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Re: Smaller Businesses and Linux Affinity

  • Subject: Re: Smaller Businesses and Linux Affinity
  • From: Roy Schestowitz <newsgroups@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sat, 27 May 2006 10:19:54 +0100
  • Newsgroups: comp.os.linux.advocacy
  • Organization: schestowitz.com / MCC / Manchester University
  • References: <1388805.893gsr0ky8@schestowitz.com> <1148512153.335834.184290@y43g2000cwc.googlegroups.com> <87cfk3-ojd.ln1@sirius.tg00suus7038.net> <1148522818.760840.152990@j73g2000cwa.googlegroups.com> <CPCdnRH8UtcGtujZRVn-vA@comcast.com> <1148567446.861898.301910@j73g2000cwa.googlegroups.com> <1287083.C9ziR96G96@schestowitz.com> <1148609740.312724.27610@u72g2000cwu.googlegroups.com>
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__/ [ Larry Qualig ] on Friday 26 May 2006 03:15 \__

> Roy Schestowitz wrote:
>> __/ [ Larry Qualig ] on Thursday 25 May 2006 15:30 \__
>> > Michael B. Trausch wrote:
>> >> Larry Qualig wrote in
>> >> <1148522818.760840.152990@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> on Wed, May 24
>> >> 2006 22:06:
>> >> >
>> >> > The Ghost In The Machine wrote:
>> >> [snip]
>> >> >> Note that $33.51B profit is about $91.75M/day, or
>> >> >> $1500/day/employee.
>> >> >
>> >> > Numbers like this are absolutely staggering. The $1500/day/employee
>> >> > is *profit* - after the rent, employee's salary, fines, congressman,
>> >> > and everything else has been paid.
>> >> >
>> >>
>> >> Yes, that is quite an amazing amount of money.  To be raking in $91
>> >> million
>> >> in profit per business day is absolutely astonishing.  Unfortunately,
>> >> they're not putting it to good use, or they'd have fixed the problems
>> >> in
>> >> Vista already and had it ready for release.  I have to wonder if
>> >> they're doing so well financially, why do they have such a hard time
>> >> turning out quality code?
>> >
>> >
>> > This is an interesting statement/observation in a number of ways. My
>> > view on this is that having financial resources is largely (but not
>> > completely) orthogonal to being able to creating quality code. This
>> > money gives them two basic options: Hire more developers and/or hire
>> > better developers.
>> The developers need also cope withlarge amounts of code, which as we know,
>> is difficult to get a grip on. With morale declining and staff jumping
>> ships, you need to train new staff. I have worked with bad libraries in
>> the past and I know the consequences. There is a reason why 60% of the
>> code need to be rewritten and Allchin scraper Longhorn in September 2005.
>> He said "his engineers could not run it properly".
>> > Throwing more people at the problem doesn't scale very well. Eventually
>> > you reach the point where you have "too many chefs in the kitchen" and
>> > people start getting in the way of each other.
>> I heard/read that only a coupla' hundred work on Vista. That's
>> nothingwhich Novell or Red hat cannot match. Besides, they have OSDL, KDE
>> and the other groups working in isolation in accordance with standards
>> (API's, modularity frameworks/specs).
> I have no idea what the actual number is and I don't really try to find
> out either. It's a big project and it's difficult to pin down the exact
> number. The "direct" number of people working on Vista may be
> quantifiable but there are several "indirect" projects going on as
> well. Example: I worked at Groove Networks (Ray Ozzie's company) right
> up until MS bought them. Now there's some "Groove Office" product being
> announced and supposedly parts of Groove that I once worked on are
> being integrated into Vista. Is this considered part of the head count?

Well, operating systems are modular, but often the question is: who works on
the very core (a vaguely-defined concept in its own right) and who works on
something that lies 'on top'? One could argue that operating systems will
gradually offer many things that third-parties (on-top components) were
offering beforehand, even for free. The important aspects about the core are
security, ease of operability and inter-operability, as well as simplicity.
On the face of it, not all are successfully accommodated for.

>> > Hiring better developers doesn't work either IMO. There are already
>> > some incredibly smart people at Msft. Then you need to consider
>> > familiarity and experience with the product. Someone who may be
>> > marginally more intelligent than another developer won't be as
>> > productive as the other developer who has 8 years of experience with
>> > the product.
>> >
>> > I'm also going to take issue with the "quality code" not in absolute
>> > terms, but in a business sense. Keep in mind that Microsoft is a
>> > business, one of the largest in the world, and from a business
>> > perspective there really isn't any incentive to create a perfect
>> > product. It simply has to have reasonable and sufficient quality.
>> Then returns the issue of morale, as well as /drive/. Ballmer preaches
>> about the sacking of people. This means that training of new staff becomes
>> a peril.

To add, he advised (in Britian I think) that managers sack twice the number
of people whom they think are redundant or undermotivated. It was basically
a call for increased sacking as means of 'refreshment'. The ones to lose are
the workers, who are under a lot of pressure already. IT was shown to be the
most stressful occupation, quite recently.

> I did a quick Google search for something but didn't see any obvious
> hits. Give or take around the time I was out in Redmond, Bill Gates
> said something like... "Innovation is easy, you take smart people and
> money and rub the two together." The point I'm making is that morale,
> drive and turnover are to some effect being driven by the lackluster
> performance of Microsoft's stock price.
> Historically Microsoft hasn't paid the highest salaries. But people
> went there for great benefits (they'll finance your home mortage for
> example (at least they did at one time)) and for the stock options.
>>From inception up until the year 2000, MSFT stock was as good as gold.
> You didn't make the big-bucks directly but the stock options more than
> made up for it. This motivated people to work hard since their work
> directly contributed to their success and it helped keep the turnover
> rate low. The same can't be said now days.

Offshoring is an issue as well. A workforce of 800 is to be expanded to 3,000
in China, if I recall correctly (last week's news). This lack of so-called
'patriotism' motives no-one to study CS in the US of A. Why would someone
want to have a chance of working for Bill, only to be replaced by someone
cheaper elsewhere in the world? I will add that Apple and Dell have proven
to be no exception. IBM sacked 13,000 in Europe and created 14,000 jobs in
India rather shortly afterwards. I am not whining, but I am not saying that
this model of employment is in jeopardy, especially in the Westernised
world. As a consequence, the IT world as we know it will change. Forget
about the status-quo and look ahead at the transition and trends. Open
Source grows at sheer rates in the server rooms (Also SOA replacing
desktops). The desktop follows, albeit more slowly so.

> The work itself also plays a large role. Pre Y2K Microsoft was growing,
> lots of new products, new versions of Windows, new things all around
> and it was an exciting place to work. But today many of these products
> are now old and mature. There isn't that much new innovation going into
> the products and the code must certainly be a bear to work on. Not
> good.
>> > The example that you may (or may not) have heard is that Detroit could
>> > build a car that was 99.999% reliable, was incredibly safe and lasted
>> > for 500k miles. The problem is that such a car would be so cost
>> > prohibitive to manufacture that few would be able to afford it.
>> >
>> > That's somewhat the issue with software. Creating a
>> > 'perfect/great/excellent" product takes time, resources and money. If a
>> > company can get 80%-85% of the way there for 50% of the cost we all
>> > know what they'll do.
>> I will always remain curious, Larry. I wonder how much money you made from
>> your venture/involvement with Microsoft. I suspect your life without this
>> reward would have been altogether different, which is why your opinions
>> are taken with a barrel of salt. But I can't take away the credit.
> To be honest that whole phase of my life almost feels surreal now
> because it seems like it all happened so long ago and it happened so
> fast. There are bits and pieces that I remember distinctly but at the
> same time it's all one big blur. I'll modestly say one thing and then
> drop the subject... My wife and I both feel that it was 'just the right
> amount' of money. It wasn't some ridiculous amount where we're living
> in la-la land completely out of touch with reality. But enough to live
> comfortably, secure a nice retirement, help my 3 kids get their start
> in life and to give a some back to causes we believe in.

I am by no means surprised that you defend Microsoft, in that case. You also
find time to post to UseNet, in a Linux newsgroup. I, on the other hand,
could not reply to your post until now, due to a paper submission deadline.
Another one was accepted last night, by the way! *smile*

> I'd like to think that my past experience doesn't influence my position
> with regards to Microsoft and such but how can I tell for sure? I
> initially got involved with computers because it was something
> interesting, challenging and enjoyable for me. Fortunately I still feel
> the same today although the level of enthusiasm isn't quite what it
> once was. ( I use to frequently work on projects around the clock.)

I hope you can see why several people in this newsgroup would depict you as
Microsoft's child, that company being the 'sugar daddy'. I can't blame you
for ending up with large lumps of cash, but always remember it was all made
at the expense of somebody else. From a monetary point of view, everything
is relative. I hope you follow principles rather than a bank balance. I
probably did have my opportunity to work for one of these two giants (that
one which likes Open Source), but I have my doubts. Most latterly:


> I simply don't feel that in order to like one OS I need to hate/dislike
> another OS. If I go out to dinner and order fish it's not because I
> hate beef... it's just that I'm in the mood for fish. The next time out
> I'll go with beef. With computers I'll use Windows if that's what I
> feel like using or if I have some "Windows stuff" to do.
> (<sarcasm>Defragging, install anti-virus, etc.</sarcasm>) And if I feel
> like messing around with Linux (like tonight) then I'll fire up a Linux
> machine. I enjoy using *computers* and whatever OS happens to be
> running at the time. There are several OS's and each has something to
> offer and I don't have to hate one in order to use another.

Fair enough. Just remember to do so humbly. And don't forget what it is that
put Microsoft where it is today. In a world without *fences* and *walls*,
who needs Windows and Gates?

Best wishes,


PS - As usual, not proofread, so please don't judge intelligence based on
hasty posts.

Roy S. Schestowitz      |    "No, I didn't buy that from eBay"
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