Jeff Abrahamson on 20 May 2005 14:54:10 -0000

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Re: [PLUG] Drexel MCS Society Debate

On Thu, May 19, 2005 at 10:16:27PM -0400, wrote:
>   [39 lines, 304 words, 2015 characters]  Top characters: et-ao_sn
> Thanks to you PLUG folk that showed up at the debate and to all who
> helped me prepare in this forum.  I felt reasonably prepared (well I
> _did_ kind of read Jon's PDA email almost verbatim.)  I had fun doing it
> and feel like I got the Linux/Open Source case across fairly well.  It
> helps that the audience appeared to be 98% Linux users :-)
> Alex from Microsoft was a bit abrasive at times but overall seemed
> fairly reasonable.  What did you observers think?  I found out when
> speaking with him before the debate that his job is to go to colleges in
> the Delaware Valley area and promote Microsoft tools and products!  He
> drives a BMW so evidently it pays well.  I did not know I'd be up
> against a professional "hit man".
> My wife attended and said I was a bit too nice when he got kind of
> snotty.  I told her that I do NOT respond in kind to attitude stuff
> because it just escalates without any ultimate benefit to the audience.
> I did get off a good one when he was repeatedly denigrating "Linux" for
> having so many different installers compared to the nice, easy installer
> for Windows.  I told him it was good that Windows installs easily
> because I've had to re-install windows dozens of times! :-)  That got a
> laugh.

It was good for a non-pro against a pro.  The other guy was pretty
much what I expected from MS.  Anyway, I was hoping for a mutual
bloodbath myself.  You were definitely too nice. ;-)

As is MS policy, he presented mostly FUD.  He even said this.
(There's a name for this rhetorical device, although I can't remember
it off hand: saying what you won't say and in the process saying it.
E.g., "I will not tell you that my opponent is a crook.")  So, for
example, those of us who were there may have noticed him saying stuff
like, "Of course, both linux and MS have disadvantages."  But then he
only enumerated the disadvantages of linux.

For the sake of learning for next time (if you ever do this again ;-),
I'd say just try to think of pro-linux FUD-ish things and how to
respond to anti-linux ones.  So, for example, the install thing was
great.  His thing about bug lists is typically unfair: it's the
*public* version of the MS bug list for *Windows*, compared to the bug
list for nearly every linux app out there.

On security, it's often worth noting that bug fixes frequently come
out same day as the announcement and the announcements are often same
day as the discovery.  MS, on the other hand, well, there's no audit
trail, but it's often months.  It doesn't matter if it really is
months, he can only respond with unconvincing examples.  But then its
FUD: do we trust Windows when we don't even get to see the full bug
list in real time and *every* engineer's notes on it as it goes along?
What are they hiding?

Of course, these things are way easier to say from the sidelines when
you're not on the spot as well as when it's all over and you had a
chance to think about them overnight.  What happened in real time was
good and fun.

Thanks a lot for doing such a great job and for all the time you put
into it.  I don't think I could have done that.


 Jeff Abrahamson  <>    +1 215/837-2287
 GPG fingerprint: 1A1A BA95 D082 A558 A276  63C6 16BF 8C4C 0D1D AE4B

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