The Internet Explorer 8 Ad Campaign Gives Me Pimples

Usually, my nightmares are about flamingly red-eyed minotaurs and axe-wielding aye-aye’s, or a bastard combination of the two. Right now, they’re about Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 8 ad campaign.

“Why?”, you ask — “That’s most peculiar. Surely, no marketing can be that troubling!”. Please, humor me, and take a brief look at this empirical comparison of today’s most popular browsers:

Internet Explorer 8 Comparison ChartChart Copyright © 2009 Microsoft Corporation. Original page.

Even though the check marks are oddly reassuring, I’m sorry Microsoft; the cake you are taking is a lie. That comparison is a grave offense to anyone who has ever used one of the listed alternatives to Internet Explorer, even if only for a few minutes. It’s perfectly okay for a sales pitch to exaggerate a little for greater impact — most people expect it. However, when your points of argument are this abstract and you’re still unable to present a single, true fact, something is off.

But okay — let’s be reasonable. This isn’t the only way Microsoft is winning back Firefox, Chrome and Safari converts, and convincing its existing user base to stay. Here are some other compelling reasons to run Microsoft’s latest and greatest browser:
  • Download IE8, Feed The Hungry — Microsoft donates 8 meals to the hungry per download. The small print states that each download constitutes $1.15. All I want to know is where the guys at Microsoft get their cheeseburgers and curly fries.
  • Use IE8, Find Ten Grand — Guess what. Microsoft buried $10,000 somewhere on the internet, and only Internet Explorer 8 is impressive enough to find them!
  • Download IE8, Get a Nickelback MP3 — This one confuses me a little. I’m not a marketing wiz, but I’m pretty sure that “download X, get Y” campaigns are supposed to be rewarding to the user, too.

I was going to write a small paragraph here, questioning the thinking behind this, but then it occured to me that as long as the target isn’t the computer-savvy demographic (which it clearly isn’t), this probably works — perhaps even pretty well.

A lot of cool things have come out of Microsoft lately, like the ECMA C# and CLI standards and Microsoft Surface. I respect Bing for managing to stand up against Google, too. This ad campaign, however, goes in the proverbial basket with Vista and Millenium.

Subscribe to my RSS feed immediately and:
  • put an end to all suffering in the world ✓
  • score yourself a spot in my will ✓
  • make food obsolete ✓

It’s no wonder this website is one of the world’s highest ranked and supremely most visited. It simply secures the cake ✓

The check mark symbol makes for an excellent replacement of the period ✓

Update: For a slightly more constructive breakdown of the comparison chart, see Busting IE8’s Mythbusting.

Linux Script: FilesByWeek

FilesByWeek is a small script that counts the number of files in a folder that were created (or last modified) in X week of the year. It’s designed for use with Linux/Postfix Maildirs (and thus excludes the standard .Sent folder and any Dovecot/Courier IMAP files from the find query), but should work just fine on any kind of directory.

Get the latest version here. Or, if you just want to see what the fuzz is about:

typeset -i YEAR WEEK COUNT

# Comment out the following line if the year starts on a Monday
# Use current system year by default. This can be changed to e.g.: YEAR=2008
YEAR=`date +%Y`

\find ${TGTDIR} \
-type d \( -name "*.sent" -o -name "*.Sent" -o -name "courierimapkeywords" -o -name "courierimaphieracl" \) -prune -o \
-type f \( ! -name "subscriptions" ! -name "courierimapsubscribed" ! -name "dovecot.index.log*" ! -name "dovecot.index" ! -name "maildirfolder" ! -name "dovecot-keywords" ! -name "dovecot.index.cache" ! -name "courierimapacl" ! -name "courierimapuiddb" ! -name "dovecot-uidlist" \) \
-print |
    while read FILENAME; do
        if [[ `\date +%Y-%W -r "${FILENAME}"` == ${YEAR}-${WEEK} ]]; then
            # Uncomment to show the names of matching files
            # echo ${FILENAME}
            let COUNT++

    echo Week $1 — ${TGTDIR}: ${COUNT}

exit 0

Yes, it's white font on a black screen

Surprise, the warrant that was issued for a college student’s stuff on the basis that he was using an operating system with “white font on a black screen” has been thrown out, as no probable cause existed.

On May 21, 2009, Justice Botsford of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts granted our client Riccardo Calixte’s motion to quash the illegal search warrant with which it seized Calixte’s computers, phones, ipods, camera and other personal property. Not only is this an enormous victory for Calixte himself, but the ruling is also the highest state court opinion to repudiate the nascent law enforcement “trend” of charging internet users who violate websites’ terms of service as criminals. (Case page with background documents here.)

Help, it's white font on a black screen

On Friday, EFF and the law firm of Fish and Richardson filed an emergency motion to quash and for the return of seized property on behalf of a Boston College computer science student whose computers, cell phone, and other property were seized as part of an investigation into who sent an e-mail to a school mailing list identifying another student as gay. The problem? Not only is there no indication that any crime was committed, the investigating officer argued that the computer expertise of the student itself supported a finding of probable cause to seize the student’s property.
“[The Person] reported that Mr. Calixte uses two different operating systems to hide his illegal activities. One is the regular B.C. operating system and the other is a black screen with white font which he uses prompt commands on”. What a nice college.

Twouble with Twitters: SuperNews!

“It seems like twittering is just randomly bragging about your unexceptional life”. Brilliant comedy clip. Twitter users beware, this may sadden you.