Zimbabwe newspaper boss held

BBC: Police arrest a director of Zimbabwe’s only independent daily after the paper is again shut down by the authorities.

China visit

BBC: China pushes Australia trade ties.

The Chinese president gets in front of the parliament. The Dalai Lama didn’t even get a meeting with the Prime Minister. It’s a disgrace.

Some good friends of mine are involved in the Australia Tibet Council, and there is apparently a great ad on page five of today’s The Australian as a response to President Hu Jintao’s day in parliament. Will have to grab a copy and check it out.

Oh, btw, you may want to check out what Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have to say about China’s abysmal human rights record. I wonder what Bob and Kerry would have said about that?! 😉

hate microsoft? like working for free? we’ve got a job for you.

Diego posts some breaking news from Microsoft that is in keeping with my “pick on Microsoft day” theme. (I think I might make this an annual event).

REDMOND, WA — Microsoft Corp. unveiled a new strategy today designed to off-load development of its products to the very same people that hate them. Under the program, self-described Microsoft haters that subscribe to Microsoft’s MSDN program at the low cost of between 500 and 2000 USD, will be able to download the latest build of Longhorn, Microsoft’s next-generation operating system. After spending untold hours setting the system up, those users will be able to write up and even publish their ideas and criticism on their own weblog, or public forums or talk about them with friends and family. More significantly, Microsoft vowed to actually pay attention to some of the feedback. Robert Scoble described this unprecedented move of allowing people to talk about things as follows: “Why is this a massive change? Everytime we’ve released a version of Windows before we kept it secret. We made anyone who saw it sign an NDA (non-disclosure agreement). Even many of those of you who signed NDAs weren’t really given full access to the development teams and often if you were, it was too late to really help improve the product.” Microsoft noted that they hoped that these new hate-filled testers would prove more effective than the estimated 50,000 internal and 20,000 external testers that had given feedback on previous versions, going as far back as Windows 2000. “Honestly,” said one Microsoft executive who wished to remain anonymous, “All those guys must have been asleep at the wheel. I mean, look at the stuff we’ve released in the last three, four years. Nothing works. We’ve had so many viruses and worms that we’ve got calls from WHO offering to send out a team to help.”

LOL. But wait, there’s more.

Hehe – my first smile for the day (having a tax return that won’t balance, trains cancelled, transferring domains fail, and doing business card artwork that just doesn’t seem to want to do what I want can do that to me.)

Empower my ass

I got extremely excited when Joel mentioned the Empower ISV program for AUD$1500. It really did seem too good to be true so I immediately checked it out.

Indeed Microsoft Australia also offer the Empower ISV program. First of all, you apparently need to be able to show that you are new to Microsoft platform development to be eligible. We managed to convince them that our new application (currently under development) was sufficient for this. Then I told a friend about the program, and he looked a little deeper.

The program is for 12 months only. At the end of that 12 months you must discontinue using the software for development purposes. But, get this, you cannot upgrade from the products you are using to the full version of the product. To get the equivalent full-price version of what ISV gets you, you need to spend AUD$4000.

So, after spending $1.5 to try this out, you then get slogged for an additional $4k!

Now you might be thinking “so what – it’s still cheap”. That is unless a) you have a small development team, b) you don’t currently spend the money on over-priced bloat-ware from Microsoft or c) both (as is the case for us).

We have been developing our software using non-MS products (except for the operating system) for three years now – and you know what? Our total development tools budget is less than $3k. There is one thing that we can’t do efficiently with our current setup – Windows.Forms applications – which for us is not an issue.

If we were to run our product ourselves, buying all of the MS related software etc. we would be spending approx. $30k. No wonder Linux, Mono and other open source tools are getting so much interest! (And why MS supposedly suffers so much from piracy.)

In fact, just this morning, I noticed WebCentral, one of Australia’s largest ISP’s is now offering Linux-based servers. This from one of Microsoft’s highlighted customers.

For the record, the development tools we use:

Let’s see – I spend a bit more time getting my head around Linux, and what do I get?

Mono.net – $0
Postgres SQL – $0
Linux – $0 (and WebCentral can still host it – we’re already paying them so no difference there)
Primal Code – ~$600 / developer
TestTrack – ~$600 / developer (or Bugzilla – $0)
Google and online documentation: $0
NUnit – $0
NDoc – $0

So I can do what costs me ~ $30k with MS products for around $1.5k per developer.

Maybe I’m late on the cluetrain, but this is ridiculous.

Oh, and when I pointed out to the sales person all of this (a pointless excercise I know), the smug reply was “actually, we do quite well as it is”. So it seems I’ve learnt the lesson – if you’re a BigCo you can afford to support the Microsoft platform. Otherwise…