Letters she wishes you'd sent.

Fan(tasy) Mail

Letters she wishes you'd sent.

Ah, summer! Nothing for Auntie and my Fabio to do but lie back and catch the rays beside the Olympic-sized swimming pool at our villa on our own Caribbean isle. Oh, Gilligan! Another pitcher of tuña coladas, please…

As long as your Em is indulging in some harmless fantasy, she thought she’d take the time to answer those letters you never sent, but wanted to. So slather on the sunblock, throw another CPU on the barbie, and follow along on this amazing journey.

dear Em:

I’m a humble entrepreneur, one of those selfless, dedicated businessmen who’ve grown a huge operating system and software empire from my own sweat, toil, and a whole bunch of carefully-worded, no-you-don’t- need-to-read-the-fine-print-there-are-no-surprises-in-there-at-all contracts. Now that we’re at the top of the heap, I don’t understand why our business practices are under suspicion simply because we’ll do anything short of deploying the company’s tactical nuclear arsenal to beat down all competition to an under five percent share of any market we might want to be involved in over the next millenium. Can’t the Feds see I’m just trying to make a living?
GillB@sicromoft.com

Listen, hon: There are livings and then there are livings. The living you want to make seems to involve personally being a factor in the Gross Planetary Product.

The concept that the Feds seem to be concerned about is that of a level playing field. Your cleverly anonymized company—by providing both OSes and applications—has such an impact on the level of the field that even Mark McGwire couldn’t do better than a slow roller to short. Now you’ll say, “That’s not our fault—it’s the marketplace functioning as it should,” but the whole point of those fun court dates is that your company’s actions, practices, and policies, which put you at the top of the heap, just might have crossed a few of the lines that divide honest competition from, uh, predation on the level of a T.Rex with a bad case of the munchies.

On a personal level, your depositions leave a tad to be desired vis a vis sincerity and believability. Just because our politicians have made plausible deniability an art form is no reason to think you can get away with it, especially with your reputation for attention to detail. Want equitable treatment from the government? Then don’t tap dance for half an hour on tape. It gets under people’s skin. Oh, and find yourself better demo editors.

Auntie:

I am so sick of reading your love notes to Mister Bill every month. Microsoft, Microsoft, Microsoft! Is that all your magazine ever writes about? Don’t you know there are other operating systems out there? NT still doesn’t hold a candle to any flavor of Unix, the MacOS is a lot easier to use, and heck, I have customers who are getting plenty of mileage out of their VAXs and 30-year-old mainframes. Redmond is not the center of the universe, you know!
A very angry person who knows where you live

Angry, you’re right, it’s not the center of the universe and this gal doesn’t live or die by the pronunciations of Bill Gates. I happen to make my living with Microsoft products. I don’t see how you can call my rants “love letters,” as I don’t believe I’ve been particularly easy on the gentleman recently.

As for what this magazine writes about, look at the cover. Does it say “Unix Certified Professional” or “NetWare Certified Professional”? We write for MCPs, and when we write about other OSes, it’s often in the context of interoperability with Microsoft products. And if you know where I live, then you also know about the minefield and the Dobermans, right?

Dear so-called Em C. Pea:

I am so sick of the way you make it a point to kick the stuffing out of Microsoft in your monthly column. How can this magazine continue to publish someone who so blatantly bites the hand that feeds it?
Another angry person who knows where you live

Yep, Auntie gets letters from both sides; maybe that means I’m doing something right.

Sometimes I think of myself as part of a yin-yang balancing in MCP Magazine. You know, the sour to their sweet, the cream to their coffee, the raw shellfish to their green bean casserole.

Actually, I don’t write to be vindictive or kick anyone’s stuffing from an editorial point of speaking. I’m an MCP who tries to write honestly (and humorously, though I can understand if you want to debate that point) about some of the issues and concerns of being an MCP. I’m no more or less sympathetic to Redmond than I would be to any large corporation in a position of market dominance. I do have a low tolerance for spin, double-talk, and the artful deconstruction of reality for the sake of quarterly earnings, but I’d feel the same way no matter what industry I was writing about.

By the way, I receive zero feedback, threats, comments, or anything of the like from Microsoft. Darn. Yoo hoo, boys! Over here!

And there you have it, boys and girls, letters I know you’ve wanted to write but couldn’t find the time, the inspiration, or the right crayon. Hasta la vista from La Isla de Tia Em; we’ll get back to the usual rants next month.

About the Author

Em C. Pea, MCP, is a technology consultant, writer and now budding nanotechnologist who you can expect to turn up somewhere writing about technology once again.