3636 posts • joined 31 May 2010
I don't think that word means what you think it means.
No, off to dig out my car. Another 15cm fell last night, and I think the lock might have frozen...
To be fair, there are plenty of solutions I've built for clients I am not proud of whatsoever. Some of them are miserable, terrible kludges and they keep me awake at night. They are, however, the best that could be done with the resources at hand and I'd be willing to stand in front of a judge and defend that.
Though there are quite a few I am very proud of. Orthogonal solutions to common problems that accomplish difficult tasks with far fewer resources than our industry generally believes to be possible. (You'd be positively floored to see what I can do with a Neatgear WNDR7200 V2.)
Sadly, I don't get to write about those on The Register. The Register is very space constrained, and also topically constrained. The Sysadmin Blog is mine and mine alone, but the subtle hint has been to keep it short whenever possible – the goal is 600 words – and make it "bloggy" and personal. Something to keep the commenters riled up and talking.
Features are things I have to pitch. They have to have a professional bent, preferably appealing to the CxO/department head crowd. Decision makers and purchasers. Everything else is a topic I am handed, not one I pick.
So I don't get to write a 5000 word document on "how you turn a WNDR2700 V2 into a Samba 4 domain controller, file server, DHCP, DNS, IDS and Firewall unit with backups to the cloud and one-click restore to a spare unit." I product such documentation internally, but it doesn't make it out to the web for lack of publishing bandwidth.
I've decided that in 2013 I will start publishing a lot more of that stuff on Trevorpott.com. With luck, I'll be able to link to some of them from my sysadmin blogs. Turning trevorpott.com into a kind of "extended technical resource" for my sysadmin blogs.
There are things I am really proud of doing, but the length and technical detail required to really explore those topics just isn't something I am generally allowed to get into here. Of course, these are the trials and tribulations of the freelance writer; most readers grok this. It's just the odd douchecanoe that can't or won't.
There is always some reader that demands with thundering self-importance (and usually quite a bit of jealousy) that you not only publish what they want you to publish, but that you write in the tone and style they prefer. For every Khaptain out there pounding his pud whilst looking into the mirror, there are a hundred people who tell me they love the personal style I use and feel that my "story telling style" keeps them engaged through what are sometimes difficult topics.
Those who know me personally and have read this thread are absolutely floored by El Khapitanic's vitriol. I'm generally someone with no sense of self-esteem or much in the way of belief in my own self importance. I remember recently having an argument with Dale Vile at Freeform Dynamics wherein he tried to convince me I had become a person of influence in tech and I called bullshit.
So if Khaptain – or others – find my tone or style to be self important (me, of all people! *sigh*) then I have all sorts of questions to ask them about their own lives. Yes, I care about my niche, my customers, my solutions, my problems. Why would I care about anyone else's unless paid to?
This is why I argue with Dale. I could write a blog aimed at the middle of the bell curve and appeal to a wider audience. I choose not to. There are lots of folks out there who write blogs about "how to do things according to whitepaper." Why would I duplicate those efforts? Why would I simply parrot some party line?
Instead, I write about my own experiences, solutions and problems. How I approach things, what I do and why…that could help someone. SMB sysadmins low on resources like myself. Even if only 1 other reader cares, that is helping that reader, and I feel like I've accomplished something.
Everyone is part of an underserved niche at some point. I have been given a podium to talk about the issues that affect my underserved niche. The bits that matter aren't' the angry Fortress IT admins pounding the counter demanding I tell the world to be more like them.
What matters are the e-mails I get from my peers; small business sysadmins short on everything who say "thank you; you helped me solve a problem/avoid a minefield/not waste time with a vendor who was going to jerk me around."
And I've gone totally off on a tangent here. I think that's my brain telling me "input protein or I'll shut off, you twunt." Breakfast time…
Me, me, me. Mine, mine, mine. Me, not you, me. Mine, me, Trevor, nobody else, me, me, me.
You want a technical article, wait until the Server 2012 ebook is published. If you want a personal blog post read the articles labelled sysadmin blog.
Once you've dug your head out from waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay up in your sphincter you might take your own advice and go read some of my articles. I think that you will find a great many "technical articles" which are either commissioned to be "about a given product" or which are features designed to look at things from an objective standpoint.
Separate from this are the sysadmin blogs. Which are blogs. They are my personal take on things. Me, me, me, mine, mine, mine. My soapbox. Not yours. Get your own patch of the cloud, buster.
There are a few – three, I think? – features in which I talk about my personal experiences with something. The overwhelming majority of features are technical and carefully are not written with Trevor at the center.
But yes, Trevor Pott's sysadmin blog has Trevor at the middle of it.. Shocking. In case you don't know the history of El Reg, I was given a sysadmin blog not because they wanted me to write technical articles, but because I troll the living fuck out of people and it gets commenters all riled up.
There are non-Trevor technical articles that I produce. So why don't you simply not read the blog ones and I think your neuroses can be held in check.
Me, me, me, mine mine, me, I, me me.
"What I do not adhere to though is your style of presentation, it is the opposite of modest."
I write for The Register, foo. If you do "modest" you'll be eaten alive. It might shock you to know that my articles are generally read by others before posting. You see a "sales pitch" because that is what you want to see. It is the presentation of something different than you would do - or prefer to do - and thus to you it is attempting to "sell" that idea to others. Frankly, that's your hangup not mine.
Similarly, when you make bullshit statements like this: "By offering your client more "exotic" solutions you are actually putting the into a difficult situation because you then become the SPOF. If you are not available then the client would have difficulty in finding someone else that knows, understands and masters the solution. This in itself presents a large risk most notably for small companies." you are quite simply lacking any understanding whatsoever of how I work.
When I design my solutions, they are well documented. They adhere as closely as possible to a whitepaper install, and all deviations from the accepted standards are both carefully documented and the rational for the deviation provided. Resources for business continuity exist; from links to companies that provide the solutions I have installed (and relevant documentation) to contact information of other systems administrators that I work which who are familiar with my practices and can take over for me should I get hit by a bus.
Once more you project your own ignorance as truth; hailing your assumptions as proven fact. I am entirely comfortable that my articles are presented exactly as I intended, and read by the majority of my readers as such. Given your deliberate misunderstanding – which seems deeply tied to your own sense of personal inadequacy – seems to cause you angst, I'm actually going to go with "this is a good thing."
It means that I am accomplishing exactly the goals I set out to do: make Fortress IT professionals angsty and uncomfortable. Challenge established paradigms, cause people to question, debate and argue.
It means I am biting the hand that feeds IT. Cheers.
Re: ACIV got you
Everyone in tech gets free samples, sure. I get free samples as a sysadmin all the time! People get all angsty when journalists get free samples/junkets/etc, however, as journalists are supposed to be objective. That's a hard line to walk in today's world. Nobody is willing to pay for a paper/tech blog/etc, so that means advertising. (OMG, BIAS! ADVERTISERS ARE TELLING YOU WHAT TO WRITE!)
Journalists make a fifth of a bent copper per fortnight, so there's no "buying our own review gear" in most circumstances. The new organisation itself rarely has the resources to come up with review gear - seeing as it's trying to up that fifth of a bent copper to 0.21 of a bent copper per journo - so that's out too.
That means accepting demos, samples, NFRs and whatever else possible if we want to review it. That makes people – especially Americans, who have a completely different take on how journalism should work than pretty much the entire rest of the world – really, really angsty. So it's not ACIV alone who raises this concern; every single tech journalist I've spoken to at every single publication gets crap about being a biased shill pretty much every day.
There's no way I will convince the hard core douchecanoes. Not going to happen. But by responding to "cuntweasel number 01865327.1" I can in turn speak to other commenters who may have similar – potentially legitimate – concerns. Ones that are hopefully more rational and capable of putting on pants in the morning.
Oddly enough, it works; I will often get an e-mail from a reader where we then talk about such things at length. I've changed my approaches to some things as a result of fantastic insights from readers. The writer does not know all and thus I seek to grow and evolve by taking advantage of the experience and knowledge of our readers.
Of course, that has to be balanced against the fact that many readers are either a) batshit crazy or b) so full of themselves – and generally wrong about things – that they are nothing but unreliable and really loud. So simply doing whatever any commenter tells you is a bad plan too.
Still, amidst the noise there is signal. It is generally these longer responses that go into detail which draw out the signal and allow me to learn, evolve and grow.
Happy holidays, sir. Cheers.
Re: Thanks us for being cynical
Oh, but I do speak English. The Queen's most right and proper dialect: Canadian English. Not that cave scratching and baby wailing that you lot grunt at eachother.
<<Ook Ook Ook>>
That better? Easier to understand? Merry OookMas! :)
Re: Thanks, Trevor!
Some day you need to tell me about the tools you use and some of the stories you have. Always like to try new things and learn from the experiences of others!
Re: Some comments from a small network manager (spare time)
Hey James Gibbons! Thanks for the details on your network; it sounds exciting! Can I ask a couple of questions? First: are you using the Mac Mini running Fusion to provide your production virtualisation environment. Can I ask what you are using to do backups for the virtualised instance?
I see that you mention retrospect, but retrospect does not (if I am recalling correctly) do bare-metal images. Are you using the Windows-native backup to do images? If so, have you tested a restore? Those Windows backups are VHDs and you with wither have to boot off of a 2008 R2 CD and perform a restore that way, or V2V. I've never gotten V2V from a backed up Windows Server image to work quite right, so I'm curious as to your results.
I see you mention Sandvox - the lack of fucks given regarding updates is sadly common in the SMB world - and wonder if you have given synology a poke. While I run my suite of personal websites as wordpress on a CentOS VM, Synology NASes contain an "app store" that seems quite capable of deploying a web server and wordpress install. I was leery at first, but the package updates seem to be reasonably frequent so I doubt that the security is world-endingly terrible.
In theory, a Synology should be able to replicate to a Qnap – they are both rsync-based replication – and would give you an "appliance"-based webserver build in to your next storage expansion. All top-of-mind stuff here, of course. SMB networks are quirky and unique; no two are ever alike and neither are the requirements or weird internal corporate politics that drive them.
I hope to hear more about your network in the future, it sounds like the kind of interesting setups that a lot of my smaller clients have when I first take them on. Sometimes it can take a decade to rationalise. SMB refresh cycles can be…long.
Re: I just cant agree
I really shouldn't allow myself to be baited by a troll, that's okay, Khaptain. I'm actually convinced you're a self-obsessed individual who believes so ardently in his training that nothing outside the very narrow domain of your own experience is ever to be considered as possible, necessary, desired or required by anyone. So threatened are you by people who talk about new ideas or edge use cases that you lash out at people with personal attacks for not reporting and supporting your views. At least you'll get the attention you crave if I respond.
You don't have any understanding of my work as a consultant. I know the Register handles of the technically competent individuals I have worked with; you are not among them. This means that you either attempting to lay claim to "knowledge" of how I operate as a consultant through your concerted and purposeful misreading of my articles and comments, or you are in fact one of the non-technical individuals who has worked at some of the companies I support. Either case makes your claims of knowledge fraudulent.
To put things clearly: when I work with a client, I present them the various possible options available given the resources on the table. I explain the benefits and the drawbacks of each. I then implement what the client wants. It's a difficult world to comprehend; I tailor solutions to my clients.
I do not simply present them a pre-canned solution straight off a whitepaper – generally at 50x the budget they have available – and then run the meter up with additional charges after the fact. (Which seems to be what most of the VARs and consultants in fact do.) Quite the opposite; I'm the guy they come to after having rejected the offers of other consultants as impractically beyond their means. And what I build works.
When I write about things on The Register, I write about edge cases and I do so purposefully. I do it to challenge mainstream thinking and to show people what's possible that isn't in the official guidance. There is zero interest to me as a writer – or for any of The Register's readers – in reading a summary of a whitepaper or a series of articles that say "praise be to the established vendors and their currently marketed solution stacks. You must marry this with this and that with that and question not the cost nor the bugs!"
Here is a great resource if you want that.
I should point out that I have installed - and do maintain - several COTS whitepapered setups. As a sysadmin I love them. They are dirt simple and I can run dozens - even hundreds - of them in my sleep. Hurray for shit that Just Works; I love it. They aren't, however, interesting or worth writing about. Zero fucks are given about taking well known and tested solutions off the shelf and then *gasp* having them work as advertised.
Oh, but Happy Holidays to you, sir. I hope you earn a measure of happiness in the new year. Seems like you could use some. Cheers.
Re: I have a question or two
Re: Error: no address supplied...
"Firms?" There are "firms" behind open source projects now? Or maybe Sascha at Ninite - whom, last I recall I bought him a beer out of gratitude for his work - will suddenly develop eleventy squillion dollars and shower me with riches.
Supermicro, VMware, Intel and the like certainly have my address already; they've sent me demo gear (or NFR licences) so that I can test their products. So do other companies. News flash: I review stuff for a living. Sending me stuff to review doesn't guarantee that you'll get a nice review; only building stuff that's not crap guarantees that.
Maybe you should check out my rather love/hate relationship with Microsoft. I'm sure their PR guys would love to string me up by my nether regions – gods know there's no love lost between the licensing department at The Beast and myself – yet I will cheerfully turn around and sing the praises of Server 2012 or System Center 2012 SP1 because those products are worthy of praise.
I wrote a nice piece on Apple in the Enterprise a while back. Do you suspect that I am secretly swimming in fruity goodness? Hint: the poky whoresons won't even return my phone calls, and I am still hunting for a reasonably priced used iOS6-capable device to do a review for some of the startups that have iOS-only apps they want me to look at.
Some times I get to keep the demo gear that is sent to me. I won't hide that. Some times I get sent on a junket by a vendor, or get a nice tour of the campus and a swank backpack. (Thanks Supermicro!) I don't hide that either. It doesn't change anything. It doesn't make me say nice things about your product if they are undeserved. What it does do is make me hate you less, trust you more and be a hell of a lot more willing to sell your stuff to my clients.
So let's be perfectly clear here: if you give me Free Stuff That I Can Keep as part of my reviews then one of three things will happen to that equipment.
1) If there is a use for it, I will incorporate it into my test lab. This means I can then review even more things and that is good for readers. Having a bitching test lab means less "I got a new iPad" reviews and more "let's see how this new enterprise filer stacks up and handles 10Gbit from multiple hosts." You know, reviews we actually care about.
Why would a vendor just give away hardware or software licences? Because if it is in my testlab for the next three years, I will talk about it over the course of those next three years. It'/s sort of inevitable; if I am reviewing Widget A and using Widget B to do it, widget B is mentioned in the methodology." So vendors without an internal demo program who are taking a unit out of production that they can then not resell get an upfront review for their expense and some "long tail" mentions.
I also periodically loan out equipment from my lab to other bloggers if they have a definable need and a project in mind, so they may get some wider exposure that way too. Not bad marketing ROI for the company, but I'm still not going to call that marketer's widget awesome if it's a piece of crap.
2) I might pass it along to another blogger so they can review it/incorporate it into their testlab. If the company in question is just handing out gear that reviewers can hang on to, and I legitimately don't think that I can find a long term use for it as a test item which will bring some sort of benefit to my readers, then I will give the company in question a shortlist of other bloggers I know who should get the widget instead. I'll still do a review, but I'll forward it on. Good for the marketing bloke – he still gets some long tail investment somewhere for that piece of demo equipment he can no longer resell as new – and good for everyone's readers as more reviews bring more perspectives to the table.
3) If I can't find a use for it and I can't find a fellow blogger that needs it, I help the company taking that demo equipment off the line for review purposes find a worthy charity that can receive the equipment after I have done the review. That way the company sees a tax credit for the equipment they took off the line, and I can still review the widget.
That said, the overwhelming majority of equipment that passes my way is on a time limited demo. I often request the equipment for a month's use because I don't want to open a box, look at it and say "well that's nice." I torment the stuff, often giving it a short stint in production to see how it holds up.
Being nice to me won't change what I write about your product. Being a customer or supplier of my company won't change what I write about your product. They will influence whether or not I buy your product, or whether or not I recommend them to my clients.
A review on The Register, however, is a review of that product in isolation. I can not – I will not – allow any other considerations to come into play.
Calling me a shill because I thank people for being awesome? That says a lot more about your own personal hangups and how you approach the world than me. I will let my reviews speak for themselves. There are a bunch hitting in the next month. You decide.
Ultimately, there is no need for me to be biased. It serves zero purpose. There are so many companies out there that I can piss off a new one every week and they'll still fall all over themselves to get demo gear into my hands. You don't comprehend the sheer volume of press releases that land in my inbox, or the desperation of PR guys.
Besides, if I allow myself to lose my objectivity, I lose my credibility with my readers. If I lose my credibility with my readers, then I can't write for The Register anymore. If I can't write for The Register anymore, than I don't get to play with new toys.
Thus the only way I get to keep the flow of cool toys to play with is to be completely honest and as objective as I possibly can.
In any case, I hope you have a great holiday season. Cheers.
Re: ARG MetaPhoria, AAA Heavenly Desire Project for Applied Intelligent Thought/Viable ImaginaNation
It's amfM! Yay! And Happy Martian Big Data Holidays to you too, sir.
Re: Thanks us for being cynical
You are a dirty, vicious pack of soulless piranhas striping the self respect self esteem from every single person who touches this website even tangentially. But you follow the pig to find the truffles.
I'd not have you lot be any other way. :) <3 commenttards.
Re: I have a question or two
@John G Imrie; interesting question. Mind if I take a bit of a roundabout approach to this?
There are really three answers to this that cover the various use cases in which I see Linux deployed; each with their own rationale.
1) Linux belongs on mobiles only. There are some customers with certain use cases which cannot (or do not desire to) move away from Windows on their desktop/notebook. These individuals require or desire fat clients, and Apple and/or Linux simply will not do for them. In general, they use Android handsets, however. Almost all of them perform basic tasks (e-mail, browsing, etc.) from their Android devices.
2) "Windows in a Windows." I see a lot of interest in "working from home" or "working from anywhere." This leads to "living in an RDP Window." In these cases, the endpoints are almost always Apple, but a notable number of them are Android or Mint. Windows is increasingly legacy for these people as they start to get "an app for that" to handle most things locally. Bonus points if the app syncs the data to their Windows work desktop/VM on the fly.
3) People who use Linux and/or Apple exclusively. Apple certainly dominates this category, but I have had people ask me to put Mint installs in as live desktops. We even have some trial Android desktops out there. These are not the majority of users...but they are also not my idea. These are at the request of the customer; non-technical customers as well as technical ones, I should point out.
For my own personal part, I maintain a Windows XP VM at home…only because I'm too lazy to nuke it an install Mint. That takes time, and time I don't have. I have an Alienware MX18 for video games and serving as my "desktop." I do nothing locally on it but play games and run various test VMs. It RDPs into my work Windows VM and my home Windows VM. My work Windows VM is a series of RDP sessions into various servers I am maintaining, a bunch of Firefox windows (usually populated with Webmin) and a whole lot of SSH sessions.
If Gaben gets this "Steam for Linux" thing off the ground, then 5 years from now I can see myself not needing Windows at all on the endpoint. At least personally. I suspect most of my clients could do without as well, but that is their decision; they have to decide if paying the tithe is worth it. I refuse to preach to them, I show them the alternatives and give them CapEx and OpEx over the timeframes they request. They make the call.
That said, I can't imagine life without Server 2012. I loathe the interface, but damn that is a beautiful operating system. Better than any Linux I've had the pleasure of working with for a number of use cases. I am also quite taken with System Center 2012 SP1 and Microsoft Dynamics.
Microsoft has good technology. They have smart people. Their licenceing and pricing, however, are increasingly incompatible with my desire to see a demonstrable return on investment from each dollar I spent on IT. That's okay; there are alternatives. Life is good.
Maybe 5 years from now Microsoft will change their tune and I'll be out in front cheerleading them as the bee's knees. This is tech; you never know what's coming next.
Re: With power comes responsibility
Then dickhead gets fired and good riddance. Step up to the plate or get off the field.
Re: "We can't send things to other places Really Really Fast."
"Voyager at 13Km/s is 0.0043% of light speed"
For the last time, we weren't trying to get Voyager to interstellar speeds. We were trying to use it to take pictures of our own back yard. You don't need Orion to get something up to interstellar speeds. You might if you had people on board - though we'll debate the "pink smush factor" of Orion later - but we don't need to go from a dead stop to interstellar in one go.
So long as your widget can survive crazy acceleration for a brief time, you can slingshot outside the system. You need some truly BITCHING chemical rockets to do the initial boost towards Jupiter, but once around Jupiter followed by one around the sun should give the object more than enough speed to truly crush all speed records and head out into interstellar space.
Such a designed object would whip past Voyager quite quickly, leaving that probe behind as the slowpoke it is. Again, Voyager's speed is not indicative of the fastest we are capable of going. It is indicative of the fastest we are capable of taking pictures of our own solar system at using 1970s technology. If we just want to fling a widget into the yonder at high velocity, we have the technology for it.
Re: Terrestrial broadcast signal propagation...?
Um...it's 12 year lag. We're currently sending them the beginning of the reality TV failwagon.
"We can't send things to other places Really Really Fast."
We've never tried. Voyager is (technologically) about eleventy billion years old. We can do better today. The best part is, we don't even have to work all that hard. We need to build something with A) A bitching power supply and that can B) survive crazy acceleration.
Then we use a great big honking set of chemical rockets (Flacon Heavy?) to shoot the widget into space and strap a whole pile of other chemical rockets to it. We fire the thing in the general direction of Jupiter and go for the gravity assist bonus. Do your maths right and you can whip around Jupiter picking up all sorts of speed, while aiming in the general vicinity of Sol.
The real trick is to get the ++fast grav bonus from whipping around the sun targeting Wherever It Is You Want To Go. You coast along until you get about ¾ of the way to your target. Then you turn on your Really, Really, Overpowered Ion Drive and decelerate for all you're worth. With luck, the drone not only passes through the target system, but might even have slowed down enough to put it in some really oblong, comet-like orbit of that system's star.
At 12 light years away, we might even be able to get the travel time down below 500 years. That's not too bad; and something I think our descendants would appreciate. Wouldn't it be nice to leave them something? We've fucked up everything else…
The only problem with your analysis is that Microsoft is the concept of "justification to buy new things" as opposed to "providing something of actual value that people want to buy." They are different. Justification in Microsoft's world has become "abuse of dominant position" once more. (For a while there, they were doing good.)
To top it off "it has always been this way" is a bullshit excuse to hide behind. I don't give a rat's ass that scam artists have been selling extra blue crystals in their kitchen powder for decades. It doesn't change the fact that if you own a company you are required to get the best possible value for your dollar in order to satisfy your investors. Your duty is to your own shareholders. Not Blue Crystal Manufcatory Inc's gaggle of unrepentantly sociopathic goons.
That means demanding return on investment. Which more and more is meaning "fuck you Microsoft." Like Oracle, they no longer provide ROI. They simply balance the cost of exiting the ecosystem against how far they've turned the knob this year.
You'll pardon me if I am not generally enamoured of being a hostage, nor am I like to be so willingly. I'm really quite a pain in the ASCII that way.
"We're slowly obsoleting our old formats; breaking compatibility in order to force people to upgrade" is not value to me. Oh, for some enterprises it is an excuse for those who belive "new" has inherant value to push upgrade...but it does not represent to me a return on investment. Indeed, it is a signal to exit the ecosystem with alacrity as the vendor cannot be trusted. It's one of those distressing signs that the vendor has realised they have no new way to grow revenues except to turn the dial on extant products (without delivering new value) in order to drive up ARPU.
That's bad. For them. For me. Ultimately, for their shareholders. That's the beginning of the end; the death of innovation and the start of the decades-long death spiral that has claimed so many in our industry.
15% more, good sir? Just another 15%? Good sir? 15%?
Re: @Trevor_Pott, Gil Grissum, Oh4FS, et al.
@Sean Timarco Baggaley
No, as a matter of fact, I don't upgrade Adobe every year. In fact, several of my clients are still working just fine on Photoshop 7. There are several CS1 installs a large base of CS3 and I think we have one or two CS5.5s around.
As regards upgrading to the latest version of Microsoft Office: no. The reasons why are spelled out in my posts above and I won't rehash them.
Regarding your bullshit sarcasm stating that I am bitching at Microsoft specifically - while ignoring that other vendors do this too - stuff it. That's a crock of shit and you know it. I take everyone to task who does this. Just because I choose not to rant at Apple (or Google) in a thread about Microsoft doesn't mean I don't have a large helping of "fuck off" for those twunts as well. (Google, stop moving my fucking buttons.)
Let me try to explain this to you very simply: my clients do not spend a single dollar on anything - hardware, software, or services - without having a clear ROI on what they are getting for that dollar. If they are being asked to buy another version of something they already have, it must present a clear advantage to the thing they already have; a compelling reason to spend money on it. I am very sorry if this is a concept that you are unable to grok.
You might have bought in to the idea that we are morally and ethically obligated to refresh our hardware and software every three years or you may believe that "new" is a reason to change what works. If so, I fell sorry for you. I don't buy into pointless consumerism and – shockingly – neither do most of my customers.
If you want my money – or that of my customers – then you provide value for that money. You make our lives even easier than they are with the tools we already have. Not harder. Not more incompatible. Not requiring retraining or changing to a subscription model that drives up the average revenue per user while providing nothing but further lock-in, interface changes and frustration.
If you want my money, work for it, you son of a bitch. You don't deserve my money. You earn it.
LibreOffice and a new mail client will be the way forward on this. There is zero return on investing more into Microsoft Office.
Cheers and Happy Chrismakwanzika.
Re: Dear Microsoft
I have at least two clients that absolutely require the ability to import and export things from outlook on a regular basis. They exchange information with their clients (and suppliers) in this fashion all the time. They have a massive Office 2003 install base - across the whole "cloud" of companies involved - and this would basically create a wall between anyone using Office 2013 and previous versions.
So what are the alternatives? Downgrade new installs to 2010? Possible; but it involves fighting with India for each bloody install. Especially since these tend to be smaller businesses, so not using volume licensing. (Certainly not using SA.)
I can migrate to a new mail client – and probably LibreOffice – which involves finding a new mail client. A lot of research, a pain in the ass, but the likely route out of this.
Alternately, my clients can reward Microsoft for being douches by giving them more money for a product they don't want (Office 2013) to replace a perfectly functional product (Office 2003) that they actually like.
@Sean Timarco Baggaley
Re: "Office 2003 formats are standard."
I did not mean - or say - that they were official standards. I said that they were standard. As in they are "standard for those clients and their clients, and their clients' clients." They are the standard format used by the particular "cloud" of interacting companies here.
Official standards or not official standards are completely irrelevant. What is a good archive standard or not is completely irrelevant. What matters to these businesses is simple: that they be able to continue doing what they are doing exactly as they are doing it without retraining, fighting with clients/suppliers on formats or spending wodges of cash to buy another copy of something that works just fine right now.
"Standard" in this sense is "everyone within the cluster of these interconnected companies uses it." That's the only standard that matters. They give zero fucks about what is or is not an international standard or what other methods they could use for long term archival. Change costs money, training and a lot of political capital wrangling back and forth.
Unless there is a compelling reason – read new "must have" features or something that provides a demonstrable return on investment you won't convince these companies to splash out on upgrades to Microsoft's latest "pay for the same song, but on CD this time!" grab.
Regarding your "it's IT, for crying out loud, obsolescence is guaranteed" crack: stuff it. I'm not in the mood. That isn't something that SMBs accept – I believe the word "cop out" is generally used – and it's not something I accept either. Fuck planned obsolescence and fuck each and every spineless asshole that supports the tactic. Fuck them with a lacquered bus.
You want more money, provide more functionality. Give a return on investment or just fuck absolute miles of off.
Even "just" nerfing the ability to import and export from Outlook using these older formats is enough to cause a lot of troubles at two of these companies – not to mention their suppliers, clients, etc. I don't need, or want the headache. There's no good reason for it. There is no value to me or to my customers behind this move.
So fuck Microsoft. And fuck everyone who supports them in this too.
Re: @Trevor_Pott, Gil Grissum, Oh4FS, et al.
You're right, I was wrong. You can still preview things.
That saves me updating at least three clients.
That said, there are two clients who *do* use import/export heavily, and the inability to do so using Office 2003 formats will be an absolute showstopper. It will trigger a bunch of research into finding an alternative client before the May timeframe: a headache I don't want or need.
It is still Microsoft shitcanning older format support to drive adoption of their newer stuff for no good reason whatsoever. Pay the tithe sir. Use our new interface sir. Buy our training for our new interface sir...
It's crap. It's crap that doesn't need to be causing headaches, but is so that Microsoft can add a few bent coppers to the pile. Nothing more.
I'm still not buying a new version of Office. Bastards.
The problem is twofold:
A) Office 2003 formats are standard. That isn't changing any time soon for most of my clients.
B) They absolutely rely on being able to "preview" XLS spreadsheets in their outlook. The lack of this won't prompt a change in workflow - or an upgrade to Microsoft's latest GIVE ME MONEY scheme - it will prompt a move to a new mail client.
Which is more research and work for me. Hence: Fuck you, Microsoft. This was a headache I didn't need and exists only because Microsoft wants to crank the knobs on it's existing hostages to try to squeeze a few more coppers out of them.
Advertisements? In my social medias?
I don't think so.
...one of us...one of us...one of us...
Yeah, 200M -1 people on Twitter are worthless, but my life is worth reading about!
You provide something of value, I return the favour. You compete for my funds, time, attention and care on merit. You do not have a fundamental, inalienable right to anything I have; from money to me giving more than zero fucks.
I'm sorry if that seems cruel, but it is the way I purchase products and services.
That said I treat employees differently. Employees are not expected to constantly prove their own value to the company. It's completely asinine and insane to expect that. The levels of stress you would generate in the employee are unconscionable. People have good times and bad times; a proper employer plans for both and sticks by their employee.
The trade of labour is not merit but loyalty. I am loyal to you; I help you when you need it, invest in your ongoing training and development. In exchange I expect you to be loyal to me: you give your all when realistically possible. You don't take years of training and run. We come to mutually agreeable decisions regarding wages. I am transparent with you about what the company can pay, you help me understand what your financial needs are. We determine if I can meet your needs and if the services you can provide are adequate value for the money. If the balance falls out, we part amicably.
I don't have such loyalty for corporations. A corporation is not a person. It deserves no loyalty. A corporation – or an open source project – is the result of the efforts of multiple people. They are producing a product or service to be consumed. They are expecting you to give up your hard earned in exchange for it, so I expect that they are providing something that has more value (merit) than that of the competition.
You see? There is a difference (at least in my philosophy) between how we should treat people and how we should treat companies. I realise that this isn't a view shared by all, but when it comes to the purchase of products or services from others, I am ruthlessly meritocratic. Capitalistic even.
Philosophy, eh? It requires some complexity for some people. Almost like our perceptual and ethical parsers have more than three lines of code.
Re: Linux users.....
Indeed, I believe I'm #4 for the humble music bundle. Guess us open source types are all freetards seeking to rob the poor, starving artists, eh?
Re: Linux users.....
I use open source software. I donate to the projects that make the packages or distributions I use. I also donate to the Electronic Frontier Foundation and OpenMedia.ca (because they support the rights of individuals instead of copyright megacorporates) as well as the Free Software Foundation.
These organisations provide me with value. They deserve compensation for their work. It isn't about business, or milking everyone else around you for every last bent copper. It's about right, wrong and a send of fairness and ethics that a certain segment of our society will never comprehend.
Do well by me and I will do my damnedest to do well by you. Welcome to the meritocracy. If you're a douche, the internet will treat you as damage and…well you know the rest.
The problem is billing. How do you break down compute/storage/network/tech time/etc into atomic items to be costed? 500TB of storage cost X when sourced 6 months ago, yet adding that capacity tomorrow will be (X * 0.9).
Even the top tier stuff - VMware, System Center and so forth - are just shite at being able to handle the accounting stuff. They don't allow for the entry of the truly flexible costing mechanisms required to compute the cost of different tiers of resources purchased at different times, or even operated at different times.
Tech time, network resources and compute are all time-sensitive resources. Tech time is more costly off peak, but compute and network are less so. Storage is a function of amount, speed, vendor used, quality/redundancy of primary storage, quality/style/frequency of backups and "distance" from the compute occurring.
How do we factor in more intangible issues? Like the complexities of Microsoft's VDI licensing? In some scenarios firing up a VDI something or other to widget the workload remotely is straightforward and "cheap." (Where cheap is still 2.7 virgins per remotely connected device, per year.) In other situations you not only need to pay the virgin tithe, you might have to pay it multiple times per connected device *and* use a very specific (and rare) volcano for deity appeasement.
You want a cloud? I'll build you a cloud. Microsoft? VMware? Citrix? KVM? Openstack? Cloudstack? You name it; I'll build it for you. If you've got the cash, putting this stuff together is easy, peasy. (I say that blithely, but frankly, anyone with a couple decade's worth of work in the industry can do this stuff in their sleep.)
The issue isn't the technical bits. It hasn't been for some time. VMware, Microsoft et al have done a damned good job of making the systems administrator irrelevant, they are working very hard on eliminating the network administrator, and storage admins are on the block soon. The issue is the accounting.
To be able to achieve proper efficiency you need to not only be able to reduce your service provisioning to some sort of measurable atomic units, you need to be able to rationally set a price and track usage according to a variety of metrics. You probably need varied costing models to appeal to different departments with different needs and budgetary constraints.
You need support staff that are able to deal with a service-centric model and work in an SLA-style environment. You need a department head who can talk the business talk to vendors, the accounting talk to the beancounters and speak fluent nerd to those at the coalface setting up VMs and swapping dead nodes.
For a "cloud" to work in an efficient manner, the provisioning of that cloudy service needs to be itself treated as a business. Even if it is a business within a business. This goes all the way up to requiring your own dedicated beancounters – tech-enabled, of course, so that they can provide that costing rationalisation discussed above – as well as a "sales" team that will go out and sell your vision of IT to the rest of the company.
The above is why the project-based model remains the dominant purchasing model in most companies. It is because right now the tools to do anything else are complete ass. If you want to provide a true "private cloud" to the rest of the business then you need infrastructure to do so. Not technical infrastructure; business infrastructure.
Nerds are – quite frankly – shit at the business side of things. "Technical accountants" don't exactly grow on trees, and who wants to pay for sales engineers to work in internal IT, selling inward to the business itself? That's before we even get to the cost of CIOs who possess clue.
Until the line-of-business costs for apportioning and metering come down starkly, the false economy of project-based costing will seem intuitively correct at anything excepting hyperscale.
the latest Linux Kernel has generic ARM compatibility built in. ARM servers? Let's go.
What is this I don't even
Re: Ms hate
I manage to negotiate with nearly every company in the tech sphere. The exceptions to this are Microsoft, Oracle, IBM and Citrix. I know how the game is played - you don't make the contacts required to write articles about things if you can't play the game - but Microsoft doesn't play the game here. In fact, they behave pretty much exactly like all those other legacy vendors desperately clinging to to their customer base whilst simultainiously turning the knobs on them.
There are no "people who can make things happen" here. There is simply massive, faceless bureaucracy, terrified of stepping outside the clearly established rules and held to account for every single dime. Long term thinking is not only discouraged, ti isn't allowed. Make this quarter's numbers.
So yeah, no love for Microsoft's waste-of-carbon licensing department. They are some of the only people on the face of this planet that I put into the same category as Dick Cheney: I really, truly, honestly hope that a rock from space hurtles down through the atmosphere, glowing white hot with the fires of reentry and annihilates the bastards where they sit.
There are people at Microsoft I cherish and respect. But the sons of bitches in the licensing department are not among them.
Re: "I don't have to ... give up my privacy"
@Captain Hogwash Yeah, you have to supply an ID, but so far as I know the appbrain one doesn't track you or maintain a list of the apps you download. (Amazon does.) There are other third-party markets available, and you can always sideload your apps if you really want. (Many developers even post QR codes on their sites linking to APKs.)
Really, you just need an APK repository.
Re: Ms hate
Oh, it isn't about making a difference. Venting in the comments is aught but catharsis for me. If anyone else gets something out of it, great! These forums are my goddamned bridge and I am going to exact the toll of my own frustrated sanity on those who seek to pass. #muahahahahaha
Re: Ms hate
Here in Canada, the instant you buy an Open Licence product - or anything else volume licensed - you are audited. The pesky little twerps e-mail you and demand an accounting of things. It can take months and often amounts to little more than extorting more licences out of you to meet some obscure clause somewhere in a license agreement.
You could try to fight it - but then the pull out some other obscure clause which allows them to do an on premise inspection. You could of course use automated tools to do your audits as well, but that doesn't change much if you were in fact telling the truth the first time.
You don't get to negotiate much with Microsoft. You don't have "wiggle room." At least not here in Western Canada.
For that matter, if you are playing with budgets where $20K is “a third of the MS IT spend for a year,” you’re still way over the moon for 80% of my customer base. Most of them have IT budgets that are in the $15K for hardware and software over three years. A handful have budgets that are $100K for hardware and software over six years. (And they are trying to push that to 8.)
Now, Microsoft is a large organisation and they will behave differently in different markets. But I can tell you about the markets I have worked in. In Western Canada, in Toronto, in Silicon Valley and in Austin, for deployments where the total Microsoft spend is less than $50K over the course of 6 years, Microsoft not only gives no fucks whatsoever about the customer, they are actively hostile and continually try to extort more licences.
In Western Canada specifically, touching their volume licenceing with a 20-foot poll means instant audits with a laser focus on one thing and one thing only: getting every single licence you have moved to SA. Any other option is not well received, and the sales nerds have nothing whatsoever to do with the audit henchmen. They are from completely different companies (the audit nerds being third-parties hired by Microsoft who simply audit every company on the list they possibly can) that don’t interact.
You can lean on the sales nerds all you want – or on other parts of Microsoft, if you have access – and it won’t have any effect on the douchbaggery of the audit nerds whatsoever. Nor will the crappy treatment you get from the audit nerds help drive down the price of any of the software: they don’t negotiate at these levels.
So yeah, I consider the concept that Microsoft’s licensing department is “easily dealt with” or that “you can just negotiate the problem away” to be cock swinging. It is the guy in the Hummer not comprehending why the bloke in the Pinto can’t climb the rugged mountain track littered with fallen trees to get to the lookout point at the up of the mountain before nightfall.
“It’s easy” says the Hummer owner. “You just push the pedal and drive over.”
So it is indeed a question of experience. If your experience with Microsoft has been favourable; a veritable bed of roses populated with beautiful, rational people who are inviting and joyous, great. Don't change vendors. That would be stupid! Sounds like things work well for you.
For those of us, however, who receive aught but abuse from this Vendor, do you advise that we simply "take it" with a smile on our collective faces? I think not.
People like me – or my clients – have no recourse. There is no "court of appeals." If you get the douchebag brigade as your local reps then you're just plain fucked. Entirely aside from that, none of this resolves the terrible licensing issues that do affect everyone: things like the VDI licensing, or turning the wrench on per-user CALs to keep the stock from crashing.
When you have no troubles finding the cash to meet any requirements, or when the vendors are willing to negotiate and your time spend negotiating has no value, it's certainly easy to wave off interactions with these people. When you're trying to do the best you can for honest hardworking folk under impossible circumstances with virtually no budget, then dealing with Microsoft is a costly aggravation that quickly moves beyond the real of "makes business sense to keep at it."
I used to champion Microsoft, you know that? Was a big fanboy for a long time, when everyone thought they were pretty crap. Ultimately, despite having a lot invested in wanting Microsoft to turn out to be awesome, in having spend my entire career learning their stuff, implementing it and maintaining it…it all amounts to nothing.
People like me don't have a voice within Microsoft, and they don't treat us any better at the negotiating table. We are told what we shall use and Microsoft demand we alter our business practices and workflow to suit their licensing model.
I try very hard not to preach. Not to my customers and not through my articles. I do, however, let off steam here in the comments section of El Reg, because it is "safe" to do so. There are only a few hundred – of a total readership of over 6.6 Million – regular commenters. They are all pretty hard-boiled and opinionated to begin with. My ranting and raving here in the comments won't affect anyone's viewpoint, and Microsoft – who doesn't listen to their own "partners" – sure as hell isn't going to waste a social media nerd's time getting the pulse of the wailing hoi polloi down here in the depths of the deep web.
So you'll excuse me if there is a small element of hyperbole (and really, over time the hyperbole has shrunk, not grown) to me comments. Microsoft's licensing shenanigans are a blocker to innovation and I have been burned more than once. The VDI service Provider thing alone…
I'm going to have a beer now.
Re: Ms hate
Well, bully for you then. That doesn't work here. I can generally negotiate with any other company just fine...but Microsoft doesn't negotiate a damned thing below 500 seats around here. Even then, if you are less than 1000 seats, be prepared to fight for months.
When I factor in the cost of my time to do those negotiations, it is less cost to simply pay to have staff retrained for an alternate solution and exit Microsoft's ecosystem. They provide me software I want with standardised, comprehensible licensing at a price I am willing to pay or I purchase from an alternate vendor.
What is so hard to understand about that? The fact that Microsoft's licensing has gotten more byzantine (and expensive) while competitors have reached not only "good enough" but are starting to close the feature gap on the more obscure features only hastens the jettisoning of these heavy-handed fools.
I am not a substance-addicted prostitute reduced to turning tricks for my next hit. I resent being treated as such by a vendor who should instead be seeking to form a partnership with me and vying for my ongoing loyalty.
It's 2012. I am no longer the dependant one in this relationship.
Re: "Certainly Autocad isn't going to run on Android anytime soon..."
@AnotherNetNarcissist I'll defer to your subject matter expertise on that. I havent' had any opportunity to use Autodesk's iOS or Android apps.
Re: Ms hate
No, I don't get to "negotiate." My business and most of my clients are SMBs or into the SME territory. 20K quid a year "saved" on licensing? You're into the licensing budget for an entire refresh cycle for most of these shops. You don't get to negotiate fuck all at those levels. And guess what…there are a hell of a lot more SMBs than SMEs and a hell of a lot more SMEs than large enterprises.
So put your waving cock back in your pants and think outside the scope of your own experience.
Re: Ms hate
Okay, that's a huge topic. Please understand that if I try to be brief with my answer here it isn't because I am trying to dodge the topic. The motivation is far more mercilessly capitalistic: I think your question is a damned good one, and it deserves the kind of answer that A) I'd really like to get paid for providing and B) The Register should be able to advertise against.
In short: I'll give you the info here in the comments that will allow you to do the research on your own, but the full run down will have to wait for the Feature I am working on. (You'd be surprised just how much research I've put into this already.) I hope that comes across as fair.
First item: VDI licensing. Remote access of any kind, really. That means VDI as "a virtualised copy of an operating system you access only remotely" or "RDPing into your home/work PC." The rules surrounding this are byzantine and asinine. They are designed to strongly discourage the use of VDI in an attempt to cling to the fat client model. Look it up, but make sure you have a bottle or six of scotch to hand when you do.
Second item: CALs. The entire concept of CALs belies the way modern systems work. "Per CPU licensing" for things like SQL is strongly discouraged if you ever actually talk to MS reps – such as during an audit – in favour of a CAL for every user. So how – exactly – are you supposed to use SQL for things like a web application? How do CALs work when something like SQL has no users, because the only things using it are automated services?
This gets really, really complicated quite quickly. I've been asked to hand over my customer list by one auditor because they felt that the only fair way to license this was to ensure we paid a CAL for every single customer we had, as they had "the potential to submit an order to a web service which would (via shell script) convert that order into something injected into SQL which would then be picked up by a robot for action." Others said I could/should just get a per-processor SQL license. Still others said that I should only get two per-device CALs, one for each automated system accessing the server.
Are we having fun yet?
Third item: Backups. There are still provisions in Microsoft licences that basically say "you must pay a licence for every copy of this software, whether it is in use or not." This has been interpreted by MS auditor types to mean "every copy of a VM in cold storage must have a license." #facepalm
Fourth item: Service Provider licensing for VDI. I just…I can't talk about this. I have too much rage.
There's more – don't get me started on exchange or Lync! – but it should give you a place to start, and this is already 500 words…
I seriously doubt I qualify as a Linux zealot. I spend too much time actually getting shit done and not enough time submitting bugfixes or compiling kernels.
If I pay for something, it had better work. More to the point, it had better work as advertised and meet the needs I delineated as requiring to be met when I had discussions with the vendor. I don't care if the solution is Microsoft, Google, Apple or some flavour of Linux.
So now, I'm not a Linux zealot, or an Apple fanboi. I'm not a Redmondian nor a node in the Google hive mind. I'm that rarest of rare things: a technological atheist. I have no religious affiliation with any of the cults out there (except Ninite, but we all get one, right?)
Pick any company or product and I will gleefully rip it to shreds. Even the best designed stuff has some flaws. The difference between me and the vicious pack of internet piranhas around here is that I don't have technology Stockholm Syndrome. I don't sympathise with my hostage takers. I don't cut them slack and say "next time, next time it will be better…right guys?"
Bizzarely enough, it seems that consumers are becoming equally fickle. (Which should terrify marketers, because building consumer loyalty has been a cornerstone of the profession for bloody ages.) Something about being bombarded with PR and marketing 24/7 everywhere we turn is raising a new generation of individuals that are functionally immune to this crap.
Humanity has evolved more reliable bullshit detectors. I just don't let a change in the winds which might threaten my job keep me from acknowledging the fact of it's existence. I rail against VMware for actually spending hundreds of millions of dollars to put people like me out of a job while I spin up their latest greatest on my test lab to prep it for install, documenting it for an article the whole time.
Technology means adaptation. It means thinking back even 10 years ago to when Google was nobody; a start-up that couldn't possibly threaten the mighty Yahoo. It means remembering dial-up and Netscape, the rise of Linux and the Code Red worm. It means remembering when Exchange shipped with an instant messenger and the wonder of migrating a workload from your SQL server to Azure for the first time.
Things change. As technologists we need to adapt with that change. Loyalty to any one technology or company is not only stupid…
…it could ultimately cost you your career.
I don't ultimately want to make a fortune. It sounds stupid, but I am aware of the price that making that kind of money bears. It exacts a physical and mental toll on anyone ambitious enough to pursue it that far, and it exacts a social toll as well, placing you within entirely different circles of individuals who reinforce the worst of your self-destructive habits.
I have ambitions towards personal financial independence, maybe even enough to be considered moderately wealthy by the average North American. I don't ultimately want "a fortune." I want the mortgage paid off, the ability to write for a living and the requirement to only work on computers at a strategic level and then only for a few months every year. It would be really cool if I could also save some money to retire; I've a science fiction trilogy I want to write.
I'm on track to make that goal some time in the next 5-10 years. I don't think any of that is an unreasonable set of goals or expectations of myself. I don't need to come up with the next Great Thing, or run Microsoft. I'm pretty sure I don't want to.
I want to be able to enjoy spending time with my life. I want to stop working 12 hours a day, go to the gym for a few hours every day, do some gardening, spend time with the kitties and take the lizard for a walk. I want to watch my fish swim around their tank and maybe breed some of the more difficult-to-master species.
I've done this working myself to death thing. I've decided I'd rather work myself into a life.
Leave the fortunes for the OCD types and the antisocial. Life is short; I think I'll take the time to enjoy it.
Re: "I don't have to ... give up my privacy"
Um...firewalls, hosts file, packet analysis and so forth.
Also; there are alternate markets. Kindle. Or Appbrain.
Re: @Trevor @ShelLuser
Bus factor is always a consideration.. :/
I've detailed that pretty explicitly already in my comments here. I have also talked about tools I use in my articles. Lots of command line stuff - where I spend most of my non-Office time - and lots of browser-based tools. Lots of browser-based research. Communications...none of this needs Windows.
Even Spiceworks has a smartphone app.
I also recall explicitly stating that some folks would still be tied to legacy apps and forced to use Windows. Great reading comprehension. A+++++++. Would troll again.
Re: Ms hate
Apple is expensive, but their lisencing is clear and simple. They are pirates olundering your wallet, but they are straightforward about it. I respect that.
Or Google, or Oracle, or IBM...
There are two issues at play here:
1) You only see the negative about Russia. Your image of them is that of a country that is far, far more terrible than they actually are. Putin doesn't send Gestapo around to give you a double tap in the chest for saying he's ugly. Russia is a country governed by the rule of law. Just like the United States. Their laws are different - because their culture values different things - but they generally solve their problems in the court room, not with a gun.
2) You completely ignore the US's failings. "Extraterritorial renditions," Torture - which you can't even talk about during a trial, apparently, because that's a state secret - murdering people with drones (including entire weddings) and that's just the really obvious stuff.
There is the inhumane treatment of prisoners – especially "illegals" – the unbelievably high incidence of police corruption and brutality (beyond anything else in any other western culture) and even the introduction of batshit insane laws like "stand your ground." (Which has had some pretty wild consequences.)
There is the persecution of whistleblowers by the government, organisations like Wikileaks, and the continual attempts by every single level of government to destroy the first amendment. (Go look up a website called Popehat. Read. Learn.)
Small businesses in Russia do not have to pay bribes except in exceptional circumstances. But then, the same is true in the US. Corruption is usually local, and not a top-down policy item…true in both countries. It is also where I have encountered requests for bribes (and worse) which – quite frankly - I refuse to detail on a public forum with my name signed to it. I don't need the hassle.
I have been hassled for being a journalist in the US by cops, border guards and at least one state official. My contacts in Russia get the same amount of grief.
Russia cracks down on critics of the government more than the US, but it does so using the law. It passed legislation defining what is okay and what is not. It passed their legislature. It was not a dictat.
It was widely condemned in the western world – often with overtones of OMG IT'S LIKE STALIN ALL OVER AGAIN – but there is little actual evidence of abuse to target legitimate critics as opposed to those advocating revolution. Russia has its own take on human rights abuses within the EU, just by the by, maintaining that every nation has a duty to assess others; it is not merely a right held by western nations.
Russia isn't a bastion of goodness. They are 142nd on the Press Freedom Index. The US is at an appalling 47th place, having dropped 27 slots in a single year over the institutionalised suppression of dissent through mass arrests and intimidation of the Occupy Wall Street protesters. Even my home country Canada is at a shameful 10th place, owing largely to our government kowtowing to the US in recent years.
I could go on. And on and on. Suffice it to say that I don't see a hell of a lot of difference between the US and Russia. The US is a lot more fucked up in how it treats people – foreign or domestic – than Russia in many ways. Russia is a lot more likely to imprison you for dissent, and have a lot of local-government-level petty corruption, but actually has improved in a lot of ways recently too.
To me here in Canada, both countries are scum. They are different amounts of asshole on different topics, but the net result is still a stinky, smelly waste orifice.
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