Monday, January 30, 2006

Happy Birthday to me!

Here's to my best friend and role model on his 41st birthday. Sick fuck that he is. Happy B-Day ME!

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Yah, Mule, yah!!

That was the cry from SteveB at MS' latest Town Hall meeting (if only he was as cool a Clinton). He implored the employees to put out more effort since it appears that MS does better when employees work harder. (Boy talk about blinders, no wonder I didn't feel THAT bad about leaving) He of ocurse made no mention of the problems talked about on MiniMicrosoft

As I thought, or began to think months ago, those rich guys in charge don't care one bit about the rank-and-file. They see lots of value in maintaining the StackRank StatusQuo obviously. I'm not seeing it whe you consider MS is losing people like MarkL on the dev side and, not to blow my own horn, but me on the test\sdet side). My latest automation harness consisted of a proprietary script language.

Anyway, it seems like the LisaB Listening Tour is a pacification technique with the highlights given by Mini (I can't bring myself to say Who'da). It's unfortunate because MS is in the unique position of driving innovation but they seem to be stifling it. Companies who could enter a market fear to do so because if they do well enough MS will "come after them" and the best they could do is sell. That's not right. There may end up being a problem when Vista releases. There are so many people saying that it won't be wrth an upgrade. With the enthusiasts becoming more and more vocal, Vista may just lay a Pyrite egg.

Of course, I loved MS and I don't hope that happens but with my experiences I won't be sad if some of them don't have several billion dollars to dangle in front of employees and prospective employees. i guess sometime next week we will see if anything is implemented to turn the tide of dissent currently threatening to drown MS' War Chest. I wouldn't bet on anything changing, though. MS obviously has to protect themselves from something, though I don't know what could be so powerful as to cause this kind of panic.

In my opinion, twisted though it may be, the idea is that someone had to make sure that the money stayed in certain hands and away from others.

Friday, January 20, 2006

The Return Of Intelligent Design

It's back in the news again as yet another school district has been sued into compliance with the general rule that you can believe in a "Creation" but you cannot try to use science to understand it. Instead thoughts of the Creator are limited to magical theorems of Lucky Charms happiness. I find myself offended by the ignorance of people. Now we're being told that teaching Intelligent Design is a violation of Church and State but that has been violated by the rules of marriage forever. Why do you have to get officially licensed or live together for a State-set time before you are able to be recognized by the State. Also, by denying gays the right to marry again we are violating the policy. There is nothing in the COnstitution about marriage being between a man and a woman. Don't think I am for homosexuality but it serves the purpose.

Anyway, the class in question in El Tejo Ca was taught by a preacher's wife and theorized that the inherent complexity of life implies that there is some sentience involved. How can science be worth anything if scientists still have no clue as to how life was actually formed? I think that we should stip living in the 10th Century and start to embrace the idea that evolution itself is a part of Intelligent Design. Psychologists, con men and politicians can manipulate minds but a mind can't be Created? Men can crack a genome but there could be no consciousness that could order a double helix? It's amazing that AMericans are so conceited and most of us are barely literate enough to properly use a VCR clock. These are the same Americans who are graduating from college without the skills they should have had when graduating from HS. A recent study shows that teh average college student has a lot of trouble with complex reading and math tasks. I guess a lot of us weren't designed to be that intelligent.

Looking at Genesis, the impliocation is that all life forms came from giant whales. Amazingly enough I never saw the part that said "And God created great whales" until yesterday. I was watching a Bill Maher comedy special and he mentioned how whales and snakes mentioned in the Bible are some kind of mystical wonder rather than people who had never seen advanced technology somehow seeing into the future (perhaps through the use of hallucinogens). ANyway, I actually submitted that as a theory 1n 1992 when I was in Jr College. The theory has come a long way since then and I can almost "mathematically compose" elementary particles. The big problem with trying to recreate these particles is that before large bodies of matter and anti-matter interacted, different particle interactions were possible. I am also of the opinion that black holes are the product of high energy particles feeding back on a source after a given equilibriumm was achieved. Of course this equilibruium is dependent upon a large enough area.

It is also interesting that only one planet in the solar system will support any life. It seems as though a random occurence in such a large area would be reproduced if certain physical laws weren't "applied" to the vector space. Of course it is almost impossible to produce soem type of picture of an omnipotent being but according to the way Americans act an omnipotent being would be an average white guy. I think the point is not to prove or disprove the existence of such a being but to perhaps become such a being. Who knows, but the BIble promotes such an achievement. I thinkmost people's problem is the lack of intelligence that comdians joke about and the media displays. If people were more willing to learn rather than live off of some "genius in numbers" theory perhaps there would be less violence and depravity in the name of the Most High.

Whether or not anyone believes in the Creation won't make it go away.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Magnetic Circuits

We're back with a new tech post and this one is a doozy. Most people have never heard that term before. (Check the description of the blog) To those with the slightest bit of technical acumen you may realize we're referring to the use of magnetic energy to operate gates and switches in a microprocessor. I have seen more effort in this area and from MIT and Cambridge I believe so I guess I am in good company. I first looked at magnetic circuits in 1989 ( I think I looked at everything in '89) The idea actually came from work with magnetic bearings (I hate grease, we'll save the bearings for another article)
Anyway, the way they work, at least with the implementation I used, is that rather than dpoing with n or p Ge or Si ions, you actually dope with magnetic and restrictive magnetic materials. By placing juxtaposed electrical fields on either end of a block, you can then "program" areas to excite "electrons" so that only desired areas of the circuit block will allow the passage of "data." Then you must poll the path to determine which areas ( divided by potential) have an increased potential due to flow. These are then your "bits." You can then add buffer areas which have a range equal to the "attached" bit areas. Using a crystal clock that vibrates at high rates, one can transfer up to

"Clock rate" x "bit width" \ "word length" instructions.

Research has shown that applying varying magnetic fields and elctrical fields to semi-permeable materials, nanotubes (small rows of atoms shaped into a cylinder) have been shown to orient in a p or n formation.

Similarly providing a linear segmented vector space, it is possible to form complex words in one pulse of the clock rather than many. Since all data is composed of sequences of bits, by abstracting the various color and alpha levels for graphics it is possible to define parts of the stream as "pre-rendered" structures like text. B creating parallel structures with varying "signal" ranges, multiple streams can be processed simultaneously.

Minimization of length and width space per "logic bit" and lowering the total power input it is possible to maintain a linear relationship between the bit values. This can significantly lower voltage requirements and allow faster clocks or more bit regions with similar power input.

More later...

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Long live the model number!

Today's topic is the death of the long-standing brand name "Pentium." Intel is dumping the moniker after over 10 years and countless changes. It's interesting why they chose the beginning of 2006 for this move, but considering the pounding the Pentium has been taking at the hands of the Athlon brand, maybe it's not so strange. Intel is busy hyping their new "totally inexplicable" ViiV concept. Even major CTOs don't know what it is. Hopefully it will do something to overcome the hard times of the past few years, or maybe I should say hot, slow times.

At any rate the "P" is dead and now Intel will be using the model number scheme to confuse everyone even more.
Maybe the name wasn't so bad, even with the "divide by zero" errata that would have sunk AMD and the stall at 1GHz for the P3 or the totally useless Willamette P4 which had more stages than Broadway. As AMD leaned on efficiency the Pentium got MHz faster and Celsius hotter, with the fastest models taking up the average 350W PS by itself.
But it still sold like the proverbial hotcakes you could cook with them just through brand recognition and consumer ignorance.

Now with the new Yonah and soon to be released Conroe checking in at 65nm, the oven has been turned down enough to attract Steve and Co. whose new MacIntelTosh has sucked up the intial run of these new Intels. Apple stated last year that Intel was closer to their long terms goals, which I guess is synonymous with Motorola was melting the IMac and AMD just goes too fast. Plus they may not be able to provide us with the 2-4 million boxes we sell every year.

We will see how well they do in a few months as I'm sure that every PC reviewer on the web is itching to get their hands on them. Preliminary tests show that the Yonah is up to 65% faster than an equally clocked Dothan (Pentium M), but there is no direct comparison between the G5 and Yonah. Hopefully, this will be Intel's year to actually look like the major CPU producer with their performance and not just their marketing.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Differential Adaptive Light Masking and Integral Transform Extrusion

We have had enough posts about MS and the computer industry, now it's time to talk about some fun stuff. What kind of title is that do you wonder? Well, I just got finished watching Revenge of the Sith for the 5th time on DVD and it reminds of my heady days as a "probably never gonna get paid for it" FX designer.

Back before NBA Live, I thought the best thing to do would be what is now called "skinning" or the process of applying an outer texture combined with an inverse kinematic derived from a filmed subject. This is then placed onto "body" matrix consisting of the vertexes ofnthe human body ( fingers, knees, elbows, necks, etc).
Nowadays, movie or pre-rendered graphics can almost create lifelike faces. Almost. The biggest prblem facing FX designers i show to model skin textures. Even though skin appears smooth, it consists of millions of small irregularly shaped "patches" placed between millions of nonlinear vertexes. As lisght shines on skin at different camera radii, the amount of light absorption and reflection changes as per the billions of data points existent with these huge irregular matrices.

This problem is compounded by the flexible nature of skin which causes lines and wrinkles when certain movements are performed. How will it be possible to then show the difference between a freckle at 180 degrees from camera and a freckle 90 degrees from camera? The answer is Adaptive Light Masking. Rather than trying to force the textures to mimic the extremely complex bump mapping of a freckle, light sources can be differentated over a complex surface using simple ray-tracing. I this way, it is possible to show the difference in shadow between a young person whose skin is tighter and an older person whose face is showing the effects of weather and exposure to the sun.

Hairs are even more susceptible to the complexity of the skin model. As hairs are shorter they behave differently as per shadow then longer hairs, which can be used to cover impending absortion differences. Even complex Alpha blending becomes too "plastic" in close up views as is evidenced by certainfight scenes in the Matrix where it is clear that "Neo" is a CGI construct. ILM has done a fabulous job though with their blend of live action and CGI. It seems that they have found one of the secrets to FX - "fake it, as long as it looks like what it should it doesn't matter how you do it." Take for example the creature ObiWan rode, it was much improved from the one Anakin rode in Attack Of The Clones. It looked as though a "mechanical bull" was used and then skinned onto a CGI extension. Or on Kaashyyk when the light didn't move along the helmet as the Storm Trooper turned his head. There were some points where they didn't use integrals for the legs of the Troopers and they seemed slightly cylindrical. Even the complexity of Yoda's face had to be tempered by the use of a rougher texture. This is necessary because it is very difficult to create light that perfectly filters like sunlight. Many FX shops are now using overly-muted tones and heavy "greenish-brown" filters to even the distribution of light between CGI generated light and sunlight or "actual light."
I have been looking at using colored lenses to filter light and so far the concept is proving sound. Maybe I'll make some money at it yet.

Revenge of the Nerds?

It looks like it at Mini's place as the employees, anonymous though they maybe, are coming out in force to "rag on the rich." It almost seems like an uprising or the prelude to a coup.

Damn partners

It gets really heated as the eternal "Dev vs. Test" argument came back from the dead. It was exacerbated this time by the authors question to MSers ( of which he was once ) about the initiative to change over from STEs to SDETs. Sevral current SDETs chimed in with remarks such as;

As an SDET at Microsoft my job seemed to be driving over a bridge that is being built from both ends and in the middle across a pool of quicksand during a hurricane.

Telling people they're building in quicksand will get you blacklisted or looked at like you're crazy. Everyone complains about the rain, but nobody talks about how the wind keeps blowing everything over. What they want from you is trendlines on graphs showing that the concrete and the cabling is secure and a lot of entered bugs about how the tensile strengths of the cabling, places where the paint is mismatched, or the concrete is chipped. You alternate between snickering and sobbing when the middle of the bridge sinks another foot. Every once in a while you watch them lower both ends of the bridge to match the middle, and you yell uselessly that you think the ends are pointing in different directions.


This is another sad story. Some moron from high-up, decided to get rid of all the STEs in the hopes of replacing their manual work with test automation. Predictably this initiative has failed. Big Time!

Now we have a test team WITHOUT any testers. Yeah! Don't blink your eyes. You read it right. In the absence of STEs/Testers, we (the SDETs) find ourselves devoting more and more time to Non-Automation related work - manual testing, bug verification, bug closing, lab installations yada yada.

To answer your question - my responsibilities are not clearly sketched. Am I a dev who writes test automation code? Am I a manual tester? I do not know. Go ask my manager.

Scathing indictments indeed as yet another initiative is shot down from the inside. How can people be passionate if they are being abused? WHat amazing event could have occurred to force mgmt to screw everybody? Interesting questions, but no answer is likely as the billions of dollars generated have created billions of obstacles for the countless future employees who may have different social\cultural viewpoints as the current mgmt. Even reasonable arguments presented by those who disagreed with my viewpoint bolstered the opinion that SDETs are not STEs are not SDEs;

That's a bit much- you have nothing to perform QA on without code being written.

That being said...people are nuts if they think writing automation code equates to being a good tester.

Looking at this link shows the type of problem that plagues MS right now;

My first real software job was at Microsoft; a company that is not exactly famous for its high quality code, but which does nonetheless hire a large number of software testers. So I had sort of assumed that every software operation had testers.

Many do. But a surprising number do not have testers. In fact, a lot of software teams don't even believe in testing.

You would think that after all the Quality mania of the 80s, with all kinds of meaningless international "quality" certifications like ISO-9000 and buzzwords like "six-sigma", managers today would understand that having high quality products makes good business sense. In fact, they do. Most have managed to get this through their heads. But they still come up with lots of reasons not to have software testers, all of which are wrong.

I hope I can explain to you why these ideas are wrong. If you're in a hurry, skip the rest of this article, and go out and hire one full-time tester for every two full-time programmers on your team.

Here are the most common boo-hoo excuses I've heard for not hiring testers:

Wow, no wonder the initiative isn't working. Many devs and other feel that test is just an annoyance and that testers don't need to have certificatons that production people have;

Amazing. I thought that kind of hubris was limited to devs.

Test (or QC, rather) does not determine the original quality of the design or code nor does it fix defects found. Test also does not make the final go/no-go decision (or should not, unless we want responsibility for any quality issues that we had no part in causing in the first place!).

All we really can do is evaluate the product, report quality issues and suffer quietly in endless test pass cycles at hands of the failures of the PM and dev teams. (At least, until we can transform test from QC to QA+QC and shoulder part of the responsibility for the creation of the product ourselves.)

Of course, this didn't go on for long before mighty "Who daPunk" himself chimed in and requested that the "Test vs. Dev" argument shouldn't be awakened. I for one have done both and know whereof I speak. I even tried to do both at the same time but found that it IS NOT POSSIBLE;

The comments are sort of getting into a back-and-forth unproductive state. Just when I was thinking about a new post of dev vs. pm vs. test.

TheKhalif: now that you have your own blog back and running, I recommend you follow-up there regarding your thoughts and continue the conversation in your comment stream. Feel free to post the URL here should you decide to do so.

Or if you link directly to this particular post, it should automagically show up at the bottom.

Et voila. I wondr if he'll let my next post go through. Probably not, but one individual seems to place some importance on my comments at mini's;

Making devs do MCSE exams is about the dumbest thing I've heard. All it would achieve is in slipping ship dates. It's like making a Boeing wheel engineer pass a 747 flight exam. The pilot doesn't know (or need to know) the inner workings of the wheel, nor does the engineer need to know how to fly the plane.

My increasing feeling is that TheKhalif is to Mini what Christopher Coulter is to Scoble.
It's all about the signal to noise ratio... Some day we'll get an RSS feed enabling you to blank out the usual suspect comments. But right now, I'd give my lunch for a feed on blogger to blank out comments I've read before. Deja vu is a very common experience here...

God, I love this job. And to think I almost missed all of this by going into Mechanical Engineering. In 5 years I have gone from a guy who kept getting Runtime Error -5 to being able to create script languages and actually determining when a State pattern shoud be used vs. a Strategy, vs a Builder.

Anyway, I don't really expect a lot of movement on this blog, it is just turning out to be at least a little fun. A couple of posts ago I even got my first troll. He proceeded to tell me how much my content sucked and the like, but at least he couldn't say I didn't know what I was talking about.

As one of favorite lines goes, It's Good to be the King!

I don't expect the Test vs dev thread to go away for awhile and it will be interesting to see if anyone picks up on how big a problem such a state really is. I mean as I said before, "In the end, everyone's on the same team."

Et tu, VooDoo?

This is the new saying as 2006 starts. Yes VooDooPC has answered the FX clarion call and the new FX60 from AMD has finally gotten the attention the line has deserved since 2003\4. On his bog the founder is extolling the virtues of the AMD architecture and is talking loud about a new AMD-based VooDoo laptop that will, be the fastest thing out, hands down...

...and shortly VoodooPC will be launching the world's fastest notebook - no question, uncontested, no one will touch it. Guess what processor it's running?

Et Tu VooDoo?

Several Intel supporters visited his blog and made some scathing comments which were quickly dismissed as the inherent superiority of the FX60 has taken the performance world AND the multitasking world by storm. Clocked at 2.6GHz and packed with two cores of DirectConnect goodness, the FX60 is nearly on par with the FX57, it's single core brother clocked 200MHz faster. Of ocurse, when it comes to multi-tasking the 57 is blown away by the 60 as the X24400 and above are starting to show their usefulness in real world scenarios where people actually have Flash-ridden Firfox tabs running in the background while they churn out Doom 3 frames or build their latest ASP.Net module.
I personally can't believe that VooDoo has finally started to take AMD seriously. Now all AMD needs is a Tier1 who builds for application developers who need more RAM and less graphics support. The 6150\430 from NVidia has finally provided a "more than good enough" on board graphics solution with support for 4+ GB of RAM, so devs can now actually develop for platforms using the SAME AMOUNT OF RAM and SATAII actualy provides enough HD bandwidth to mimic a real world web server. After all most companies are still using non-EMT64 Xeons. One FX60 with 8 GB RAM could "Virtually" replace 5-10 of these machines.
Dell really needs ot get with the program. Recent Virtual Server tests ( show that Dual Core AMD chips are able to keep their performance (relatively) up to 8 virtual sessions using VMWare ESX. The 955 is doing well but with Pacifica and DDR2 coming soon, Dell with be drowning in the deep end with Tier1s like Monarch building 4 proc monsters with AMD. Even AlienWare has now picked up on the "Good News" and is offering a full suite of FX and Opteron boxes. George Lucas realizes their potential as the "beautifully- FX'd" Revenge Of the Sith was created with Opteron farms.
2006 is indeed looking like a good year for AMD even without Intel's anti-trust issues and nuclear-powered Dimensions. It will be even better if ANY major brand; HP, Lenovo, Gateway, or even heaven forbid Dell begins a real push to get AMD to the masses where they belong.
As a disclaimer, I can say that I have owned several Intel-based systems back when Via was the only "real" chipset choice for Athlons and AthlonXPs. Intel has simply dropped the ball and in my opinion used despicable tactics to keep AMD64 out of the boxes of major corporate manufacturers.

I guess now the other shoe has dropped.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Apple\Intel vs AMD\Microsoft?

Is this yet another knock down drag out fight in the PC space? Time will tell as Apple intros new Core Duo PowerBooks. Teh new boxes use the latest Intel mobile chip except it's now packing double the cores and doesn't quite form a nuclear heater. Of course Intel had to "slow their roll" 50% with the fastest Prescott clocking at 3.8GHz and the new Yonah scaling a "measly" 2.0GHz.
On the other side of the coin, the software and hardware seem to switch places with XP barely holding a candle to Tiger, though the mainstream user is now moving more towards the "cooler, faster" AMD as evidenced by the numerous times the "minus-Dell" sales of retail AMD outdistanced Intel's P4 monopoly.
So the stage is set. Will Apple finally get 20% of the market? WIll Dell finally listen to their customers and offer Opteron\Athlon systems? WHo knows but th ething that is certain is that Intel still has a ways to go before they threaten the superiority of mighty Opteron and its FX\X2 brethren.

Apple's move definitely surprised everyone although one can wonder why they jumped into the frying pan when the counter was just as close. Motorola's latest dual core attempt needs a refrigeration unit to keep it from heat treating the the molded plastic in the IMac and friends, but Inrel is doing slightly better as even their .65 process has merely allowed them to say AMD is not better at load than Intel is at idle. The HP 585 owns the database space (TPC-H), the FX57 owns the gaming space, the Turion is making inroads and can only get better. Is this another case of Intel paying for the privilege or does Steve actually believe that AM2 will not give AMD the performance crown back in the 5% of cases where the new Intel 955 has captured it?
If I knew that, maybe more people would pay attention. AT any rate it iwll be interesting to see how competitive OS X is now with the latest MS offerings, such as X64 Pro. If Apple hopes to gain market share with this initiative, more than "fan-boys" had better be impressed with the performance, especially in cases where there is no native binary for the application. That shouldn't be a problem with Intel's deep pockets, buttiming is exceedingly important since .65 should take AMD up to at least 3.6GHz even with the current SanDiego\Venice architecture and should happen by Q3, just in time for Vista(coincidence?).
When all is said and done, this move by Apple will benefit customers while Intel will see very little additional income intiially, with Apple barely accounting for 10% of the world market. Even if Apple manages to grow market share by 50% or more, it will do little to Microsoft's domination. Even Apple's OpenGL runs better on AMD chips, so it begs the question, What market segment is Apple hoping to gain? PhotoShop is not that big a seller.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Google vs. Microsoft vs. Microsoft

Yes, it's the battle of the behemoths as Google and Microsoft and Microsoft go at it. You may wonder why Microsoft was mentioned twice and the reason is that right now MS seems to be it's own worst enemy.
I really don't understand why Microsoft thinks they have to compete with Google though. They are in two totally different market segments. As someone recently posted on MiniMicrosoft, this competiton is like the electric company competing with Starbuck's. Microsoft shoul dbe happy to provide the infrastructure for companies like Google and Netscape. All the competition seems to be doing is causing lawsuits.
Is Microsoft incapable of "live and let live?" Obviously not with the amoutn of negativity put forth by Microsoft's own employees. Some people think that the ride is over though and all that Mini got was notoriety. With over 150 comments in the Google\Microsoft post, I think it's obvious that MS is not anyone's favorite anymore. It's a shame too because MS has some brilliant developers and enough cash to do anything they want. Unfortunately, they choose to attack anyone else who is making money.
You would think that they would have learned from the near debacle that was DOJ v. MS and decided to play nice. It's not like ANYONE will catch up with them in the consumer OS space and since MS gets paid even when Linux is installed, there will never be an OS that can unseat the MONEY MACHINE known as Windows\Office. Even if someone creates a "perfect OS" it still HAS to support DirectX for games and the current software base. IMPOSSIBLE.

But anyway I've ranted enough. Check out MiniMicrosoft for more Google vs. Microsoft vs. Microsoft.

Workable Confusion Pt.2

We rejoin our beleaguered monopoly as it attempts to head off it's first threat to the IE Monster since the destruction of Netscape. Yes we're talking about FireFox, "the little engine that could..." actually get noticeable share from IE. The author is a FF user and even though I have to reboot my machine every few days to kill a memory leak, IE is just no fun anymore. ActiveX plugins are a pain and buggy, you can't change themes, there are no extensions, etc.

MS really dropped the ball when thy stopped innovating in the browser space. At this point, I don't think IE7 or Vista IE7 will stop the bleeding. It's just a shame that FF can't be for sale(?), they would actually make money off of it. But then I guess MS made sure that a browser can NEVER be sold again in large quantities. And it only cost a couple of billion dollars, what a deal. (Wait, I thought competition was good!) Anyway, with FF breathing market share fire and the latest releases not being received with open arms, the troubles are not yet done.

Throughout all of this, the 64 bit ball has nearly been dropped as my spanking new x2 4400+ has very few drivers, no IE plugins, one supported MP3 player. Maybe th eproblem is that the lord of the manor keeps changing the driver model and devs are struggling to keep up. And there is yet another change coming for Web Services, graphics with Vista. Unfortunately, there is nothing like the buzz about Win95. Even folks like Paul Thurrott are not exactly sining it's praises. Sure there are some nice new features, but are these features going to be worth a full upgrade? Time will tell, but one thing for certain is that MS will stillmake $1B EVERY month.

Aaahh, the beauty of the "Greatest Deal Ever."

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Workable Confusion

Intersting title for an even more interesting phenomenon. What does this describe you ask? Well, the coverage ranges at this point from Sexual Identity In America to American Business After The Bubble Burst. Maybe your opinion will call Workable Confusion what it's definition today is: (trumpets please)
Microsoft After XP. Yes kiddies this is another Microsoft post. Of course as an ex-"Softie" I know first hand how good "The Greatest Deal Ever" actually is, if only for what now seems to be a "select few." I can remember the lazy days of 60 almost work hours, constant liquid encouragement, even being entertained by a not quite crossdressing VP and his biker stud. Ahh those were the days. When gays were gays and nobody mentioned it. I can see the grunge crew now, testing their way through at least some of their workload and their doting managers who enjoy the fact that they are smarter than their employees.
Yes, this was before the heady days of the first real competitive threat, good old monopoly holding Netscape which in the course of a few years managed to become the defacto standard for web browsers for Windows. But then, (trumpets again please) the king of the castle decided that the Interent wasn't a fad after all and not only created a browser but bundled it with Windows(?) The end came quick for Netscape as the IE monster snared millions of Dell accounts in it's fourth incarnation(did the first three REALLY suck or what?) The once proud Communicator disappeared faster than a Sony Opteron server and was forced to sellout to AOL just to remain in business.
But what's this, improprieties are found in MS's dealing s and the score is nearly cancelled. Netscape cries foul, we can't compete with free(yes, I spent 39.95 for Navigator). MS stands behind devotion to their customers and the "Freedom To Innovate," but to no avail as one company after and state after another lines up to get their "piece of the pie" totalling up to ten's of billions of dollars and a black eye that may never heal. And if that wasn't enough there was the horrendous "attack from within" exposed by the ruthlessly open IE and Outlook. Company networks ground to a halt, millions of computers had to be restored (hope you kept that backup program running), and email became a long lost accomodation.
For two years this continued, until (not the trumpets again) the lord of the manor declared that there should be more security. The stock went from 120 to 30, consumer confidence opened the door for Linux and a little known web company was well on it's way to becoming a definiton in the dictionary. Through this the beleaguered Windows 2000 had the distinction of being the most secure insecure OS to date, while MS' new eXPerience was being worked on along with the push to 64bit. Even with all of the turmoil, MS was still bouyed by the "Greatest Deal Ever" and continued to make $1B profit EVERY month.
But now, with the screams of bloody murder about the condition of VS 2005 and the lateness of Vista\Longhorn, along comes Google (not really sure how the markets are intersecting) with it's overinflated(?) stock price, deep pockets and no "big-bad-buggy-baggage." MS has a near equal in Google as everything they touch seems to turn to gold. And then to add insult to injury an insider named "who'Da Punk" has turned the inside of MS on its ear with his brash commentary and "Mini-Microsoft" mantra. He has blogged on everything from "no more towels" to the bloated bureaucracy to the unfairness of stack ranking. He has gained a large following and even made it to BusinessWeek.
Oh, woe is Microsoft, attacked from within, embattled without, but oh yeah they still make $1B EVERY month. Time will tell if the "not so revolutionary" Vista will help MS or if it's debut be spoiled by bugs and security holes.

Sounds like Workable Confusion to me.