20 Apr 2000 tony   » (Journeyer)

Mail stuff
I just spent the last 3 days in Juneau, migrating our mail system from SIMS 3.2 to 4.0. (Sun said it couldn't be done.) Fun stuff; certainly a good break from database work.

Advogato Stuff
Why isn't there a "New Diary Entry" link on my personal page? I can edit old entries, but I have to go back to my account page to add a new entry. Maybe I should look at the code when my life has settled down some.

I don't want to go off on a rant....
...but how did this happen?

Our system used to work. We have several Sun boxes serving up nice applications (Word Perfect, Framemaker, all our database stuff, etc) to X-terminals; for 650 employees, we have 10 staff (including our director). Although we've made a few sacrifices to keep PCs off the desktop, users have had everything they could need.

Now suddenly there is a big push to use MS-Office instead of the tools we use. It looks like we may move to PCs. And we will probably end up using MS-Exchange with Outlook as the client.

Why? Because Outlook mangles attachments. Saving an attachment from an Outlook message creates a corrupted file. Outlook, however, can save the attachment just dandy.

Because Outlook is included on every new PC sold, we are getting more MS-Word2k docs attached to Outlook messages. Not one fucking standard between the two of them. And so we are pressured to abandon our open, standards-based, non-proprietary network (with a few proprietary programs, true, but I've been investigating replacements) for MS-Windows on the desktop.

I've been working on selling Gnome and/or KDE as a desktop, with StarOffice, the WordPerfect suite, Gnumeric, LyX, and every free and Free program I could come up with, to the big bosses. But it turns out they don't want compatibility; they want *Microsoft.* (As in, "I was working in Microsoft when everything froze.") They have no clue what they are talking about, but they know what they want.

I had been convinced that Free software would eventually carve out a niche. But I am starting to think we may be too late; Microsoft may indeed be able to crush Free software in a marketing Death Match.

The funny thing is, Microsoft isn't even a software company. It's a stock company-- their primary goal is to make their stock trade at the highest price possible. (To be fair, that same criticism is true of most corporations.)

Maybe I'm just discouraged that people insist on taking the easy way, not the ethical way. (And no, it is not ethical to support a company that is not itself ethical. I do it, too (though not Microsoft), so I suspect I'm merely a hypocrite.) Maybe I'm just frustrated that it's so easy to trade freedom for a small slice of American Greed. Maybe I'm just frightened that I'm turning into a glassy-eyed, fire-breathing Free Software Fanatic.

In any case, I need a drink.

Perl Whirl Pub Crawl
So, anybody here going on the Perl Whirl to Alaska? I am going to be in Juneau on May 30 (my birthday, by happenstance), in time for the scheduled pub crawl. Contact me if you like; I know all the good bars, and all the good beers.

I promise not to be vitriolic about that big software company.

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