[Beowulf] An OT patented rgb editorial rant, skip if you like...

Vincent Diepeveen diep at xs4all.nl
Wed Jan 24 01:17:25 PST 2007

hi Robert,

I have even printed on hardcopy your 2 postings that good i found them.
Keep doing the good posts.

You could bring up some more arguments pro and contra.

Where you as a professor in USA probably look at a good salarycheck each 
and by god you deserve it, majority of planet doesn't. Especially young 
people do not.

As linux is total unusuable by the average grammar- and highschool kid, 
windows is the only alternative to them.

Just to have fully functional machine with all software installed under 
windows, you already lose a fortune to software.
It is not only microsoft charging much. Simple graphics software to draw and 
paint. Boom 600 dollar. Editor, dang 300 dollar.

That is more than the total amount of money that the average income here 
netto can spend a MONTH.
Do you feel that the price policy of microsoft and other software 
manufacturers is bad from educational viewpoint?

In other words, they have no option but to illegal copy if you want to work 
with the 'professional editions' of products.

Now we didn't even discuss the far east, where salaries are considerable 
lower. I calculated, of course as a total layman, that the average factory 
worker in China earns 30 cent an hour.

That's far cheaper than any robot can deliver the same amount of work for, 
as electricity costs are already higher,
according to my uninformed doodling paper.

They aren't ever in their lifetime going to buy legal software. Besides in 
all those countries on the road for like half a dollar you can buy all 
cdroms and dvd's with whatever you want to have at it. 5 dollar for visual 
studio 2005 enterprise edition at a DVD in India on the street.

Are all those electronic media, especially software, making the new 
generations less honest citizens?
Or would we need more than what we do now for them when they grow up?

So i share your concern of price. Microsoft (and many other software 
producers) are way way too expensive selling their software.
For the same reason of course microsoft will take over the highend 
completely. Everything is very expensive there. Microsoft is relative cheap 
and will first outcompete all others and has a long breath. So they 
basically will take over all highend and clusters, except for a few massive 
ones where universities can afford to pay for linux staff, as the personnel 
is way cheaper than the hardware. That won't be many.

With respect to microsoft there is a good argument why they are the only 
popular operating system. Making a user friendly operating system with well 
tested drivers is very hard.

On the other hand i totally agree with some anti-m$ points that I am total 
disgusted by the many hardware devices i bought over the years which next 
version of windows no longer work. An expensive HP scanner, a HP printer, 
pen tablets and so on.

Especially windows XP to SP2 was a big dang in hardware.

Where software works upwards compatible usually, drivers do not. Very very 

Yet making an operating system that supports all that, and also works user 
friendly, is simply very hard. Perhaps it is just too hard to expect that 
for every hardware product there will exist 2 drivers made by the 
manufacturer and that mankind is just capable of maintaining 1 company that 
can do so.

Some brainstorming (now it really becomes totally off topic here):

Not long from now we'll get ways to completely indoctrinate and train people 
with 3d software directly projected into the brain all kind of skills Now 
all kind of research has been forbidden in the EU, so quite possibly less 
friendly regimes towards their people will soon surpass the skills we have 
there and will manage to control their population 100% in all respects with 
just some software and revolutionary biological concepts.

We should not fear that future. At least it allows us to educate and train 
children to become normal human beings with no criminal/terrorristic 
intentions. The difference between nations with Islamic laws and the rest 
will grow of course, because a logical
following of their own rules, laws and interpretations of their holy texts 
just lets them worship death and lobotomize women.

Children in such training programs in the first world, will have a major 
advantage over the islamic and south-american communistic continent. You can 
train them not only much better, but also teach them a lot more and force 
them to focus, giving the teaching entity (most likely with a real living 
teacher nearby), more chances to learn the kids more.

It might be quite questionable whether we want several companies to develop 
a program for that in a commercial manner, instead of combine all efforts 
into one big product that boots and controls our environment. Companies have 
the habit of following the KISS principle everywhere and already release a 
product in order to make money, before it works well. The marketing 
department is making up the rest of the story then.

One big well tested good product that already suffers delays because of 
concerns of politicians, who tend to forget that it really doesn't matter 
too much whether software is involved or not, as in the end it is that same 
teacher in highschool that has most influence at it; all that might be 
better sometimes than when we look to the buggy manner in which most GUI 
software get produced. Total without any form of testing.

Imagine that all that, now that we just discussed one example in the civil 
area, not even the terminator part yet, can easily be adopted by other 
nations and other companies, without need to cooperate with the west, what 
will happen then considering that their laws are not so sophisticated like 
ours (EU goes further in forbidding research than USA/Israel by the way) and 
their intentions quite different from those of the democracies. It is not 
hard for me to imagine that there is at least a number of people who will 
not be able to get to bed with that idea and sleep well.

Is there room for a second effort there?

Isn't it already hard enough to make 1 product that can recognize languages. 
English is easy to recognize, just like Spanish, but did you consider Dutch 
and German?

Not to mention Arabic.

Dutch is a far more polite language than English. We have 2 different words 
for "you". One ("u") that you use for people who you respect or when you 
want to say things in a polite manner, or simply because someone is a lot 
older. And a 'you' ("jij") that you use to adress friends and colleges.

Both translate to 'you' in english.

Arabic has its own unique forms for things when it has to do with either 1 
person, 2 persons, 1 female, 2 females etc.

Just getting all that work correct in the computer is a huge task.

When i did do some small research for my chess program to incorporate voice 
recognition and speech,
i was total shocked by how little the field there advanced past 10 years, 
especially for Dutch.
Not to mention all the constraints and impossibilities. Of course what 
really forced me to dump all those plans
was the huge price to use just one of those products features into my Diep3d 

In fact it might be easier to teach the next generations a new language that 
they just speak when communicating with hardware.

An OS using that, especially linux, is not going to be able to quickly 
implement that, if linux EVER gets something like that.

Microsoft will manage however.


Please note that i'm not working for Microsoft, so i am quite objective in 
this discussion.
At home i run both linux and windows.

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Robert G. Brown" <rgb at phy.duke.edu>
To: "Thomas H Dr Pierce" <TPierce at rohmhaas.com>
Cc: "Beowulf Mailing List" <Beowulf at beowulf.org>
Sent: Wednesday, January 24, 2007 12:23 AM
Subject: Re: [Beowulf] An OT patented rgb editorial rant, skip if you 

> On Tue, 23 Jan 2007, Thomas H Dr Pierce wrote:
>> Now as for the size of the computer market and Microsoft. Nope, the top 
>> 10
>> companies in the US are 1. Exxon Mobil 2. Wal-Mart Stores 3. General
>> Motors 4. Chevron 5. Ford Motor 6. ConocoPhillips 7. General Electric 8.
>> Citigroup  9. AIG  10. IBM  - and one can argue that IBM is not a 
>> computer
>> company these days: They are a services company to a large degree.
>> Personally I fear Walmart, but the Oil companies are probably more
>> powerful.
> I agree.  Oil companies are terribly dangerous and powerful, and in
> spite of publications to the contrary I strongly suspect that they have
> manipulated the last two presidential elections and dictated a
> tremendous amount of US foreign policy from behind the scenes at the
> White House.
> The point isn't that Microsoft is the world's greatest corporate danger,
> it is that it is a unique corporate danger, different from those you
> list above in many ways.  The biggest single difference is that there is
> real competition in all of the markets represented above, indeed in
> nearly all major markets including those that are dominated by very
> large companies.  In fact, the top ten list above contains a number of
> companies that are in fact competitors.  Some of them are indeed
> dangerous -- as I said, the world is still finding ways of dealing with
> the multinational supercorp.  Still, there are many oil companies (and
> potential alternatives to oil, however much we are addicted to the
> stuff).  There are many car companies in many countries, and the barrier
> isn't so great that one couldn't conceive of a new one emerging.  Some
> of these are banks or holding companies, which are definitely dangerous
> but are also strongly regulated (not necessarily effectively, but
> regulated).
> Microsoft is quite different.  It is basically unopposed in the
> marketplace (however much its competitors would like to think otherwise,
> the numbers are simply overwhelming), and has agreements in place that
> make it nearly impossible for any real competition to arise.  It has
> deals with hardware manufacturers (and the practical side effects of its
> consumer monopoly) to guarantee that it and only it releases an
> operating system product that will run "all PC hardware".  To further
> lock this in, it has agreements -- totally legal ones, I would guess --
> that lock in the vast, vast majority of computer resellers to offer
> exclusively Microsoft Windows as a pre-installed computer operating
> system option.  Local vendors that I know of that would LIKE to offer
> pre-installed Linux systems cannot do so because if they do, they will
> essentially be forced out of business overnight as MS bumps their prices
> by more than enough to remove their marginal profitability in this
> thin-margin business.  Similarly, desktop software companies that do not
> develop products that run on Microsoft's operating system simply have no
> chance of surviving.
>> And where is Intel in this monopoly?  They own 80% share in the world
>> market by some measures. But I do not want to add to the conspiracy
> This is a smaller share than Microsoft's, and they have numerous sources
> of competition.  Intel dominates CPUs and computer firmware, perhaps,
> but they have solid competition there and this is still only one part of
> the overall chip market where there is far more competition, including a
> great deal of global competition.  Worrisome, perhaps, but consider that
> Intel requires raw materials and multibillion dollar chip foundries and
> a huge amount of R&D investment to operate in its marketplace.  Chips
> have to be built, humans and machines have to build them, they have to
> be assembled by humans and machines into devices (usually by an entirely
> different company), the devices have to be loaded with ware of one sort
> or another, shipped to wholesalers, shipped further to retailers, and
> are marked up every step of the way.
> In spite of the immense overhead of all of these steps and the immense
> investment required to actually build the chips into machines (where
> ultimately those chips are commodity items and easily replaced by
> functional equivalents subject only to the co-development of firmware
> and/or software) what do we find?  A modern PC sells retail for as
> little as $500 -- even laptops are now selling for only a bit more.  To
> load it with Microsoft Windows XP Pro and Office Pro at full retail
> costs MORE than this.  Add antivirus, add any other software at all and
> your software costs COULD exceed the cost of the system on which they
> run by a factor of two or even more.
> This is truly amazing!  The "manufacturing costs" for this software are
> on the order of a buck, and more money is probably spent on the box and
> manual (such as it is) than on the actual CD(s).  Instead of teams of
> hundreds of engineers and billion dollar capital investment foundries
> and tens of thousands of employees working in the manufacturing sector
> and massive sales and support operations one has teams of hundreds of
> (software) engineers, followed by -- sales and support, with as little
> of the latter as they can get away with and maintain their market.
> They might as well just print money.
> So I don't think it is at all fair to compare Intel with Microsoft.  One
> has a position of major risk, is constantly required to reinvest huge
> blocks of money in ten-billion dollar chunks or lose their market
> dominance, and has competition that is doing their best to eat their
> lunch.  As a person that screens graduate applications from Chinese
> students, let me tell you that Chinese scientific academe from high
> school through graduate programs there is overwhelmingly focused on
> microelectronics, nanotechnology, and novel information processing
> schema.  Intel, AMD, TI, Motorola, Fujitsu, IBM -- none of them are
> secure, not from each other and not from new threats being born in the
> world marketplace.  In this competition -- even competition between
> giants -- world consumers gain tremendous benefits.  That's WHY the
> margins on computer systems are so thin -- it is one of the most
> cut-throat businesses on the planet.
> But Microsoft doesn't care.  Every one of these marginally profitable
> machines that is sold is a guaranteed $50, $100, $300 in their pocket
> over the lifetime of the machine, the bulk of it pure profit.  They make
> more actual post-cost money from the sale of a computer than any other
> participant in the process.
>> theories. A source of conspiracy theories is when people see short-term
>> tactical events that personally affect them that are driven by overlooked
>> long-term trends.  Microsoft is benefiting from the trend in personal
>> computing. This trend could end with computing becoming entertainment ala
>> youtube, or personal cellphones or very powerful personal digital
>> assistants or personal networks or something else. With the rate of 
>> change
>> these days is it unlikely to remain a trend in personal computing.
> These examples seem to me to be fairly irrelevant.  They are all
> distinct markets and have nothing to do with the viability or necessity
> of personal computers in business, nor with the software packages that
> will support those desktop business functions.  Microsoft is uniquely
> positioned to exploit their market position and maintain dominance in
> any new or emerging area as it emerges, as well.
> However, the general idea of an emergent challenger is certainly
> something to hope for.  However, note well that Microsoft has endured
> more or less unchallenged since it betrayed IBM on the OS/2 deal in the
> early 90's, and has in that time wiped out OS/2, Netscape (co-opting the
> consumer/client side of the web), numerous other software companies,
> concepts, products, and survived even their own incompetence -- who else
> could sell an operating system that you don't dare to use in a
> professional environment without spending money with third parties to
> "fix" its huge, glaring security holes? Fifteen years is three computing
> eternities already, and it is difficult offhand to see them failing in
> the next two eternities UNLESS the long awaited invasion of the penguin
> people occurs.
> It could -- IBM is pushing it (amazingly clumsily, in my opinion, given
> their capacity for core investment).  Novell could possibly manage it,
> although they have a history of shooting themselves in the foot.  Red
> Hat is pursuing the most conservative of strategies and trying to become
> Sun Microsystems, not Microsoft, which is worrisome as they are
> duplicating a failed strategy, badly.  Linux "competition" for Microsoft
> these days reminds me unfortunately of the three stooges, not of a clear
> and coherent view of the challenges involved in achieving world
> domination.  However, linux doesn't stand or fall with its corporate
> champions -- it is too delocalized, too robust, too free.  And at any
> moment, any of its corporate champions could grow a brain, or
> demonstrate that I'm wrong and they've had a brain all along and it is I
> that is brainless or lacking in subtlety.
>> As for Microsoft HPC, well, that could work. I still remember the days
>> when everyone said that white collar workers won't type their own memos,
>> when people said that no one would buy personal computers because
>> operating systems were complex and when people said that home networks
>> were too complex to setup and use. ...  Microsoft HPCs have barriers to
>> overcome, but if they work for a segment of the poplulation, then let's
>> move on to the next issue.
> Oh, I expect them to be wildly successful, but that isn't where the real
> money is.  Rather they are planting a sprout, and doubtless they will
> water it well, so that however well it grows or productive it proves, it
> will stunt the growth of everything else in the garden.  Except that
> they don't really >>understand<< linux, or the forces that gave rise to
> COTS clusters in the first place.  Their cluster effort remains
> vulnerable to the same things that old big iron supercomputers were
> vulnerable to -- long term price pressure.  Again, Microsoft is counting
> on people being willing to spend a signficant fraction of the cost of
> their hardware on their software instead.  This means that they have the
> eternal choice -- more boxes (and run linux) or fewer boxes (and run
> Windows).  At constant investment, they will be spending long term
> throughput capacity for the software.
> Some groups will be happy enough with this deal.  Specifically, those
> who want intermittant "bursts" of HPC and who also have a MS-dominated
> operational environment.  However, groups who expect an uptime of close
> to 100% on the resource will not be happy losing 20% of their potential
> throughput (or more) just so that they can submit through a pretty GUI,
> even for smallish clusters, and face it -- building a Linux cluster just
> isn't that difficult.  High school students do it successfully.  I've
> helped maybe fifty groups around the world get started just with a few
> email messages and some guidance, and then there is this list.  And it
> is pretty easy to get a "pretty" prebuilt turnkey linux cluster as well,
> and the margins are likely to be smaller relative to the hardware.
> Basically, as long as MS continues to dominate the desktop market,
> they'll sell HPC systems to MS-centric clients.  If their grip on the
> desktop market should loosen, or if their share of the server market
> starts to slip (which basically can only happen as organizations adopt
> linux and lower the management barrier cost for doing linux clusters),
> their cluster market will slip along with it.
> Or maybe this is just wishful thinking on my part.  Punditry isn't
> perfect, and the world is a complex place...;-)
>    rgb
>> ------
>> Sincerely,
>>   Tom Pierce
> -- 
> Robert G. Brown                        http://www.phy.duke.edu/~rgb/
> Duke University Dept. of Physics, Box 90305
> Durham, N.C. 27708-0305
> Phone: 1-919-660-2567  Fax: 919-660-2525     email:rgb at phy.duke.edu
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