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Saturday, May 15, 2004

This, my friends, is kickass...

May 14, 2004 — The front-runner in a $10-million race to send the first private crewed vehicle into space Thursday made a test flight that took a solo pilot near the edge of space.

Aspiring astronaut Mike Melvill piloted the SpaceShipOne rocket plane, designed by legendary aircraft designer Burt Rutan, to nearly 41 miles above the planet's surface, nine miles shy of NASA's official designation of space and 21 miles short of the finish line for the X-Prize.


Y'know, if a tool like Paul Allen wasn't involved (he's part owner of the company), this would be just about perfect. As it is, I may have to overlook some of Mr. Allen's attempts to gentrify South Lake Union, as between this, the Sci-Fi museum, and the rebuilding of the Cinerama, the man's done some pretty cool shit for the city and for nerd-kind in general.

Then again, Zach's housemate, Dave (who was a Microserf for a year or so), explained to me in great detail last night how Microsoft deliberately pits its employees against each other (i.e. Project Managers vs. Testing Leads), offering both sides bonuses, but for completely opposed things.

With the Project Manager/Testing Lead situation, they'll offer a stepped bonus to the Project Manager against his targeted completion date, so that if he hits the target date he gets a particular bonus, if he hits it a week early, he gets a bigger bonus, etc. Then they'll offer the Testing Lead on the same project a stepped bonus against how many bugs he finds. So, he finds a thousand bugs, a small bonus; five thousand bugs, a bigger bonus; etc. So you've got two guys butting heads over the project, one guy who just wants to get it to market, no matter what kind of shape it's in (which, I think, helps to explain MS's infamous quality history), and one guy who wants to hold it back and dig through every keystroke in the kernel, finding problems (which explains why the fucking product never ships on time), and between those two things you've got a shitty, late project that everybody buys 'cause MS has, essentially, a monopoly on software. "The worst choice in a one-product market," to paraphrase Dave. Everybody buys it 'cause A.) every PC on the market, pretty much, comes with it loaded & B.) very few people realize there's ANY other choice and C.) the only other choice, really, is Linux, which, again, most people don't understand and/or know about. Then again, I'm running a stolen version of 98 on my laptop (grabbed the disks from work, not Warez) and don't have a fast enough connection to get Linus, so I'm not really one to talk, right?

All right, y'all, I've gotta get ready for practice, but I'll try to check in tonight. We're supposed to be going to Madame K's, and that's always a fun deal.

Over and-

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