Wayfaring Stranger

Merry Christmas

I just got my Christmas letter out this weekend ... you can see it here in HTML, or here in PDF.

Note: the HTML version is smaller for viewing online, the PDF is larger for printing.


Prayer Request -- Jet slides off runway, boy killed

Including the Burbank, CA incident ... at first glance this is Southwest's first fatality. And right now I feel really sick. Not only for the boy, which is tragic ... but for the pilot and crew as well. I can't image what the parents and the crew will have to live through.

Please keep them all in your prayers.

SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) -- A Southwest Airlines Co. jet attempting to land at Chicago Midway Airport in heavy snow Thursday night slid off a runway and crashed through a fence into a busy street, hitting two vehicles and killing a 6-year-old boy, according to media reports.

Two of the 98 passengers on the Southwest flight suffered minor injuries, and as many as eight other people in the vehicles were taken to local hospitals, according to media reports.

The flight originated in Baltimore and was bound for Las Vegas after stopping in Chicago.

The airport was closed indefinitely after the accident, which occurred about 7:15 p.m. Central in heavy snow.

Midway, Chicago's second-largest after O-Hare International, had reported 7 inches of snow Thursday, but airport officials said runways were open and conditions acceptable at the time of the accident, according to media reports.

The Southwest Boeing 737 slid through the northwest corner of the airport, through the boundary fence and into a road bordering the airport, the Associated Press reported, citing the Federal Aviation Administration's regional office in Chicago.

At least two vehicles were damaged, and one was pinned under the plane, the AP said.

National Transportation Safety Board and FAA officials from Washington were on their way to Chicago to investigate.

Microsoft's mythical man-years

I admit it (without shame), I am a techie. There, I said it. And this article is for techies ... and anybody with an opinion on Microsoft, anybody getting the blue screen of death, anybody supporting their Grandma and trying to deinfest her PC from all the viruses and spyware she got from opening an email from "Donald" (she knew a Donald once ya know ... forgetting she never gave Donald her email address).

Oh, and open source folk might like to read this too.

Note: this article is not *new* per say, but it was new and interesting to me. The following are a few selected quotes from the article. They are very anti-Mircosoft selected ... but then the article wasn't exactly complementary :-)

But apparently Microsoft was unable to convince other companies to adopt it as a trusted middleman. "After nine months of intense effort," the Times' John Markoff reports, "the company was unable to find any partner willing to commit itself to the program" -- an extraordinary rebuff. With no third-party services on tap to offer users of Persona/Hailstorm (ed. HA!), Microsoft decided to abandon the project -- though its underlying .Net technology remains the heart of the company's push to build a new generation of Internet services.

Trust is hard to win and easy to squander. Though Microsoft remains the software industry's 800-pound gorilla, it cannot achieve its goals alone. And on several different fronts today, Microsoft has lost valuable credibility.

Fielding says that Lipner's "more man-years" claim is "absolute crap. They probably spent more money on it, but he is misdirecting the public based on the theory that there are fewer open source developers per project than there are people per project within Microsoft ... "

The open-source model, in other words, allows for a kind of global stress-testing, peer review and transparent repair that Microsoft can never guarantee. Since its code is proprietary, you can only take Microsoft's word that it has fixed bugs and plugged security holes. And the next time a rogue virus takes down your company's e-mail server, all you can do is curse -- and wait for the company to issue a fix.

With its vast resources, Microsoft can afford more "man-years" than anyone else on earth. But can it rewrite principles of the software business first identified nearly 30 years ago?

The answer will become plain as the results of the "trustworthy computing" project emerge. If the torrent of security gaffes in Microsoft products vanishes, we can applaud Redmond's intrepid troops. But if we're still battling the spawn of the NIMDA and Code Red worms in a year or two, it's time to stop trusting Bill Gates for good.

Despite the tone, I do not hate Microsoft. In fact I sometimes pity them. When turning from an upstart, small, fast thinking company who can take advantage of current trends; they have become a company that has to support years of legacy crap, ensure that all the old crap runs, ensure that the new crap runs, and try and think up new ways to dig themselves out of that old bog. While opensource thinks up new ways of doing new things without the crap monkey on their back. I think Microsoft has become too big, too slow, and too laden with old bad decisions and will implode like dot com and Ma Bell.

Microsoft's mythical man-years