Self Respect is the Root of Discipline

That made for a pointedly ironic fortune cookie at lunch today.

There is a difference, from what I can tell, in the quality of Open verses proprietary software in terms of the code quality. It is said that Open Source encourages better code quality, because when other people are looking at your code, you care more about what it looks like. Or, put another way, Open Source gives you a greater incentive to take pride in your source code and not just the finished product. It’s a question of respect, not unlike the difference in the quality of housekeeping between a family that regularly entertains guests and a bachelor that lives alone and never invites anyone over. (I assert the right to poke fun at a group of which I am a member.)

I could tell horror stories (most developers probably could), but I won’t. It’s just something that bothers me, that I’ve seen in real life; proprietary software is built on the principle of minimal effort. The necessary level of quality is that which doesn’t generate support requests, and no more. It’s an approach that favors “quick and dirty” solutions over Doing the Right Thing. It’s an approach that doesn’t care one whit for aesthetics (especially if, God forbid, that should get in people’s way)… and in my opinion, it’s often a short-sighted approach.

Free Software projects, on the other hand, frequently enforce very high standards of quality. The Linux kernel is renowned for being very strict about what code gets committed. It’s not in the least uncommon to reject patches with style issues, or missing documentation, or any number of reasons that wouldn’t even be considered in a proprietary project. And yet, I think it’s worth it.

I’ve been accused of being a perfectionist. I’ve also been told “perfect is the enemy of good”. While both are probably true, I still believe in quality. I’m not much in favor of settling for 80% when 95% is attainable. It’s a little difference between “works” and “works well and is both aesthetic and maintainable”.

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“Ethics? We’ve heard of it” — Microsoft

“You know what Microsoft’s problem really is? They’ve lost the ability to feel ashamed.” — Pamela Jones

So it seems Microsoft has taken it upon themselves to “educate” Best Buy employees about the numerous “benefits” of Windows 7.

I’m not surprised Best Buy is going along with this.

I’m surprised they needed Microsoft’s help.

The thing is, back before I got my current job, I interviewed with Best Buy once (to be a sales floor associate). I think I know why I didn’t get the job. See, there was a question about how to help a customer secure their computer.

Any guesses why “well, let me tell you about these free tools” didn’t go over so well?

Best Buy’s priority (indeed, that of most corporations) is not the customer. It is to make money. Microsoft may be the most egregious (or at least the best known) example of putting profit before people, but they’re hardly alone. And so it is no surprise that Best Buy would lie to make a sale.

They don’t care about the customer, they don’t care about ethics, and they have absolutely no problem with dishonesty and even outright extortion. It’s all about the money for these people.

As far as what Microsoft is up to… Scott Adams hit the nail on the head.