Fourstones Blog


Saturday, June 30, 2001

You are most likely here because you did a search at Google for "Victor Stone". What are you looking at is an old weblog entry. Try here instead for more current material.

I really like "Proudly Serving My Corporate Masters" by Adam Barr because it completely captures the day-to-day of development at Microsoft. There is probably another book to be written about the bottomless anarchy that bubbles up just underneath the surface of what Adam writes about, something that deals in more of the "why" to his "what." But when it comes to chronicling the everyday life-in-the-trenches this book really scores a 10. I recognized every single line in the first half of this book as something that could and does happen every single day at Microsoft.

Congratulations, Adam.
posted by VS 12:08 PM

Thursday, June 28, 2001

MSFT: Sell! Sell! Sell! Sell!

posted by VS 1:09 PM

Monday, June 25, 2001

No new writing??

It's true, this is the first Monday since opening the site that there won't be a new writing piece posted. I'm working on one and it is just not ready to take out of the oven -- but you'll be the first to know when it is done. This shouldn't stop you from slacking so here are some interesting links I've collected over the last couple of days. (It's very bad blog etiquette to not credit where the links came from but I've lost track so just assume the usual suspects.)

First, Alan Cooper says "The Internet is built on technology that's largely been around for about 50 years. The bulk of it has been around for about 30 years." Then, he says "One of my assertions is that code is not an asset. A lot of companies say their job is to maximize the revenue from our code base. That reflects a kind of an Old World, industrial-age thinking." Still, it's a fun read.

Doomsayers quoted by the Merc say "The canary in the coal mine for Microsoft is the loyalty of developers to the Microsoft platform" In an otherwise pretty weak column they have a point: Can you imagine someone at the 96 PDC saying "I'm going to make a million dollars on PCs and never write a line of Windows/DOS/COM code"? Now, in 2001, can you imagine someone claiming the opposite?

The NY Times thinks there is a lot of white noise in the science community created by the web. This is an interesting article and I've contacted several of the scientists quoted in this piece to do some follow-up. I'm compiling the results for my next FS submission.

I have no idea who Ipsos-Reid is and I have no idea where they get their data from but I think I know what their tactics are: "of the world’s 6 billion citizens, only about 6% are online" because they "have no need for the Internet" (40%), "no computer" (33%), "no interest" (25%), "don't know how to use it" (16%), "cost" (12%), or "no time" (10%).

Craig Mundie is due for a conversion.

Here's a case for or against Christians using dope -- I can't tell because it goes on for way longer than any doper could hope to read. Much more disturbing is the news that "the hemp oil that we use in Dave does not contain THC levels high enough to cause anyone to test positive on any drug test."

Here's a funny (and old) flash piece that's worth revisiting.

I was starting to buy that whole "every bug is shallow" crap till I ran into this link. Someone needs to explain this one to me because I'm too lazy to research what it is I'm looking at -- and it's still loading in another window.

I'm sure there is nothing but well-intentioned people all over this story -- news flash: that's no excuse.
posted by VS 9:29 AM

Friday, June 22, 2001

Dave put a calm, well-reasoned stake in the ground. I agree with 99% of content and 100% of the spirit of this piece.
posted by VS 2:40 PM

Archie is stifled.
posted by VS 9:56 AM

A hero and role model to lecherous stalkers for nearly a century and musical giant is gone. Show your respect by putting an extra Boom into your Boom Boom tonight.
posted by VS 8:35 AM

Monday, June 18, 2001

I'm going to be taking a break from daily (hourly?) blogging for a while -- probably a couple of days -- as I need to concentrate on other things. Like writing.

I'll still be online so keep plugging my inbox with your gristle.

posted by VS 5:58 PM

In regards to the final entry in the fictional "Corporate Runs" series, an MH writes in: "When did software become a Greek tragedy?"

Great question!
Got an answer?

Your answer:

see results
posted by VS 3:19 PM

"Shucks, this is my first time in Europe... maybe you could show me a thing... or two..." [via metafilter]
posted by VS 12:19 AM

Sunday, June 17, 2001

So Winer calls me up tonight to quell this really bleak e-mail thread we had going where the only move left was to pull each other wigs off and fall into the pool, heels up. The conversation was a tad rambling, kind of all over the place, a little hard for me to follow sometimes and because he was sick as a dog (gasping for air several times) and I was just feeling spaced out, totaled from a lazy, gratefully sunny weekend, ultimately reminded me of the last round of Rocky where the two fighters were just hugging and tossing lame punches onto each others backs.

Couple things stick out in the fog:
-- 1) He briefly mistook me for a Microsoft apologist. Big Freakin Mistake.
-- 2) I mistook him for a web-jingoist all buggin because somebody threw a turd in his sandbox (OK, I was only partially right)
-- 3) We both think this Smart Tags thing is a stupid, scummy feature that deserves to be clubbed in the head until it stops wriggling.
-- 4) I think we differ in our level of cynicism about the future -- mine is pretty bleak. His is little more "thumbs up," even through "worse than it looks" -- mine is more "then you die."

posted by VS 10:21 PM

In reaction to my piece on open source vs. the capitalists, a long time friend and frequent Microsoft basher had this to say:

"The main thing I find objectionable about the free software movement is that it takes advantage of naive creative people, building 'communities' of well-meaning people devoted to product, while at the same time creating opportunities for the marketers to take advantage of. The resultant whole is by necessity full of hypocrisy. Life is a bitch, and there are predators everywhere."

Pass the salt...
posted by VS 9:07 PM

While the Web content providers all laser-beam their energies to killing, or crippling or "opening-up" a single, (sucky, buggy) feature in the next Microsoft browser they find threatening to their way of life (and celebrate the "victories" along the way) the actual way the Internet works (or doesn't work) is being hammered out behind doors shut so tight it makes a WTO influence peddling meeting look like a Woodstock revival. I don't get it.
posted by VS 1:07 PM

Saturday, June 16, 2001

If you cashed out a few options or your ESPP came through and you're a pinko consider the "Rosenberg Fund for Children," or if you're a Fascist then there's the "Daniel Faulkner Educational Grant Fund." And if you don't feel like favoring either because of their dogmatic political bents then give to both (and let them know that you did) because the kids didn't do anything to deserve the other's fate.
posted by VS 7:04 PM

Are you going to or at TechEd? Make sure to posted by VS 10:29 AM

Friday, June 15, 2001

Two from the morning paper:

This is very wrong.

On the other hand this is so very right.
posted by VS 11:27 AM

Wordspy: In a PowerPoint presentation, the fancy transitions, sounds, and other effects that have no discernible purpose, use, or benefit. [via kottke]

Other good uses of slack time:

Sanity [via Q Daily]

Dark frivolity [via davezilla]

Free-for-all [via metafilter]
posted by VS 10:44 AM

Thursday, June 14, 2001

Whatever you do, "try and be funny".
posted by VS 4:22 PM

I must be really slow today: is this a joke? ("My son, for example, plays this game called 'I'm Going In,'" Esnouf said. "He spends all Sunday morning shooting people on the computer. We've invented this whole virtual reality. It's great, isn't it?") [via davezilla]
posted by VS 2:26 PM

Yaaaaaawwwn. Man, where's the caffeine. Woooooa! Look at this shit below! Did I actually hit "publish" at 3am?? Jeez, I'm so good at burning bridges I've gotten to where I can do it before I build 'em.
posted by VS 11:27 AM

The idea of "related links" is hardly new. Many search engines on the Internet have a "more like this" link mixed into the results of a search. Taken a step further is Alexa which has a browser plug-in to instantaneously show "more like this" related links. When you are looking for something on the Net, either researching or buying, this kind of feature can be invaluable in steering you away from irrelevant links. (Alexa is now owned by Amazon -- the ultimate "if you like this, you should see that" site.)

I have no idea how the 'Smart Tags' feature in the WinXP browser evolved into being. I have no idea but I can guess: Microsoft doesn't like to bundle other people's features with their operating system and since Alexa is seamlessly built into IE5 (look under View|Toolbars|Customize...|related links) there was probably some push to have a Microsoft home brewed version of the same. It probably wasn't long after that a VP pointed the browser folks in the direction of Office that was working on Smart Tags and the connections were made.

Smart Tags in the WinXP browser is probably loved, I mean really loved by every single VP at msft. It solved the user's problem of doing wacky searches with lots of irrelevant hits without every having to go to a search engine page and knowing what to type in and in the process it would (initially) bring 'eyeballs' to the MSN properties which could use a boost in its war (think DEFCON 5, thermo nuclear) against the AOL-Time-Warner titan of the Internet.

I'm sure it was deemed important that the mechanism for Smart Tags be available for "hooking" by the wider ISV developer community because targeting this audience has always been a key strategic move to Microsoft. With relatively limited investment in designing in these hooks, Microsoft makes sure that this community of developers extends the functionality of their platforms beyond their resources to do so in-house. It has worked wonders in the past.

Remember that I'm imagining all this because, like I said, I have no idea how it all came about. (It's an informed imagination, but imagination nonetheless.)

More important to me is that I simply don't like the feature. I think it's flawed as an end-user feature. By taking the related links out of the tray on the side and putting it directly into the browser window with squigglies and popups, the feature because very intrusive. I don't care what their user studies tell them, I just don't buy that enough people, enough times a day, browse in exactly the way this feature expects them to, in order to justify the feature. That is: 1) go to a page, 2) see something interesting, 3) want to know more about it, 4) look it up, 5) rinse, 6) repeat.

What's worse, if there is a host of 3rd party ISVs all tripping over themselves to attach their DLL to certain keywords in certain contexts the choices could easily, too easily get just as uselessly irrelevant as any random search engine. (Worse actually because you'd only get the 'sponsored' hits in this mechanism.)

Walt Mossberg of the Wall Street Journal and Dave Winer of think that's nothing. They think it's worse than all that. They claim that somehow this feature, of all the stupid, lame, greedy things that Microsoft has ever done, this one crosses some imaginary line in the sand and they're leaning out their windows that they are "mad as hell and not going to take it anymore!" And on the surface, it's kind of a "well, duh" because both these guys are in the business of providing content on the www and it makes perfect sense that their reaction would be "if I WANTED green squigglies and popups on my content, I would have PUT green squigglies and popups on my content, fuck you very much!"

But their reaction has been so vitriolic and over the top that it's hard to imagine myself getting that excited or how such a highly-charged emotional reaction is deemed proportional to this sucky feature that only middle management at Microsoft could love. There's got to be some swayed-back camel just out of my sight that could not bear this particular straw. (Maybe it's just "being Microsoft" that got to everybody at once. Again, I don't know.) [Updated 9:18am]

Now Dave is calling for a "Microsoft-Free Friday" in which site owners either refuse to return pages to browsers with MSIE in their user agent, or put up some kind of "warning message" to those that are using Microsoft browsers that Smart Tags is a bad thing and they should download Opera or Netscape or anything else out of protest of Smart Tags and what they represent.

I would love to protest the hurtful and dangerous things that Microsoft does but I just can't help feeling this particular crusade is too punishing to the 90% of my readers that hit my site using IE for too little. Is this battle supposed to be over and done when they cut Smart Tags? Is that really victory? I don't give a shit about Smart Tags and I'm certainly not threatened by it any more than anything Microsoft does and much less that many other things.

It's a dumb ass feature that people wouldn't use. Fighting to get rid of it seems redundant to me. As much as I'd like to help make Microsoft do a bunch of stuff differently, especially in regards to WWW standards, I don't think I'm going to play in this particular war. It doesn't feel correctly proportioned to me -- if I'm going to knock my visitors on the head, it's got to be for a better reason than this.

And as a person who browses the web I have this to say: If I happen to be using IE on Friday instead of the Opera or Netscape browsers I have installed and I hit some site that bonks me in an irritating way, then I will just skip that site on that Friday because I've heard and dealt with this over-rated "issue" enough already.
posted by VS 3:21 AM

Wednesday, June 13, 2001

Forbes: "..while economists may wring their hands over the market inefficiencies created by monopolies, investors should rejoice. After all, standard economic theory predicts that monopolists are the only type of company that will consistently earn a larger rate of return on equity in the long run." Wahoo!!
posted by VS 1:31 PM

According to this Plastic reader the "Axe Ground" piece is "a vaguely humorous but utterly superfluous account of the free software and open source movements" that "completely confused and clouded the issue." And your point is......???? (To be fair I did miss the major point that is evidenced by every FSF "defender" that I've come in contact with: these folks are about as self-aware as a cat in the act.)

From now on I want to be known by my new title: "Lead Superfluous Issue Clouder."
posted by VS 10:14 AM

Tuesday, June 12, 2001

Regarding OJ vs. McVeigh, RandyM writes in: "bad examples don't help a good argument." Yup, good point.

Tim O, referred to in passing in the latest Crash and Trash, didn't have anything to say about the content of the piece but mentioned indirectly that my "inability to target Netscape" was "not appropriate." Turns out he was talking about pre-Gecko and well, it is just me in my bathrobe over here and if you tell me there's a problem I fix it (that one took under 2 minutes). Hopefully, the 37 people who visit my site with Nav 4, non-standards compliant browsers, will now have a better experience. (And isn't what he said a double-negative? And he's in the publishing biz? Sheezz.)

The Chief Wonk on the inside points to yet another take on the OSS stuff that is actually pretty cool.

And finally there was the humourless academic twit who took issue with the accuracy of my interpretation of the GPL. He was "baffled" by my "humor" (his quotes) and went on to give me a lesson (literally, I mean it) in humor. It's hard being me.
posted by VS 6:45 PM

Monday, June 11, 2001

Woa. Thanks to this link at Winer's blog FS saw it's biggest one day readership ever. "Can you forgive me?" Dave asks. Well, OK, but don't let it happen again!
posted by VS 7:42 PM

Last week, online magazines "Feed" and "Suck" decided to call it a day. Many (well, ok, the press mainly) are quick to call it the homecoming of chickens from the "Web's early illusions" of a corporate-free publishing environment. However, Winer and others in the weblogging business, claim that "journalism" in the new age is hardly dead as evidenced by blogging.

Well, I've been cruising blogs for about two months (which is all the expertise I'll ever need) and the vast majority of what I've found have been a compendium of original, but very, very alternative lifestyle ventures that could hardly be called "journalism" unless you mean a teenager's diary.
posted by VS 3:27 PM

Sunday, June 10, 2001

Read the latest "Crash and Trash" why the whole "open source" vs "intellectual property" war is none of your damn business.

The Work-Speak Parser is officially online (whatever that means) and you can see (and add to) the parser table for translating obtuse office e-mail lingo to understandable English.

The news section of FS is officially gone:

     -- Use this blog for site news in the future
     -- Use for editorials
     -- The old site news has been archived

And as you go through your day remember, in America decapitating your wife is AOK, but putting a hole in a federal building is right out
posted by VS 10:38 PM

Had the privilege of running into Sister Mary Ignatius Davies last night. She was just kind of standing around outside the new reggae exhibit at the emp. Religion, organized or not, has been a net negative and dance music couldn't be a more frivolous human activity. But when this nun hooked up a stereo and and amp and let the Alpha Boys in the house play with it, heavenly sounds did emerge. The exhibit itself covers 1950 to 1981 and like everything else in the museum, is tasteful, fun and very informative.
posted by VS 10:21 AM

Saturday, June 09, 2001

"ISmartTagRecognizerSite" -- doesn't it sound like something out of one of those 50's white-guy-goes-on-safari movies? " this is my trusty assistant UDumbBagNotRecognizeFire."
posted by VS 10:53 AM

Friday, June 08, 2001

Dumb question: if it's this easy to find IIS machines that need the DoS patch, why wait for everybody to install the patch? Why not just use the virus to spread the patch?
posted by VS 5:06 PM

Call it what it is: "Triumph of Anagrams." (via lambda)

See what you're missing by not being on the writings mailing list?? Members of that list (and clever gophers of the archives) have been playing with a new feature at FS, the community based, Work-Speak Parser project. It's still in "beta" (whatever that means) so let me know if you break it.

Winer and others are up in arms over 'smart tags' in WinXP browser. Yawn. Hey! Mr. T vs. the Pope!!!
posted by VS 10:56 AM

Thursday, June 07, 2001

Well the move to NYC hasn't spoiled the Onion kids none, they just got a little more colorful, that's all. (sloooow load but worth it)

And honestly, I'm touched that Officer Price is not a racist, but given today's climate how exactly was Roberts supposed to know that??
posted by VS 11:31 AM

do'h!! He's not gone at all... sorry glish.
posted by VS 10:42 AM

Here's the blasphemy of the day (via jenweb)

Alas glish is gone, but his truly incredible css tips are still there.

And finally:

    "Who will be representing Mr. Stone in 'The Company vs. FourStones'?"
    "Why, the mofo's!! Who else?"
    "Of Course!"

(via kottke)
posted by VS 10:15 AM

Wednesday, June 06, 2001

Sorry I haven't blogged more but was running into server issues and the service was so slow it was unusable. They seem to be whistling along now...

Newsfactor: "The Internet is still a frontier, but many of us are tired of exploring it... People are free to go wherever they'd like online. The biggest portals have won their audience fair and square. Maybe the message is that people like the familiar feel of those suburbs just as much online as off." It sure would make blogging a whole lot easier, but also more necessary.

OK, get your headphones out because here is the funniest thing I've heard in a long, long time. You need Real Audio but it's worth the one-time install. Start at the beginning and go all the way through. I was in stitches. (via davezilla)
posted by VS 9:55 PM

Well chalk up another victory for political correctness. I guess by the same "logic" they'll be "restricting access" to Richard III because that is certainly "unfair" to white people.
posted by VS 8:50 AM

Tuesday, June 05, 2001

Dave, Dave, Dave... do you recognize anyone?
posted by VS 11:58 AM

Just a reminder: all is fair in love and war.

Are you going to or at JavaOne? Make sure to contact me...
posted by VS 10:29 AM

Monday, June 04, 2001

This month HBO is showing Kenneth Branagh in The Conspiracy, an adaptation of a real meeting of Nazi officials that took place in 1942.

Yeah, it's creepy, but another film adapdation of the same meeting was made in 1984 and (perhaps because those actors were speaking in native German instead of the Queen's English) it is by far the creepiest movie ever made.
posted by VS 6:16 PM

This week FS has a new feature called Crash and Trash in which I stick my nose into places (physical and ideological) that I have not been invited, barely know anything about and have no other business than to ridicule/research and skewer/comment on. The first installment is called "The Three Faces of Poker" and is barely about poker at all. If you know of an event or grandiloquence that could use this kind of treatment (and has minimal or passive legal resources) let me know and I'll try to incorporate it.

The Corporate Runs series featuring Tripper the conflicted developer, Hank the anything-but-conflicted vice president, Simon the program manager on the lam et. al. is coming to a close soon. The second to last installment, The Package Has Been Delivered, a teaser of sorts for the grand finale, is now online.

Unless I get stampeded by some opposition there will no longer be a "news" section of the site. I will be merging site news directly into this blog. Shortcuts you might have made to the "news/" directory will continue to work, but you will be redirected to the "blog" section starting next week.
posted by VS 12:55 AM

Sunday, June 03, 2001

Went to pretty good movie tonight. Especially good if you want to see what happens when the director uses every single frame he ever shot in the end product.
posted by VS 12:58 AM

Friday, June 01, 2001

...with apologies to perelman

Q: How many program managers does it take to screw in a light bulb?

A: That depends, define "light."

Q: In what context?

A: I don't know, in the context you just gave.

Q: I just asked a question.

A: I thought you might have.

Q: Anything else you need to know?

A: No, no. Good meeting.

Q: Yes, we do this twice a week, three times in crunch mode.

A: Make sure to invite me the other times.
posted by VS 10:37 AM

Reaction to my treatise yesterday was impressively vacuous. Ok, I'll go back to making "ain't my boss dumb" jokes.
posted by VS 8:45 AM