Don't pass go, don't collect $200

2004-07-26 17:03 - Rants

The working day isn't quite over, but I'm getting a headache so I'm taking a break.

The technology field is in a major rut. It always has been, but it's starting to truly show. There's a thing called game theory that can actually teach us a lot about life. There's a theory, which shows if you examine the capitalist system, that states that each striving for themselves results in the best outcome. I disagree, and I say we have to work together for the best outcome.

Each person fighting for themselves at any cost might file a frivolous lawsuit, or fraudulent, and tie up the legal system. Each person fighting for themselves might abuse loopholes to gain unfair advantage. And companies fighting for themselves often do both.

Microsoft. You love them or you hate them, or you don't use computers. Personally, I hate them. I admire them, they're very good at what they do, but unfortunately what they do is exploit the masses for their own benefit. Specifically, I was working last night on the user settings page, where you can choose which news feeds show. I spent a while, crafting my own hearty blend of code. And then, tada! It was done, it worked how I wanted it to work, and it looked how I wanted it to work.

It was all written based off of all the applicable standards I could find. It was small, it was clean, it was beautiful. And it didn't work in Internet Explorer. A bit longer tweaking this and that, and it worked 90%. And I wasn't totally upset. But I wasted time, and it still doesn't work right.

This pattern of fighting for themselves shows oh-so-clearly across all of the Microsoft world. IE on it's own is the incarnation of stomp-on-the-little-guy tactics, using their own massive bloat to curve the reality of the computer world around them. IE bends, breaks, or maims every standard out there. "But it's got 95% of the market!" they cry. So who cares if it's different? Just make it work in IE and it works 95% of the places. That's enough, right?

NO! IE doesn't agree with any other browser. Office doesn't agree with any other analogous piece of software. Windows doesn't barely work on it's own, much less offer any kind of compatibility. Only roadblocks. Microsoft was the lucky duck, getting into the market at just the right time. They reached the point of critical mass, and started the reaction. "Well, everyone is running DOS, so let's write our program for DOS," say the software companies. "Well, every program is written for DOS, so let's run DOS on our computers," say the consumers. And so the cycle spiraled out of control to the current day. It's out of hand, and it creates lots of problems for everyone out there, whether they know it or not.

It may not technically be a monopoly. Sure, there's Mac. Sure, there's Linux and Unix. But even if they're great, they don't have the critical mass. That's one of the reasons I'm very happy that Microsoft has lost the API war. That's a wonderful article by the way. A shining ray of hope to anyone who has battled with a Microsoft product in the past. Even chain reactions use up their fuel sooner or later.


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