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December 20, 2005


You are waffling, my Boy! You haven't drunk enough Kool Aid. You probably don't even have a NET. Passport. The other news is that Scoble Has your identity.
you are in the 't's.
But needing Scoble as a backup is sort of like getting amourous with a porcupine.

You are right about guys like Jerry, the bad news is that there are way too few of them, and the guys that do talk might as well be wearing cheerleading outfits.

I think you have to remember that 99% of the planet think you eat cookies and have no idea that there are cookies on your hard-drive. And I suspect that if they knew, they would actually open the computer and try to find/eat them. The help desk clerk gave you the answer for that 99%.

Hi Randy,
I think you are right but there is the larger issue of what happens when people don't actually know what is what on the machine. It seems to me a 'reset' button, if you will, that deals with your app and yours alone would accomplish the same task for the 99% without messing up other things and potentially creating calls for other vendors and additional frustrations for the consumer.

P.S. Thanks for the nomination.

Your remarks on what software "should" be are fine but, sadly, a bit misdirected, seed on stony ground:

Last time I needed to know what was in my browser's cookie collection, I just found the relevant file and read it. Easy enough. For how cookies work, the right IETF RFCs are enough. If nothing else works, then trap the internet protocol packets and look at the cookie data. Possibly build a 'Web site' (say, two pages of code), connect to it ('local loopback'), and do the cookie interaction things to modify your cookies. But working directly with the cookie file should be the easiest way.

Maybe Microsoft's Way is to wait until enough people scream loudly enough, and then add a feature. So, they could add another 50 screens to click on -- the first time, for much of a day -- to permit users to manage their cookie collection; horrors that users would be able just to tweak a cookie file directly from an IETF RFC!

For Microsoft's software, yes, in places they do have some good work. I recently dropped my resistance and changed over to XP. Some of XP is good, at times quite good. If the NTFS lost my data, then I'd get TORQUED, but so far NTFS looks solid. However, one point is that, with Posix extensions, etc., NTFS is not really just one file system but has some really obscure 'options' that mean it has multiple 'personalities'; further, it's just SUPER tough to get a clean definition of even just what a tree name is, etc. Clean definitions are to good software what bedrock is to a solid office building. Really tough to build good software on mud and sand.

But, not all of Microsoft's software is good: Once I was trying to use something and over 10 times I typed in the same fairly long material and, for several slightly different causes but for no good reason, had the Microsoft software delete what I had typed. Same thing on another issue. Same thing on a third issue. About that time, I started screaming curses at the software. Screamed enough to get a sore throat for a few days. Yup, for some of Microsoft's software, I don't like it. Understatement.

Really, what I deeply profoundly bitterly hate and despise is the entire Xerox PARC bean bag 'cogno-psycho' 'direct manipulation' 'intuitive' GUI. Every way I can, I use XP ignoring the mouse and icons (can't pronounce them, spell them, type them, look up their meanings in a dictionary -- a few thousand years ago, the Roman alphabet was a big step forward over 'icons', and it took the Xerox PARC 'cogno-psychos' to set us back before the Romans) and concentrate on keystrokes, text windows, and scripts instead. Sure, would like to have something better than a directory full of scripts with the directory name in an environment variable, but while waiting for something better very much do not want something much, MUCH worse such as some 'California dream'ng' 'funny smoke' inspired cogno-psycho GUI nonsense.

Still, I'm thrilled to have a demand paged virtual memory operating system 'embedded' in some dozens of virtual memory address spaces of 4 GB each, with a gorgeous hierarchical file system, a fantastic TCP/IP stack, an Internet connection commonly at 40 Mbps, more software than I can easily keep track of (downloaded, commonly at 50 MB or so each), etc., THRILLED!

The world's most popular desktop operating system gets so much third party software because it has so many users and gets so many users because it has so much third party software and, net, is a natural monopoly. "Quantity has a quality all its own": Desktop computing is no longer 'important' in computing and, instead, now is nearly all of computing.

They way Gates & Company worked to get both the third party software and the users, along with the operating system itself, was a masterstroke, brilliant. Others had plenty of chances and blew it. Thus, at this point, to a large extent, Microsoft can do or not do what it wants.

E.g., I well remember one of the computer industry's higher executives standing on the stage of an auditorium with no doubt the world's best collection of computer science talent and get really TORQUED at two suggestions from the audience that computers, networks, e-mail, etc. used for information, interaction, and collaboration could have a 'business case'. In wildly strong contrast, exp(10**10) times better, when Gates saw TCP/IP, SMTP, HTTP, and HTML, he 'got it' quite well right away and acted. No dummy. Big difference. HUGE.

If enough people don't like Microsoft's software, then there will be some changes, from third parties, Microsoft, or just end user written code (heck, I wrote two utilities yesterday). But, the world has a few billion more people who are not yet up to the level of computer user novices and, thus, a rich field for Microsoft.

Microsoft seems to have become much like many other very successful companies, in their middle age, "If you want to buy something, then you know the number to call. But, please don't call on a Wednesday because that ruins two weekends."

But, I get to type this on XP using my favorite text editor, first learned over 30 years ago, with my large macro collection (Eager for something better? Yes. Seen something better? No!) and an excellent third party spelling checker, while XP plays Kiri Te Kanawa singing the Puccini 'Gianni Schicchi' aria "O mio bambino caro"! Things could be worse; tough to have them better!

i tend to think scoble deserves some credit. the fact he has put the threads out there- so that people (internal or external to MS) can reel in the solutions to problems like this.

its no accident it was channel 9. where would jerry ding have been without the url?

The channel 9 stuff is pretty good, agree. The actual URL he sent me was the wiki for IE. That's for a different post actually!

Thanks for stopping by.


I totally hear you about understanding the customer's pain. Thanks for the kind words...


Hi Rick,

Just so you know, I've passed on this post to MSDN team. Thanks for the feedback (seriously!).



Could you be any more long-winded?

This is true for most customer services. The folks there are trained to be like robots, and respond to certain questions in a pre-defined ISO certified, 6 Sigma compatible way - it is a way where CSRs are dictated to use a predefined f**** PROCESS, instead of their brains to handled issue. If your issue is not a predefined one it will be rounded to the closest pre-defined one. The moment you try to place questions that are outside the boundaries of the process, they will desparately and unreasonably force you to remain inside. In the world of processes, there is no scope for independent thought or investigative analysis - every problem has already been identified and documented!

I bet that jerry probably knew the specific cookies to delete, but had he spent the extra time and used his brain to solve your problem in a custom manner, he would have hurt his career.

Heck the other day the cable guy was at my place and because I was not getting sound on one of the HD channels. The first thing he did was to pull the cable out of my sound receiver and plug it directly to the TV, because sound receivers are not supported.

"Don’t screw somebody else because of your problem."

Amen. I had a similar frustration with Microsoft's DRM'd media solution:

You're lucky you got in touch with such an excellent support rep!

Interesting write up, I thought I was the only one who had the myriad of issues with this abomination known as MSDN. I was hoping you'd touch on the "Redesign" of the site which made it nearly impossible to find your subscriber downloads, or when you found the subscriber downloads link, how it would redirect to the page you just clicked from. (They have fixed this by adding a "Hi-Tech" solution know as a HYPERLINK to the front page for subscriptions). The whole online concierge thing is a joke, they talk to you like you are a Windows Illiterate always catering to the LCD. I don't even bother with the chat an more, I tried asking them a question and they told me I would have to call the 1-800 number for resolution. What is this Chat for? Most of the issues they can answer are probably for Windows users who are new to the platform.

Q: How do I download a file?
A: Right-Click on the link and choose save target as...
Q: What's right click?
A: Please call our 1-800 number for further assistance.

I have used MSDN for 2 years the best thing they have going for them is the transfer speed. The interface is lacking.

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