" floppies back then. No doubt there. I even installed it on my workstation at work nowadays.
It's not even the only non-MS operating system I've used. Before my rabid Linux zealot days (yeah, hard to believe, but I was one, roughly between 1999 and 2001), I used to be a rabid IBM OS/2 zealot. That wasn't my first non-MS OS either. I've used GEM, CP/M, and a few others before that.
But for what I use my computer at home, and especially for games, I find MS Windows to be a better choice at the moment. Or an easier choice. It's easier to just run something in Windows, especially since I do have a license for it anyway, than to try to make it run in Wine or Wine/X.
Also from my experience it's _far_ easier to tell Joe Average how to run something in Windows, than to educate him in the finer points of Unix administration. You also don't end up explaining stuff like "why isn't my new card supported" or "why can't I play this little VBscript web-based game in Mozilla" or whatever.
Basically that's all I'm saying. It's simply a pragmatic choice. No particular love for either camp.